How to make a pirate cake


We don't recommend washing this pirate cake down with a bottle of rum, but if your little buccaneer is having a pirate birthday party, this cake is going to be worth its weight in gold doubloons. Professional baker Liv Hansen for the Betty Crocker Kitchens will show you how.

How to make a pirate cake Assembling the pirate cake
  1. Place the pirate hat template on a 9-inch cake, and cut around it to make the hat. The other half will form the body. You can print out the pirate hat template from
  2. Slice a small portion off the 8-inch cake and place between the hat and the body for the face.
  3. Using the scraps you’ve cut from the hat and face, make a nose and place in the center of the face. Cut ears and place on either side of the face.
  4. Add a small bit of chocolate frosting to the white frosting to tint it a flesh tone. Add as much chocolate as you want to get the tone you desire.
  5. Crumb coat the pirate cake (this is a thin layer of frosting to seal in the crumbs); each piece should be crumb coated in whatever the final color will be: chocolate for the hat, flesh tone for the face and white for the body.
  6. Chill the pirate cake in your freezer for about 30 minutes.


Decorating the pirate cake

  1. Apply a final coat of frosting, no more than half an inch, with the offset spatula.
  2. After you apply the frosting, smooth out the sides of the cake with an offset spatula. Have a bowl of hot water handy to rinse the spatula as you go.
  3. Decorate with candy:
  • Use licorice for a band around the hat.
  • Licorice can also be used for an eye patch, with a mint patty over the eye.
  • Cut a marshmallow in half for the other eye, with a colored candy in the center.
  • Cut Fruit-by-the-Foot™ into the shape of a smile for the pirate's mouth.
  • Place two pieces of candy-coated gum on top of the pirate's mouth as teeth.
  • Create stripes on the pirate's shirt using Fruit-by-the-Foot™.
  • A candy ring makes a great earring.
  • For the final touch, add "stubble" with chocolate sprinkles.

For more on the Pirate Cake visit




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LAURIE: Hi, I’m Laurie Gelman for Welcome to a pirate party! We’re going to have a scavenger hunt to search for buried treasure. And no matter what the age is, everyone can help loot the piñata treasure chest and collect as many gold coins as their little hands can carry. At the center of it all? A pirate cake of course! Any land-lubber or mom can make this cake, with a little help from our friend Liv Hansen for Betty Crocker Kitchens. Let’s go see how she does it. Hey Liv, how are you?

LIV: Hey, Laurie.

LAURIE: Good to see you.

LIV: You, too.

LAURIE: Arrr we going to make a pirate cake today?

LIV: Yes we are, matey!

LAURIE: Good girl! Alright.

LIV: Okay. Well I’ll tell you what we need.


LIV: We need a nine inch cake, an eight inch cake, two containers of vanilla frosting, one container of dark chocolate frosting, some assorted candies, and my own template for the hat. I’m just going to place it down on the cake and cut around it. Okay, so we’re going to place that down there, the hat, and this is going to be the body. Put a little jaunty angle there. Then, I’m going to take this cake, and I’m just going to slice a little portion off, there we go. And this is going to be the head.

LAURIE: And how does it go, I see, it goes underneath the hat!

LIV: Yeah, right there. Okay, now I’m going to cut the nose out of this piece. Just put that in the center there. So now we’re just going to cut little portions off , okay, and just place it over here, and that’s one ear, I have the other one ready. And just place it on there.

LAURIE: It’s got big ears!

LIV: It does.

LAURIE: There, Liv, I like it!

LIV: Would you mind taking that away?

LAURIE: Sure. Can I eat some of it?

LIV: Sure.

LAURIE: Thank you.

LIV: We’re going to mix up some frosting now.


LIV: Okay. We just need one tub of vanilla. That’ll be for his body. A little bit of chocolate for his hat. Then we’re going to mix a little flesh tone. And to do that, I’m going to take a bowl, and I’ll show you how. This is –

LAURIE: You don’t need food coloring?

LIV: We don’t need food coloring.


LIV: We’re actually going to use just a little bit of chocolate frosting to tint it. Okay, just a little bit. Maybe like two teaspoons. But the darker flesh tone you want, you know, just add more chocolate.


LIV: Okay, so I just want to see if this is a nice contrast again the white, and that looks pretty good. Okay, now we’re going to do a crumb coat. You’re going to crumb coat it with the final color that the coat is going to be. So I’ll start with the bottom here.

LAURIE: You don’t have to be neat, but I guess you have to be thorough. You have to –

LIV: You do. You want to get the entire cake covered. If there’s a little bit, those crumbs could possible show through in your final coat. Now once you have it all covered, for best results I recommend freezing it for a little while, maybe half an hour. And that’ll firm up the icing.

LAURIE: If you don’t have room in your freezer?

LIV: You can just it in the refrigerator also. I actually have on in the freezer, let me go get it.


LIV: Okay, great. Okay so now this one’s ready to go, and I’m going to put the final coat of frosting on. I’m going to start with the chocolate.

LAURIE: Oh yeah, lay it on there, baby!

LIV: Oh, yeah, nice and thick for all those chocolate lovers.

LAURIE: Is there such a thing as too much frosting?

LIV: I would go maybe, tops, half an inch thick. I’m just going around the sides, I’m trying to make them smooth. And then I’m going to do the top. And basically, a little lip of frosting forms, and then I can just scrape it off.

LAURIE: Oh, it makes it nice and smooth.

LIV: Yeah.

LAURIE: You’re using a special tool for that?

LIV: This is an offset spatula. So when you’re frosting a cake, it’s a good idea to have a bowl of hot water handy. That way you can clean of your spatula. Just make sure you dry it off afterwards. And then this heat will give you a nice, smooth finish.

LAURIE: Oh, that’s how you do it!

LIV: So now we’re going to start decorating.

LAURIE: Great!

LIV: And here, we have a nice assortment of candy. I think maybe we’ll start with the little band that goes across his hat. And for that we’re using licorice.

LAURIE: Oh, fun.

LIV: And basically, you just place it down. And then once it’s down, you have a little left over on the edge, just take your scissor and cut it off. Okay so next, maybe we’ll do his eyepatch. So I’m going to take another piece of licorice, this one’s red, and I’m just going to drape it across and over. And again, I’m going to just trim a little bit off, and I’m going to have it come over the edge. And then, we’re going to use a little mint patty.

LAURIE: Oh, good trick! I like it! That’s great!

LIV: Isn’t that cute? And then for the other eye, you can just take a marshmallow. I’m going to cut it in half, and we’re going to stick it down. And he’s going to have a blue eye. So I’m using a little chocolate candy here, and you can actually use a little bit of the frosting to glue it on.


LIV: I’m going to use a little bit of fruit by the foot, and I’m going to cut it into the shape of a mouth.

LAURIE: A smile?

LIV: A smile a smile.

LAURIE: That’d be nice.

LIV: And then we place it down. Now it’s time to make the teeth.

LAURIE: Oh, he gets teeth!

LIV: Yep, he’s smiling. Teeth showing.

LAURIE: Okay, let him smile for the cameras over here, show him this way.

LIV: That’s a great idea. Okay, we’re going to put one there, and another one there.

LAURIE: Oh, he looks good!

LIV: Now we’re going to put some stripes on his shirt.


LIV: You can use fruit by the foot, or you can buy these sugared candies like this. And we’re just going to like this. And if its too long, you can just use a knife or a scissor to cut it to the right length.

LAURIE: What else?

LIV: We’re going to put an earring on.

LAURIE: Oh cute.

LIV: Just use these little gummy candies. I’m just going to make, cut a little hole in it here, a little piece out of it. And then, as if its sticking in his ear. Okay, so –

LAURIE: He looks great!

LIV: Well, there’s one more thing.

LAURIE: Oh really?

LIV: Yeah. Stubble. And we’re going to use little chocolate jimmies. Now a great tip, if your frosting has set, is to take a little more frosting and spread it on. That way, you’re sure that the jimmies will stick.

LAURIE: Oh. Can I sprinkle while you frost?

LIV: Sure, that’s a great idea.

LAURIE: Count on me to make a mess. That is a great looking pirate cake.

LIV: Thanks, Laurie

LAURIE: Thank you. Now go walk the plank! You did a fine job lassie!

LIV: Lady!

LAURIE: Thanks, Liv. And don’t forget to give your little buccaneers a treasure chest that they can paint and take home as a party favor. I’m Laurie Gelman for

meet theexpert
  • Liv Hansen

    Liv Hansen Professional Baker and Author Liv Hansen is the author of three books, has appeared on the Today Show, Top 5 (Food Network), The View and Roker on the Road, and was a finalist on the Food Network Challenge: Haunted Gingerbread. more about this expert »