July 17, 2023


From perfect princesses to extraordinary volcanos, a Dolly Varden cake is the answer to spectacular birthdays inspired by their favourite things.

A Dolly Varden cake is distinctively cone-shaped and incredibly versatile. With a little imagination and plenty of icing, home cooks can transform the basic cake into anything from heroines in flowing gowns to the busiest beehives! Basically, if you can dream it, you can do it with a Dolly Varden tin. And as mums ourselves, we’d go so far as to say that a Dolly Varden cake tin is a must-have for the preschool years.

We’ve carefully curated a spectacular list of birthday cakes for you to pore over and take some inspiration from. But first, let’s take a closer look at what makes the Dolly Varden cake just so special.

The original Women's Weekly Dolly Varden princess cake.
Dolly Varden Cake – Women’s Weekly Children’s Birthday Cake Book


What is the history of the Dolly Varden cake?

The cake was inspired by the fictional character ‘Dolly Varden’ in Charlies Dickens’ 1841 novel, Barnaby Rudge. Dolly’s beautiful gowns with tight bodices and billowing skirts were actually the inspiration behind women’s 19th-century British fashion. (Dolly also inspired the naming of a certain trout – but we’re not cooking fish today!)

How to cook a Dolly Varden cake evenly

The answer to an evenly cooked Dolly Varden cake is to use a quality aluminium tin and ensure your oven is not too hot. If you know your oven tends to cook unevenly, try placing the tin in a water bath while it bakes to stabilise the temperature.

But even if the top isn’t perfectly flat once it comes out of the oven, don’t worry. The top actually forms the base of the cake and you’ll likely need to level it to sit perfectly flat on your cake board anyway.

How to decorate a Dolly Varden cake

The imagination is the limit when it comes to decorating Dolly Varden cakes. Take inspiration from the famous Women’s Weekly Children’s Birthday Cake Book and try your hand at a marshmallow dress. Or, use rolled fondant icing to create a billowing gown fit for a princess.

Take a look below for more incredible ways to decorate these classic kids’ birthday cakes. And when you’re done here, take a peek at some of our other birthday cakes for kids, including some of the most colourful Wiggles cakes you ever did see!

Feature Packed!

Kids' birthday cake featuring barbie.

This showstopper takes party tables to all new levels! Designed by Annie’s Cupcakes in Canberra, it involves a buttercream-topped dolly varden cake smothered with macarons, iced biscuits and waffle cones. Obviously, a huge amount of work has gone into the decorations of this one, but if you want to try something similar, you could always look for ready-made candies and lollies in whatever colour scheme you like.

Source: Annie’s Cupcakes Canberra

Beautiful Bollywood

Birthday cake designed in the shape of a Bollywood dancer.

There are cakes, and then there are Cake Lady Cakes! The handpainted detail that has gone into this stunning Bollywood dress is really something else. Right down to the lace shawl and jewellery, it’s picture perfect. If you’d rather leave something this intricate to the professionals and happen to be based in Sydney, do yourself a favour and get in touch with the ever-talented Liz.

Source: Cake Lady Cakes

Belle Of The Ball

Kid's birthday cake shaped like Disney's Belle.

From a multi-award-winning cake maker and artist comes a cake that Beauty and The Beast fans will never forget. Of course, the masterful Verusca Walker has added details that involve a great deal of skill, but the design goes to show what’s possible with plenty of yellow fondant and a Belle doll.

Source: Verusca Walker


Kids' cake shaped like a shark's head.

If you’ve got shark-obsessed little ones in your midst, this incredible cake kit from Bake Believe is the key to fabulous and easy Jaws cake. The set includes (almost) everything you need to pull this creation together, you can even choose to add the Dolly Varden tin to your order if you don’t have one. You’ll get edible images, cake mix, icing sugar and food colouring along with detailed instructions to make it yourself – all for a fraction of the price of a professionally designed cake.

Source: Bake Believe

Sleeping Beauty

Dolly Varden Rapunzel cake.

Layer upon layer of the prettiest pink fondant icing brings Aurora’s dress to life in this stunning cake. In fact, this style of dress is a fantastic idea for re-creating any of their favourite heroines – just pick the signature princess colour and start rolling that icing! Of course, you could always get in touch with Kristie at With Love And Sugar if you’d rather outsource the creativity.

Source: With Love And Sugar

Petite Princess

Small pink Dolly Varden princess cakes.

All dressed up and ready for the ball, these adorable Dolly Varden princess creations by Burnt Butter Cakes make beautiful use of buttercream icing. With no fondant in sight, all you need to make something similar is a pasty bag and the right piping tips for the rosettes. Just don’t forget the sprinkles!

Source: Burnt Butter Cakes

The Cake Is Lava!

Dolly Varden cake decorated like a volcano.

If princesses are out and lava is in, a volcano cake is the only way to go! A Dolly Varden cake tin is the ideal shape for anything mountainous like a volcano or large rock – and it’s completely up to you how you choose to decorate it. This amazing creation by Iced By Kez uses a lot of coloured fondant icing, but you could easily substitute the dark brown fondant for buttercream and use toy figures around the base.

Source: Iced by Kez

Sweetest Spells

Kids' birthday cake in the shape of a witch.

Our hats go off to Tessa of Mumma Made It for this recreation of the original Witch cake from the Women’s Weekly Children’s Birthday Cake Book. Perfect for Halloween parties, this idea is easily adaptable to suit the party’s colour theme or your child’s favourite witchy character. Just don’t forget gloves when working with black gel colouring!

Source: Mumma Made It

 Ready For The Ball

Pink dolly varden princess cake with buttercream icing dress.

In true ombre perfection, this cake uses multiple shades of pink to create a textured dress. This is one of our favourite decorating ideas because it’s just so adaptable – switch up the dolls and colours to bring another character to life! Add some sprinkles or jewels for even more wow!

Source: Eleni’s Kouzina

Let Down Your Hair

Dolly varden princess rapunzel cake.

Birthday cakes don’t get better than this for Rapunzel fans! Decorated by The Green Bakery, this cake uses buttercream, fondant and edible jewels to transform a basic Dolly Varden cake into one of Disney’s most-loved heroines. The only thing missing is Pascal!

Source: The Green Bakery


Yellow beehive cake with a little black door painted on the front.

Who said Dolly Varden cakes were only for princesses? Created by Mrs Lardeedah, this adorable first-birthday cake is a beehive, complete with a black door and lots of busy bees! With cuteness overload and a low-level of difficultly, try your hand at something similar for a photo-worthy first cake.

Source: Mrs Lardeedah

Dressed To Impress

Pink Dolly varden cake with Barbie figure included.

Made with lace, layers and obviously a lot of love, this masterpiece has a strawberry swirl and ganache centre – so it’s pink from the inside all the way out. It’s such a beautiful idea for princess-themed birthdays and lovers of all things pink.

Source: Flower & Fondant Designer Cakes

If The Shoe Fits

Cinderella dolly varden cake.

This work of art by Taylor Made Gourmet highlights the importance of layers when it comes to creating fullness in Dolly Varden dresses. Complete with lace, a white pettiskirt and beautiful waist-tie, it’s that little bit of magic every birthday deserves.

Source: Taylor Made Gourmet



Big, bright and seriously fun, Sassy Cakes Melbourne ticked every box with this Miraculous creation. Involving a buttercream-topped cake and little fondant work, many home cooks could take on something similar with a little time and elbow grease.

Source: Sassy Cakes Melbourne

Ice Queen

Elsa dolly varden cake for kids.

Are you more comfortable piping buttercream than rolling fondant? This Elsa creation demonstrates just how stunning piped rosettes look when clustered together on a cake. Just equip yourself with a pastry bag and leaf tip and get piping.

Source: Baked By Melissa

Mermaid Magic

The Little Mermaid Ariel-themed birthday cake.

Whether your little ones love Ariel or all things mermaid, this cake is guaranteed to have kids smiling ear to ear. Full disclosure, the very talented Elise used stacked round cakes for this, but she does point out that a Dolly Varden cake tin works just as well. Want the rock even higher? Consider adding a round cake to the base to lift it up a little.

Source: My Cupcake Addiction

There’s more where this came from! Head over to our collections of Paw Patrol cakes for more clever ideas for special birthdays!

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  • WOW…..peoples artistic abilities just blow my mind


  • They’re gorgeous, I love them. Even better, there’s a couple that look easy enough for me to maybe make them ????


  • Wonderful designs, my mum made an awesome one for me once too


  • How adorable are these cakes I dont think I could eat it they are just way too nice to eat hahaha


  • My mum made these a couple of times for me and I loved them! She’s even making them for the grandkids too


  • My mum made me one of these cakes as a little girl and I loved it


  • I made a Barbie cake for my daughter’s 6th birthday in lockdown and it was still my favourite cake I’ve ever made. The child within would have been so happy with that cake!


  • These bring back memories, I had one of these for my 6th birthday with a Barbie shoved in the middle. I absolutely adored it.


  • I have made a few of these over the years, having 6 children ???? fantastic cakes!!! I am actually about to work on a castle cake for this sunday, wish me luck, daughter number 3 is turning 5!!!! ????


  • Some amazing and very wow cakes


  • Some of these awesome cakes don’t even look like a cake. I love them


  • Oh my goodness, these are all amazing. How clever.


  • These are gorgeous and creative. Back to basics I say!


  • I love both the witch and the mermaid, but doubt I could do either.


  • I’ve made these cakes for my daughters and granddaughter, they absolutely loved them and the look of surprise and joy on their face is something I will never forget.


  • I’ve done a barbie style and a mermaid one. They are quite fun and simple to do.


  • I have made so many of these cakes for my daughters. It is so great to revamps on this tried and tested cake, I can safely say I have never thought to turn it into a volcano such a very clever idea.


  • Wow, these are beautiful creations for sure !


  • That dress to impress cake. Wow!!! These all look incredible though. I love the dinosaur one too. I don’t know if I would have the skill to decorate like that myself

    • The dinosaur is super cute and fun too!


  • Gorgeous looking cakes, love the Little Mermaid Cake!


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