Pirate Ship Cake

Hubby had his birthday again, as he inevitably does each year. That means THEME PARTY! This year the theme was pirates, and as usual we did it right. The cake was in the shape of a pirate ship, and it’s so easy you can even make it while hitting the rum.

You will need: one box of cake mix, any flavor; 2 cans of frosting, chocolate; bamboo skewers (you only need 2); toothpicks; 1 Hershey bar; Twizzlers or 1 Kit Kat bar; M&M’s or Skittles, or some kind of small round candy; 2 sheets printer paper for sails. 

I used box cake mix because I’m lazy, and also because for every party we have I end up running around half-dressed, decorating frantically and shrieking creative profanity. Cakes from scratch do not happen. Make the cake mix according to the instruction and make 2 round cakes. You can use either the 8″ or 9″ rounds.

Make sure to use baking spray in the cake pans before you pour the batter in, or else getting them out of the pans will be a nightmare. Let them cool completely (not warm, not slightly above room temperature, COOL), then run a butter knife around the edge. Now flip it out onto a large cutting board. Cut it in half.

Spread icing on one half.

Flip the other half on top to make a giant cake sandwich. Do the same with the other cake so you end up with 4 cake halves iced and stacked up. Icing the outside of the cake is easier if you make sure the bottom of the cake, i.e. the part that was touching the metal of the cake pan, ends up facing outward on your cake stack. Eagle-eyed readers may notice that I didn’t do that, making this one of those “learn from my fail” moments that are so common in my writing style. The bottoms of the cakes are much sturdier and flatter, and hold up much better when icing is spread over them.

Yes, this is a picture of 3 cake pieces stacked up, not 4. That’s because, yet again, I learned from the process of making the cake, and am sharing that hard-earned knowledge with you. With just the 3 halves of cake, the base was not wide enough, and the whole thing started to slump. I caught it, which coated my hand in icing. A delicious, though inconvenient, mistake. And yes, I washed my hands after licking all the frosting off. Probably.

Once you have your stack, slice a bit off the bottom of the curve. Retain the cut pieces for the future. In this picture you can see the top of the cake rather than the bottom facing upward, mocking me with its un-iceable surface.

Stand the cake up on the bottom you just created, and pray it stays upright. If you used your 4 cake halves it should be fairly sturdy. If not, you have plenty of those skewers to hold this bad boy together. I attached 2 of the smaller cake chunks to the back of the ship, where the rudder will be attached.

I attached a larger piece to the front to be the prow. I ended up sticking it on with toothpicks when it misbehaved.

And then coat the whole thing in so much icing no one will see any flaws.

To make little railings to go along the back of the ship, I used toothpicks burrowed into Kit Kat bars. You can also use Twizzlers if you prefer.

The rudder is a chunk of Hershey bar jammed between those two cake pieces I stuck to the back.

Hubby got super artistic with the sails (which was fully expected). You can either use plain paper, print a Jolly Roger on them, or make them all tattery like this. Just stab the skewer in at the top, then down through the bottom, then stick it in the cake.

I used M&Ms for portholes, and more Hershey bar for railings at the front of the ship.

It came out pretty good, and damn tasty. There were no leftovers!!


March 1, 2012. Tags: , , , , , , , . Arts and Crafts, Cooking.


  1. Easy Pirate Party Decorations « My Attempts at Cleverness replied:

    […] wanted a pirate themed birthday party this year, so in preparation I made a cake, worked on my costume, and of course decorated. For our roomie Lea’s birthday, we had a […]

  2. TextileRanger replied:

    I wanted to post the photo of your 6th birthday pirate ship cake, which was similar, but not nearly as awesome. Those sails and the rails really make the cake!

    • thatcleverchick replied:

      I think I have that photo. I should find it and add it to the post to show my inspiration!

  3. Easy Pirate Party Decorations « My Attempts at Cleverness | Party Decorations replied:

    […] wanted a pirate themed birthday party this year, so in preparation I made a cake, worked on my costume, and of course decorated. For our roomie Lea’s birthday, we had a Western […]

  4. Black replied:

    A pirate birthday cake, man you guys are awesome.

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