If your kids love going to feed the ducks in the park then this duck birthday cake will really make them smile. It's a simple vanilla sponge cake sandwiched with buttercream, covered in cream and decorated with yellow fondant ducks. If you're looking for an original and eye-catching cake that looks great but is not difficult to make then do try it!
It was my daughter's 3rd birthday recently and as Little Miss Spice is still obsessed by ducks, there was only one possibility for the cake. Not Peppa Pig. Not princesses. It had to be a duck cake.
I came across this duck birthday cake in Cakes and Cake Decorating by Angela Nilsen and Sarah Maxwell and knew I had to copy the way it was decorated. Once I'd shown Little Miss Spice the picture, there was no backing out.
How Easy is this Duck Birthday Cake to Make?
Although it looked impressive in the book, it was basically a matter of just assembling the individual parts. I liked the look of the green jelly on the cake. It made the cake more interesting and just a little bit different from many of the other birthday cakes I've seen.
What would I do differently next time?
I made the cake (using my own recipe) and prepared everything the day before. I thought I would just put it together quickly on the morning of the party. The night before I'd whipped up some cream with a little green food colouring and icing sugar till it stood in fairly stiff peaks, the perfect consistency for spreading on the top and sides of the cake. What could go wrong?
The next morning I took it out of the fridge, expecting it to be exactly the same as when I'd made it. I held my palette knife in one hand and tipped up the bowl above the cake with the other hand, thinking I might need to help the cream out of the bowl when instead it all plopped out and ran down the sides of the cake.
What had started as double cream appeared to have returned to being double cream, albeit with a greenish tinge. This was not how the cake decorating was supposed to go.
As I complained about it, Little Miss Spice piped up with, Why is my cake not good enough? Arggh. Do you mind if it doesn't look perfect? I asked her. Yes, she replied. Arrrggggghhh again.
Could I scrape it off and rewhip it? Would it work or would it just be full of crumbs? I didn't want to risk it. There was no time to go out and buy more cream before the party. It would just have to do.
I sprinkled on the green desiccated coconut and most of it just slid down the sides of the cake too. I put the green jelly in the middle and another landslide began.
Should I have stuck to fondant or buttercream? I was fearing this duck birthday cake was not going to be remembered for the right reasons.
I didn't risk adding the fondant ducks and grass or the marshmallow flowers in advance. The last minute decorating was going to have to happen at the party.
What was the Verdict on the cake?
Later, as a room full of three-year-olds looked on, I hastily finished off the cake. After telling everyone it was a disaster, it actually looked quite good. It cut well, no more of it had collapsed and it tasted great.
The lime jelly on the top was a really good addition. If you've never tried jelly on a cake before then try it, it may look a mess but it went really well with the cream and the coconut.
Now, I know I may have scared you off by telling you this cake was a disaster but really, don't let that put you off. With just the small tweak of not adding food colour to the cream I'm sure it would be perfect.
And even if you have the same near disastrous adventure that I had, it will still be worth it for the taste of the finished cake.
Recipe for Duck Birthday Cake
Duck Birthday Cake
Ingredients for the Cake
- 300 g butter at room temperature
- 300 g sugar
- 5 eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 350 g self-raising flour
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
Ingredients for the Buttercream
- 125 g butter at room temperature
- 250 g icing sugar
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
Ingredients for the cream
- 300 g double cream
- 2 tablespoon icing sugar
Other Ingredients to Decorate the Cake
- 250 g desiccated coconut
- Green food colour
- Green ready to roll icing
- black ready to roll icing
- yellow ready to roll icing
- Green jelly
How to Make the Cake
- Grease and line a deep 20cm cake tin. Heat the oven to 140°C.
- In a food mixer, beat the butter and sugar together until they are light in colour. Beat in the eggs, one at a time then the vanilla extract.
- Sift the flour and baking powder and fold into the mixture. Pour the mixture into the prepared cake tin and bake in the oven for about 1.5 hours.
- Test the cake with a skewer to see if it's ready. If the skewer comes out clean it is ready. If not then bake for another 10 minutes and then test it again.
- Remove the cake from the tin after 5 minutes and leave it to cool completely on a wire rack.
How to Make all the Elements to Decorate the Cake
- Make the jelly according to the pack instructions and put in the fridge to set.
- Make the buttercream by beating together the butter, icing sugar and vanilla.
- Whisk the cream until it hold stiff peaks and then beat in the icing sugar. Note: I added some green food colour but I think this is what caused the cream to go runny again so I would omit it in future.
- Using a fork and your fingers, mix the green food colour into the desiccated coconut.
- Dust a work surface with a little icing sugar and then roll out the yellow fondant icing till it is about 7mm thick. Cut out duck shapes using a cutter or just a knife. Use a little black fondant to make the eyes. Press the ducks onto cake pop sticks and leave them somewhere flat to dry out and go hard.
- Using a garlic press, fill it with a ball of green fondant icing and push it through the holes to make the bits of grass. Leave them to dry and go hard.
- Using a rolling pin, flatten the marshmallows and then using some scissors, snip them about five times around the edges so they look a little like petals.
How to Assemble the Duck Birthday Cake
- Using a bread knife, slice the cake into 3 layers. Spread the buttercream on the bottom and middle layer and stack the layers back together again.
- Spread the cream over the top and sides of the cake.
- Cover the sides of the cake and the outside of the top of the cake (going about 3-4cm in) with the green desiccated coconut.
- Spoon some of the green jelly into the middle of the cake.
- Put some of the fondant grass on the desiccated coconut, around the edge of the green jelly.
- Stick the ducks into the cake.
- Put some marshmallow flowers around the bottom of the cake.
More recipes you might like
Why not also check out my duck pond cake?
Places I'm sharing this duck birthday cake
I am linking this to Love Cake at JibberJabberUK. The theme is Colour Me Pretty.
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Johanna @ Green Gourmet Giraffe
that cake is gorgeous - cream and jelly are very challenging for me - I had thought the cream would firm up in the fridge which has been my experience with my mum who whips cream a lot and sometimes sticks leftovers in the fridge. - love the ducks and the pond with the grass - brilliant
I thought the cream would stay firm in the fridge too and the only reason I can think that it didn't was that it had food colour in it. At least I've learnt my lesson in a way I'll never forget!
What a save in the end! I think your duck pond looks fab and I love the lime jelly pond water on top.
Corina your cake looks lovely, you should be proud. 🙂
Thank you so much! I am quite proud and loved the end result even if it didn't quite go according to plan.
This makes me think of springtime, Easter, joy and fun. It is adorable!
I'm so glad you like it. It's not perfect looking but it is a cake that's important to me and it tasted delicious!