Whether you’re celebrating as a couple or creating a bit of cheer within your bubble, these cakes are sure to put a smile on their face.
If you're unable to celebrate with them in person, we’ve included cakes that can be sent directly to the lucky recipient and even one that requires a bit of DIY input. Others can be picked up with your weekly shop and all come in at under £40.
When putting our cakes to the test, we were on the lookout for full-flavoured sponges and decoration that would give the GBBO showstoppers a run for their money.
When considering the best cake for you, think about how many it needs to serve. Although most suggest a serving size, we found on most occasions this was a little optimistic. We’ve given our thoughts on each below, but do bear in mind, we’re on the greedy side.
Whether you’re looking for a brightly coloured creation for your little one, or something more refined for those with double digits, these are the best birthday cakes for 2020.
You can trust our independent reviews. We may earn commission from some of the retailers, but we never allow this to influence selections, which are formed from real-world testing and expert advice. This revenue helps to fund journalism across The Independent.
Cutter & Squidge postable cakes
We love everything about Cutter & Squidge’s brand new postable cakes. From the premium looking edible flowers flecked with gold, to the light, tasty sponge. Even the secure packaging is impressive, coming in a white embossed reusable tin. We tried the lemon drizzle and considering the size, it’s certainly not the cheapest, but if there’s only a couple of you celebrating, any more would go to waste anyway. Measuring 6in, you’ll get about four to five slices. There’s also the option of adding a chocolate happy birthday disc and a mini bottle of Bottega gold prosecco. A gorgeous grown-up gift.
Buy now £29.90, Cutter & Squidge
M&S rainbow layers cake 1.3kg
This was one of the few cakes we put to the test that would easily serve the number it says (12 people). The multi-coloured layers are gorgeously vibrant and kids will love the hundreds and thousands too. A beautiful centrepiece, with plenty of room for candles – and best of all, it’s now stocked at Ocado so you can pick it up with your weekly shop. We’re not opposed to having cake for breakfast but there is a smaller option if you think you’ll struggle to get through this.
Buy now £30.00, Ocado
Oggs chocolate celebration cake
Vegan brand Oggs replace the egg white traditionally found in sponge cakes with aquafaba – the water from a chickpea can (yes, really!). As such, this is a completely vegan treat consisting of two layers of dense, moist chocolatey sponge, sandwiched with chocolate fudge frosting – you’ll not be able to tell it’s plant-based. The buttercream wasn’t as sickly sweet as some of the toppings we tried elsewhere and it’s topped with mini crunchy stars. The presentation is great and we think this will appeal to vegans and meat-eaters alike. Due to the nature of the eco-friendly packaging, the cake board is quite flimsy so we’d suggest transferring to a nice presentation plate before serving. Serves 10.
Buy now £8.00, Waitrose
Morrisons mermaid celebration cake
When only a good old vanilla sponge cake will do. Morrisons has taken the classic, children’s birthday party favourite and has updated it with an under the sea theme. Sandwiched with raspberry jam, there are four layers of madeira sponge to cut through, finished with bright blue frosting, a large white chocolate mermaid tail, seahorse shapes and pearls. Although sweet, we think you’d struggle to get 16 slices out of it, but it’s sure to delight little ones.
Buy now £12.00, Morrisons
Fiona Cairns balloon and stars chocolate fairy cakes box
During these unprecedented times, it might not feel quite so right to blow out candles before dishing out slices to your nearest and dearest. These cupcakes offer a great alternative. Iced with celebratory balloons and stars, the pack contains six chocolate sponge fairy cakes, created by British brand Fiona Cairns who also happens to create tasty treats for royal weddings and christenings. If it’s good enough for Queenie…
Buy now £6.99, Selfridges
Waitrose & Partners neapolitan celebration cake
We remember when no birthday celebration was complete without a scoop of neapolitan ice cream. While we may be a little older now, the nostalgic dessert still holds a special place in our heart. Waitrose has taken the traditional ice cream flavour and transformed it into this three-tier sponge cake which really does taste of the real deal. Starting with a base layer of strawberry flavour sponge, followed by vanilla and chocolate, each layer is sandwiched together with vanilla buttercream. Finished with a chocolate glaze which drips down the side, it’s decorated with three balls of ice cream made from more flavoured buttercream, complete with mini 99 flake and is scattered with multi-coloured hundreds of thousands around the border. A delicious treat for both kids and adults alike, it’s sweet but not as sickly sweet as it perhaps appears. Waitrose recommends that this serves 16 but we think you might find that a push.
Buy now £14.00, Waitrose & Partners
Waitrose & Partners max the monster celebration cake
When only the best will do for your little monster, this double layer chocolate sponge cake should do the trick. Covered in bright green vanilla flavoured piped buttercream fur, Max the monster’s features are made from fondant icing. Although it looks sweet, we were pleasantly surprised to find a good balance of flavour and moist, rich chocolate sponge. Be sure to remove the horns before serving as although the tips are wrapped in edible icing, the sticks themselves are plastic. Serves 16 little monsters.
Buy now £13.00, Waitrose & Partners
Lola’s Cupcakes cookies and cream decorating kit
Coming with a branded Lola’s Cupcakes chef hat, palette knife, cake board and fool-proof step-by-step instructions, we’re honestly not sure if this DIY kit is more fun for the person making the cake or the lucky recipient it’s intended for. Arriving with two freshly baked cookies and cream flavoured sponges, it leaves you to assemble and decorate with chocolate ganache, buttercream, Oreo cookies and chocolate drizzle, all in handy piping bags. The instructions couldn’t be easier to follow, and for those that prefer visuals, there’s also a fun video. Measuring 7in, Lola’s Cupcakes says this will feed between eight to 15 people depending on how generous/greedy you feel.
Buy now £35.99, Lola’s Cupcakes
Asda create a surprise cake
Asda has created a birthday cake with space for you to hide a surprise – suggestions include a ring, lipstick, ticket, or a toy car. The possibilities are endless (as long as they’re small enough to fit in the plastic container). Extra sprinkles are also provided so you can make sure your treat is well and truly hidden; they’ll never suspect a thing! The cake itself is four layers of dense chocolate sponge, sandwiched with chocolate frosting and adorned with fluorescent swirls of orange and pink or yellow and green frosting. Asda predicts this will serve 20, and although it is nice and tall, without a middle, the slices are more cubes rather than slivers.
Buy now £13.00, Asda
The verdict: Birthday cakes
If we were judging this purely on taste, we’d have to award our best buy to Cutter & Squidge for its premium cakes you can get delivered directly. We loved everything about them and if you can’t celebrate with your loved ones in person, this is the cake we’d send to make them smile. However, if you’re looking for something a little bigger, the Waitrose neapolitan celebration cake was delicious and will go much further. Lastly, Lola’s Cupcakes celebration cake was a lot of fun if you’re in the DIY mood.
If you’re looking to send a friend or loved one a delicious surprise, read our review of the best letterbox cakes and biscuits that make the perfect gift