Birthday Cakes: Adults

Retro chic or racy cheek? Whoever they are and whatever floats their boat, you’ll find a birthday idea for them here. Begin with a delicious classic cake – chocolate, lemon, coffee and Plain Sponge are always popular – then whip up a batch of butter icing, and let the fun begin!

Note on icing: If you’re new to cake decorating, first read our article on Working with Icing to make sure your sugarcraft goes without a hitch!

Sports Cakes

If your cake is designed for a sports fan, a themed cake will go down a storm – and they couldn’t be easier. Bake your choice of sponge in a rectangular tin, and cover in butter icing, tinted to create a golf course, swimming pool, rugby pitch or ski slope. If you’re confident, use fondant icing to model little figures (or get the kids to do this) in the shape of golf players, swimmers (or, more accurately, swimmers’ arms and heads!) or burly rugby players. If this sounds a little adventurous, you’ll find figures in toy shops or online to give your design the finishing touches.


Although they take some time, caricature models turn your cake into something very personal and humorous! Visit the site of any professional cake decorator and you’ll find this type of cake. In fact, modelling caricatures is relatively straightforward, and undoubtedly easier than piping intricate swags and ribbons.

Make up a batch of sugarpaste by blending 2oz butter with 2tbsp lemon juice, 2tbsp water and 10oz sieved icing sugar.

Then colour it using a selection of food colourings, and create your model. Pick a feature – like eyes, nose or ears – to exaggerate for comic effect.

Add the right sort of hair (using a cocktail stick to draw texture) and put your model in a silly pose. How about:

  • Lying in bed (lay model flat, and cover with a ‘duvet’ made from rolled icing)
  • Sunbathing on a beach towel
  • Walking the dog
  • Dancing
  • Jogging in the park
  • Passed out with a bottle of champagne in hand!

Showgirl Cake

Here’s a glamorous idea with a retro edge!

  • Bake a generous 8” round cake, then cut out a circle right through the centre (and give it to the kids).
  • Ice as usual, then roll and cut out triangular pieces of icing to trim the hole, creating a bursting-out effect.
  • Finally, put a skimpily-dressed doll into the hole and arrange silver balls, Edible Gold Dust or marabou feathers around the edges.

Dream Car Cake

If the birthday girl or boy is a closet speed demon, surprise them by crafting their favourite car in cake and sugar! You’ll need liquorice whirls for wheels, white chocolate buttons for rear and front lights, rolled white icing for the windscreen and number plate, and rolled colour icing for the bodywork. You might find it easier to work from a picture of the car, so try searching online and print out the best shot you can find.

  • Bake two rectangular cakes of your choice. The first will be the car’s base, and you’ll use the second to build up the shape.
  • Cut a third of the second cake to use as the car’s top half. Depending on the car’s shape, you might need narrow, sausage-shaped pieces to lay on either side of the bonnet, and an extra piece to create a sloping rearview windscreen.
  • Attach the extra sponge with a little butter icing, and then cover the whole cake in rolled icing. (Red looks good.)
  • Finally, add finishing touches: a white windscreen, a personalised white number plate, chocolate button headlights, and white rolled-icing bumpers.

An Embarrassing Birthday Cake…

Take a look at our feature Imaginative Cake Decorating to find out about edible photographs – hands-down the easiest way to decorate any special cake! When it comes to adult birthdays, embarrassing photographs make great party pieces. Now all you need is a camera and a good opportunity…

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