A fun guide to everything birthday cakes, recipes, cake designs, cake decoration, serving suggestions and even ways to store it until party time … did someone say cake?
From classic cakes to vegetarian cakes to novelty cakes and even tiny cupcakes, birthdays cakes come in all shapes, sizes, flavors, and themes.
It’s not unusual to be unusual these days, so don’t be surprised to see requests for a big black spider cake or be mixing something vaguely victoria sponge and more grunge sponge, if you are into baking it yourself.
This complete guide to birthday cakes is packed with ideas and tips for buying or baking your own fabulous birthday cakes and making someones special day just perfect.
- What cake size you really need
- Cake types, flavors, recipes, including for special diets
- Cake decoration including messages for that added touch
- Bonus baking tips
- Perfect cake designs for children, teenagers, adults, and special milestones
- How to decorate your cake
- How to store and transport your cake
- Cake designs & inspiration
So happy baking or caking shall we say!
What cake size do you really need?
Getting a big enough cake to feed all the hungry mouths at a party is a task in itself and let’s be honest everyone love cake! So instead of scratching your head guessing how many cake portions do you need, why not calculate how many guests you will have, taking into consideration any excessive eating habits and then use this handy portion guide to help you work out how big a cake it needs to be.
Birthday cake flavours, recipes, and special diets
One of the keys to any great birthday cake is how it tastes. Ingredients range from basic flour sponges to luxurious chocolate and Turkish delight. Whatever your preferred taste is, here are some great cake recipes to find off the shelf or bake your own.
Did you know?Chocolate cake is ‘officially’ the most delicious cake. At least, that’s the result of 65,000 votes on ranker.com, where chocolate cake ranks #1 among 95 types of cakes.
Classic sponge birthday cakes
Victoria Sponge – This is a simple, classic party cake. A safe choice if you can’t decide.Chocolate Victoria Sponge – How do you make a time-tested recipe even better? Just add chocolate.Lemon curd sponge cake – This is a cake with a strong contrast in texture between the dry sponge and a moist filling.Piñata – Cake with sweets inside? Who could say no?
Silence an entire room with this moist and creamy cake recipe from Inspired Taste.
Gorgeous looking, special diet friendly chocolate cake – This cake looks delicious, and the recipe has gluten-free, dairy-free, and egg-free versions.Guilt-free chocolate cake – This low-calorie recipe uses dark chocolate, coffee, powdered peanut butter, and almond milk. It’s a popular cake for kids parties too.Chocolate-Peanut Butter Cheesecake with Chocolate Glaze – This cake’s edge isn’t its sweetness, but its consistency and a glossy chocolate glaze on top.
Cakes for Special Diets
Vegan birthday cakes
Vanilla birthday cake – This is a vegan vanilla cake your non-vegan guests will love too.Vegan chocolate chunk cheesecake – This delicious cake doubles as a gluten-free option if you use buckwheat instead of oats.
Gluten-free birthday cake
Chocolate peanut butter cupcake – This is gluten-free cake is border-line sorcery.Strawberry vanilla almond cream layer cake – A wonderful cake free of gluten, dairy, and refined sugar.Chocolate hazelnut cake – This cake has all the essential components of Nutella, without using Nutella.Devil’s food cake – A simple, rich, and sweet cake recipe, which can be made as cupcakes and a layer cake as well.Fudge cake – This all-time favourite candidate gluten-free fudge cake takes only 15 minutes to prepare (and 35 minutes to cook).Sponge cake – This light and airy sponge cake is perfect if you want something you can add creative ideas to. Works well with fruits, syrup, whipped cream, and more.
Nut-free paleo carrot cake – This cake doesn’t look like a typical birthday cake, but it’s a trade-off your Paleo-guests will be probably happy to make.
Something Different Birthday Cakes
If you fancy something different or a cake you don’t even have to bake at all, why not check out these amazing little ideas below.
Oreo refrigirator cake – It has Oreo in it. It’s a cake. What a way to celebrate!Cereal bits on the outside – Martha Stewart’s cake recipe has a chocolate-marshmallow icing under the surface kids will love.No bake cheesecake bars – This gorgeous looking cake only takes 15 minutes to prepare (+4 hours refrigeration time).No bake cheesecake – This is essentially the same as the previous recipe, but in a cake shape.
The Ultimate Birthday Cupcake – Starting with the big gun, this is a classic cupcake with Meringue frosting and chocolate shellMochaccino cupcakes – This recipe isn’t for the faint of heart: it uses real coffee, takes over 2 hours to make, and comes with an edible cookie straw.Somewhere over the rainbow cupcakes – These cute, colourful cupcakes are perfect for a birthday party with lots of kids.
Baking Tips (Bonus)
If you decide to bake your own birthday cake but you’ve never done it before or just want to perfect your craft, here are some great resources to help you develop your Masterchef accreditation.
How to bake a cake
- Learn to bake a cake from scratch – This guide from The Kitchn walks you through baking a classic yellow butter cake and it also includes some neat kitchen tips.
- Chocolate cake 101 – This in-depth guide from Cook’s Country aims at frequent cake-baking mistakes and gives detailed instructions for every step of the cake making.
- Become a better baker – This guide from Foodal isn’t a recipe, but it includes advanced tips on getting the most out of your ingredients, recipes, and tools.
- Up your game with better equipment – Find out how to become a baking superheroine/superhero with the BBC Good Food team’s baking tools list and review.
Cake decoration is the icing on any cake (mind the pun). Be it icing, marzipan, fruit, or something else, finishing off your cake with a special message or a bit of finesse will truly make it the highlight of the party. Check out some ideas and tips below.
Creative cake topping ideas – Get inspired by this collection of food-based cake topping ideas.
link to our birthday messages guideFunny messages for all ages – This page is packed with inspiration for funny messages. “You’re Too Old to Eat This”.Thoughtful birthday quotes – “Turning 30 is a piece of cake.” – Anonymous
Happy Birthday ribbons – The Cake Craft Shop has every type of ribbon you may need for kids’ and adult parties. Check out their black ribbons for stylish birthdays.Decorate a cake using plain ribbons – These tips will take your cake to the next level.Personalised cake ribbons – Order personalised ribbons with shared memories and festive messages from Bags of Love.
Birthday Cake Decorations
Accessorising you cake is the new trend. Be it sparkly candles or elegant fruits, we have a lot of great ideas for you.
- Custom cake decorations – Get some customised name tags, numbers, or ribbons for your birthday cake from Not on the High Street.
- Standard cake decorations – These are some affordable cake toppers from Hobby Craft.
- Creative decorations – Cake Craft World sells tons of creative cake toppers, cupcake stands, and figurines.
- Sprinkles and sparkles – Party Delights has dragees, sugar strands, and edible sprinkles in every colour.
Be it home baked or bought from a store, the design of a birthday cake is what will ultimately make your cake the star of any party. Capturing the recipients’ personality, hobbies, or interest is always popular and we have a range of ideas below to help you do just that.
Birthday cakes for all kids
Commercial cake collections:
- Customised vanilla cakes and chocolate cakes – Party Pieces offers 100+ handmade cakes made from free range eggs for £17.99. The cakes are suitable for vegetarians and make 12 large or 18 small portions.
- Personalised cakes (with name/age) – Choose from Bakerdays’ 675 birthday cake designs and a filter for gender, age, and main colour. They also offer custom cake designs.
Cakes we recommend:
- Peppa Pig
- Paw Patrol
- Harry Potter
For young boys
Commercial cake collections:
- Heavily customisable cakes for boys – The Cake Shop has 100+ cake ideas for boys and you can customise each for size (based on how many guests you’re expecting), choose between 1 and 3-tiers, custom messages, icing, ribbon, and message colour.
Cakes we recommend:
- Dinosaur cake
- Bake a 2D dinosaur – This is a great video guide from Betty Crocker on how to make a simple 2-dimensional T-Rex cake.
- Bake 3D dinosaur – WikiHow’s guide on making a 3D dinosaur gives detailed instructions which are helpful for beginners.
- Buy – Buy a personalised dinosaur cake from Baker Days with your son’s name or photo.
- Minecraft cake
- Bake (2D) – This Minecraft cake is a simple, no fuss bake. It uses a two-layer chocolate cake and square shaped icing. No advanced skills required, only some patience.
- Buy – Newcake’s detailed Minecraft cake shows the game’s main characters in their natural environment and it’s available in various flavours.
- Pokemon cake
- Avengers cake
- Star Wars birthday cake
- Thomas the tank engine cake
- Lego birthday cake
- Toy story cake
- Mickey Mouse cake
For young girls
Commercial cake collections:
- Custom cakes for girls – The Cake Shop has more than 100 cake ideas for girls and you can customise each of them. You can specify how many people you are planning to feed, number of tiers, personalised message, and choose unique colours for icing, ribbon, and the message.
Cakes we recommend:
- Unicorn birthday cake
- Frozen birthday cake
- Bake – An intermediate, 2-tier Frozen themed birthday cake tutorial.
- My little pony birthday cake
- Bake (2D) – This is a beginner friendly rainbow dash tutorial, without characters.
- Shopkins cake
- Mickey Mouse cake
- Disney Princess cake
Cakes for adults
- Betty Crocker birthday cakes – Amazing recipes of mouth-watering birthday cakes.
- Martha Stewart birthday cakes – While a few of these recipes are for children, Martha Stewart’s collection is a gold-mine of beautiful cakes.
- Novelty cakes
- Sport cakes
- Football cakes – Commercial cakes for major football clubs and non-club specific cakes for those who just love the sport.
Signature milestone Cakes
Reaching that perfect milestone is a big deal be it 18,21,40 or 50 and over. These perfect number ideas will help that milestone be celebrated just a little bit more.
Creative number cakes – Cakes by Robin’s bespoke numbered cakes can be tailored to fit any theme to make a really personal cake.Make your own number cakes – Make a number cake for any age using only round cakes, square cakes, and a knife.Waitrose number cakes – They make a simple last minute cake.Number cake tins – Buy a set of number cake tins and make perfect number-shaped cakes.Buy number cakes – Lola’s Cupcakes has number cakes in various styles. All of them come with additional cupcakes.
In a rush, need something now or yesterday even, no panic here’s a quick rundown of cakes available at your local supermarkets
Storing, Transporting, and Serving your Cake
Whatever you do just don’t drop the cake, phew! Keep it safe, secure and served totally delicious with these great tips.
- Keep your cake in top shape until the party – In this article, Jessie Oleson Moore, serial author of sugary books, explains how to keep your cakes fresh from the moment they leave the oven. She also gives tips on keeping leftovers fresh.
- Transporting cakes – This guide shows the best packages and methods for transporting cakes.
- Food and drink pairings
- Pair the perfect wine to your cake – Fiona Beckett, award-winning food and wine writer, lists her expert wine recommendations for every conceivable cake.
- Tea and food – This article from Twinnings isn’t specific to birthdays (or even parties), but gives a lot of tips on pairing afternoon teas with food.
- Matching coffee to food – Get the best coffee for every sweet meal
- Set up the perfect cake table – This is an excellent guide on setting up a dessert table, with inspirations for all sorts of themes.
- Candles – Choose from the most simple to the most peculiar candles, including novelty, plain, curly, tall, and number candles.
We want to make this guide just deliciously perfect so if you have some great birthday cake resources to share, get in touch, we would love to hear them and add another tier to our guide.