I made this pirate treasure chest birthday cake for my little girl’s first birthday – having read lots of posts about using doweling to prop the lid open or making the lid out of rice krispies or wedging it open with extra bits of cake I was starting to panic that it was all very complicated. In the event it was really easy. Here’s what I did.

1. I made three basic rectangular chocolate tray bake sponge cakes the day before the party and trimmed them them to A4 size.

2. When they had cooled down I sandwiched two layers together with chocolate ganache (5 parts melted 70% chocolate to 2 parts heavy cream – yikes!) to make the base.

3. I put the other layer (the lid) on a piece of A4 cardboard covered with tin foil. (This was to make it easier to lift on/off the base.)

4. I iced both cakes in chocolate ganache and put them in the fridge overnight to set. I iced the base on the serving plate I was going to use – a good plan as it wouldn’t budge once iced!

5. The next day I spent an hour decorating the cake. I used ready-rolled chocolate flavored icing; cut it into ribbons and used it to make the edging on the base and the lid. I studded it with silver balls and wrote my daughter’s name on the top in icing.

6. I squirted the rest of the white writing icing tube onto the top of the base and stuck gold chocolate coins and sweeties all over it, putting more towards the front. Another good squirt of icing on the back and I stuck the lid on top. That’s it. No engineering needed! I was so relieved!

7. I used ready-made fondant to model the hinges and lock and painted them with silver edible paint AFTER I’d stuck them on the cake. (I did try and do it before at first. Don’t do this! It didn’t work!)

8. To make the sand I used bashed up digestive biscuits mixed with a good shake of golden caster sugar. The candy pebbles and sweetie necklaces can be bought from traditional sweet shops. The midget gems and jelly rings came from the supermarket.

Even with all the dark chocolate it went down a storm – there were loads of kids at the party aged everywhere between 9 months to 15 years and they all knocked it back, no problem. Recommended!