Chocolate owl cake

Prep: 1 hr Cook: 1 hr


Serves 25
A fun chocolate birthday cake decorated with buttons, biscuits and marzipan - bound to be a hit with young children

Nutrition and extra info

Nutrition: per serving

  • kcal527
  • fat30.6g
  • saturates18.3g
  • carbs57.4g
  • sugars47.3g
  • fibre1.4g
  • protein6.6g
  • salt0.7g
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  • 325g butter



    Butter is made when lactic-acid producing bacteria are added to cream and churned to make an…

  • 325g plain chocolate
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 325g plain flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
    Baking powder

    Baking powder

    bay-king pow-dah

    Baking powder is a raising agent that is commonly used in cake-making. It is made from an alkali…

  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
    Bicarbonate of soda

    Bicarbonate of soda

    Bicarbonate of soda, or baking soda, is an alkali which is used to raise soda breads and full-…

  • 450g light soft brown sugar
  • 5 large egg
  • 300ml soured cream

For the icing

  • 250g butter



    Butter is made when lactic-acid producing bacteria are added to cream and churned to make an…

  • 350g icing sugar, sieved
  • 50g cocoa, sieved
  • 2 tbsp milk



    One of the most widely used ingredients, milk is often referred to as a complete food. While cow…


  • 8 giant white chocolate buttons
  • 2 packs milk chocolate buttons
  • 2 chocolate Flake bars
  • 60g yellow marzipan
    Marzipan cake



    One of mankind’s oldest sources of sweet pleasure, marzipan needs to contain only ground…

  • 125g pack chocolate finger biscuit
  • candles (optional)
  • writing icing (optional)


  1. Preheat the oven to 160C/fan 140C/gas 4. Base line a 20cm round and a 18cm square cake tin.

  2. Put the butter and chocolate into a saucepan and stir over a very gentle heat until melted and smooth. Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla extract.

  3. Sieve the flour, baking powder and bicarbonate of soda into a large bowl. Add the sugar, breaking up any lumps if necessary. Beat together the eggs and soured cream and pour onto the flour mixture. Add the melted chocolate and mix all well together until smooth.

  4. Divide the mixture equally between the two tins and bake in the oven for about 55 mins - 1 hour. A good way to check that the mixture is equally divided is to put a cocktail stick into each mixture and the levels should be the same.

  5. To make the icing, put the butter into a bowl and beat until creamy. Add the icing sugar and cocoa a little at a time beating well between each addition. Add the milk to mix to a soft spreading consistency.

  6. To assemble, place the round cake on a large wooden board or tray (the cake will need to served on this). Place the round cake tin on the square cake about 12cm from one edge and cut around the edge of the tin. Remove the smaller piece and place at one end of the round cake to represent the ears.

  7. Using the remains of the square cake cut almost in half to give an oblong (for the fence) and a semi circle (for the wings). Place the oblong at the bottom of the owl cake. Slice the semi circle in half horizontally through the middle. Arrange one piece each side of the round cake to make the wings.

  8. Spread the butter icing all over the cake. Cut the flake bars into small pieces and arrange on the wings to represent feathers. Keep the flake crumbs. Arrange milk chocolate buttons over the body. Place chocolate fingers on the bottom cake to make the fence. Using a fork, mark the icing to make the owl’s ears. Use the flake crumbs to make a v-shape between the ears like a 'widow’s peak'. Arrange the white chocolate buttons in two circles to make the eyes and place a milk chocolate button in the centre of each. Use a third of the marzipan to shape a beak and use the remaining marzipan to make two feet.

  9. Place the candles on the ‘fence’ part of the cake. You can also pipe a child’s name or message on the fence using writing icing.

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Comments, questions and tips

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Comments (57)

lulucherie's picture

I baked this cake for my daughter's third birthday, having had a very long break from baking. It was easy to make and everyone loved it, especially the birthday girl. The chocolate cake without decorations is lovely in itself and was also delicious served with fresh raspberries. Will definitely bake it again.

ncaffrey's picture

Wonderful cake - really easy to make and looked spectacular!! Made the mistake of opening oven at 45 minute mark which resulted in a slightly sunken centre. Our oven usually cooks things quickly - but this took exactly 55 mins. Highly recommend - really moist light cake.

bowlofcustard's picture

Great cake. I halved it and, as it said to bake it in two tins anyway, I thought this would be easy to do. However, the cake did rise a lot and spilt over the top of my tin :/ I notice some other people had the same experience in the comments, for a while I thought I must have got my sums wrong! Despite that, the cake tastes delicious, but next time I will use a deep 20cm round tin instead.

elizabethp's picture

This was really fun to make and looked great

rosievimes's picture

This cake went down a treat as one of the desserts at my brother's wedding. Looked amazing, and tasted great. Didn't last longer than 10mins.

trinaz's picture

so easy yet looks so professional!!! Everyone was stunned and amazed!!

foxiroxi0's picture

This was my first ever attempt at a novelty cake, raising money for 'secret world' animal charity at my library. My was it a terrific success ! It was quite easy to assemble and not only did it look brilliant but tasted wonderful thinking of ways to adapt this cake into different shapes. Highly recommend.

macdoo72's picture

Brilliant cake - moist and chocolatey without being sickly. I didn't have the right size square tin (a bit bigger) but didn't matter, and the cocktail stick idea to get the levels the same is a good one - they were perfect, Lots of compliments, will be making it again as different animals for future birthdays (better get planning and practicing soon). If i do another owl though I'll make a fimo beak and feet as I'm not a marzipan fan so I won't be using all that leftover marzipan for anything else. Yum, thanks gf!

rachaelpickford's picture

This turned out lovely. You do need deepcake tins. I don't have a deep square one so just used a bit bigger one and hoped it didn't rise over the top. I didn't have room for the wings on my cake board so just put the flake on the side of the round cake. I used half milk and half dark choc, and jelly beans for the beak and feet. Lots of compliment.. Yum yum

njlockett's picture

Could someone let me know what size board I'll need to use?

lisav1426's picture

Have made this a few times and it is now my go-to choc cake recipe. Tho have always halved the quantities for two 20cm cakes sandwiched, used this icing recipe but done my own decorations. The cake recipe is easy and foolproof. Following recipe exactly it is rich moist and fudgy...fabulous. Have also used caster sugar and flora baking block....light moist and still fabulous. Used milk choc by mistake once...little less choccy but yep, still fab!!! Made it with my three young kids. Yep you guessed..still fab! Oh and always use sainsburys basics flour, chocolate and butter. Yummy, scrummy, love it!

cherryb78's picture

I made this cake for my daughters 7th birthday and everyone was impressed by the look and taste of it, even my daughter!

cherryb78's picture

I made this cake for my daughters 7th birthday and she loved it, and the rest of the family did aswell

AngelaU's picture

I made this for my nephew a while ago and it is lovely. I made it a couple of days in advance and it was still really nice on the day.

nickythomas42's picture

I used the chocolate cake from this recipe for my daughter's birthday cake and it is a real winner. I used half milk and half dark chocolate as it was for little ones and it was delicious. Lovely and moist and still really fresh 4 days later. This is definitely going to be my chocolate cake recipe of choice from now on!

alicetranter's picture

Made this for my sister's 15th birthday and she loved it! The whole family gobbled it within 2 days. A really moist fudgy sponge however icing was quite sweet. Assembling and decoration were easy, overall 5 star birthday cake!

mcnosh's picture

Made this for my grandson's first birthday. I would recommend using a deep round tin and a deep square tin as it rises considerably. Mine needed an extra 10/15 mins in the oven. Was great fun to make and decorate and looked fabulous. I found it far too rich for my tastes but my grandson certainly enjoyed his very first taste of chocolate! His mum said that it was chocolatey enough to last him until his 2nd birthday! Everyone else loved it.

mrsraggle's picture

Made this for my daughter's second birthday and it was fantastic! Beautiful moist chocolate cake, and so easy to decorate! Five stars.'s picture

Does anyone know if it's ok to make this the night before, or best to make on the day? Am preparing to make for my daughters 1st birthday tomorrow!

Frantic Flapjack's picture

I made this for my son's 21st birthday and it was a great success. It turned out perfectly and looked very cute. I was really impressed with this recipe as not only does it look good but tastes great too. I would love to see more novelty cakes like this on this site. Tried to give it 5 stars but can't get it to work :(


Questions (10)

mmacb's picture

Can this cake be frozen for a couple of weeks without affecting quality?

goodfoodteam's picture

You can freeze this with the buttercream icing on it, provided it is well wrapped, but add the buttons and biscuits once it is out of the freezer.

mmacb's picture

Hi how long will this cake keep? I'm planning to use the recipe to make cake pops (using a mould), if I make them on Monday will they be ok on Thursday?

mmacb's picture

Hi I'm hoping to use this recipe for cake pops (using a cake pop mound), how many days will the cake keep?

Maxi's picture

I am planning on making this cake and I know some have said the assembly is easy. But it seems a little complicated. I just wondered if anyone thought the same or had any advise. Or better still a video!!!!

Novice Baker

mollylotty's picture

I am having a problem with cutting the square cake. Instructions towards the end of number 6 and into number 7. Is something missing? When I cut round the round cake tin 12cm in I am left with two pieces - a semi circle - presumably for the wings and one other piece out of which I could cut a rectangle for the branch but the bit left over looks nothing like the ears in the recipe. I must be missing something because other people seem to have managed. Where am I going wrong?

Dolly1968's picture

Would like to make a smaller cake. Any idea if it's possible to scale down the recipe and use smaller tin size and quantities? Many thanks

goodfoodteam's picture

Hi there, thanks for your question. We'd suggest keeping the recipe as it is in this case, as the cake has to be cut very precisely in a certain way. We haven't tested the recipe as a smaller cake, so to be on the safe side it's better to follow the recipe exactly. Best wishes, BBC Good Food team

sue b's picture

Reading the cutting instructions have left me worried. Not sure how you get the semi circle bit for the wings. Anyone help ?

goodfoodteam's picture

Hi Sue, thanks for getting in touch. Once you have cut the circle out from the square cake you make the wings from the leftovers. Once you have the pieces in front of you it may make more sense, as it can be hard to visualise without them there. Let us know if you're still having issues by getting in touch at Good luck!

BBC Good Food team

Tips (5)

bowlofcustard's picture

Use deep tins - this rose A LOT - over the top of my tins and into the bottom of my oven :) Lovely recipe, though.

shep2015's picture

Mini foam banana sweets make great claws and beak! Along with Oreos for eyes, Awesome cake. My boy loved it, great cake recipe, and you could make any animal shape.

shep2015's picture

I used oreo biscuits for eyes, and mini foam banana sweets for claws and beak. Looked great and tastes amazing.

lauramarie1981's picture

Just made this cake for my son's 1st birthday (with a little help from my mum!) Recommend using some marzipan to make a moon. Place that in the top corner of the serving board and stick the candle in there. Also I made my son's name out of marzipan and added that to the board too. Keeps the owl looking clean and perfect. It's the best tasting, easiest to make, most impressive birthday cake I have ever seen...if I do say so myself ;)

konier1's picture

If you don't have the soured cream, use whole or semi-skimmed milk instead, doesn't come out any different. If you're not sure whether to make this or not, I say YES!!! Best cake i've ever made!

last edited: 16:13, 21st Jun, 2013