Image © prostooleh, under a Creative Commons license.
There's a ton of children's birthday cake recipes but we think this lion birthday cake recipe is pretty impressive.
With a sweet buttercream mane, friendly features and a delicious cake under all the decoration this homemade lion cake is sure to be the king of cakes! Plus good news for the amateur baker: he's also an easy lion birthday cake to make for a party.
The lion cake itself is as basic as baking two sponges. It's the decoration that brings lion cakes to life. A piped mane will soon transform the cake into a big cat worthy of any birthday party celebration. His features are cleverly rolled from coloured icing.
Whether you have a jungle-loving toddler, a five year old animal fan or just want a fun lion cake to serve up at your next party this is the ideal cake recipe.
For the cake: 150g softened butter, 325g Golden Syrup, 225ml milk, 325g self raising flour, half teaspoon baking powder, two teaspoons ground mixed spice, three eggs.
For the icing and decorating: 175g softened butter, 350g icing sugar, 40g dark chocolate, red food colouring, yellow or orange food colouring, 250g white ready rolled icing.
Equipment: Two 20cm round cake tins, piping bags, fine writing nozzle, 1cm star nozzle.
1) Preheat the oven to 180C/160C fan/gas mark four. Grease and line with baking paper your two cake tins.
2) Melt your butter for the cake and Golden Syrup together in a pan. Once melted, remove from the heat and add the milk, stirring it through.
3) Place the flour, baking powder and mixed spice in a large mixing bowl. Crack in the eggs and gradually add the melted butter and syrup mixture. Stir using a wooden smooth until you have a smooth cake batter.
4) Pour half the mix into a prepared cake tin and the rest in the second tin. Bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes. You can check they're cooked through by inserting a skewer, if it comes out clean they're ready. Leave in the tins to cool for five minutes. Turn each cake out and leave to completely cool on a rack.
5) While the cakes are cooling, prepare the chocolate buttercream. Place the 175g butter in a bowl along with the icing sugar and whip until smooth. Melt 25g of the dark chocolate and leave to cool. Weigh out 150g of the buttercream and stir through the melted chocolate thoroughly.
6) Set aside two tablespoons of the chocolate buttercream and use the rest to sandwich the two cakes together then place on your cake stand.
7) Colour the rest of the buttercream with the yellow or orange colouring. Spread some over the top of the cakes and down the sides and place the rest in a piping bag with a 1cm star nozzle.
8) Next, roll out 20g of the white icing thinly and cut out two 3cm circles for the lion's eyes. Melt 15g of the dark chocolate and once cooled mix into another 50g of the white icing. Work through until you have brown icing. Roll out and cut out two 5cm circles and two 1cm circles. With the larger circles fold them in half and pinch into ear shapes. The smaller shapes are for pupils. Now, roll out two thin sausage shapes for eyebrows and the remainder into a ball for the nose.
9) With the rest of the white icing colour it the same shade as your buttercream – yellow or orange. Weigh out two 20g pieces and shape into balls for the cheeks. Roll out the rest and cut out a 12cm circle which you can place on the centre of the cake for the face. Colour a small piece of the leftover icing and colour it red then shape into a tongue.
10) Arrange the features on to the cake so you have a simple lion leaving his ears until you've added his piped mane. The final touch is to add his mane and whiskers! Use your reserved yellow or orange buttercream to pipe the mane working from the edge of the yellow face to the outside trying to finish with a point. Place the reserved chocolate buttercream into a second piping bag with a fine writing nozzle and pipe on whiskers plus a couple of dots on his nose. Add the ears.
Tips And Recommendations:
Don't worry about having a steady hand for the piping, a lion's made is rarely perfectly groomed! But do take your time. If the rest of the features go wrong it's easy to scrunch them up and re-shape but you need to get the piping right first time.
You can use green piped buttercream on your cake board to give it a jungle theme.
To accommodate allergies switch out ingredients as necessary. You can use gluten-free flour for the same result.
There are lots of lion cake ideas out there. If you want fun kids birthday cakes why not make a mane out of individual cupcakes covered in orange buttercream icing? You can arrange them around a larger round cake with the face on, it's the perfect sharing treat for a birthday party.
If you've been asked to make a lion birthday cake you're not just restricted to baking his face. You can also make a fondant lion for a simple cake topper. Using yellow, orange and white fondant icing you can shape the head, body, legs, mane and ears separately and then place them together on top of the birthday cake ready for the party.
Good To Know:
Set aside around one hour and 45 minutes to make and decorate this cake.
Younger kids can help with all aspects of making and decorating this cake, though you may like to leave the piping for older children or for you to do.
You can make the sponges in advance up to three days before your party. Once made and decorated the cakes will keep for up to five days if stored in an air tight container at room temperature.
You can freeze any left over slices of cake. Wrap them in double layers of cling film then foil. They'll keep for two months after the birthday party itself.
The cake should serve up to 15 small guests, or 12 bigger party goers.
Cora Lydon is a freelance journalist living in Suffolk with her husband and two children. She’s also a children’s book author who loves finding activities and place to inspire her children. Her dining table bears the scars of many craft activities attempts (many unsuccessful).