Image © cottonbro, under a Creative Commons license.
Whether your kids are pirate fans, or even avid treasure hunters - what better way to celebrate a birthday or a special occasion than with a pirate treasure chest cake?
Eye-catching, chocolate-y, and delicious, this pirate birthday cake is sure to be a hit among both kids and adults. We know what you're thinking. A treasure chest cake? That's got to be tricky!
Wrong! Follow our simple step-by-step treasure chest cake recipe below to begin your masterpiece and see how you can impress the whole birthday party.
For the Cake: 400g butter, 400g caster sugar, 8 eggs, 1 tsp vanilla extract, 2 tsp baking powder, 300g self-raising flour, and 100g cocoa powder.
For the Buttercream: 500g soft butter, 120ml milk, 2 tsp vanilla extract, 800g sifted icing sugar, and 200g cocoa powder.
For the Icing and Decoration: brown fondant, polystyrene dummy cake, toothpicks, light brown/gold fondant, thick straws, gold chocolate coins, and various colours of candy necklaces.
Equipment Needed: three rectangular 9x13-inch baking pans (or a pan for sheet cakes), a large bowl, a whisk, a rolling pin, and a large cake board.
For the Treasure Chest Cake:
Preheat the oven to 180°C, then grease and line your baking tins with parchment paper.
1) Mix the butter and sugar in a large bowl until smooth and creamy.
2) Add two eggs, and the vanilla extract, then whisk well.
3) Whisk in the remaining eggs, two at a time, until fully combined.
4) Sift in the baking powder, flour, and cocoa powder - then fold gently.
5) Split the mixture between the three tins evenly, smoothing the top with the back of a spoon, and then place in the oven for 25 minutes - or until a toothpick comes out clean.
6) Remove the cakes from the oven and allow to cool slightly. Remove the cakes from their tins and allow them to finish cooling.
For the Treasure Cake's Buttercream:
1) Mix together the butter and milk in a large bowl.
2) Add the icing sugar and cocoa powder in bit by bit, mixing well each time.
3) Add the vanilla extract and mix again - and voila, the buttercream is ready for your cake! (Tip: If you find that the mixture is a little too thick or dry, add a splash of milk!)
For the Pirate Chest Cake Decoration:
1) Spread a little buttercream on your cake board and stick down the first layer of rectangular cake.
2) Sandwich the remaining two layers on top with a layer of buttercream.
3) Spread the rest of the buttercream on all sides of the cake, and use either a knife, a scraper, or even a firm bit of cardboard to smooth the edges and flatten it out.
4) Roll out your brown fondant, and use a knife to cut a piece to fit the top of the cake. Gently place this on top.
5) Cut out four more pieces to match each of the sides of the cake, and use the tip of a sharp knife to run along the fondant, creating an old wood pattern.
6) Stick these onto the sides of the cake, trimming and moulding as you see fit.
7) Now it's time to make the lid of your pirate treasure chest birthday cake. Cut your polystyrene dummy cake in half (into two semi-circular pieces), using the sides as you need to create a rounded lid that matches the size of the cake. Use a toothpick to stick pieces together if you need to!
8) Use the remaining buttercream and brown fondant to cover the dummy cake lid, once again using a knife to draw the pattern of wood.
9) Gently stick three or four thick straws down into the rectangular base of the cake, protruding a few centimetres at the front and less at the back so that you can balance your lid onto the treasure chest and it gives the illusion of being open slightly.
10) Using your lighter brown or gold fondant, cut out any extra additions that you wish. These could be a lock on the chest, a key-shaped hole, a skull and bones, thick strips for side panels, a crest, and so on. Stick these onto the chest.
11) Finally, fill the cracked open chest with candy necklaces, chocolate coins, and anything else you wish to add.
12) Admire your amazing chocolate treasure cake, and make it a birthday party to remember!
Tips, Tricks, and Substitutes:
For the best experience (and most tasty), we'd recommend eating the cake the same day or the next day - but if you do wish to store it for longer, seal it in an airtight container for up to three-four days at room temperature, or wrap it up and freeze it in a safe container for up to three months. We'd also suggest that this cake is best-suited to those over one year, with those over five being able to lend a helping hand in the making of it!
Vegan butter, egg, and milk substitutes can all be used in the case of dietary restrictions or allergies. There are also a variety of fondant brands that cater to vegans.
When it comes to other pirate cake ideas (in terms of decoration), you can use KitKats to line the cake instead of fondant for a panelled look, or can simply use chocolate buttercream alone. Instead of using a knife to create a wood-look on the fondant by hand, you can also purchase a fondant impression mat online to create a gorgeous texture!
If you enjoyed our treasure chest cake tutorial, you may also want to take a look at the other cake recipes we have for you!
Rachel grew up in Switzerland and currently lives in north-west London. She is an avid reader, writer, and a real foodie and loves discovering new hotspots and trendy places to go in the city. She also enjoys planning days out for her family, she especially loves taking her little cousins swimming and to the park. When she has some free time she loves going to concerts, baking, or visiting her family at their home in Essex. She can sometimes be found travelling a bit further than Essex and loves meticulously planning and researching a trip before heading off to explore new places in Europe and further afield.