How to Make a Titanic Birthday Cake

As soon as Archie announced the theme for his party, my mind raced to the cake and I knew instantly, there was no way of avoiding the issue.  It had to be the ship.  As daunting as this sounded, the good thing is a few years ago, a friend asked me to make a ship for her step-father’s birthday party.  So I’d had a trial run.  Even so, I did worry about how, as a completely self-taught home-cook, I was going to pull this off.

A ship of Titanic proportions

A ship of Titanic proportions

I knew it had to be big.  And I knew that this cake was definitely going to be sculpted so the cake itself would have to be dense and solid to handle that kind of treatment.

The beginnings

The beginnings

Remembering the cake I made for the previous ship, I whipped up two Donna Hay Melt-and-Mix White Chocolate Cakes.  These cakes are made with massive quantities; too big to be mixed in the bowl of a Kitchen Aid.  In fact, my largest bowl isn’t big enough so I ended up mixing the cakes in my biggest saucepan with a hand beater.

Shaping - so much easier if the cake is frozen

Shaping – so much easier if the cake is frozen

I made the cakes well in advance.  Another thing about making a sculpted cake is that the sculpting is so much easier if the cake is frozen.  So it’s not as if the entire business of making a sculpted cake has to be done on the day; you can make the cakes a few weeks in advance and store them in your freezer until you need to sculpt the cake.

Shaping

Shaping

The next thing you’ll need is a very large cake board.  And make sure it isn’t made of flimsy cardboard; this cake will be weighty so you’ll need a board made of masonite.

Beginning to take the right shape

Beginning to take the right shape

You’ll need to allow the better part of a day to sculpt this cake and it’s definitely preferable to have the house to yourself and not have kids and uni students marching in and out of the kitchen – or there could be a stabbing.

Assembling the ship

Assembling the ship

To make the ship, you’ll need to make two cakes.

Sculpting the ship

Sculpting the ship

Melt and Mix White Chocolate Cake Serves:  50 Degree of Difficulty:  2/5 Cost:  Moderate.  Could be cheaper if you weren’t dealing with such vast quantities.

  • 1 kg (2lb) butter, chopped
  • 4 cups (2 pints) milk
  • 8 cups caster (superfine) sugar
  • 600g (20 oz) white chocolate, chopped
  • 8 cups plain (al-purpose) flour, sifted
  • 1 1/2 tbspns baking powder
  • 1 tbspn vanilla extract
  • 8 eggs

Preheat the oven to 160C (325F).  Place the butter, milk, sugar and chocolate in a large saucepan over medium-low heat and stir until smooth.  Place the flour, baking powder, vanilla and eggs in a large bowl.  Add the chocolate mixture and use an electric hand mixer to ix until smooth. Line a 35cm (14 in) square cake tin with non-stick baking paper.  Pour in the mixture and bake for 2 hours 20 minutes or until the cake is cooked when tested with a skewer.  Allow the cake to cool in the tin, then turn out and when completely cold, wrap in plastic wrap and place in the freezer for at least 12 hours. Warning:  It took Carl and I almost seven hours to construct this cake with both of us on the job without a lunch break but there was a lot of stop/start as we did research and tried to work out what we were doing.

Covered in ganache

Covered in ganache

Archie lifts Rosie up for her stamp of approval

Archie lifts Rosie up for her stamp of approval

To Sculpt a Titanic Ship Cake Degree of Difficulty:  5/5

  • 600gms dark cooking chocolate
  • 3/4 cup cream
  • 1 x cake board 71 x 41cms (28 x 16 inches)
  • 1kg (1lb) black icing
  • 1kg white icing
  • 1kg navy blue icing
  • brown and orange food colouring
  • edible glue (available from specialty kitchenware stores)
  • black and white writing pens
  • skewers
  • tape measure
  • ruler
  • fondant smoother
  • small paint brush

Make the ganache by melting the chocolate with the cream over medium heat in a medium-sized saucepan.  When combined, removed from the heat and allow to cool until it’s slightly thickened and of spreadable consistency.

Covering the sides in black fondant

Covering the sides in black fondant

Lie the two cakes on a kitchen bench and cut out a long rectangular shape.  We used the middle section.  Place on the cake board joined end to end.

Covering the sides with white rolled fondant

Covering the sides with white rolled fondant

From the remaining cake cut out two long pieces to put on top of the rectangular pieces and join together to create a wider strip.  Cut out two additional pieces for the bow and the stern.  Keen extra cake pieces to fashion funnels.

'Timber' decking

‘Timber’ decking – bow end of the ship

Begin to sculpt cake.  (We had been loaned a book on the Titanic and one page folded out tri-fold that gave us great detail of the outside of the ship).  You’ll need a very sharp knife and a good eye.

Covering the verticals with white

Covering the verticals with white – stern end of the ship

When the cake has taken shape, cover in ganache.  As the cake has been frozen, it will still be quite cold so the ganache will set quickly.  Smooth as much as possible with a palette knife.

It's easier if you measure the pieces you need then cut them out of the icing then stick to where they need to be positioned

It’s easier if you measure the pieces you need then cut them out of the icing then stick to where they need to be positioned

Sprinkle a large kitchen bench with icing sugar.  Roll out the black icing until 3mms thick.   (Try not to turn the icing over as you roll it out as it will be difficult to remove the icing sugar from the black icing.  Using a tape measure, measure the length and height of the pieces you will need to cover the sides of the ship in black.  Then, with a ruler, cut out the pieces you need.  Carefully position the icing onto the sides of the cake (you have to be careful because the icing will stretch but don’t worry, the extra bits can easily be cut away with a knife).  Smooth the icing using the fondant smoother.

Finishing the 'Atlantic Ocean'

Finishing the ‘Atlantic Ocean’

When the parts of the ship that need to be black have been covered, take half of the white icing and tint it brown.  Mould it well so that it is well blended.  Begin to cut out the timber decking pieces and again, it’s best if you measure the pieces you need then cut out accordingly.

The funnels are now in place

The funnels are now in place

When the timber decking is complete, roll out the white icing and begin to cover the vertical pieces of the ship in white.  You might need to use a paint brush to paint on some edible glue to make the sides stick.  Smooth with fondant smoother.  The white can be tricky because you need to try hard not to get black mixed with the white.  Tint remaining white fondant orange.

All finished

All finished

Using leftover cake pieces, fashion four funnels about 1 inch in diameter and 6cms in height.  Cut bases on a slight angle so they look like they’re leaning back.  To make it easier to cover the funnels, place a skewer through the middle of them from the top to the bottom.  Holding a skewer, cover funnel in ganache, then the top third in black fondant and the bottom two-thirds in orange fondant.

The funnels

The funnels and the bridge

Use the skewer to push the funnel into place.  When the skewer touches the bottom, pull it up a little then cut it off then push it back down so that it’s now embedded and hidden within the cake. Take the writing pens and begin to draw portholes and cabins  on to the cake.  We used a picture of the Titanic to help us with this. Roll out navy blue icing until 3mms thick.  This is to cover the rest of the board and make it look like the ship is traveling through the Atlantic late at night.  Measure the pieces on the board that need to be covered then cut out the rolled navy icing accordingly.  Use the paint brush to brush the board with edible glue then affix fondant to the board.  Use the fondant smoother to smooth and join the pieces of navy icing.

RMS Titanic

RMS Titanic

Cover two skewers in remaining ganache and stick into the cake as masts. And now it’s finished! The next hurdle is moving it to your venue.  This is probably a more stressful time than the actual making of the cake.  Make sure the passageway is clear and that no small dogs or cats can leap out in front of your feet.  The cake is very heavy and so you will need your strength.  It’s also very helpful if it’s not raining! Once the cake is in position at the venue, it’s mission accomplished!

A ship of Titanic proportions

A cake of Titanic proportions

You can read more about the Titanic birthday party here. 

If you liked this post, you’re welcome to share it!

Comments

  1. My goodness, what a titanic exercise to make the Titanic. I can see why you would have stabbed anyone who bothered you. It’s wonderful that you had a first mate to help you every step of the way. He’s quite cute in an apron.

  2. Just thinking about the process stresses me out. It is completely wonderful.
    Carolyn

  3. Great to read about the cake – I was fascinated to hear how you did all those windows – they look like such fiddly work – but the whole process looks like a lot of work but something to be proud of and that Archie will remember for years to come

  4. Wow what an undertaking this was to complete. I’m so impressed! You’re so creative and a great artist. I’m sure everyone that saw this was in awe. I don’t think I’d want to even eat it and ruin this masterpiece. Great work!

  5. I’m not surprised it took 7 hours to assemble- I would so have been having kittens taking it in the car to the venue. I can’t imagine how you could top that for Miss A’s 21st but I know you will.

  6. Impressive. I would never have the patience or skill. You, and Carl, did fabulous.

  7. What a magnificent ship/cake. And like its namesake it was destined to be ‘sunk’ ;-)
    So nice that you had your expert ship-shaper to help you and I’m sure Archie was chuffed to pieces with his parents’ joint effort.

    • Greg & Judy Blaxland says:

      Well Archie, One hopes you still stand in awe of your amazing parents. We can only wonder whether this is not in fact the biggest & best cake in the world!
      We feel proud of you all in achieving & completing this titanical task.
      Greg & Judy

  8. WOW – What an EPIC cake!!! All those painstaking 7 hours of assembly sure paid off – it looks fabulous! Thanks for the detailed step by step instructions – when I first saw your cake in your earlier post, I was so intimidated, but your instructions were so good!

  9. Amazing!!!!! What a fantastic job you and Carl did.
    You make it sound so doable with your clear and easy to comprehend instructions (not that I will ever attempt). Sending your post to my sister who makes and decorates cakes, she will appreciate the work that went into completing this masterpiece and understand the degree of difficulties involved.

  10. Amazing! I couldn’t do it…I would make one tiny mistake and have to start all over a million times! Someone would definitely get hurt…or die! ;) Marvelous job well done, Charlie!! xo

  11. Watching the assembly process is fascinating. I can understand how a quiet kitchen in which you can focus is very important as there’s a lot of very detailed work to get through. Stabbing would be the least of the possible outcomes of distracting visitors. :)

  12. Wow, what an undertaking! Glad you had some help. The ship came out fabulous looking. How did it taste?

  13. Well done you! I thought it looked quite amazing!

    Wonderful! A lot of work though!!!! xxx

  14. I have enough time baking a perfectly round mundane cake. This is truly a titanic effort. Awesome!! That’s real talent.

  15. In the name of all that is holy thank you for acknowledging that this id 5/5 difficulty and no normal human could make this and you are a superhero.

  16. AMAZING piece of work, Charlie and Carl! Hehe…maybe Arabella will want the Statue of Liberty for her 21st.. :D

  17. This is an iceberg sized task to take on but you were just incredible – such skill and finesse! I am so jealous!

    Cheers
    Choc Chip Uru

  18. AMAZING.
    This blows my skirt off!
    Fabulous.
    ART. xx

  19. I think I would have had a breakdown in the middle of making this. What an amazing job you did! The detail is just fantastic!!!

  20. WOW!!!! Holy cats girl, that is one serious cake, and one lucky kid!!! You and the first mate did an amazing job! Gorgeous, Hugs, Terra

  21. Well done to you and Carl. Not many people could have pulled it off. Amazing x

  22. I am so impressed. I fear I would have faltered in the face of this challenge! I did make an enormous 3-tiered cake for my mother’s 50th birthday but it didn’t require sculpting. The biggest challenge I had with it was carrying it! It was so heavy, I was worried I’d end up dropping it between the kitchen and the outside area I was heading too. Thank goodness my muscles held up or it would have been a terrible end!!

  23. WOW, such an amazing cake, I love the pictures…gorgeous cake Charlie.
    Hope you are having a wonderful eek :D

  24. You need to submit this somewhere– it’s award worthy!

  25. I was exhausted just reading this. You did a mammoth job, what a task. Well done the end product is amazing. The planning time was definitely well thought out. It would have been stressful enough making this cake let alone trying to beat the clock. Archie owes you and Carl big time for this type of event management.

  26. Wow! Wow! Wow! I’m so impressed.

  27. Yes , looks amazing you guys did such an incredible job!

  28. Thank you for this post. When I saw the cake in the last one, the first thing I thought was “How on earth did she make it?” Now here you are. Very interesting process and quite impressive!

  29. Amazing job Charlie! I think you’re right. It had to be big in size too – after all it is called the Titanic! :D

  30. Wow, there is so much skill, care and precision needed to do this. Definitely not for the faint-hearted. When my son was small I tried making a train cake, but I didn’t know the trick of freezing it first and was almost in tears with the struggle of cutting something that crumbled away on me. Congratulations on a superb cake.
    (Now I’m wondering how you cut it)

  31. Epic. It’s quite the accomplishment and it was so nice that Carl helped you make it! I’m always skeptical on how tasty these theme cakes are but your recipe sounds delicious. Will you share how much this cost to make? I can’t imagine it was inexpensive. But it would have been ridiculous to buy it made at a bakery! Kudos to you both on such a fantastic job.you should make a business of it.

  32. OMG – I’m in absolute awe of your skill, patience and dedication to pull this one off! I take my hat off to you! Last year I made a “Sloth” cake for my daughter’s boyfriends birthday but I have to say this Titanic Cake really “takes the cake”! Pardon the pun, I couldn’t help myself!

  33. Wow, looks like it takes a team to make this one! You continue to amaze me.

  34. Kudos to you and Carl on a brilliant job!
    Have a wonderful Easter weekend Charlie.
    :-) Mandy xo

  35. What a project! It came out looking so good – you guys did an amazing job on it. Kudos for daring and then bringing it off so well :)

  36. Your cake is just an amazing work of art! What a feat! And thank goodness Rosie got to give her opinion (so cute!). The 21 year olds around here tend to go to the bars with their friends and drink WAY too much. Thankfully, Nick is one of the oldest in his class and none of his roommates will be 21, so he won’t have any drinking buddies. Darn.

  37. oh my goodness I cannot believe you did that! you and Carl are quite quite wonderful and extraordinary !! it looks amazing !!!

  38. I see you go the hubby involved and that is a good thing. It is an epic cake and I think it needs 10 out of 10 stars for difficulty and 10 out of 10 stars for effort and beauty. You have so much patience, I would have so hired that out.. LOL

  39. I am just so so so impressed. It’s a masterpiece!!

  40. Wow Charlie – I’m in awe… that cake is just… epic. The level of detail you’ve put into it… even timber decking!! Amazing. I hope it was thoroughly enjoyed!

  41. Fantastic details. So impressive! Now how was transporting it? I bet that was a challenge all on its own.

  42. So much detail! Impressive!

  43. WOW!!!
    I am in total shock!!! You must be totally mad to undertake this!!!
    …Mad, but absolutely brilliant!!!
    I can’t get over how good your Titanic is… you kids are truly lucky, very talented mum!

  44. This is a marvel, Charlie, especially now that I know you’ve not received training. You’re so talented that I always assumed that you’d taken cake decorating classes, at least. The cake is really fantastic. How great that Carl was able to help. It’s all the more special for Archie knowing that both parents worked on his cake. And, by the way, your “there could be a stabbing” comment gave me a good laugh. Happy Easter to you all!

    • Thanks so much for your kind words, John. I’m in awe of your talents in the kitchen too – all that ravioli making and cheese making! Your slow-cooked short beef ribs is one of my most favourite winter recipes and now that it’s cooler, I’m looking forward to cooking it again.

  45. Wow! Fantastic, what an accomplishment Charlie! I loved looking through all of the party photos too. :)

  46. Happy Easter!

  47. Just brilliant. And I am truly impressed that Carl was so good at sculpting and decorating this cake. You guys make a super team!

  48. Maybe two bottles of gin :)
    You are certainly amazing, and Carl is definitely a keeper if you made it through this experience without starting him either! Xox

  49. What a wonderful work of art! That Titanic cake looks amazing. Perhaps you should send one to Clive Palmer?

  50. EPIC! Bravo, I take my hat off to you two :)

  51. That is one amazing cake you’ve made! I’m so proud of you! :) I honestly thought you bought the cake never thought you’d be able to make a cake look like the real Titanic!!

    I think you’ve gotta start your own cake catering business soon!

  52. I love it, I love it sooooo much. You are so flippin talented. My bestie loves lamas, I promised her a lama cake, can you make animals? If yes, I need a lesson. :)

  53. I can’t begin to imagine the stress of not only making this cake but moving it to the event. I would definitely have needed a glass of champagne as soon as it was on the table. Wonderful job by the two of you!

  54. SUPER IMPRESSIVE! I had no idea frozen cake is used (it makes sense!!) for shaping the cake. As a person who never made even a birthday cake, this is like building a house from scratch. You two are amazing. I just lost my words!

  55. Oh my goodness! What an epic task and look at that ingredient list. A kilo of butter (funny and yum at the same time). The cake looked fantastic! Well done!

  56. Incredible… in awe

  57. Charlie this cake is absolutely amazing! You are awesome!!!!

Trackbacks

  1. […] You wouldn’t make it every day and possibly only once in a decade but whenever you do make this Titanic Birthday Cake it you will certainly blow the recipient away with its size, aesthetic and sheer attention to […]

Speak Your Mind

*