Pirate galleon

Pirate galleon

All-in-one chocolate cake

The Birthday Cake Book
Laura Edwards

Pirates and Treasure Island are such popular themes for small boys’ birthday parties that this is certain to be a huge success. It’s not difficult to make. Do make sure you use skewers to support the boat... my first attempt capsized!


Quantity Ingredient
2 x 20 cm squares Football boots, cake only, (7.5 cm deep)
1 1/2 quantities chocolate buttercream, (see note)

Special equipment

Quantity Ingredient
1 40 cm round or square cake drum
8 wooden skewers
wood grain-textured mat, (optional)

To decorate

Quantity Ingredient
icing sugar, to dust
250g light brown sugarpaste
10 mint rings
10 chocolate caramels
2-3 tea bags
3 sheets 13 x 8 cm white paper
pirate candles
pirate food picks


  1. Give the cakes a spell in the fridge or freezer, to make them easier to mould. Trim the surfaces of the cakes if necessary, to ensure they are flat. Cut both squares in half lengthways so that you have four cakes, each 20 cm long and 10 cm wide. Take two halves and buttercream together, making sure the top surface is the flat base of a cake. This is the central part of the galleon. Place on the drum.
  2. Take a third cake and cut it into three pieces, each measuring 10 x 6 cm. Using plenty of buttercream, stick these at the back of the boat with the top of one slightly set back. Secure with three skewers or dowels and cut them to the same level of the cake so you don’t see them.
  3. For the front of the boat, cut three triangles from the final cake. Mine measured 10 x 9 x 9 cm. Using plenty of buttercream, sandwich together, stick to the front and secure with two more skewers. Carve away the front and sides lightly to make a boat shape.
  4. Spread buttercream all over the cake. On a clean work surface dusted with icing sugar, roll out the light brown sugarpaste to about 3 mm thick. You will need to cut several 4 cm-wide strips to go all around the boat, pressed in the wood grain mat first, if using. The two middle lengths of the ship are 20 cm, 30 cm to wrap around the front and another 30 cm for the back. Make a coil of sugarpaste for the helm and press on, using buttercream to adhere if necessary. Press five mints into the buttercream each side for the portholes and, using buttercream, attach the chocolate caramel ‘cannons’ to the sugarpaste.
  5. Wet a tea bag, squeeze out most of the water, and wipe it all over all the sheets of paper. Allow to dry, then cut out six sails. The front four sails measure 13 x 8 cm and the two at the back are slightly smaller. Attach two sails to each of the three remaining skewers, then press them into the cake. Remove the small sticks from pirate food picks and glue to the tops of the skewers. Position the pirate candles. Finally, write a birthday message on one of the sails. Your ship is ready to sail!

For the buttercream

  • For the buttercream, melt 100 g 70% cocoa solids chocolate, if using, in a small heatproof bowl over simmering water, making sure the bowl does not touch the water. Cool. Alternatively, use 2 tablespoons cocoa powder. Beat 150 g really soft unsalted butter until pale and fluffy and add 200 g sifted icing sugar, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract and cocoa, if using. Beat for five minutes. Add the chocolate, if using, and beat again. It will thicken if you keep beating.
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