Yesterday we celebrated by dad’s birthday. It was a great family gathering and I needed a special cake to mark the event. My dad is extremely popular with my boys. Gregory’s second word was “Bandis”, his name for my father for the first three years of his life. It was appropriate that this should be his first word as my mom and dad played a very instrumental part in looking after baby Gregory after I went back to work when he was three months old.

My dad has taught my boys lots of amazing things like how to build a tree house and how to make robots out of wood. He is also a champion sand castle creator and he came up with the idea for a pirate island made from sand in our giant sand pit. The pirate island was huge and he helped us all build it using a real spade. I helped him scoop sand from the mound to make eyes and a yawning mouth and we topped it off with twigs and small branches to make a forest of hair. The boys had a super toy pirate ship and set of pirate figures and they used to play in the sandpit for hours using the pirate island as a base for all the pirates adventures.

As a tribute to my dad and this lovely memory, I decided to make a humming bird cake and to turn it into a beach scene featuring the younger Greg and Mike building a pirate island. A humming bird cake is a delicious fruity and moist cake that originates from the Southern states of the USA.

Making the cake


3 cups cake flour;

2 cups white sugar;

1 teaspoon salt;

1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda (“bicarb”);

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon;

3 large eggs, beaten;

1 1/2 cups of vegetable oil;

7.5 ml vanilla essence;

1 can (400 grams) crushed pineapple (undrained);

5 large bananas (mashed);

1 cup flaked almonds;


Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius. Sift together the flour, bicarb and cinnamon and add the sugar. Add the oil and beaten eggs, stirring until the dry ingredients are just moistened. Mix in the vanilla essence, mashed banana and crushed pineapple. The mixture should be quite wet. Add the flaked almonds. Pour the mixture into a prepared large round cake tin. Place in the oven and bake for 75 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean.



You can either use cream cheese icing or butter cream icing for this cake. I used butter cream icing as the children prefer it. I covered the cooled cake with a thick layer of butter cream icing.


I made the beach sand by crushing short bread biscuits very finely. I covered the butter icing with a layer of biscuit sand. I made the pirate island from a large ball of white fondant shaped into a rough triangular shape. I covered the fondant triangle with a layer of butter icing and covered it with a layer of biscuit sand. I used a large ball tool to make the eyes and gaping mouth. I added the pre-made boys on the beach. The curly haired smaller boy is Mike and the larger straight haired boy is Greg.


“Mom also helped us to build a huge mountain of sand which we turned into a pirate island. Mom scooped sand out of the mountain to make eyes and a gaping mouth and we found a feather to stick on top like a flag. We also filled the biggest bucket up with water and buried it in a hole in the sand to make a lake. All the other children gathered around and started making smaller sand castles and soon we had a whole town of sand castles.” A description of the building of pirate island on the beach, extracted from A holiday to Cape Town with my baby brother by Robbie Cheadle

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16 thoughts on “Pirate island beach cake

      1. There is so much to do during that first week back, especially after being a bit more relaxed during the holidays. It can be hectic getting back into the routine. I hope it went okay for you all, if crazy. Are you in SA or UK?

        Liked by 1 person

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