Pirate Ship Cake Tutorial

Pirate Ship Cake Tutorial I made this cake for Slade’s 1st birthday and his Mum didn’t want anything too scary so no skull and cross bones on this cake. It was fun to make the cake and like many of my cakes I didn’t have any idea how it would turn out and just made decisions as to style and colour as I went along.

Some materials you will need

12″ of 7mm diam wooden dowelling for the mast 12″ square cake board 375g pale blue sugar paste to cover cake board 900g brown sugar paste to cover ship

Dark Chocolate Mud Cake Recipe

I used my recipe for a 9″ square cake but I actually used a 8.5″ pan so that the cake was taller than usual. 400g butter 325g dark chocolate 1.5 tblsp coffee granules 2 cups warm water 2.5 cups of Self raising flour 1.5 cups caster sugar 0.5 cups cocoa powder 3 large eggs 1.5 tsp vanilla


1. Grease and line base and sides of cake pan with one thickness of baking paper, bringing paper 5cm above side of pan.
2. Combine chopped butter, chopped chocolate, coffee, and water in a saucepan.
Stir over low heat until chocolate is melted. Cool 15 minutes. Transfer mixture to bowl of mixer.
3. Add caster sugar to mixture and beat well until dissolved. Add sifted flour and cocoa, lightly beaten eggs and vanilla.
4. Pour mixture into prepared pan.
5. Bake at 150C for 1.5-2 hours . Test with skewer. Cool cake in pan.
Make the Dark Chocolate Ganache
although I am asking you to make a lot of ganache, you will need a lot to give the ship its bulging shape and any extra can be frozen till your next cake project.

1.9 kg dark chocolate, finely chopped 600ml pure cream

Method: Heat the cream until it just starts to bubble, pour over chocolate (which you have blitzed in the food processor to coffee granules size) and let it sit for about a minute to melt. Use a hand whisk to blend it all together then set aside to cool.
Your ganache at this point will be thin. You will have to let it set overnight until it thickens to a slightly thicker peanut butter consistency. Since I don’t have the patience to wait, I just let it cool to room temperature and then pop it in the fridge (don’t cover because you might get condensation). It would  usually set in the fridge in about an hour or two. If it sets too hard, just microwave it in 10 second intervals (keep mixing it whenever you take it out) till it is easy to work with.
For more information on how to make ganache and cover your cake with it, please click here.

Set up Board

first of all measure out a rectangle 11 x 22 cm then round the corners off to make the ship template which will also be used as the set up board and the edge can be followed when ganaching..

Set up board
Set up board
Once you are happy with the shape cut it out.

Building the ship

Cut the cake in half.
Cut cake in half
Cut cake in half
Use the template / set up board to cut out the hull shape on both halves of the cake.
Use the template to cut out the hull
Use the template to cut out the hull
Cut dome off top and turn upside down and attach to set up board with some ganache
Now cut in half horizontally and fill with ganache.
Now take the other half of the cake it horizontally into 2 pieces
Take one piece and cut into 3 sections.
Cut into 3 pieces
Cut into 3 pieces
Use ganache to attach 2 of these pieces to your ship.
Building the ship
Now take the final piece and cut into 3 pieces.
Cut into 3 pieces
Use ganache to attach 2 of these pieces to your ship.
Constructing the ship
Use up all the leftover pieces of cake to create the Pirate Ship shape that pleases you the best.
Cover with a crumb coat of ganache (a thin layer of ganache to seal in all the crumbs).
Place in the fridge till it firms up.
Add ganache to create final shape, making a nice rounded shape.

Ganache crumb coat

Leave on bench to harden (overnight if possible)
Sugar paste
Paint a thin layer of water onto your cake board and cover with pale blue sugar paste.
Measure the length and sides of your ship so you know the size of the oval piece of brown sugar paste you will need to cover your ship.
Paint a thin layer of water over the entire ship and cover with the one large piece of sugar paste.
Use smoothers to smooth your sugar paste.
Cover with sugar paste
Make marks on side of ship to resemble old wooden planks.
Create an old wooden plank effect
Create an old wooden plank effect

I created some stripes in Photoshop and a birthday message for Slade on lightweight card and cut out a small square with the birthday message as the top sail and a larger square as the bottom square. Use a ‘hole punch’ to make holes for the mast.

Create stripes and a birthday message in Photoshop
Create stripes and a birthday message in Photoshop

Roll out some of the left over brown sugar paste into a long thin sausage shape and cut 22 pillars of equal length. use fingers to make each one as cylindrical as possible and stick to ship with a little water, edible glue or egg white.

Add some tiny pillars around the decks
Add some tiny pillars around the decks

Cut out some port holes, windows, doors and handrails. Use a piping bag to pipe some pale blue Royal Icing around the windows etc. to add interest. Leave overnight to firm up.

Windows, port holes and handrails.
Windows, port holes and handrails.

Stick all the remaining bits and bobs to the ship and set sail for the open seas.

The Pirate Ship completed.
The Pirate Ship completed.
Pirate Ship Cake

24 thoughts on “Pirate Ship Cake Tutorial

  1. Thank you so much for this great tutorial. I have to make a pirate ship cake in 2 weeks and I will definitely use this.

  2. Hi there! I’m from Singapore and I am making the chocolate ganache. However, do you have any other substitution for pure cream if I can’t find it from my supermarket? Is whipped cream the same?

    1. You will need to use double cream which has not been whipped as you will need to heat it up to just before boiling point before adding the chocolate.

    2. Any really thick cream will do just keep away from cream with added thickeners. In Australia we keep away from a product called ‘Thickened Cream’…although I did use it once in an emergency and it worked well:)

  3. The cake looks amazing and I’m going to make it for my sons 4th birthday .i don’t know how to make sugar paste ?

  4. Hello, I followed your tutorial for the cake and it was easier than I thought it would be. My 3 year old little girl loved it and it was very tasty. Thanks for the clear instructions. It was just as needed. You do have a typo for ganache. It should say 0.9 kg chocolate. I whizzed up the lot mentioned and then realised I had too much! I would love to post a picture from my attempt but not sure how…

    1. This is the Pirate Ship that Joo Lloyd made. I think it is amazing and is an example of how to great result without following my tutorial exactly. Joo has used orange card for the sails and small flakes for the handrails and I think that shows great individuality.

  5. read the comments , could you confirm if the ganache amounts are correct, is it 1.9kg or 0.9kg of dark chocolate, thanks

    1. I use 1.9kg of dark chocolate to get a really hard ganache finish. This can cause problems with the ganache splitting and so you may prefer to use 1.2kg of dark chocolate to 600ml pure cream (as per the Planet Cake Book) or any value in between.

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