Big Barn birthday cake from Ella’s Kitchen

by Emily Gilbert |
Updated on

This farmyard animal cake is perfect for birthdays - you can make the cow shape by making a template and cutting the icing to match it.

Preparation Time

2 hours




Set aside extra grated apple and blend until smooth for your baby.

Finger Food

Chop the cake into easy-to-handle pieces.


For the cake

225g unsalted butter, softened, plus extra for greasing

100g golden caster sugar

3 eggs

300g self-raising white flour

1 tsp baking powder

2 small eating apples

100g white chocolate, chopped

2 tbsp milk

For the icing

400g full-fat cream cheese

125g white chocolate, chopped

75g oz unsalted butter, softened

To decorate

100g white chocolate bar

100g milk chocolate bar

75g brown ready-to-roll icing

Icing sugar, for dusting

Red and blue ready-to-roll icing

Green food colouring

A few dried cranberries

White and coloured writing icing

Cow template

Cut this so it's 8cm wide.


  1. Preheat the oven to 170°C/Gas Mark 3. Grease a 20 cm deep round cake tin and line the base and sides with baking parchment. Grease the paper.

  2. Place the butter, sugar, eggs, flour and baking powder in a bowl and beat using a hand-held electric whisk until creamy. Peel the apples and grate into the bowl. Add the chocolate and milk and mix together. Spoon into the prepared tin and level the top.

  3. Bake in the oven for about 1 hour until risen, firm and a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Turn out the cake onto a wire rack, peel away the lining paper and leave to cool.

  4. To make the icing, beat the cream cheese in a bowl to soften. Melt the chocolate and butter in a heatproof bowl set over a saucepan of gently simmering water. Add to the cream cheese and stir until smooth, adding a dash of hot water if the mixture is very thick. Reserve 75g of the icing in another bowl.

  5. Cut the cake in half horizontally and sandwich together on a plate with a quarter of the icing. Spread the rest over the top and sides.

  6. Trace the cow template (above) and cut it out. Cut an 8cm square slab of the white chocolate (4 squares) and press it onto the top of the cake, grooves downward. Break off 2 double-square pieces of chocolate from the milk chocolate bar and position them either side of the white chocolate for shutters. Break squares of the remaining milk chocolate and press onto the side of the cake.

  7. Lightly dust the work surface with icing sugar, then roll out the brown icing to 5 mm thick and cut around the cow template. Place the icing over the white chocolate. Shape 2 horns in blue icing and place. Roll a cherry-sized ball of red icing and flatten it to match the size of the snout on the template. Place on the cow in the ‘window’.

  8. Use small pieces of the remaining brown icing as trunks for the trees around the side of the cake. Colour the reserved icing green and spoon it into one corner of a polythene food bag. Snip off the corner of the bag and pipe green icing to create trees. Push cranberry pieces into the green icing as fruit. Use white writing icing to pipe the cow’s features and coloured writing icing to pipe the window around the cow and the shutter features.

This recipe is taken from The Big Baking Book: The Yellow One by Ella's Kitchen (Hamlyn, £14.99)

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