Pinata Birthday Cake

Over the weekend, Alfie has had his birthday party.  Before you get all complimentary and think I’m ‘Mother of the Year’ for having hosted children’s birthday parties multiple times every year for over two decades, I should let you know that Alfie’s birthday was nearly six months ago.

The pinata cake

The pinata cake

Well, in my defense; we couldn’t have his party in February because we were moving house, so I asked him to wait until after the move, then after the move we had a funeral, Carl’s parents came to stay for a week, then there was Easter and all his little mates would have been away, then he was back at school for 10 days before the April school holidays then we went away to Coffs Harbour, then it was those three weekends away in May at the Blue Mountains, then the Mini-Mos 10km run and you see, here we are in June – just!

The chocolate cake with a hollow cut out for the pinata goodies

The chocolate cake with a hollow cut out for the pinata goodies

So the poor little guy has been saying to me, ‘I am going to have my party, aren’t I?’ and then later, ‘I’m still having a party, aren’t I?’ and, ‘You haven’t forgotten about my party, have you?’  He suffers from third-child syndrome.

The hollowed out cake covered in chocolate butter cream

The hollowed out cake covered in chocolate butter cream

On Monday I decided we just had to get on with it.  I bought the fancy invitations, we made a list of boys to invite, I booked Alfie’s most desired venue that was indoor rock climbing, picked the date and it was cemented in concrete.  I decided to go low-key this time around where the party food would be dial-up pizzas and went the extra mile and ordered the garlic bread as well.  Soft drinks of course to add fuel to their fire and there were lolly bags in smart little green bags, green helium balloons and even a linen tablecloth (not ironed but it wasn’t made of paper).

A cake of treasures

Of course it’s not a party if there’s not a cake and so Alfie spent three nights going through my three Women’s Weekly kid’s birthday party cookbooks and late Thursday night his decision was finally made.  A pinata cake!  Although this cake had been often requested by Arabella, I had not made it before and for very good reason.  You need a cake tin and a pudding steamer in very specific sizes and I was very nervous about that chocolate covering coming out of the steamer in one perfect piece.

Climbing the rock wall

Climbing the rock wall

But having made the little guy wait almost half a year to have his party, I felt the least I could do was oblige with the cake.  Little Alfie was so excited about his party he couldn’t go off to sleep before midnight and was up extra early in the morning!

With his mates

With his mates

I made the cake on the Friday and put it in the freezer overnight so it would be easier to handle.  On Saturday, the day of the party, I started to make the Pinata.  I was having a fun time with it and enjoying my time in the kitchen until we came to the ‘moment of truth’ where that pudding steamer, lined with chocolate had to come out of the freezer and be placed over the cake.  The recipe says , ‘Using a hot cloth, briefly rub outside of bowl.  Chocolate shell will slip from bowl to completely cover cake’.

You can also climb upside down

You can also climb upside down

It sounds so easy doesn’t it.  It will ‘slip’.  In which country?  Mine was suctioned on like it was vacuumed to the steamer.  I rubbed it with a hot cloth so many times the chocolate started to melt.  I ran a knife between the chocolate shell and the steamer that did nothing to release the shell but caused great damage to it.  There were 90 minutes before the party was to start and I had no back-up plan.  In desperation, I grabbed the inside of that shell with my finger nails and noticed I could get the shell to spin.  It then released from the steamer but the edges all broke into a thousand pieces.  With some extra melted chocolate I pieced the jigsaw puzzle back together.

So much fun for boys

So much fun for boys

The good thing about this cake is that it is amazingly forgiving.  Those giant smarties cover a plethora of issues and so you can see many are placed around the base to hide the jigsaw pieces.  Alfie came into the kitchen and thought it was the best cake he had ever seen (good thing he didn’t see it half an hour earlier).  I asked him to search his toy box for a toy hammer and off we went to the party.

He wanted a green theme

He wanted a green theme

.It was raining cats and dogs (as it has been for the past 10 days with no relief in sight) as we drove to the party and all the boys were only too keen to unleash their energy into rock climbing.  They had an hour of climbing and then sat down at the table for pizza.  After the pizzas Alfie blew out the candles then grabbed that hammer.  I have to say, I don’t think a birthday boy could have any better moment then being allowed to take a hammer to his cake.  That chocolate shell was quite thick at the top of the cake so it took a good few attempts to crack it.  Once that ‘pinata’ was opened up a sea of hands rushed in to grab the treasures of Euro dollars and chocolate stars.

Pizza time

Pizza time and the big brother is there to serve his little brother

Despite the stress in the kitchen, I’d actually be quite happy to make this cake again.

Blowing out the candles

Blowing out the candles

Alfie said it was his ‘best party ever’.

It actually hides its flaws very well

It actually hides its flaws very well

Pinata Birthday Cake

Serves:  8-12

Degree of Difficulty:  3/5

Cost:  Not a lot but can be blown out by the type of chocolate chosen and decorative sweets.

  • 340g pack buttercake mix (I used chocolate cake mix)
  • 30cm round prepared board
  • 1 quantity chocolate butter cream


  • 23 large chocolate coins
  • 19 medium chocolate coins
  • 13 small chocolate coins
  • 150g rainbow choc-chips
  • 1/2 tspn vegetable  oil
  • 450g milk chocolate Melts, melted
  • 50g milk chocolate, melted
  • 35g packet, mini M&Ms
  • 50g packet Smarties
  • 200g packet giant Smarties
  • toy hammer

Pre-heat oven to 180C (375F).

Grease and line a 15cm-round (6 inch) cake tin.

Make cake according to directions on packet, pour into pan until 3/4s full; bake for about 45 minutes.  Stand cake in pan 5 minutes; turn onto wire rack to cool.  Using serrated knife, level cake top.

Position cake on board, cut-side down.  Using a ruler and toothpicks, mark and 11cm circle in centre of cake.  Using markings as a guide and small serrated knife, cut deep hollow into cake.

Spread chocolate butter cream all over cake; fill hollow with coins and 1/2 of the rainbow choc-chips.

To make chocolate shell:  grease 2.25ltr (9 cup) pudding steamer with oil; place bowl in freezer 10 minutes.  Place melted chocolate Melts in steamer; swirl chocolate to coat inside of steamer evenly.  Continue swirling until chocolate begins to set and stops flowing around the steamer; try to keep the chocolate a  uniform thickness, particularly at the edge.  Stand until the chocolate is almost set.  Freeze until chocolate sets completely.

Carefully place pudding steamer with set chocolate shell over cake; using hot cloth, briefly rub outside of bowl.  Chocolate shell will slip from bowl to completely cover cake.

Using melted milk chocolate, secure remaining rainbow choc-chips, mini M&M’s, Smarties and giant Smarties to chocolate shell.

Allow birthday child to break chocolate shell open with toy hammer.

bringing down that hammer

bringing down that hammer

This recipe has been adapted from The Australian Women’s Weekly Kids’ Birthday Cakes.

Hitting it hard

Hitting it hard

If you’d like to enter the competition to win a double pass to an Italian cooking course showcasing the regions of Italy, click here.

smashing the pinata with a hammer

smashing the pinata with a hammer

Many hands in the mix

Many hands in the mix

Well, it was good while it lasted!

If you liked this post you’re welcome to share it.


  1. I think it’s hilarious that you just made this cake – I did the same one last Friday for my daughter’s birthday and I had the same problem as you with getting the shell out. (I had about 30 mins before people arrived – it was that sort of day..) In the end we started again having first lined the bowl (badly) with cling film. A friend who was at the cake shattering knows a lady at Women’s Weekly in the cooking bit so I passed on my frustration. Maybe a metal bowl would work? But forgiving in the end – and one kid went home saying ‘they have a special cake hammer!!’ (meat mallet ;-)). Grand success after all!

    • I would love to know if you get a reply from the Women’s Weekly. Do share! I actually used a metal pudding steamer so no, no difference there. I’d love to know how it just ‘slips’ out of the mould. Children’s parties are stressful enough without this sort of grievance.

  2. wow 6 months! that means in 6 months he has another birthday party? I bet I would end up in the same situation if I had kids. Pinata cake, that is a cake I have never ever seen before. I want one too. Will you bake me one for my birthday in November? =D

  3. That’s such a cute cake and a great idea! I’m definitely saving this and was thinking of making it for my nephew when he comes back in August and even though his bday is in July like you better late than never 🙂

    It looks like a great party and you are still one of the best Mothers I know Charlie!! Even though you are always so busy, on the time and pressed for time, you always make the effort to keep your promise to your kids! Alfie is one very lucky boy! 😀 xox

  4. OH MY!!! That cake is AWESOME!!! Best birthday cake EVER!!! Alfie is so lucky, seriously that cake was beautiful:-) I was just showing hubby each pic so he could see how freaking cool the cake process was:-) Love the idea of hammering through the cake! Beautiful, Hugs, Terra

  5. Very nice of you to have a celebration for Alfie’s half-birthday! Once he figures that out, he’ll want 2 celebrations a year! I haven’t heard of that cake – sounds like a lot of fun. Although anything to do with molding chocolate always makes me nervous.

  6. You’re such a nice mom to make him this fussy cake with the chocolate shell even if you made him wait six months to have his party. I’d be tempted to buy an ice cream cake at Dairy Queen and let the local movie theatre host the thing at their facility after a movie. 🙂

  7. You are without a doubt a prize winning mother for making a cake like that, no matter if it was a bit late! That looks like a great birthday party – what a good choice of venue.

  8. A half birthday celebration? Brilliant 😀
    This cake looks utterly delicious!


  9. Fabulous cake, despite the last minute stress of getting the chocolate shell from the bowl. You might have to start celebrating half year birthdays as well as whole years. Think of the cake opportunities! GG xx

  10. Aah yes, I love when recipes say that, without explaining that unless the chocolate is tempered, it won’t release from the mould cleanly. I *think* if you line the bowl with gladwrap next time, you should be able to pull it out by the plastic wrap. You really ARE the best mum, Charlie, what a gorgeous cake you ended up with. And Alfie looks ludicrously happy. Good on Archie for being there to help out too! 🙂

  11. Isn’t that cute! I wish I had little ones to bake for and spoil. Long distance isn’t as much fun. I still think you qualify for mother of the year.

  12. Oh I absolutely love this cake idea Charlie! What great fun it is. I’ll definitely make it for my nephews when they’re a bit older and allowed to eat chocolate 😛 hehe

  13. Happy half Birthday Alfie! Sounds like it was a rip-roaring success anyway Charlie. It’s probably just what the parents needed too after being cooped up in the rain for so long! Brilliant cake!

  14. OMG, what a gorgeous cake!
    I’m sure Alfie enjoyed his party enormously, he looks so happy in all the pictures.

  15. I hate that when cake instructions sound so easy and you feel like such a dunce that you can’t get the thing out. Great job though – the decoration of smarties really worked well, no one would know the trouble you went to. Bet he enjoyed himself.

  16. I so love it that you threw Alfie a party, never mind that it was six months late–I just love it. And frankly, the piñata birthday cake is the coolest ever–can you imagine what a hit that would be in Mexico, as every child’s birthday includes a piñata!

  17. I can empathise with you!!! I was in the SAME boat last year, lol! My second one wanted a pool party, and March was too cold, and June came and went and we couldn’t have it, and finally, September, when we were scheduling the pool closing, he cried his eyes out. So six months later….the birthday party.This is where I blogged about it too…

    I baked a cake too, but it was definitely not this glamorous. The pinata cake looks stunning.

  18. That cake is amazing, and beyond cool that you get to smash it with a hammer – no wonder Alfie loved it! I’d also be interested to hear the response from Women’s Weekly because I would assume that the oil used on the pudding steamer would simply mix with the warm melted chocolate and lose all it’s oiling properties and that’s why it was a pain to remove? I say that knowing absolutely nothing about chocolate (which is why I’m going to do a Lindsay & Edmunds chocolate course next month ;))

  19. Ah yes, trust the practical Celia to come up with the solution for next time around 🙂 ! Not that one seemed to be needed to make one son very happy!!!

  20. G’day Charlie! I have always wanted to make a pinata cake…yours is wonderful, true!
    I think every day should have a birthday celebration and have very fond childhood memories of pinatas at parties too! HEAPS fun…Happy Belated Birthday to Alfie!
    Cheers! Joanne

  21. You’re such a good mum! My kids have never had a cake like that although some of sis in laws and cousins do it right.

  22. Oh my goodness what a gorgeous cake! I love how you did the chocolate crust too-it looks so smooth! I have a bag of those large smarties and I didn’t know what to do with them!

  23. When I read your opening paragraph, Charlie, I knew we were in for a good post. I’d no idea that it would include the best birthday cake an 8 year-old could possibly want. I’d never heard of a piñata cake and it really is a marvel. You have some mad cake decorating skills. This is one birthday party Alfie will never forget. Way to go, Mum!

  24. hosting a kid’s party aint easy when 1 kid is more than enough! you brave woman! congrats and such a loely cake!

  25. What a lovely cake… I noted dear Chaarlie, Thank you, love, nia

  26. I’m so glad you managed to fix the cracks up Charlie and it was such a success- or this would have been Alfie in a few years time singing about ‘How my pinata was such a disaster’ 🙂 xox

  27. Isn’t it great when kids say that it is the best birthday ever, makes all the stress worth it 🙂

  28. You know what would bother me about this cake? You’d make it look beautiful all for the purposes of being smashed. I’m not sure I’d cope! You did an amazing job and it sounds like a 6 month wait for the party just made it all the better when it came. Happy belated birthday!

  29. Kudos to you on a brilliant result with the cake Charlie! Doubt I would ever attempt anything like that and what an awesome party Alife had!
    Have a happy week.
    🙂 Mandy xo

  30. That pinata cake looks PERFECT – what flaws?!

    Rock climbing, pizzas and an amazing cake… how on earth are you going to beat that for Alfie’s next birthday? 🙂

  31. What an awesome cake!
    Any kid would love smashing it and digging in… I’m sure poor Alfie with 3rd child syndrome would have completely forgiven you.

  32. What a gorgeous cake Charlie and Alfie must have been so happy to have it, even if he had to wait six months! I think my niece and nephew would live this cake, who wouldn’t?

  33. What a gorgeous cake Charlie and Alfie must have been so happy to have it, even if he had to wait six months! I think my niece and nephew would love this cake, who wouldn’t? Please do an update once you’ve had the answer from the magazine regarding the chocolate exterior.

  34. I love this cake! it’s so cool! what a brilliant idea and this party looks epic! totally worth the wait!

  35. Sometimes life definitely gets in the way…but hey kudos to you for sticking to your promise all this time later! That cake is gorgeous! Love all the surprises inside.

  36. I’ll have to make sure and not leave this pet open on my iPad lest my 8 year old remember that he didn’t get a party either! I have been putting off Laith for the same reasons, moving, settling in, too hot, too cold and so on.

    I am glad Alfie got his party though and it’s so nice to see big brother helping too. The cake looks wonderful Charlie, I don’t think I would’ve had the patience.

    Nazneen xx

  37. Looks like his party was worth the wait!! Do you have any pics of the cake “broken?” I would love to see 🙂 Great job though…it’s so pretty, despite your issues with it!

  38. Oh never mind! didn’t see the pics after the recipe 🙂 very cool!!!

  39. Wow, what a cake! You’d never know you had a moment’s trouble with it by looking at it in the pictures. Plus Alfie looks so happy…I know that was worth it all right there. 🙂

  40. You could celebrate his birthday two years late with that cake and you’d still be mother of the year. Of the two years? I’m so tired. x

  41. That is the best cake ever! Not only is it cake, but it has candy inside?! It looks gorgeous and you never would have known you had any trouble at all. You are so stinking good at cakes! Love it. Happy belated birthday to Alfie. Mr. N’s birthday is heading the same direction. His birthday was last month. I’m hoping his party will happen this month, but it may be August. And I’m not a cake baker to make up for it! 😉

  42. What a great idea for a cake!

  43. There is not one sign of a crack in your beautiful shell! You’re a master at camouflaging…it’s just a stunning cake! Cute picture of Alfie and his buddies!!!

  44. Poor baby! He had a half birthday party!

  45. Another great cake and a happy party too – well done!

  46. Wow from the way you describe it, it sounds like a disaster but actually looks so very professional. Looks like Alfie had a great day and I bet he always remembers that cake. You are such a great mum.

  47. Hey, better late than never! That’s what I like to say 🙂 This cake is fabulous!

  48. I always had my birthday party 6 months after my birthday because I was born in the winter and my parents always thought it would be more fun to have a summer birthday party! What an INCREDIBLE cake!!! Wow =)

  49. Happy belated birthday Alfie for February! Your mum is very talented to make you such a gorgeous cake!! 😉

  50. I know I’ve said this before.. but you’re quite the mom, Charlie! This is a cake a young man will never forget.. it will be the story told to his kids one day. I think it looks remarkably perfect considering you said the chocolate covered cracked in pieces.. well done!! I thin it’s the prettiest cake (and most inventive) I’ve seen yet. xx

  51. You are such a great mother! What a great party and that cake – that’s pretty amazing. I had never heard of a pinata cake but what fun!

  52. Haha, that’s such a cool idea for a cake… and complete with a little toy hammer too, lol :D.
    Looks like they all had a grand ol’ time at the party… I’ve always wanted to go on a climbing wall. We used to have one at my school but I never had a chance to go on it. 🙁

  53. He’s so cute 😛 This is such a great cake. I might make one of these for my next occassion. Love the gold coins – Mum still leaves a bag on our christmas tree for us 🙂

  54. My kids have an amazing memory and they can be persistent too. I can tell your life is as busy as mine yet you kept the promise! 🙂 You made such a fun and cool cake! Kids must have a blast!

  55. JO BABY says:

    Hi Charlie,
    I’ve made similar for Madam’s last few birthdays. I don’t actually bake a cake. I just put all the goodies under the chocolate shell. Lots of trial and error, but as you say, the buttons hide a multitude of sins! Happy birthday 6 months ago Alfie!

  56. What a perfect cake for a boy.

    I especially love that big brother arrived to serve at Alfie’s party. So sweet.

  57. Hi there! I run a blog called Floptimism, and I’ve started a weekly post called the Weekend Wrap-Up where I feature some of my favorite web finds from the past week. I wanted to let you know that I loved your idea for a “pinata” style cake so much that I included it in my round-up. Thank you for such a great idea, and enjoy the rest of your weekend!

  58. You are the FREAKING mother of the year!

    I LOVE that cake!

    Absolutely Fabulously brilliant. Xx

  59. such an amazing,confetti cake,looks yummy,thanks for sharing
    view our blog

  60. Love the idea of a pignata cake! You could never tell there was something wrong with it! A beauty!

  61. It is amazing what we do for our children isn’t it? That looks like a fabulous birthday party Charlie 🙂 Kudos for putting the puzzle back together again!

  62. As a ‘third child’ I say, Thanks you…and well done…even 6 months late.

  63. This may possibly be the most FUN birthday cake I’ve ever seen! Genius!

  64. OMG ~ So cute & adorable, Charlie ~ Would love to see this submitted to so I can share with all my foodie friends 🙂


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