Pearly queen cakes recipe

(38 ratings)

These pearly queen chocolate cakes are the ultimate Jubilee celebration food - they might look tricky but follow our simple instructions and you'll be impressing your friends in no time

Preparation Time40 mins (including decorating)
Cooking Time50 mins
Total Time1 hours 30 mins
Cost RangeMid

Create something really original and fabulous to celebrate the Queen's Platinum Jubilee.

These amazing pearly queen cakes are so decadent and impressive. However, they're not as difficult as you might think to create. To make 16 of these small square cakes, you actually just cook one large sponge, and cut it into four rows of four. Each little square is split in half for a layer of buttercream through the middle, then it's time to decorate. You can add a little black food colouring to the chocolate icing to get the really classic black and white colours of the pearly kings and queens. However, if you prefer not to use food colouring, dark chocolate gives a good contrasting background anyway.


For the sponge:

  • 340g unsalted butter, softened
  • 340g caster sugar
  • 6 eggs, beaten
  • 340g self-raising flour, sifted
  • 50g cocoa powder, sifted
  • 3 tbsp milk (optional)

For the filling:

  • 220g butter, softened
  • 300g icing sugar sifted
  • 100g cocoa powder sifted
  • 2-3 tbsp milk (optional)

For the icing:

  • 10g apricot jam
  • 200ml double cream
  • 200g dark chocolate roughly chopped
  • 1 tbsp liquid glucose
  • Black food colouring (optional)
  • Edible buttons and pearls to decorate


  • 20x20cm square cake tin greased and lined




  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas Mark 4 or 160°C for a fan oven.
  2. Cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Gradually beat in the eggs. Lightly fold in the flour and cocoa powder. Loosen the mixture with the milk if needed (the mixture should drop easily from the spoon). Transfer the mixture into the prepared tin and level.
  3. Bake for 45-50mins until risen and firm to the touch (a skewer inserted in the middle should come out clean). Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Meanwhile, make the buttercream.
  4. To make the buttercream With an electric hand whisk combine the butter, icing sugar and cocoa powder until light and soft. Add the milk to loosen if necessary.
  5. Cut the cold cake into 5cmx5cm squares. Spilt each square down the middle, spread a generous teaspoon of the buttercream on one half and sandwich back together again.
  6. Warm the apricot jam in a small pan and with a pastry brush generously coat the outsides of each square of cake. Set aside to let the jam set a little.
  7. To make the icing, heat the cream in a pan until just boiling. Take off the heat and stir in the chocolate until melted and combined.
  8. Add the liquid glucose and stir vigorously until the mixture has cooled and thickened to a spreadable consistency. At this stage to you can add a drop or 2 of black food colouring to achieve the classic pearly queen look.
  9. With a palette knife spread the icing over the sides and top of each little cake and decorate with edible buttons and pearls.
  10. Leave in a cool place for the icing to harden before eating.

Top tip for making these pearly queen cupcakes

Pearly kings and queens are fundraisers for charity. The original 'king', Henry Croft, was an orphan street sweeper who decorated his clothing all over with mother-of-pearl buttons to draw attention to himself. Why not carry on the tradition and get people to make a donation for these cakes, for a local good cause?

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Octavia Lillywhite
Octavia Lillywhite

Octavia Lillywhite is an award-winning food and lifestyle journalist with over 15 years of experience. With a passion for creating beautiful, tasty family meals that don’t use hundreds of ingredients or anything you have to source from obscure websites, she’s a champion of local and seasonal foods, using up leftovers and composting, which, she maintains, is probably the most important thing we all can do to protect the environment.