Chocolate owl cake

Chocolate owl cake

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(48 ratings)

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 a dairy product made from separating whole milk or cream into fat and…

  • 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 eggs
  • 300ml soured cream

For the icing

  • 250g butter



    Butter is a dairy product made from separating whole milk or cream into fat and…

  • 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…


  • 8 giant white chocolate buttons
    White chocolate squares, stacked

    White chocolate

    why-t chok-lit

    To purists, this is not chocolate because it is made only from the fat or butter of the cacao…

  • 2 packs milk chocolate buttons
    Milk chocolate squares

    Milk chocolate

    mill-k chok-lit

    Milk chocolate is classically made from dark chocolate of low cocoa solid content and a higher…

  • 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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tomloveswine's picture
30th Jun, 2019
Made this today, cakes raised beautifully and it look very impressive and tasted great!
9th Sep, 2018
Lovely chocolate cake. Used for my sons birthday.
1st Apr, 2018
Amazing moist chocolate cake. I halved the ingredients and made one round cake (20cm tin). The rise was good and I was able to cut twice into three rounds. I halved the ingredients for the buttercream and there was enough to spread in between each layer and over the top. I then iced the cake with fondant and decorated. Will be making this again. Tasted great.
21st Oct, 2017
I used the cake recipe for a base chocolate sponge for a kids birthday cake which I covered in chocolate buttercream (a different recipe) and sugar paste. I halved all the ingredients which made an excellent sized 9 inch round. I used the tip to only bake for an hour and it was perfect- light, moist and delicious. A hit all round with the adults and kids. Definitely one I will use again!
21st Sep, 2017
Great recipe - the cake itself is nice and easy but also very tasty. I didn't have a square tin so used one 18cm round and one 22cm round: it just meant the ears and wings were a slightly different shape but still worked.
13th Sep, 2017
Very rich and very tasty! I used strawberries for a beak and two feet instead. The sponge itself is very tasty, almost like you don't need extra chocolate for decoration. It's a great recipe.
4th Dec, 2016
I made this for a child's birthday party and thankfully did a trial run first. The base cake in the receipe was a complete flop. 2nd time round I substituted in a new recipe for the base cake and everything worked really well. The overall design is very clever and the end result has the wow factor without being too difficult to make.
25th Sep, 2016
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.
24th Jul, 2016
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.
30th Apr, 2016
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.


8th Feb, 2017
Hi, what size cake board do I need for this cake? Many thanks
goodfoodteam's picture
16th Feb, 2017
This cake ends up being more of a rectangular shape as you can see from the photos, therefore round or square cake boards don't work. We'd suggest using a large rectangular wooden board or tray. The round cake that makes the body of the owl is 20cm in diameter, which gives you an idea - a tray that is 30cm x 45cm will be sufficient.
21st Mar, 2016
Can this cake be frozen for a couple of weeks without affecting quality?
goodfoodteam's picture
20th May, 2016
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.
9th Nov, 2015
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?
9th Nov, 2015
Hi I'm hoping to use this recipe for cake pops (using a cake pop mound), how many days will the cake keep?
20th Apr, 2014
Hello 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
4th Apr, 2014
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?
12th Feb, 2014
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
21st Feb, 2014
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


caramelclee's picture
1st Oct, 2019
Simpler instructions for assembling the owl: 1. Cut the square cake in half. Set aside one rectangle for the “fence” Keep referring to the picture to get an idea of the shape of the wings. They are not a half-circle but narrower than that. 3. Place the circular cake tin over the other rectangle and cut a shallow semi circle out for the wings, the part left looks like an arch with 2 corners and a *flat top*. This will form the top of the owl’s head (not v clear in the photo). 4. Slice the wing shape in half horizontally to make 2 half-height wings. You are now ready to assemble. If in doubt some excellent person has put pictures on instagram!
30th Apr, 2016
Use deep tins - this rose A LOT - over the top of my tins and into the bottom of my oven :) Lovely recipe, though.
31st May, 2015
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.
23rd May, 2015
I used oreo biscuits for eyes, and mini foam banana sweets for claws and beak. Looked great and tastes amazing.
26th Oct, 2013
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 ;)
20th Jun, 2013
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!
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