Baking number birthday cakes

At some point in their childhood, most children will pine for a number birthday cake – a cake cut to the shape of the year they are turning, all iced and decorated in their favourite colours and flavours.

Chances are that a number birthday cake will not be the most challenging birthday cake you’re ever asked to make, but the task is made even easier if you choose a cake that matches your skill level and available time – after all, there’s no fun sweating over cake icing after midnight!

Before you begin

Regardless of the cake you choose to make, the job is always made easier when you have the right equipment.

  • Make sure you have the correct tins for the task before you begin. Depending on the number you want to make, you may need a combination of ring, square, round and loaf tins.
  •  Always use a sharp thin-bladed knife or serrated knife when cutting the sponge and make sure it has cooled completely before cutting.
  • If you have time, chill the cake in the fridge to make it firmer and easier to cut.

Best cakes recipes for number cake creations

When deciding on which cake you are going to bake to be cut into your desired shape, don’t get too ambitious. The best cakes are those that are not layered or too crumbly or moist. Plain cakes are the way to go here. Try one of these fail-proof recipes:

Number cake 1: Quick and easy

The easiest way to make a number cake is to roll and cut ready-made fondant icing into the number and then place on a square or rectangle cake. To do this:

  • Bake a rectangle or square cake.
  • When completely cool, cover with a crumb coat of buttercream icing before covering with fondant icing.
  • Colour and roll more fondant, cut it into the number needed using a number template (below) and position on top of the cake. Glue to the iced cake with a little water if needed.
  • Dress the cake up with edible glitter and wrap the sides with a Happy Birthday ribbon.

Number cake 2: A little trickier and more time consuming

A little more ambitious number birthday cake is cutting the cake into a number shape and then covering it with buttercream icing or royal icing. To do this:

  • Prepare and bake the cake. When totally cooled and using a sharp knife, cut out the desired number using a number template.
  • Prepare buttercream icing or royal icing  – coat or pipe to cover sponge.
  • Use edible images or lollies to decorate the top.

Number cake 3: Not so hard but time consuming

Not confident in your cake-carving abilities? You can make a number cake out of cupcakes instead. Not hard but a little more time consuming. To do this:

  • Use cupcakes to form the number needed and decorate each cupcake with buttercream icing .
  • Roll and cut fondant icing into circles to cover each cake and finish with decorations. The decorations for these don’t need to be edible.  Craft stores supply lots of gorgeous images that can be easily attached to the cupcakes with some buttercream or royal icing (just let everyone know they can’t be eaten!)
  • If you prefer edible decorations, finish with a fondant icing decoration. Look for small-sized cutters in cake specialty stores or many thrift stores sell cutters individually and are inexpensive to buy.  Roll out the fondant and cut. Make these ahead of time and allow them to air dry so they become firm.

Number cake 4: Most challenging cake that takes up to four hours to make and decorate

If you are happy to roll up your sleeves and spend serious time lovingly creating a birthday cake, then this is the cake for you! To do this:

  • Prepare and bake the cake.
  • Once completely cooled, cut the cake into the number using a number template (below).
  • Prepare ganache or buttercream icing and use this to hold together the cut pieces (if needed).
  • Cover the cake with a crumb coat of either the ganache or buttercream icing.
  • Colour and roll out the fondant icing and carefully drape it over the cake, gently using your fingers to ease out any creases or wrinkles.
  • Use a knife to trim off any excess fondant icing.
  • Add decorations – you may like to use the store-bought variety or decorations you have made from the fondant.

Birthday cake number templates:


  1. SarahBlair 02/09/2018 at 5:27 pm

    These are great tips, and the templates are fantastic!! These will be so handy next year when my two youngest turn 7 & 5. They will love these cakes!!!

  2. kymmage 30/08/2018 at 6:30 pm

    I made a number 2 cake for my eldest one year. She loved it even though it was terribly wonky. I would have loved to find a set of templates like this! Maybe next year she’ll want a 12 cake?!

  3. Jen_Wiig 27/08/2018 at 3:05 pm

    Im yet to do a number birthday cake for any of my boys they’ve always been abit different with their choices. But ive always thought they’d be relatively easy as long as they ask on their 1,3,8, 10, 11,13 birthdays hahaaa.
    I decided one year i wanted to make a batman shaped cake for my youngest, 3am to get getup to bday boy at 6am was not a good idea so i like how this gives you a step by step guide on how to best do the cake depending o your level of ability.
    Loving the templates here too i have to print these so im in readiness for the request of a numbered bday cake ekkkkk

  4. dawnblyth 27/08/2018 at 1:46 pm

    This is something I have never done before and I am thinking I might give it a go for one of the upcoming birthday parties. I am thankful you have shared templates and instructions on how to make the number cakes. Sometimes googling makes things look way harder than they need to be. I am also going to be sharing this on my FB page for friends to have access to the templates and information.

  5. Bevik1971 23/08/2018 at 4:20 pm

    Hmmmm now I’m worried my 5 year old will want one for her next birthday haha. Thanks for the templates, very handy. For her past birthdays we have just made a good old roundy and decorated with lollies etc, just easier not to mention cheaper!!

  6. Mands1980 21/08/2018 at 7:23 pm

    I like making the number 2 cake which isn’t too hard by making the cake then making up a buttercream icing nd putting it on top with some basic lollies / sprinkles for the top. It may be basic but it’s easy to make when you don’t have lots of time and great that it’s home made.

  7. MuddledUpMolly 20/08/2018 at 9:50 pm

    This is a great article for budding home bakers! There is plenty online (pinterest etc.) on how to make number cakes but great to have all the tips and templates in one handy place!

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