Swallows and Amazons cakes

‘Swallows and Amazons’ cakes are always special.

We made a ‘Swallows and Amazons’ seed cake with caraway seeds and almonds, which reminded me of being on Peel Island.


Not so long ago, Miranda Gore Brown brought her version of Mrs Dixon’s traditional fruit cake to The Arthur Ransome Society pirate feast, along with her book Bake Me A Cake As Fast As You Can, which has ideas on how to ice cakes.

Miranda has all sort of ideas for baking here. She made this cake for her son’s birthday, described here

Miranda Gore Browne's Swallows and Amazons cake

A huge cake was baked to celebrate the launch of Julian Lovelock’s book Swallows, Amazons and Coots with a forward by Sophie Neville.

Cake depicting the book cover of Swallows Amazons and Coots

This cake celebrates Arthur Ransome’s book ‘Great Northern?’ set on the Isle of Lewis where filming took place for the DVD ‘Encountering the Ransomes’ released by The Arthur Ransome Society

Great Northern cake

Does  anyone have a recipe for Cook’s black cake? We would love to see your ideas for literary  decorations. Here are a few more to inspire you:

Winter Holiday cake - the tarn

~Winner of The Susan Prize~

It was my privilege to award The Susan Prize to the girls who baked this cake. It proved they must have loved Arthur Ransome’s book ‘Winter Holiday’. The Swallows, Amazons and Ds are obviously contemplating whether or not to skate on the tarn that I understand was made by melting sweets and ‘took absolutely ages.’ You can see two of the characters approaching the ice.

Winter holiday cake - Dorothea skating

Dorothea, the aspiring novelist, is skating around this cake, which tasted so delicious it almost transported me to the banks of the tarn itself.

Winter holiday cake - the igloo

~Winner of the Crumbly Creations~

A number of crumbly creations, using biscuits and chocolate, gave us a good idea of what the igloo in ‘Winter Holiday’ must have looked like, while this birthday cake was inspired by the Puffin cover of ‘Swallows and Amazons’.

Swallows and Amazons birthday cake from Rebecca Asker
Detail of a Swallows and Amazons cake based on the Puffin cover

Swallowy dodgers with slices of cake claimed by Amazon pirates were on offer at Lakeland Arts to accompany their Swallows and Amazons exhibition:

“There was an enormous gooseberry tart” recipe published in Signals:

Gooseberry tart Outlaw 54

Elizabeth Rondthaler Jolley sent this photo from America:

Elizabeth Rondthaler Jolleys igloo cake

Adam Quinan has written from Canada: ‘I made this for an Arthur Ransome Birthday party event in Toronto back in January 2004. We went skating on an outdoor rink and ate Igloo hotpot and then came inside and listened to some storytellers retelling some of ‘Old Peter’s Russian Tales’ with the ‘Winter Holiday’ cake and tea.’

WH Cake

Lucy Bailey-Wright of The Arthur Ransome Society wrote:
‘After a wonderful weekend at Swallowdale my girls have been full of love for all things Swallows and Amazons. So I had a go at a Swallows & Amazons themed cake! Had to be a number 5 too! Candles were in the camp fire!’
Arthur Herbertson designed this Birthday cake, which celebrates ‘Secret Water’ published eighty years ago.
Swallows and Amazons cake by Arthur Herbertson without candles
The Swallows, Amazons and Ds seem to be sailing around Wild Cat Island in this Birthday cake made by Mae Fuller
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Another igloo has been sent in by AusTARS –
This cake depicting Wild Cat Island was made for a special birthday that included the lantern in the lighthouse tree and leading lights.
This cake of Potter Heigham Bridge in Norfolk with the Teasel passing beneath that was also made by AusTARS in celebration of Arthur Ransome’s birthday.
I love this gingerbread cake featuring the adder who lived in the charcoal burner’s tobacco box. ‘Is it safe to touch?’ made by Arwen Seccombe of The Arthur Ransome Society
We would love to see your photographs of any cakes inspired by Arthur Ransome’s books. Please contact me via the comments below.
Swallows and Amazons Flags on a cake
You can see other examples of Swallows and Amazons cakes as well as ideas for parties here.
Swallows and Amazons cake
To find ideas for Swallows, Amazons and Coots Birthday presents, please click here.
Arwen Seccombe’s cake accompanied by William the pug, buttered eggs, chocolate ices, fruit and nut chocolate, homemade Jamacia rum and an apple so they don’t get scurvy.

I didn’t bake this lovely cake – below- I spotted it on Pinterest, but they have made bunting out of the Swallows and Amazons flags I drew:

Original artwork on the bunting drawn by Sophie Neville, having been inspired by Arthur Ransome

Here is a bunloaf baked to celebrate Arthur Ransome’s Birthday in 2022

Wild Cat Island makes a good cake. Here’s one made in January 2022:

Swallow, the tents and Wild Cat Island

There are also some great savory ideas including this eel made by Annie Warwick:

Swallows and Amazons birthday party and birthday present ideas

Holding an outdoor party with a Swallows and Amazons theme is a great idea, especially if your guests are up for bringing their own tents. A (sensible) campfire and either swimming or archery with geo-cashing or a treasure hunt will keep your guests occupied. Everyone can dress up as explorers or pirates.

There have been some wonderful cake designs posted on Facebook. This impressive creation was put together by Evie and Sam Rose:

Over the years the most amazing ‘Swallows and Amazons’ creations have become quite famous. I have put up a few more ideas on Pinterest here

The cookery book writer and ‘Great British Bake Off’ finalist Miranda Gore Browne transformed her garden into Wild Cat Island, served iced buns and a cake worthy of a pirate feast, sending everyone home with old-fashioned sweets in a tin mug.  You can see some of her wonderful party ideas here

Miranda Gore Browne mugs

You could hang ‘Swallows and Amazons’ flags or bunting. The Gingerbread  House show you how to make these:

Pippa Middelton and her family, who are related to Arthur Ransome, have a company called Party Pieces who have loads of ideas for Pirate Parties on their blog here. They cater for the younger age group but do sell chocolate pieces of eight and a retractable telescope very like Titty’s is available from their website for only £2.99. I liked the idea of an inflatable parrot, although properly it should be a green one.

I found these 38mm badges and fridge magnets for sale on eBay. They’ve used my own drawing of the crossed flags, without permission, but never mind. They might be something fun to award as prizes for games such as ‘Walk the Plank’ or catching crabs, which you could do literally if you live by the sea. You might find a few ideas for party games here.

I’ve been collecting further ideas for Swallows and Amazons presents. The Nancy Blackett Trust shop has some great things for sale, stocking these porcelain mugs, T-shirts and hats for Amazon pirates of all ages, sometimes stocking these:


StudioCanal have broadened their collection of movie memorabilia on offer to include cushions. They also sell mugs, mouse mats, prints and 400-piece jigsaw puzzels. I like these 300 piece jigsaws.

A scene with the Swallows from Swallows and Amazons
-A scene with the Swallows from ‘Swallows and Amazons’ (1974) –

I once found this lovely design for Swallows and Amazons bags made by Rachel:

Swallows and Amazons bag made by Rachel

I’ve listed more gift ideas here

A year’s subscription of Classic Sailor magazine makes a good present for adults as it keeps coming all year.

Why not give a year’s membership to The Arthur Ransome Society? For information please click here.

Or chose a book. They always make good presents.

The Making of Swallows and Amazons' by Sophie Neville


~Sophie Neville at Aldeburgh Bookshop~

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