How To Make A Skull Cake For Your Little Pirate's Birthday

Close up of woman's hands as she sticks skull icing decorations on the side of a purple pirate birthday cake.
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Image ©  antoniogravante, under a Creative Commons license.

There are plenty of pictures of birthday cakes with skulls online but we have come up with an easy skull cake that tastes as good as it looks and will be the perfect finishing touch to any pirate party.  

Our method explains how to make a skull cake as well as decorate it, and you can even get your children to help weigh out ingredients and mix them. This cake will take approximately three hours to make and will serve 10-12 people but if you have infant guests, you may wish to remove the fondant on their servings so it isn't too sweet.

Equipment

Mixing bowl.

Wooden spoon.

Sieve.

25cm square cake tin (if you have three, you can bake all the cakes at the same time).

Rolling pin.

Sharp knife.

30cm cake board.

Greaseproof paper.

Boy dressed as a pirate, with a moustache and goatee drawn on and a bandana on his head, sat on the floor outside.
Image © freepik, under a Creative Commons license.

Ingredients

For The Chocolate Cake:

300g softened butter.

300g caster sugar.

6 eggs, beaten.

240g self raising flour.

60g good quality cocoa powder.

300g good quality cherry jam.

500g chocolate buttercream.

For Cake Decorating:

500g white fondant icing.

500g black fondant icing.

150g red fondant icing.

A small amount of royal icing.

1 bag of foil-wrapped chocolate coins.

How To Make A Skull Cake:

1) Preheat the oven to 180°C/160°C fan assisted/gas mark 4.

2) Lightly grease your cake tin and line the bottom with greaseproof paper.

3) In a bowl, cream the butter and sugar together until pale in colour and fluffy.

4) Sift in a little of the flour and cocoa powder and then add an egg, mixing well. Continue until all the ingredients have been added and you have a smooth cake batter.

5) Divide the batter into three equal portions to make three cakes. Add one portion into the cake pan and smooth out the surface with the back of a wooden spoon.

6) Bake in the oven for 30-35 minutes until golden in colour and springy to the touch.

7) Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely. Repeat for the other two cakes.

8) Once completely cool, trim off the top of each cake to give a flat surface.

9) Roll out 250g of black fondant until it is large enough to cover the cake board. Cut around the board using a knife and then cover the top with the fondant that is now cut to shape.

A pirate-themed cupcake: cupcake with orange icing and a pirate ship decoration sitting on an open treasure chest.
Image © naumenkooleksandra, under a Creative Commons license.

10) Take two of the cakes. Spread one evenly on the top with chocolate buttercream and the other with cherry jam. Flip one cake onto the other to sandwich together. Carve into a skull shape using a knife and then completely cover with chocolate buttercream. Carefully move this and place onto the centre of your cake board.

11) Cut the other cake in half vertically. Spread the top of one half with jam and the other with chocolate buttercream and sandwich together. Cut the cake in half longways and then each of the pieces in half horizontally to make four rectangle-shaped pieces. These will become the crossbones of your chocolate skull cake. Carve them into bone shapes and then attach to the skull cake, with two pieces sticking out from the top half of the skull and two pieces sticking out from the bottom half in line with these. Cover completely with chocolate buttercream.

12) Roll out your white fondant until it is large enough to cover your entire cake. Use a rolling pin to lift it on to your cake and then smooth out over the whole skull cake. Trim off any excess and keep to one side.

13) Roll out the red fondant and use this to create a head bandana for your skull. Cover the top portion of the cake and trim off the excess. Use the excess to make the end ties of the bandana and stick these on one side with royal icing.

14) Using the rest of the black fondant, cut out one eye socket, one eye patch, the nasal cavity and mouth. Stick these in place on your skull cake using royal icing. With the trimmed white fondant, cut out some teeth and stick these on top of the mouth.  

15) Finally, place your chocolate coins in a pile on the cake board to finish the cake decorating of your skull birthday cake.

Three kids wearing party hats at around a table smiling and waiting to eat cake.
Image © zinkevych, under a Creative Commons license.

Top Swaps

To save time, you can use a ready shaped skull cake pan to bake your cake in and use a ready made chocolate frosting to coat it. You can also use an electric whisker rather than a wooden spoon to combine your ingredients to save time.

If you don't want to use chocolate coins, you could use some pirate-themed cake toppers to add decoration such as a treasure chest, flag and even a sunken ship. If you have more guests and need more cake, why not make a batch of cupcakes and decorate them as smaller skull cakes to serve alongside?

For intolerances or allergies, you can swap caster sugar for coconut sugar, self raising flour for almond flour and use plant based or lactose free butter instead of normal butter.

Storage

This chocolate skull cake can be stored at room temperature for up to two weeks. Just keep it wrapped in film or within a storage container in a room that isn't too humid. Fondant covered cakes can be refrigerated, but again, they must be wrapped completely.

In the freezer, it will keep for up to a year. To freeze, wrap completely and then place in an airtight bag. Remove from the freezer a couple of days before you want to serve it to thaw.

Disclaimer

Disclaimer

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