The Minecraft Cake


Minecraft Cake @I'll Make It Myself!

This year, my spouse and I came up with an extra special birthday cake for our friend’s birthday: a Minecraft cake. If you aren’t familiar with Minecraft, I’ll let the website speak for itself: “Minecraft is a game about breaking and placing blocks. At first, people built structures to protect against nocturnal monsters, but as the game grew players worked together to create wonderful, imaginative things.”

Instead of creating a cake with a Minecraft design, we decided to create an interactive cake that our friend could build into her own Minecraft creation.

I baked two 20×20 cm (8×8 in) cakes: a chocolate one to be the dirt blocks, and for the stone blocks, a black sesame cake, since the ground sesame makes the cake greyish without using any food coloring. I also a made simple green frosting to add to the ground for the grass, and a box of (imported) peach Jello (gelatin) mixed with a little red food coloring for the lava. You could use a different red/orange flavor for the lava–peach was all that the import store had–or even a blue gelatin for water. (Blue or red cakes would also work if Jello is unavailable because of regional or dietary issues.) We added birthday candles for torches, a little Kanazawa gold leaf for gold, and a couple dried cranberries for redstone ore, but you can customize the additions to your liking.


Preliminary Notes
What’s really important is that your cakes are roughly the same height. You’ll have to cut off the top and possibly some of the bottom to level the cake before cutting it into ~2 cm (~1 in) cubes, so keep that in mind.

If you have a full-sized American-style oven, you can bake both cakes at the same time since the temperature is the same; just set separate timers for each since the cooking time is different. If you are using an oven range, use the time when cake #1 is in the oven to make the second cake provided you have three cake pans (two for cakes, one glass/ceramic one for Jello).

To make all the pieces of the cake, you will need at least 2-3 hours for mixing and baking; the Jello will need to set for at least 4 hours. I would recommend doing all the baking the day before and then cutting the cakes into pieces (give yourself 30-60 minutes) the day of the cake-building.

Store the cake blocks in under cling-wrap or in an airtight container and the Jello in its dish until right before you build the cake. For the base of the cake, wrap a piece of cardboard (or a cutting board, or something large and sturdy) in cling wrap or foil. We actually used the square plate for our oven range. Toothpicks will hold the cake blocks together as you build your creation.

Stone: Black Sesame Cake

Adapted from “Black Sesame and Pear Cake” on Lottie and Doof

While the original version of this cake is indescribably good and I highly recommend it, the pears would broken up the coloration of the cake for use as Minecraft blocks. Black sesame sweets are everywhere in Japan, so the idea of a sweet sesame cake is as natural to me as matcha ice cream and azuki-filled bean buns, but for the uninitiated, the flavor of this dense cake is rich and deep but still sweet and nutty; the grey color is lovely and much more appetizing than grey food coloring (or mixing food coloring and hoping for grey) would have been. If you can’t find ground black sesame seeds in your grocery outside of Japan, you can process whole sesame seeds in a food processor. Almond meal is generally easy to find in Japan in the baking goods section, but you can also run almonds through the food processor to make almond meal if need be.

115 g (1/2 US cup) unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for pan (muen batâ, 無塩バター)
190 g (1 1/2 cups) all-purpose flour
95 g (1 cup) almond flour or almond meal (âmondo pôduru, アーモンドポードル)
2 teaspoons baking powder (bêkingu paudâ, ベーキングパウダー)
1/2 teaspoon baking soda (jûsô, 重曹)
1/2 teaspoon salt (shio, 塩)
30 g (1/2 cup + 2 TSBP) ground black sesame seeds (suri goma, すりごま黒)
250 g (1 1/4 cups) sugar (guranyûtô, グラニュー糖)
1 large egg (tamago, 卵)
1 large egg yolk
185 g (3/4 cup) plain yogurt (yôguruto, ヨーグルト)

20×20 cm (8×8 in) cake pan
Electric mixer (hando mikisâ, ハンドミキサー)
(Optional) Food processor (fûdo purosessa, フードプロセッサ)

1. Preheat (yonetsu, 予熱) the oven/oven range to 180°C (350° F). Grease the pan with a little butter and set aside.
2. Combine flour, almond meal, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and sesame seeds in a medium bowl.
3. Using an electric mixer, beat butter and sugar in a large bowl for 2-3 minutes or until well combined. Add the egg and egg yolk and beat.
4. Add the flour mixture and yogurt, beating on low speed until combined.
5. Spoon batter into prepared pan; smooth top as much as you can. Bake about 45-55 minutes or until a tester comes out clean when inserted into center. The top and bottom will brown, but you’ll cut those pieces off later.
6. Let cool completely in pan, then carefully remove to a wire rack or plate.

Dirt: Chocolate Yogurt Cake

adapted from “Yogurt Chocolate Cake” from Yogurt Desserts by Setsuko Honma. Ikeda Shoten Publishing, 2010. p. 52. (本間節子。「ヨーグルトチョコレートケーキ」。『ヨーグルトのお菓子』.池田書店。2010年。52ページ )

For the sake of structural integrity, the chocolate cake also needs to be dense instead of fluffy. I altered the original recipe by removing the dried figs and doubling recipe to achieve the height necessary to match the sesame cake. If you do not have baker’s chocolate, which can be harder to find after Valentine’s Day, you could either melt the same weight of chocolate bars like Morinaga Bitter Chocolate–about 2.5 bars assuming 55-g bars– OR mix together 12 TBSP (64 g/ 2.8 oz/ 3/4 US cup) cocoa powder (kokoa paudâ, ココア・パウダー) with 4 TSBP olive- or vegetable oil (60 mL / 1/4 US cup). (General rule: 3 TSBP cocoa powder + 1 TBSP oil substitutes for 1 oz/28 g chocolate).

120 g (4.3 oz) semisweet chocolate (chokorêto: seikayô semi suîto;チョコレート:製菓用セミスイート)
120 g (1/2 cup + 1/2 TBSP) butter (muen batâ, 無塩バター)
120 g (slightly under 2/3 cup) sugar (guranyûtô, グラニュー糖)
2 eggs (tamago, 卵)
180 g (3/4 cup) plain yogurt (yôguruto, ヨーグルト)
120 g cake flour (hakurikiko, 薄力粉)
1 tsp baking powder (bêkingu paudâ, ベーキングパウダー)

20×20 cm (8×8 in) cake pan
1 medium pot (for the double-boiler)
1 frying pan large enough to sit atop the pot (for the double-boiler)
1 plastic shamoji (rice paddle, しゃもじ) or silicon spatula

1. Preheat (yonetsu, 予熱) the oven/oven range to 180°C (350° F). Grease the pan with a little butter and set aside.
2. Set up the double-boiler to melt the chocolate: heat water over a medium flame in the pot. Place the frying pan on top of the pot. Cut butter and chocolate into small pieces and place in frying pan. When the butter melts, use the rice paddle or spatula to mix with the chocolate. When the chocolate is melted completely–looks may be deceiving; stir to check–turn off the heat.
3. Pour the mixture into a large bowl. Mix in the sugar so it dissolves completely.
4. Add the egg and yogurt and mix well.
5. Add the flour and baking powder and mix.
6. Pour the batter into the cake pan and smooth the surface as best you can.
7. Bake at 180° for 30-40 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
8. Let the cake cool completely, then turn out onto a wire rack or plate.

Grass: Basic Vanilla Frosting

adapted from

We used all of this frosting to frost the tops of some of the dirt pieces. Your mileage may vary depending on how you build the cake, but as this is a small batch, you shouldn’t have more than a tablespoon of leftovers.

120 g (1 cup) powdered sugar (paudâ shugâ, パウダー・シュガー; konazatô, 粉砂糖)
15 g (1 TBSP) butter, softened (muen batâ, 無塩バター)
1.5 TBSP milk (milk: gyûnyû, 牛乳; low-fat milk: teishibônyû, 低脂肪乳; soy milk: tônyû, 豆乳)
1/4 tsp vanilla (banira essensu, バニラエッセンス)
Green food coloring (shokuyô midori, 食用緑)

Optional: Electric mixer (hando mikisâ, ハンドミキサー)

1. Combine ingredients and stir until there are no lumps and the coloring is even.
2. For a fluffier icing, use the mixer.

Lava: Peach Jello with Red Food Coloring

Jello Brand is not popular in Japan; stores usually carry custard puddings and mixes for a creamy gelatin mousse. My husband located a (3 oz.) package of peach Jello at the import store, so we used that. (I have no affiliation with Kraft, but I am inexperienced at making non-dairy-based gelatin desserts at home. Add that to the to-do list.)

You could also use any orange to red gelatin, or, if you prefer water to lava, blue gelatin. If you use Jello brand, I would recommend making Jello Jigglers so that the gelatin holds its shape better.

You will need another square cake pan, either glass or ceramic, so that the Jello will mix the shape/size of the cakes. I used the cake pan from cake #1 after it was cooled.

Since I don’t have a recipe for this, follow the instructions on the box. Use a ruler as a guide to cut the pieces into 2×2 squares. We used about half of the Jello cubes we made.


Bread knife (pan kiri naifu, パン切りナイフ)
Sharp chef’s knife
Ruler (jôgi, 定規)
Small candles (for torches)

1. Use a bread knife and carefully level the top of the cake.
2. Use the chef’s knife to cut off the sides.
3. Using the ruler as a guide, cut the cake into ~2 cm (1 in) cubes with the chef’s knife, trimming the browned parts of the bottom of the sesame cake and leveling any uneven pieces as you go.
4. Set cubes aside in an airtight container or cover in clingwrap until you are ready to build the cake. Leave the Jello in the fridge until just before assembly.
5. Assemble Jello lava first, then build cake layers with toothpicks around it. Frost exposed dirt pieces gently with a small knife. Add candles for torches or any other Minecraft-related decorations you like.

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