Introduction: Hand Painted Bird Birthday Cake

About: Dale, 30, Downhill Skateboarder and Gamer.

This instructable will show you how to make a delicious chocolate orange cake, ice it and then delicately hand paint it with a unique design. The skills in this instructable can be applied to any of your own designs so you can create your own personalised masterpiece any time!

Step 1: Preparation Is Everything

Before you can start to make the cake you need to have the right equipment. For this cake you will need to following tools:


2 x 20cm sandwich cake tins


Electric whisk



Grease proof paper

Palette Knife


Clean unused paint brushes

Fondant Smoother

Pizza cutter

Cake board

First Step Prep

Ensure you lightly grease both cake tins with a little butter. Draw around the base of a tin on grease proof paper twice and cut out the circles. Use these circles of grease proof to line the bottom of both cake tins.

Step 2: Chocolate Orange Deliciousness

For my cake I decided to make a chocolate orange flavour, this will taste just like a christmas favourite Terry's Chocolate Orange.

First of all follow Mary Berry's excellent chocolate orange sponge recipe here

This will make two light and slightly orange flavoured sponges. I did my own buttercream filling though (see step 3) rather than following the recipe for this.

Step 3: Buttercream It Up!

For my chocolate orange cake I decided to make an orange flavoured buttercream to go in the middle of the cake and a white chocolate buttercream to go round the outside.

To make buttercream use two times the amount of icing sugar to buttercream (e.g. 200g icing sugar, 100g butter)

Mix the two ingredients together until you get a creamy consistency.

For the orange flavour add a teaspoon of orange essence to the buttercream and mix well.

For the white chocolate buttercream, melt good quality white chocolate over a ban marie (see above pics). Once the chocolate is fully melted allow it to cool to room temperature then stir into the buttercream mix. If the consistency is too runny add a little more icing sugar to firm it up.

Step 4: Tower of Cake

Once your cakes are cool you will then need to build your cake. Ensure they are completely cooled down or the buttercream will melt!

Remove the grease proof from the bottom of one cake and place on a cake board. Then add a layer of good quality marmalade to this cake. Add a layer of the orange flavoured buttercream on top of the marmalade before laying the second cake on top of all of it.

Try and make sure each cake is lined up and that you don't over fill the cake so that you wont end up with a wonkey cake when icing.

Step 5: Ice Ice Baby

Now its time to ice the cake, this will give it a beautiful smooth finish to paint on.

Firstly use the white chocolate buttercream and a palette knife to put the buttercream on the top and sides of your assembled cake. This is the crumb coating and will allow the fondant to sit on the cake without any lumps.

Starting at the top apply a portion of buttercream in the middle of the cake and use the palette knife to spread it out to the edges. You then need to apply it to the side of the cake as well, if you have a cake turntable this will make applying the buttercream easier and more even. Try and keep the buttercream layer fairly thin so the cake wont be overly sweet.

You can then either roll out some white fondant icing to cover your cake or use ready rolled white icing. Lay the fondant icing over your cake then use your hands to pull it out and smooth it against the buttercream. I also use a fondant smoother to get that added smooth finish and a pizza cutter to remove any excess fondant.

Once the cake is completely covered you will need to put it in the fridge overnight to 'harden'. This will ensure the icing doesn't move or melt during the painting process.

Step 6: Lets Get Arty

Once your cake is set overnight its time to get creative and paint your design on the icing.

I used Wilton food colouring gel to get a bright colour finish and a little neat vodka as paint thinner. Dont worry about using vodka, as the paint dries the alcohol evaporates and leaves no alcohol or taste on the cake.

Using a paint palette, apply a small amount of the food gel colouring you wish to use in one section and then a little of the vodka to thin it down.

Then paint whatever design you want directly to the fondant icing. My cake was a birthday cake for a man who loved garden birds so I designed a cake around a robin, blue tit and green vines. Apply more vodka to the paint in order to obtain lighter shades, you can also use water to dilute the colour right down and even strip it off if you make a mistake. Do not use water as your main thinner base though as it will take quite awhile for the paint to dry.

When painting it is best to start with a pale base colour and then build up 'layers' of tone.

After 24hrs your design should be completely dry and you can add any finishing touches such as ribbon and candles.

Step 7: Present Your Masterpiece

Finally present your edible masterpiece to your friends or family and watch them marvel at your brilliance of being able to paint directly on a cake and still make it taste delicious!

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