How to make a Moana Birthday Cake

How to make a Moana cake

David and I take our godparental responsibilities very seriously, especially when it comes to making birthday cakes. I must admit, I was more than a little worried when our goddaughter asked for a Moana cake because all the ones we had seen were flights of fondant fancy and we just don’t do fondant. We’re all about the buttercream and the more of it the merrier. Not only is it delicious and it teams well with jam, but it’s very forgiving, particularly to the amateur and/or inexperienced cake decorator.

So we had to think outside of the birthday cake box and come up with a cake that was visually appealing but easy to put together because you’ll remember that one time David and I nearly got divorced over the Train Cake!

This cake is a box ticker. It’s so easy to put together even I can do it and it totally looks the part!

The buttermilk cake holds it’s shape and keeps really well. If you want to make it ahead of time, it will keep well for a few days uniced and it is also very  freezer friendly if you want to be extra organised.

This cake takes a lot of buttercream, between 3 to 4 batches. I suggest you make 1 or 2 batches at a time and see how you go. I’m quite heavy handed when it comes to buttercream,  so you may need less than I. If you have any buttercream over, keep it on standby, so that if any of your figures get wobbly you can secure them back into place.

The Moana figures were not cheap but they totally made the cake. There were extra figures left over, and when paired up with the figures topping the cake, they made a great extra gift for the birthday girl.

This tutorial assumes that your cakes are made and you have a batch of buttercream whipped,(check the ingredients list for all the links to recipes you’ll ever need!) and that we’re good to go. Let’s make this cake!

How to make a Moana cake



3 x Nigella’s Buttermilk Birthday Cake

175g strawberry jam


3-4 batches of buttercream icing

blue food colouring


125g granita biscuits, crushed

3 x 200g packs chocolate fingers


You will also need:

1 x 26cm x 30 cm cake tin

1 large tray or cake board

a piping bag and nozzle

palette knife

Moana Cake Toppers  (I got mine from the UK, but these are similar)

shells for crafting

toy sea animals (optional)

1 large or 2 small lei

How to: Assembling the Cake

  1. Place five blobs of buttercream on the tray, one in each of the four corners, and one in the centre of where the cake will be. This is going to be the “glue” that holds the cake in place. Place the first layer of the cake on to the buttercream “glue.”
  2. Cover the cake generously with jam. Don’t spread the jam right to the edge, leave a border of about 1cm.
  3. Pipe the buttercream over the jam, again leaving a small border.
  4. Place the second cake layer on top, and repeat the jam and buttercream process.

How to make a Moana birthday cake

  1. Place the third cake layer on top.
  2. Now you’ll need to give the cake a “crumb coat” or what I like to refer to as “dirty icing.” Using a palette knife, spread a thin layer of buttercream first over the top and then over the sides of the cake to seal in any loose crumbs. Remove any excess frosting with the palette knife.
  3. When the crumb coat is done, pop the cake into the fridge for about 30 minutes.

How to: Decorating the Cake

  1. Take about two thirds of one batch of  buttercream and add a few drops of blue food colouring. Mix well.
  2. Add the blue icing to the top of the cake making a wave effect – this You Tube shows you how. Remember to leave some space for the beach.
  3. Build up the beach with the remaining white icing and secure the cake toppers in position, building up the icing at the base of the cake toppers to secure them in place.

how to make a Moana cake

  1. Ice the sides of the cake with white buttercream. You don’t have to be too precious about it because the buttercream is going to be covered in chocolate fingers.
  2. Place a row of chocolate fingers, horizontally (long side down)  all around the cake and then, place the remaining chocolate fingers vertically (short side up)  all the way around to complete the border.

How to make a Moana Cake

  1. Carefully sprinkle the biscuit crumbs over the “beach” using a small spoon to position them in place. Don’t worry if some sand drops into the sea, just add a blob more blue icing.
  2. Pop the cake in to the fridge for about 30 minutes to allow everything to set.
  3. To complete the Moana effect, place a lei around the cake just before serving.

More Moana party Ideas

Stick with the tropical theme and keep it healthy with some scrumptious fruit platters.

How to make a Moana Cake

How about some seashells, seashells on the seashore? You can find these mini star shaped plastic dishes from the $2 store. Simple fill with blue jelly, top with biscuit crumbs and half a chocolate shell to complete the look.

How to make a Moana Cake

Make some Moana themed cupcakes with some edible cupcake toppers. Not only do the kids go wild for these, but the toppers hide a multitude of decorating sins!

How to make a Moana Cake

Create an island oasis with inflatables, pineapple honeycomb decorations and tropical coloured balloons.

How to make a Moana Cake

And if you want to go all out, don’t forget your Moana partyware!

How to make a Moana Cake

Have you seen Moana? If you could choose any birthday cake for yourself, what would it be? Are you a fan of fondant or you on Team Buttercream?

Linking up with Kylie for IBOT


  • That is a serious cake Sammie! I love it. When I was a child I always lusted over my friends birthday cakes that were made from the Womens Weekly birthday party cake cookbook. I am yet to have one myself, but still lust over them!

    • I’m yet to have one too! Now that David thinks he is a cake boss, he’ll have to raise his game for my upcoming birthday! LOL!

  • So much Moana goodness! The cake looked amazing – and I love those little jelly bowls too!

    I am DEFINITELY team buttercream! The only time I’ve ever liked fondant was on our wedding cake – but that’s because our cake creator is a cake magician 😛

    • Same with our wedding cake. Just the thought of using fondant on a cake makes me feel anxious! Those jelly bowls were so cute and the cake went down a treat! Birthday girl’s brother has asked for a lion for his 3rd birthday so I’m pinteresting like it’s going out of fashion!

  • Bookmarking this for September 🙂 thanks Sammie!

  • Aleney de Winter

    THis is brilliant. My little Moana fan is peering over my shoulder demanding I recreate your masterpiece

  • What a great cake! I love it! Plus the little seashells on the seashore look so effective too!


  • Sarah Norman

    i am rubbish at making cakes, although i dont try very often because my OH is always on a diet and we just cant eat one slice but the whole cake!…
    but this cake looks amazing, its 8:30am and i am now craving cake, i will just have to make do with a chocolate hobnob instead!

    • I’m always craving cake but a hobnob is a good alternative! We would never make a cake this elaborate for the two of us, but there were plenty of willing eaters at the birthday party!

  • How gorgeous! My daughter is very much into Moana at the moment, if it lasts until the next birthday, I may make an attempt!

  • Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella

    Super cute cake Sammie! Glad that it didn’t send you to the divorce courts too! 😀

  • Super cute cake Sammie – I too am all about the buttercream icing!

  • Hugzilla

    Man, you owe me royalties for this… Remember my blue mashed potato cake from last year? LOL.

    • How could I ever forget that cake? I did contemplate blue mash, but I thought the blue buttercream was a bit more traditional 🙂

  • If only I saw this before my grand daughter’s 4th birthday! Gorgeous.

  • Sammie this cake looks amazing! I am so impressed! I love the little jellies too, so clever. I’m going to get my niece into Moana now just so I can do this for her next birthday (we’ve got til next Feb so I should have plenty of time to practice).

    • Have you seen Moana? It’s really good! We watched it specially so we could get in the mood for the cake! And this cake is so easy, you won’t need to practice!

      • I actually watched it on the plane coming out here! So, a momentous occasion for me plus it was a great film. I think my niece would really enjoy it too 🙂

        • Our 5 year old god-daughter loves it! It’s such a great movie and lovely to see a girl boss in the lead role!

  • I loved the movie and was stoked when I saw this cake on your Instagram 😀 It’s such a fun cake, I’m sure the birthday girl loved it! I am a huge fan of easy to put together cakes too haha although you totally wouldn’t be able to tell this cake was just by looking at it. Aced it!

    • The birthday girl really did love it! Her brother wants a lion for his third birthday, I think that’s going to be a bit more of a challenge!

      • Oo, that will be more of a challenge! Maybee a circle loaf tin, orange and yellow buttercream (because you’re right it is pretty forgiving haha), the teeth could be cut out of milk bottles or the end of candy canes, malteaser eyes maybe. That could be fun. Hopefully you have some time to plan/practice that one.

        • Or I might cheat, and do this style of cake, use sand instead of sea, and put toy lions/wild animals all over. Hubby’s birthday is in 2 weeks but fortunately he is easier to please 🙂

  • Awesome awesome awesome!! This is perfect timing thank you. I’ve been asked to make a Lego Friends cake – but a swimming pool Lego Friends cake. I’ll be able to adapt this. Thank you!

  • Beautiful cake! Well done, I will tuck this idea away safely for a future party!

  • You are such an awesome God mother. This cake is a great idea for any number of themes. Saving.

    • I can’t take all the credit, hubby is the godfather with cake friendly fingers! You’re so right though, this lends itself to so many themes!

  • Wow, it looks amazing, Sammie! Your godkids are so lucky to have you! I haven’t seen Moana yet but Punky told me she saw it at school. Well, either that or she heard the music at school when they were doing dancing, I’m not sure, but somehow she knows the songs! If I could have any birthday cake it would basically just be lemon curd, lol! Although my sister did make me an amazing birthday cake this week, we had it last night at my Mum’s for my birthday dinner, it was a chocolate brownie base with milo mouse on top. It was soooooo good, and I had to do some work to make sure there was some leftovers for me to bring home. Can’t wait to eat it tonight!

    • Your birthday cake sounds amaze – hope you had an extra special day! It’s funny you say that about lemon curd because I just made a batch the other day! So good!

      Moana is such a fun movie for the whole family and the songs are ace! Great for singing along to!

  • LOVE THIS! Seen your cake and it’s been requested for an upcoming 6 year old bday!! Yay! I rarely make the kids birthday cake – Farmer does. I feel its too much pressure!! lol! This is on my list now – flexes knuckles with confidence 🙂 xx

    • Seriously if we can do it, you can do it! Renee from Mummy, Wife and Me just made it with Lego figures and she totally aced it! It’s so fun and so easy to make and the birthday person is going to be in their element! Let me know how you go!