Things I have been cooking lately #177: Dinosaur birthday cake

When I was a child growing up my mum always made our birthday cakes. She’s extremely creative and they were really elaborate affairs. There were trains, tractors, princesses, umbrellas, monsters… my brother even had one based on the band U2. I am nowhere near as skilled or patient as my mum is but I really wanted to make Little O’s birthday cake. With some help from Pinterest and a recipe from my mum that I adapted, I think I pulled off something passable that pretty much anyone with a couple of hours of spare time could manage. The sponge cake method used here is an oldie but a goodie and makes a really light fluffy cake.


Dinosaur birthday cake

For the cake

375ml milk
120g butter
570g sugar
5 eggs
660g flour
80g cocoa powder
6 teaspoons baking powder
Pinch of salt

For the icing

500g icing sugar
80g cocoa powder
225 butter, softened… like really soft. Like leave the butter out of the fridge all day soft.
2 – 3 tablespoons milk

For the decoration

Assorted plastic dinosaurs
Plastic trees
Green piping icing (obviously you can make this but I didn’t fancy fannying around with a piping bag so I just bought a tube)
A handful of chocolate raisins
A few Snickers bites
3 or 4 Oreos
3 or 4 ginger biscuits or other light coloured biscuits
3 or 4 Cadbury’s mini eggs
1 Cadbury’s Flake

To make the cake

Preheat your oven to 180 C and grease and line a deep 15.5 x 13 inch (42 x 30cm) roasting tin.

Heat the butter and milk over a medium heat until just before boiling point. The butter should be melted and the milk should be frothing at the edges of the saucepan but not bubbling. Set aside.

Beat the eggs and sugar together with an electric whisk until thick and creamy in colour. The sugar should have dissolved.

Sieve together flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt and then fold into egg mixture. Add the milk mixture a little at a time and fold in.

Pour into the roasting tray and bake in the prepared oven for 45 – 60 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean. The baking time is really long because the cake is so big. You might want to cover the top of the cake with a piece of greaseproof or brown paper part of the way into the baking if it starts looking too dark.

Allow the cake to cool in the tin for ten minutes before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

To make the icing

Sieve together the icing sugar and cocoa powder. Add the butter and beat on a low speed until combined. If you are struggling to get it to come together, add a couple of tablespoons of milk until you get the right consistency. Keep beating until the icing is light and fluffy.

To decorate

You might want to trim the edges of the cake if the sides are a little “crusty”. Then place the cake on an upturned platter so that you can get all the way to the bottom.

Use a spatula or palette knife to spread the icing over the top and sides of the cake. It’s supposed to resemble prehistoric earth so it doesn’t have to be tidy. You want it to look a bit rough and ready.

Transfer the cake onto the cake tray you plan to serve it on.

Use the green icing to pipe grass along the edges of the cake. Use the chocolate raisins and Snickers bites to create an open path across the cake.

Blend together the Oreos and ginger biscuits and spread in the middle of your path to create sand.

Arrange the dinosaurs and trees on top of the cake. I “buried” the plastic tree bases in icing so you couldn’t see them.

Use green icing and Flake to make a nest and place the mini eggs in it.

Scatter about any leftover chocolate to make rocky outcrops… or just eat it.

Look back and marvel at what you have created.

Serves about 24


  1. I loved this cake from the birthday post, and it deserves a second showing!
    Best wishes, Pete.

    1. Thank you. It was a lot of fun to make!

  2. What a fine job you did, Abbi. I bet he loved it.

    1. Bless him he was a bit overwhelmed by everyone singing happy birthday but he did enjoy the little bits of cake I let him eat.

  3. I am so booking you for my birthday!

    1. I can only really do rectangular shapes… lol!

  4. This is so cool! Lucky Little O!

    1. I am already thinking of what rectangular cake option themes I have for next year…

        1. So far he is obsessed with Stickle Bricks.

  5. Great job! Cake is brilliant x

  6. This looks like so much fun! I bet Little O loved it. Excellent work Abbi!

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