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A cake that looks like sushi...

I'm having another creative fiasco.

My friend's birthday is coming up and he's into Japanese stuff so I want to make him a birthday cake shaped like a huge piece of sushi. We have some ideas so far but I'm hoping some of you can help me refine this concept:

For the cake itself, I'm planning just a plain pound cake, hollowed out down the middle. Over the top, as icing, I was thinking of mixing shredded coconut into vanilla frosting, to look like rice from above. Around the edge, I was thinking of using dark chocolate frosting to look like seaweed... granted it isn't green, but I thought maybe if it's dark enough it will look similar?

For a filling, I'm thinking of fruit salad but I am open to suggestions.

We're definitely planning wasabi and ginger on the side... for the wasabi, I'm thinking of making a cheesecake, letting it harden, and then mashing green food coloring into it with a fork, and rolling it into a ball with my hands.

For ginger, the best thing we've got so far is making light pink crepes.

Please help me improve up on this idea in any way.
Thanks in advance!


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  1. Cute! So you're saying from above the cake would look like a piece of California roll, right?

    If you want to get complicated, you could make several different color cakes and fill the middle so it looks like avocado, fake crab, etc.

    I wonder if you added a lot of green food coloring it would tinge the chocolate, like a red velvet cake turns red from copious red frosting. Consider making a sheet of chocolate instead of frosting.

    I would add the food coloring to the cheesecake before baking. Mix it in with the cream cheese.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Pei

      I was thinking about several (six) smaller cakes as well. If you know how to work with and color fondant, you may want to make that as the nori part to wrap around the cakes. You could use kiwi to replicate avocado and coconut tinted with orange dye mixed with undyed coconut to replicate crab.

      1. re: Pei

        Thanks, Pei, I love the idea of using several different cakes as filling. I'm thinking of maybe doing one column of deep red gelatin as the fish, possible some tall strips of pineapple to look like the pickled yellow vegetable, and I could make a couple of differently colored and flavored cakes to look like different elements... maybe a yellow cake for tamago and a green, green-tea-flavored cake for avocado...

        I think everyone is right about using a sheet of frosting or fondant for the nori, but I'm not completely sure how to make fondant so I'll have to look at some recipes and see if I think I can handle it :) If anyone has an easy recipe for that, please let me know!

        I like the idea of doing 6, Tracy L, to look like a proper tray of sushi, but I don't have the appropriate pans and I also am hoping to have it all in one piece because it has to survive my driving on New Orleans roads for a fair distance. Of course making just one big cake at normal birthday cake size is sortof a limiting factor in what kinds of fillings I can use because theoretically they would vertically span the cake.

        I promise to take pictures and send a link, Pamela. But his birthday is August 31st so it will take some time :)

      2. That is so creative! Can't add anything else to this. Be sure to take photos and post them on here!

        1. You could also make a large jelly roll and wrap it sushi-style around whatever you use as a filling. The wasabi could be stiff green frosting; for the ginger, you could slice paper-thin slices of apple and dye them pink with food colouring.

          1. This sounds fun...I think the challenge is to make it cute and look like sushi but also make sure it tastes good!

            A few thoughts:

            1. I'm not sure how you'd fill the center w/ fruit salad since that would make the cake soggy, no?

            2. While your cheesecake wasabi idea sounds like it may look like wasabi, I'm not sure how it will taste or whether it really meshes w/ the rest of the dessert. It also sounds rather complicated for a "garnish." My thought was to make green-colored whipped cream so that it would actually complement the cake.

            3. For the ginger, I'm thinking along the lines of choosing some sort of fresh fruit that could be made to look like ginger. For instance, big shavings of canteloupe.

            4. For the cake, I like piccola's jelly roll idea. I would make a chocolate jelly roll (to mimic nori) and fill w/ some sort of mousse-like filling that could be studded w/ kiwi, strawberries, etc. to look like a crab salad. This part seems the most challenging to come up with...

            5. I like the coconut idea for rice around the outside. You could also use chocolate shavings to mimic sesame seeds.

            Good luck and let us know how it turns out!

            1. I'd probably make a standard round two layer cake. I'd frost the top with white frosting and sprinkle it with coconut, as you suggested.

              I'd use green fruit roll ups as the nori on the outside--the fruit roll ups are gross tasting, but they do look right, and you can take them off easily enough when it's time to eat if you don't like them.

              For the fillings, I'd look for candies--sliced up gummis and gumdrops get surprisingly close to the translucent look of real raw fish. Dried mango or papaya would probably work too.

              1. The most interesting (and quite tastey as it turns out) ice cream I've had is the wasabi ice cream they serve at Blowfish in San Francisco.

                You might want to jump on that board and do a search on "Blowfish" to see if any info exists on it. If not, it may be worth a question to the board to see if anyone knows how it's made. If you're going through the trouble of the sushi cake, why not consider wasabi, green tea, or ginger ice cream on the side.


                2 Replies
                1. re: mamamia

                  Mamamia, that sounds soooo delicious. Unfortunately, this is for a lunchtime celebration and we have no fridge in which to store the cake for the several hours of lecture we have to sit through before then (we're medical students), so I'm afraid that ice cream and even whipped cream are completely out.

                  I think I might try the recipes you have just suggested for myself though -- those ice creams sound so great!

                  Would it be horrible to add a tiny bit of actual wasabi to a ball of frosting or candy dyed green? To make it sweet but hot? Your wasabi ice cream idea made me think of that.

                  Carb lover-- your idea with cantaloupe is perfect. I'm going to use that. I think I may just use frosting for the wasabi (way easier) but then I actually started thinking that green cheesecake might make really great avocado... I am, as you said, a little concerned about the way these flavors are (not) going to come together... but I also think in some weird way that might be appropriate to the Japanese theme, in that sometimes Asian desserts are mystifying to American palates. Of course I don't know half enough of about Japanese dessert to make it truly Japanese (nor am I sure I would be able to put in that amount of effort).

                  Thanks for your ideas, everyone! Keep 'em coming :)

                  1. re: Adrienne

                    I think if you could do some kind of buttercream or white chocolate frosting, a dab of wasabi and green food coloring would work. Straight up whipped cream might taste too much like whipped horseradish.

                    There's wasabi in the epicurious.com black jade cake (inspired by Vosgues chocolates with wasabi and black sesame seeds), so I say give it a try.

                2. Here are some random thoughts and ideas:

                  What about doing individual cupcakes or cheesecakes as maki pieces. Then, cup up pieces of fruit protruding from the middle would be close to the right size... and different cakes could have different fillings. It might make for a lovely presentation on a platter. Search google images for inspiration!

                  The problem I see with cupcakes is their domed tops and sloping sides... so another option would be to make a dense cake (pound cake) in a 13 x 9 or jelly roll pan and use a round cutter. And of course this wouldn't be a problem with mini cheesecakes.

                  If you want to go with fruit roll-ups as nori they might fit these smaller cakes without requiring piecing. I've seen people make "candy sushi" with fruit roll-ups around rice krispy treats or cut up pieces of twinkies with other candy in the middle.

                  If you went the cut-out cake or cheesecake route, some of the shapes could be longer to be "nigiri". Here the bottom would be the rice and you could lay toppings (slices of fruit) or frosting across that would be the fish or egg or...

                  For wasabi, perhaps you could just use a green whipped cream that would pair with the cake.

                  Another note - I think pomegranite seeds would make a lovely faux "roe" topping and this could even be the outer layer on some of the rolls - an "inside-out-roll".

                  Your friend is lucky to have someone as thoughtful as you for a friend! I hope you'll post a picture of the finished product!

                  1. One of Clare Crespo's books has a Sushi Cupcake recipe. I can't remember the details but she is brilliant at making food look like other things. I think it is in The Secret Life of Food.

                    1. I saw a very funny maki roll made to look like it was made with Nemo from "Finding Nemo," here's a link:


                      1. I finally did it! Pictures of the results are here:

                        I wound up making a ginger-flavored pound cake and filling it with jello, yellow cake and green cheesecake, covering the top with coconut and icing, and covering the edges with dark icing and green sprinkles... and I served it with a side of wasabi-flavored icing, which tasted weird but not bad.

                        Thanks everyone for your advice.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: Adrienne


                          Nice job with the cake! It looks great.