Birthday Boy’s Jungle Cake

This commission was a follow up from the last jungle cake I did. The gentleman ordering the cake was hosting a party for his son and decided he’d like a similarly themed tiered cake with a few changes. He also wanted a batch of cupcakes, but we’ll save that one for another post. This one is going to be fairly pic heavy, so if you’re on dial up you’re about to really dislike me.

The cake itself was two flavours: the top tier orange and the bottom tier chocolate. Both were layered with cream and crumb coated in chocolate buttercream before being covered in marshmallow fondant.

Here’s a top view – you can sorta see the marbling effect through the leaves.

And here’s the back.

The main request was for a giraffe, which was great because I’d wanted to do one on that last cake but went with a zebra instead for symmetry.

The giraffe was the first fondant figure I made and, due to the bulk of it, it required a lot of drying time. And so he sat on my shelf watching over me as I worked on all the other elements for the cake and cupcakes. He received the name Ralph, which developed into Ralphred at some point between 2am and delirium. I got very emotionally attached to that lump of sugar.

Accompanying Ralphred was the cheeky Frederick. They are my friends.

… yeah, this is what 20 hours of fondant work will do to you.

The birthday boy’s name graced the “front” of the cake on alpha-blocks and so this is where most of the attention was drawn, but due to my ‘no fronts’ philosophy, there was plenty of action on all sides of the cake.

There were a few snakes.

A monorail lion.

Various beetles hiding from the watchful Frederick.

And a hedgehog… which is where I believe this cake departs from being a jungle cake and turns into an animal cake. but lets not get all Zoologist here.

I was having kittens delivering the cake, not helped by the heat of the day which meant I made by boyfriend blast the air-conditioning for the entire 40 minute drive to the party. We were cold, but the cake and cupcakes didn’t melt and we managed to arrive without anything falling over — success!

This was the first cake I’d been commissioned to do where I was present at the actual event it was for. Considering I am an incredibly introverted and inwardly pessimistic individual who has a bad habit of pointing out the flaws in everything I do, being there with the cake was both nerve racking and embarrassing. The recipients were pleased, and I was told stories of guests wanting to know where it came from and praising it, which my social skills are ill equipped to handle. But the most striking thing was seeing that no one really cared about all the tiny things I become mortified about. Watching the parents with their kids grabbing cupcakes and saying, “Look, it’s a bee!” and watching them revel in what they perceived to be cuteness was as humbling as it was eye opening. It was really lovely.

And of course, the kids themselves could care less about any concept of perfection. It was sugar. It was brightly coloured and shaped like animals. But best of all, it was cake. WIN. While everyone assembled around the cake and the parents got everyone ready, the kids buzzed around excitedly, shouting “CUPCAKES” and bursting at the seams to have some.

I was asked if it was painful to watch my creation be cut up. Not at all. After all that time and effort, I couldn’t wait to see them stab into the cake.
As long as Ralphred survived.
It was not to be. The second the adults’ backs were turned, the kids dove for Ralphred, tearing off his horns, ears and mane. His sugary self never stood a chance!

Once happy birthday was sung and the cake was cut, it disappeared with astonishing speed. Within half an hour the only trace of the cake was the bald Ralphred who had been spared a worse fate by the distraction of cake. It was weird to watch two days of work disappear in such a short time, but similarly lovely to see. Home parties usually end up with excess amount of cake that need to be divvied up and sent home with the guests. Empty plates make for a happy cook.

A friend of the customer and budding photographer took a whole heap of snaps on the day, and I’ve been given permission to share a few of them with you.

A collage of the cake photos, including the most awesome candle in the world.

Cutting the cake.

Birthday boy om nom.

And now the the recipes! I used a double quantity of both these cakes. The orange cake is the one used for the first jungle cake, and the bottom tier of dark chocolate cake was the same seen used for the Gateau Foresteire

Gateau Forestiere


125g (4 oz) butter, softened
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup caster sugar
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 tsp vanilla essence
1/2 cup plain (all-purpose) flour
3/4 cup self-raising flour
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1.4 cup hot water
1 cup buttermilk


1. Preheat oven to 180°C/350°F
2. Cream butter and sugar in a large bowl until light and creamy; add eggs gradually, beating well after each addition. Add essence; beat until combined.
3. Using a metal spoon, fold in sifted flours, soda and cocoa alternatively with water and milk. Stir until well combined.
4. Pour into prepared tin; smooth surface. Bake for 45-50 minutes. Leave cake in tin for 20 minutes, then turn onto wire rack to cool.


Almond Orange Halva Cake


125g (4 oz) butter, softened
2 tsp grated orange rind
1/2 cup caster (superfine) sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp baking powder
1 cup semolina
1 cup ground almonds
3 tbsp orange juice


1. Preheat oven to 180°C/350°F
2. Cream butter rind and sugar until light and fluffy; beat in eggs one at a time until combined
3. Stir in the dry ingredients and the orange juice, half at a time.
4. Pour mixture into prepared pan, bake for 40 minutes. Allow to cool for 10 minutes in tin, then turn onto wire rack to cool.

** If not icing this cake, it is typically served brushed with an orange syrup.



6 thoughts on “Birthday Boy’s Jungle Cake

  1. I loved seeing and hearing people’s reactions, and was glad you got to see that too.

    I was especially nice to see it all go on the day. But a weird feeling, knowing how long you spent on it.

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