Horta = Vegetable. Hortamatic = Traditional recipe gone veganized goodness.


July 17, 2010

Vegan Pirate Ship Cake

Brave little ship about to hit cupcake island.

Intros and Inspirations

This cake was made using my yellow cake recipe. It's moist as a wet hankie and completely delicious. However, the setting, an 18th century pirate ship? Completely new. I decided to make the ship-themed cake for Rob's birthday after my good friend Bonnie mentioned her employer making a ship cake. Rob also is a huge fan of pirate ships. My model is loosely based on this:

Very loosely.

History of Dish

Pirate ship cakes have been around a long time. Possibly even longer than pirates.

Rob asked, 'Where did you get that plastic pirate?!' To his surprise, the pirate figurine bedecking the cake was carefully researched and based on Jean Lafitte.

Or, it has been sitting on our dining room window sill for the last 3 years (apparently, unnoticed).

Materials Needed

  • Yellow Cake recipe & frosting
  • Blue food coloring
  • Rum extract
  • Wooden skewers
  • Fake flags. I used old CD labels bent over.
  • Optional: decorative icing. I used black glitter style. Bad choice in this case (see conclusion).
  • Authentic Pirate Figurine©
  • Blue sparkly sprinkles
  • Corn holder and candle cannons
  • Serving platter

Yield and Pre-heat

Since the round cake pans will cook faster than the big rectangle version, you will need to cook them for a shorter period. Ditto for the mini-cupcake islands.


  • Make two batches of the Yellow Cake recipe.
  • Place the batter evenly into four pans: a rectangular pan, two round pans, and four small cupcake tins. (I only used one cupcake for this version.)

Baking and Frosting Making

  • Monitor the baking process. The mini-cupcake islands come out first, followed by the round cake ship hulls. The cake is ready when a finger-press indentation bounces back in the middle (thanks Rob's cousin Melissa).

  • Meanwhile, make the frosting. Based on 'yo ho ho and a bottle of rum' I decided that it would be necessary to make the sea rum-flavored. I added blue food coloring and some rum extract to one batch of the frosting. The frosting was a simple mix of 3/4 Spectrum non-hydrogenated shortening + 1/4 earth balance spread, organic powdered sugar, and rum extract. (I used imitation since it wasn't a real pirate ship)
  • For the actual ship, I made chocolate frosting using the same recipe, except eliminated the rum and added about 2 T of rich chocolate cocoa powder.
  • Place both frostings in the fridge to chill.


  • Let the cakes cool. Once cool, remove from pans carefully (I put pans upside down over plate/platter then tap the pan).
  • Cut out two rectangular chunks from the middle of your rectangle cake (see picture below). Your ships will be sailing there later. Retain the cutouts as you will need to supplement the ship with part of them and/or you can eat them later.
  • Cut the round cakes in half. The four halves will eventually become your ship. So they balance better, you can also trim off the round parts, just barely. Though I don't think that was necessary in hindsight.
  • Place chocolate frosting between two slices, to glue them together. Do the same with the other two.
  • Coat the outside of the cakes with a thin layer of appropriate frosting color and cover and refrigerate for a couple of hours (I was in a hurry and put them in the freezer). This will ensure your later layers of frosting will adhere better and crumbs will not get in your frosting (thanks for the tip, Shirle). You need only coat those areas you are going to frost (that will show) and any damage areas (where the ship-cake was hit by cannon balls and is coming apart).
  • Once cooled, frost your rectangle sea first. Sprinkle with blue sparkles.
  • Rather than do what I did, frost the boats first then place them into the sea.
  • Add your cupcake island(s) and skewered flags and pirate. Add the corn holder and candle cannons. Don't forget Jean Lafitte.


Some people preferred the sea whereas others took the chocolate ship.

Photo by James

Thankfully, no one ate or wanted the plastic pirate or corn holders. But everything else was pretty much disapeared.


Blueberry cannon balls and vegan wafer walk-the-plank planks.


Though I noticed an unfortunate likeness to a certain oil spill after decorating the ship with a “B” and placing little black frosting drops in the 'sea', little room for comment remained after being distracted by my dead-on skull and crossbones flags that were viciously rumored to be potato heads.


  1. Adorable! It looks cute and tasty!

  2. Awesome! Glad you took pictures before it got devoured. Wish we could have tasted some of the pirate goodness.

  3. ggrrrr, matie.... I love this one! I love that he never noticed the pirate too. You're the bomb girl! (cannon bomb hee-hee)xox

  4. Awesome cake! Almost like the picture! I would say it exceeds your Tofia or Chamble.