Queen’s guard novelty cake


A charming, child-friendly cake that will wow everyone, this royal guard cake is a simple lemon sponge that's great for birthdays.


For the icing


  1. Preheat the oven to 160C/325F/Gas 3.

  2. Grease one 20x30cm/8x12in square cake tin and one 16x11cm/6¼x4¼in loaf tin (1lb/450g). Silicone bakeware will bulge slightly to give a slightly rounded appearance.

  3. In a bowl, sift together the flour and the baking powder. Set aside.

  4. In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugar for 3-4 minutes with a handheld electric mixer until it is very pale, light and fluffy.

  5. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, adding a tablespoon of flour with each egg. Stir in the lemon zest.

  6. Gently fold in the rest of the flour using a metal spoon. Add the milk, as needed, to give the batter a soft dropping consistency.

  7. Transfer the mixture to the two baking tins so that each is roughly half-full and bake in the centre of the oven for 40-50 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the centre of the cake comes out clean.

  8. Remove from the oven, cool for five minutes in the tins and turn out onto a wire rack to cool.

  9. When cool, cut and shape the cakes. Trim the top of the loaf cake so that it is a little flattened, but roughly the same height as the large cake.

  10. With a short side of the large cake towards you, cut two 5cmx10cm/2x4in rectangles from the bottom corners, so that the bottom edge of the cake is now 10cm/4in wide, and the whole cake is T-shaped. These off-cuts will form the feet.

  11. For the icing, start with the pink. Combine half of the icing sugar with two tablespoons water and enough red colour paste to achieve a fleshy pink. Use a little of this icing to cover the bottom third of the loaf cake for the face.

  12. Add extra red food colour to the pink icing until it turns the desired shade of red. Spread across the body of the guard, on the top (widest part) of the T-shape.

  13. For the black icing, combine half of the icing sugar with two tablespoons water and mix until smooth. Add sufficient black colouring powder to achieve the desired shade. Ice the top two-thirds of the loaf cake to create the hat. Ice the bottom of the T-shape cake to create the legs and the off-cuts of cake for the feet (you may want to trim these to give him less clown-like feet!). Save some black icing for the arms, buttons, eyes and mouth.

  14. Arrange the cake on the presentation board with the head atop the body and the feet at the base of the legs.

  15. Put the remaining black icing in a piping bag and pipe in lines for the arms, buttons, eyes and mouth. Give him an appropriately stern expression.

Recipe Tips

Black liquid food colouring will almost never yield a true black - use powdered colourings for the strongest shades.