My daughter, for some inexplicable reason, does not like cake. However, if there are Smarties and cupcakes involved then she will indulge. So in line with the beach theme for her fifth birthday party, I decided to make her a fish cupcake cake.

I took inspiration from a couple of blogs in order to come up with this beauty. Clearly, I didn’t put enough thought into the colours I used as it was only until I put it all together that I realised that I had used a ‘Mr Blobby’ colour palette. So choose your colours wisely.

This post contains affiliate links. For more information, see my disclosures here.

A fish cupcake cake is the perfect choice for a beach or ocean themed kids party | The Parent Express

My Cake School has an excellent tutorial on how to make a fish shaped cake using 12 cupcakes and a deep 6-inch cake. Two Sisters Crafting have another tutorial on how to make individual fish cupcakes using M&M’s for scales.  I made a hybrid of these two cakes using My Cake School for instructions on how to pull it all together along with the idea of M&M scales from Two Sisters Crafting.

Neither blog provided much information in terms of what cake recipe to use, but personally, I like to use a Madeira cake recipe for a couple of reasons: one, it is denser than a standard sponge cake so it can withstand the weight of icing; two, I find it less dry and lastly I think it tastes better (possibly due to the lemon zest giving it a bit of zing). It’s all down to personal preference but I used this recipe by James Martin and thought it was delicious. I doubled the recipe which was enough to make 15 cupcakes (three more than I needed) and two round sandwich tins.

I then used The Hummingbird Bakery’s recipe for the buttercream icing, which again, I doubled. It turns out that I had more than enough icing, probably because I was a bit stingy on the icing on the fish head and tail.

Smarties versus M&M’s

As a big Smartie fan, I originally bought Smarties to decorate the cakes. However, I found that as M&M’s are smaller and the colours more vivid they were more effective for fish scales. It does mean, however, that I now have two jumbo bags of Smarties sitting around just waiting to be eaten. And I have absolutely no willpower.


Apart from buying the normal eggs, flour, butter, sugar, caster sugar and icing sugar, the only other thing you may want to buy to make this fish cupcake cake are some ‘eyes’. I got my Wilton Eyes (complete with eyelashes) from Amazon. Just a word of warning though – they are rock hard and full of E’ numbers so alternatively use a mini marshmallow with a small black icing dot in the middle.

Individual Fish Cupcakes

As I had three more cupcakes than I needed I decided to make a few individual fish cupcakes. This gave me the opportunity to use different colours from the main cake and I thought they came out rather well. Almost too cute to eat.

Fish cupcakes and super easy to make and kids love them. They work particularly well at a beach party. Embrace the M&M's and get creating | The Parent Express

So how was the Fish Cupcake Cake received?

The idea of being able to have a cupcake as opposed to a slice of cake proved really popular but it caused a bit of a mad cake crush as the kids all rushed to get their sugar hit. Sadly the birthday girl got squashed in all the cake chaos, but not before she had managed to make a grab for the best cupcake (the one with the most scales on it, obviously).

If I was to make it again, I would do a few things differently:

1- I would choose different colours (I can’t seem to disassociate Mr Blobby with my daughter’s beach party!)

2 -I would make more cupcakes as these were more popular than the tail and head.

Over to you

I really enjoyed baking this fish cupcake cake. It was easy to make and well received. Plus I wasn’t up until two in the morning decorating it (which I have been for the last couple of years).  If you want to find out what else we got up to during the course of the Beach Party then click here to see some of the beach party games we played.