How To Make A Panda Cake That Kids Will Love

Bright green cake with jungle animal figures, including a panda and a tiger, on top.
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Image © blandinejoannic, under a Creative Commons license.

Looking for a super simple but very effective cake for an animal lover?

Well, this cute panda cake recipe could be the answer, with only two main colours and a cake-tin shaped base, homemade cakes don't get much easier. With so few fiddly decorations to contend with, this is also the perfect recipe to enlist the children as helpers with- unless it's a surprise!

You might not be able to have a big birthday party at the moment, but you can still have tons of fun at home with this cute panda theme. Why not craft some bamboo shoots out of paper for the table, you could go wild with a jungle theme, or go monochrome with classic black and white. How about a panda pinata to match a panda birthday cake?

We have included some more panda bear cake ideas below, hopefully, you won't be feeling 'bamboozled' about what to make after you take a look...

Ingredients:

For the cake mix: 225g  butter, 225g golden caster sugar, 225g self-raising flour, 4 large eggs, zest of ½ a lemon, 1 tsp vanilla extract, and a splash of milk.

For the buttercream frosting and panda bear features: 600g of icing sugar, 300g of unsalted butter, cocoa powder, purple food colouring (yes really!), white chocolate buttons and 200g of dark chocolate.

Equipment: 2x 20x20cm cake tins, a mixing bowl, a wooden spoon, a food processor or electric whisk, wire cooling rack, teaspoon measurements, parchment paper and a pencil.

Family of four in the kitchen baking a panda cake together.
Image © Elly Fairytale, under a Creative Commons license.

Method:

Cake:

1.Pre-heat your oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4, then butter the two cake tins, for extra non-sticking power, give them a dust of flour and pat out the excess.

2.Beat the butter and sugar together until you have a pale and fluffy mixture.

3.Add the eggs to the cake mix one at a time and whisk in well.

4.Next add in the lemon zest, vanilla extract, the flour, and a splash of milk. Whisk the cake batter to gently combine the ingredients but take care not to over mix. Divide the cake batter evenly between the two tins.

5.Pop the cake mix into the centre of the oven for 25-30 minutes. Once out of the oven, let the cakes sit in their tins for 10 minutes, then turn them out and let them finish cooling on the wire rack.  

Filling:

1.Sift 600g of icing sugar in the mixing bowl and beat with 300g  of softened butter, mix until smooth and then take out just enough for the centre of the cake. Put the remaining frosting to one side.

2.With the smaller amount of mixture you can now add your chosen flavouring. We've chosen cocoa powder but you could add lemon zest, or vanilla essence, or just keep it plain which is still pretty tasty. Mix well until you have a smooth frosting.

3.Once the cakes are cool you can spread the frosting onto the base and sandwich them together.

Black and white tiered cake, decorated with a panda face.
Image © Jana Richter, under a Creative Commons license.

Frosting:

1.To avoid crumbs getting mixed into the main frosting, you can apply a 'crumb coat' first, this is just a thin extra layer of buttercream.

2.Take your remaining buttercream, you can either add white food colouring- or amazingly if you add just the tiniest dot of purple or violet food colouring, it will somehow neutralise the cream colour of natural buttercream and turn it white! Add vanilla essence to turn it into vanilla frosting.

3.Cover the whole cake with the white vanilla frosting to start creating your panda bear using a spatula or palette knife, this looks best if you aren't too neat!

4.For the panda bear features, take your parchment paper and lay it on a baking tray. Draw two round ears, two oval shapes for the outside of the eyes and an upside down triangle for the nose.

5.Melt your dark chocolate. Then, you can use a piping bag, or freestyle with a spoon to fill the shapes you have drawn with melted chocolate. You can pipe or drizzle the shape of the panda's mouth onto the paper too. Place the tray in the fridge to set the chocolate.

6.Once the chocolate has totally set, arrange the pieces on the cake by nestling them into the frosting, take your chocolate buttons and place on top of the dark chocolate patches to create the eyes, and you're done! One very delicious and easy panda cake.

Slice of cake with white frosting, chocolate cookie crumb and a strawberry on top.
Image © Quang Nguyen Vinh, under a Creative Commons license.

More Panda Cake Ideas

  • To make this recipe dairy free to account for allergies, or make it vegan- you just need to switch out a few ingredients. Coconut oil, vegetable oil, and mashed banana can replace butter, or there are vegan spreads available.  Oat or rice milk can replace the dairy milk.
  • As an egg replacement, you could make a 'flax egg' or a 'chia egg', they create the same binding texture, and it's very hard to notice a difference once the cake is baked.
  • If you aren't a fan of dark chocolate, you could use black buttercream, and use extra sponge cake for the ears, or make some cupcakes and use those. Oreo biscuits are also a great shape for the ears.
  • Instead of one cake, you could make panda cupcakes as a 'pull apart cake'. Make plain cupcakes, arrange in the same shape, and ice with buttercream as if it is one cake- instead of slicing you simply pull it apart by taking a cupcake!
  • To add texture to the panda's fur, you could sprinkle desiccated coconut on top of the white buttercream.  
  • If you wanted to forego the icing altogether, use a sieve to dust icing sugar over the cake before adding the features.

Storage

This panda bear cake will keep in an airtight box in the fridge for 3 to 4 days, or out on the side for 1-2. If you want to bake the cake in advance, you can freeze the sponge layers, but save the icing and decorating to do on the day.

Disclaimer

Disclaimer

At Kidadl we pride ourselves on offering families original ideas to make the most of time spent together at home or out and about, wherever you are in the world. We strive to recommend the very best things, that are suggested by our community and are things we would do ourselves - our aim is to be the trusted friend to parents. 

We try our very best, but cannot guarantee perfection. We will always aim to give you accurate information at the date of publication - however, information does change, so it's important you do your own research, double-check and make the decision that is right for your family.  

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