SERVES 20-24


2 x 20cm square, 7.5cm deep

All-in-one Chocolate Cake

225g unsalted butter, really soft, diced

180g self-raising flour

More like this

1 tsp baking powder

4 eggs, lightly beaten

225g golden caster sugar

1 tsp vanilla extract

3 tbsp cocoa powder, mixed to a loose paste with 3-4 tbsp boiling water and cooled

Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/gas mark 4. Butter a 20cm deep square tin and line the base with baking parchment. Sift the flour and baking powder into a bowl, add the butter, eggs, sugar, vanilla and cocoa paste. Beat together but do not over-mix. Scrape into the tine. Bake for 35-40 minutes or until a skewer emerges clean. Remove fromt he oven, leafe for a few minutes, then turn on to a wire rack to cool completely. Remove the papers.

Chocolate Buttercream recipe

150g 70% cocoa solids chocolate, chopped, or 3 tbsp cocoa powder

225g unsalted butter, really soft

300g icing sugar, sifted

1.5 tsp vanilla extract

Melt the chocolate, if using, in a small heatproof bowl over simmering water, making sure the bowl does not touch the water. Cool. Beat the butter until pale and fluffy and add the icing sugar, vanilla and cocoa, if using. Beat for five minutes. Add the chocolate, if using, and beat again. It will thicken if you keep beating.

Special equipment

40cm round or square cake drum

8 wooden skewers (or plastic

dowelling rods)

wood grain-textured mat


To decorate

icing sugar, to dust

250g light brown sugarpaste

(or white sugarpaste and

brown food colour paste)

10 mint rings

10 chocolate caramels

2–3 tea bags

3 sheets 13x8cm white paper

pirate food picks

(see suppliers, p188)


pirate candles

(see suppliers, p188)

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!

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 20cm long and 10cm 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.

Take a third cake and cut it into three pieces, each measuring 10x6cm. 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.

For the front of the boat, cut three triangles from the final cake. Mine measured 10x9x9cm. 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.

Spread buttercream all over the cake. On a clean work surface dusted with icing sugar, roll out the light brown sugarpaste to about 3mm thick. You will need to cut several 4cm-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 20cm, 30cm to wrap around the front and another 30cm 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.


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 13x8cm 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!