How to make a lion birthday cake

Looking for some inspiration for a homemade birthday cake? Creating animal themed cakes are not as hard as you might imagine, with the help of some fondant and an easy recipe. In any event it beats ordering a novelty birthday cake and ending up with a Ross and Rachel “It’s not a bunny-cake” scenario. Here’s our version of a simple lion birthday cake you can easily put together in your very own kitchen.

How to make a lion birthday cake


For then cake
370 g butter (room temperature)
10 ml vanilla paste or essence
550 g caster sugar
6 eggs
160ml full cream milk
450 g self-raising flour
90 g corn flour (Maizena)

For the icing
260 g butter (room temperature)
1 kg icing sugar
10ml vanilla paste / essence
40–60 ml full cream milk
Orange food colouring (preferably gel colouring) *if you don’t have orange, combine red and yellow
White fondant icing ± 60 g (for cheeks)
Orange fondant icing ± 50 g (for ears) *you can knead a little orange food colouring into the white fondant
2 x cake pop sticks or skewers (for ears)
Black fondant icing ± 60 g (for nose, eyes, mouth and whiskers)


For the cake

1. Preheat the oven to 180°C (non fan assisted) and butter 2 x 9”(23 cm) round non-stick spring form cake tins.
2. In the bowl of a mixer combine all of the ingredients and beat on a very low speed until combined.
3. Once combined, increase speed to medium and beat for 3 minutes until batter is pale and fluffy.
4. Divide the batter into two equal quantities (ours weighed about 450g each) into the cake pans. Drop the tin on the counter to settle the batter.
5. Bake for ± 45–50 min each, until golden brown and a wooden skewer comes out clean.
6. Let the cake cool in the cake pan for about 5–10 minutes before turning out onto a cooling rack.

To make the buttercream icing

1. Place butter and icing sugar in a mixing bowl and beat on the lowest speed until it just comes together (it will have a gritty texture).
2. Add 20ml milk and vanilla paste or essence and beat until light and fluffy (approximately 3–5 minutes), adding more milk, 5 ml at a time, until you get the required texture.
3. Remove about 1 ½ cups of white icing and keep aside for the crumb layer, filling and top.
4. Add just a drop off orange food colouring to the remainder of icing and mix in thoroughly. Remember, you can always add a bit more but you can’t take the colour out, so work sparingly.


To assemble your lion cake

1. Use the white icing and roll out to approximately 3mm thick and cut out circles using a cup or glass for the cheeks. Set aside.
2. Roll two apricot sized balls for the ears and shape into oval shaped discs (see pictures).
3. Using the black fondant icing, roll two equal sized balls for the eyes and one larger ball for the nose. Pinch the “nose” at the bottom to make a triangular shape and set these aside. Take four small pieces of black fondant and roll out into thin “sausages” that will become the whiskers and mouth.
4. Once your cakes have cooled set them aside and fit an icing piping bag with the widest plain round nozzle you have (we used the Cake Boss “1A” nozzle) and fill the bag ¾ full with icing.
5. Use a bit of icing to “glue” your cake to your cake stand or a 10″(25cm) cake board.
6. Place a cake stand or cake board on top of your revolving cake stand and apply icing to the top of the cake only. The easiest way to get a professional finish is to start from the outer edge, working in a spiral towards the middle. *Don’t pipe this too thickly as you don’t want to run out of icing for the top of the cake.
7. Once you have iced the first layer, top it with your other layer of cake and finish off with a layer of icing on top and around the cake (this is called a crumb layer of icing as you are just covering the crumbs before you beautify the cake).
8. You want a smooth surface for the top of this cake which you can achieve by allowing the cake to set in the fridge for 20 minutes and then using baking paper and an icing smoother, gently applying pressure to smooth out the surface. If you don’t have an icing smoother, dip a butter knife or pallet knife into hot water, dry off, and use to smooth the top.
9. To decorate, fit an icing piping bag with a wide star shaped nozzle (we used the Cake Boss “1M” nozzle) and fill the piping bag ¾ full with icing.
10. Starting on the side of the cake, make small dots in a straight line down and continue to do so all around the cake. Once the sides are finished, make one last row of dots on the edge of the top of the cake – essentially creating a mane for your lion.
11. Place the white fondant circles down first to create the cheeks. Next add the nose, eyes and create the mouth using the thin strips. Add the whiskers and push the cake pop sticks with ears into the sides to complete the lion.


And there you have it – a roaring good birthday cake for any lion, zoo-themed or wild child’s birthday party. We hope this lion birthday cake recipe inspires you to tackle kiddies cakes at home and enjoy every aspect of your little one turning one year older.