MUD CAKE HACK: Easy Step-By-Step Pinata Cake Tutorial – No Baking Required

Not a baker? Can’t normally decorate a cake to save your life? Simply time poor or too busy wrangling kids?

We’re ALL about the mud cake hack life here at Mum Central. Come see what we’ve done!

Now you can, in fact, have your cake and eat it too. That’s right ladies, we’ve watched it take over the internet and now we’re DOING IT FOR OURSELVES. Yep, we’re tying our apron strings up nice and tight, ready to get into a clever mud cake hack.

Read on for the awesome cake hack tips we’ve mastered (and you can too). PLUS, we’re giving you a step-by-step guide to creating an epic pinata cake!

You can have your cake and eat it too

The beauty of a mud cake hack is that all the hard work is done for you. Forget buying a whole bunch of ingredients, ditch the timely preparation, the lengthy making process, and of course the baking!  Nada. Zilch. Just choose your cake flavour and off you go.

Now, Woolworths are famous for their mud cakes in a variety of flavours. And while I’m partial to their standard chocolate, I was fortunate enough to get my hands on their all-new Limited Edition Chocolate Orange Mud Cake. Yep, choc orange!  Who doesn’t love that fabulous jaffa orange flavour? AND NOW IT’S IN CAKE FORM. And just $4 each!  Let’s be honest, I couldn’t bake a cake for that price so I’m already #WINNING.

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Choc orange not your jam? That’s totally fine! How about chocolate mint mud cake, caramel mud cake or keep it simple with the original old faithful – CHOCOLATE MUD CAKE!

A dash down the confectionery aisle for a few cheeky accompaniments to my masterpiece and I’m all set. So here we go!

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Woolworths chocolate orange mud cake

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Let’s face it, mud cake hacks are so easy. However, having a little insider knowledge takes your skill set to a higher level – so here are my insider tips! (You can thank me later!)

1.  Keep your cool

PRO TIP:  Chill your cake!
Even though they’re stored on the shelf at the supermarket, it’s best to work with a cold mud cake. Trimming and icing a cold cake saves on crumbly heartache after all. HINT: So pop it in the fridge for a while before you start!

2.  Level the cake

PRO TIP: Level the cakes for easy stacking.
Levelling the cake simply takes the rise from the top and can be done with a large bread knife (or a fancy cake level wire if you have one). Whip out a ruler, measure the sides and mark the cutting height with toothpicks all around the cake and cut to that guide for a nice, even cut. Easy peasy. HINT: When buying your cakes, look through them all and choose the FLATTEST cakes.

3.  Crumb coat

PRO TIP:  A light layer of icing locks down the cake!
Don’t underestimate the importance of a crumb coat. A crumb coat is just a fancy way of saying a light layer of icing. It’s designed to catch and lock in any cake crumbs that might otherwise spoil the finished look of your icing.

4.  Stability is key

PRO TIP:  Don’t be afraid to seek reinforcement!
If you’re stacking three or more cakes on top of each other, you need to reinforce them with something. This is ESPECIALLY important if you’re planning to transport the cake to a different venue. No one wants to see their beautiful cake turn into the Leaning Tower of Pisa.  HINT: Skewers or toothpicks do a great job, depending on the height you need.

5.  Warm tools for a smooth finish

PRO TIP: A cake spatula is super helpful for a smooth finish
If you can’t get your butter-cream finish nice and smooth, warm up your spatula under hot water and dry it completely. Run it over the butter-cream for effortless smoothing!

6.  Waste not, want not

PRO TIP: Create a paste with icing and crumbs
You can TOTALLY reuse the cake icing. If you’re not precious about crumbs, beat the icing to a spreadable consistency using a stand mixer and spread it to sandwich cake layers together.

7. Practice makes cake decorating delicious

PRO TIP: Don’t beat yourself up if it doesn’t go EXACTLY to plan. Remember we’ve all got to start somewhere and your family and friends will still love your cake, even if it didn’t turn out quite as you had hoped. STILL DELICIOUS!

THE TOOLS: I’m not a pro cake decorator, what tools do I REALLY need for a cake hack?

When it comes to cake decorating tools, you don’t need a real lot! AND you can totally improvise. In true cake hack fashion, we’re all just adopting the #fakeittilyoumakeit mantra.

  • Serrated knife or a cake leveller to level the top of the cake.
  • Silicone spatula to make sure you get every last scrap of icing out of the bowl and on to the cake.
  • An offset spatula is handy for spreading and flattening out icing between layers and on top of the cake.
  • An icing scraper or clean (preferably new) plastic or metal ruler is also great to help smooth out the sides of the cake.
  • Other key bits and pieces, which will make life, easier include a lazy Susan turntable to rotate the cake as you ice, plus skewers or heavy-duty straws to add stability to extra tall cakes.

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Your step-by-step cake hack guide to a pinata cake!

Want to make a show-stopping cake? The surprise doesn’t halt when you present your guests with a beautiful cake. Oh no,  the REAL surprise is on the inside! So here we go…

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  • 3 Woolworths Limited Edition Chocolate Orange Mud Cakes
  • 900g Pure Icing Sugar
  • 340g Butter, soft room temperature
  • Milk
  • 2 tsp Vanilla Essence
  • 100g Dark Chocolate, chopped
  • 50g Woolworths Thickened Cream
  • Family Size bag of Smarties
  • Decorations for your cake top. We used: Woolworths Chocolate Wafers, Woolworths Jersey Caramels, Bueno Bar, Toblerone, Darrel Lea The Big Orange Balls, Freckles and fresh strawberries.

TIP: If you need to save on time – you can use Betty Crocker ready-made icing and skip the buttercream steps!

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1. Prepare ONE batch of the buttercream using 400g of icing sugar, 150g of butter and 3 to 4 tablespoons of milk. Have it close by, ready to sandwich your cake layers together. To make the buttercream, use a stand mixer on medium-high speed, beat the butter, pure icing sugar, milk, and vanilla essence until smooth.

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2. Trim the cooled cakes, removing the icing, so that they’re all the same or at least a reasonably similar height.

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3. Find a pastry cutter/cookie cutter/anything you can use to cut a hole out of cake. Cut a hole out of the middle of two of the cakes, leaving one cake still intact.

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4. ‘Glue’ the bottom cake layer to the plate using a splodge of buttecream. You don’t need a lot of icing, just enough to anchor it so it doesn’t shift around. Carefully spread a layer of buttercream on top of the first layer, leaving a gap around half a centimetre from the edge of the inner circle, as well as the outer edge. Place the second layer of cake on top, lining up the inner circles and repeat with the buttercream. Leave enough buttercream in the bowl for your crumb coat.

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5. Before adding the last layer of cake, fill the hole with Smarties. To pour them in and NOT get butter-cream all over them, create a funnel or cone out of paper (or use a spoon). Fill the hole completely so it’s level with the buttercream. YUM!

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6. For the last layer of cake, turn it upside down so the bottom of the last cake is facing upwards, giving you a nice clean surface. Carefully layer it on top and give it a slight press to make sure it sticks. Leaving the paper on gives it a bit of extra stability. Carefully peel the paper away.

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7. Using a serrated knife, trim the outside edges of the cakes if required. At this point, I add three trimmed skewers (they sit flush with the cake top) to stabilise the cake.

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8. It’s time to crumb coat! Use the remaining buttercream from the batch you made to sandwich the layers, loosening it up a little with a teaspoon of milk. Lock the crumbs in by covering the top and sides of the cake with a light layer of buttercream. Do not fret about crumbs sticking to this icing – this is what it’s designed to do! Smooth the icing as best you can and return the cake to the fridge for at least half an hour.

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9. Make your SECOND batch of buttercream icing using 500g of icing sugar, 190g of butter and around 4 tablespoons of milk. Bring the cake back out of the fridge and give it the final coat of icing. BE GENEROUS. Smooth the icing with a warm, dry metal spatula or icing scraper (or even a ruler!). Return the cake to the fridge while you prepare the ganache drip.

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10. To prepare the ganache drip, place the chocolate in a heatproof bowl and heat the cream in a small saucepan over medium heat on the stovetop, removing it from the heat just before it reaches boiling point. Pour the cream over the chocolate and let it sit for three minutes, allowing it to melt the chocolate, then stir. Stir until smooth and silky, then allow it to return to room temperature.

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11. Remove the cake from the fridge and pour the ganache into a zip-lock bag, piping bag or a small squeeze/sauce bottle and create drips around the edge of the cake, making a circle perimeter. Fill in the circle by spreading ganache over the top of the cake and return to the fridge until it sets into place.

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12. Decorate the top of the cake as you please. Create height at the back of the cake and make your way forward. You can also ‘glue’ bits to the outside of your cake using leftover buttercream or ganache.

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PRO TIP: Remember to make the first slice of cake a decent sized slice so that the Smarties tumble out and surprise your guests!

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Whether you want a no-bake cake fit for a princess or you plan to make one of these seriously awesome cakes, you can grab ALL your cake hack needs from your local Woolies – just like we did. From the delicious Limited Edition Chocolate Orange Mud Cake to cake boards, and all the delicious edible toppings in-between! No matter what your cake hack style is, you’ll find it at Woolies. It’s our one-stop cake hacking shop!

Woolworths chocolate orange mud cake

This is a sponsored post for Woolworths.

Avatar of Lexi Klaebe

South Australian mum and self proclaimed foodie, Lexi can most days be found in the kitchen, apron tied firm and armed with a whisk or wooden spoon!


  1. Avatar of Rebecca H

    Really fantastic suggestions for birthday cakes and celebrations. Thank you.

    • Avatar of Jim V

      Great tips and recipe for an amateur like me.

      Also, I must have missed where to use the betty crocker frosting.

  2. Avatar of Andrea Ellery
    Andrea Ellery Reply

    Hi there. Same as above. Want to make but not sure where/when to use ready made icing?

  3. Avatar of Lexi Klaebe
    Lexi Klaebe Reply

    Hi Andrea, apologies – you can use Betty Crocker ready made icing instead of making your own buttercream to save on time! I’ll make that note in the recipe now!

  4. Avatar of Karia

    Does anyone know what size in diameter (inch) is the woolies mud cake??

  5. Avatar of Nicole

    Made a practice run of this for my daughters 3rd bday, so easy to make!

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