Birthday Cakes Part 8: Parrot Cake

It was my oldest daugther’s birthday recently and when I asked her which cake she wanted me to bake she immediately said “A parrot cake!”. When I talked about her decision with my twitter pals I realized that at least in the U.S. parrot cake is totally unknown. Here, it is a VERY common birthday cake for kids and its name (in German: Papageienkuchen) derives from the fact that this cake is as colorful as a parrot.

The basic recipe is a pound cake recipe, the dough is then divided into 3 or 4 or 5 parts (depending on how many colors you want to use) and food coloring is used to color the different dough portions. I never use food coloring, and it is a very common procedure when making parrot cake to add chocolate pudding powder, vanilla pudding powder, red fruit jelly powder, and woodruff jelly powder (for green dough) to the different portions. I don’t like woodruff at all, so I went for a 3-color cake. After coloring the dough portions, you put tablespoons full of dough onto a jelly roll pan lined with baking paper, in alternating order. Unfortunately, I forgot to take a picture, so here’s a drawing of how the cake could like before marbling the sections.

Finally, you take a spoon handle and “draw” big circles through the different dough sections to get the marbling effect. Of course, you don’t have to do that and can leave the cake unmarbled, but then you won’t have the different flavors (chocolate, vanilla, red fruit jelly) in one piece of cake!

If you have kids I can really recommend you making this cake for them – they’ll love it. And if you don’t have kids – this cake is delicious for adults, too!

Parrot Cake


  • 10.5 oz butter at room temperature
  • 10.5 oz flour
  • 10.5 oz sugar
  • 5 eggs
  • 1 T baking powder
  • 7 oz sour cream
  • 1 package chocolate pudding powder (or brown food coloring)
  • 1 package vanilla pudding powder (or yellow food coloring)
  • 1 package red fruit jelly (or red food coloring)


  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Beat the butter and sugar until creamy. Add eggs.
  3. Mix flour and baking powder.
  4. Add flour mixture to the butter sugar mixture and mix until well combined. Add sour cream and mix.
  5. Divide dough into 3 equal portions and add chocolate pudding powder to one portion, vanilla pudding powder to the second portion and red fruit jelly to the third one. To intensify the colors, you can add food coloring as well.
  6. Put tablespoons full of dough onto a jelly roll pan lined with baking paper, in alternating order.
  7. With a spoon handle, “draw” big circles through the different dough sections to get the marbling effect.
  8. Bake for 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

7 responses to “Birthday Cakes Part 8: Parrot Cake

  1. Oh wow ive never heard of parrot cake before!! It looks tasty though, i love the colours running through it!

  2. Looks wonderful, Andrea! I will definitely have to make this for the kiddos…your daughter must’ve been so happy. =)

  3. I was actually expecting something that was shaped like a parrot–having seen your past cakes, I know you could pull it off! Looks great. I bet you have to stop at just the right moment for it to come out so well, which you obviously did. To me it looks like that fancy marbled paper that you can buy. I’ve never heard of woodruff though–that must be a special German ingredient!

    • I know! I was thinking of maybe making a parrot shaped cake with this dough, but it turned out to be too complicated, and my daughter actually was expecting the cake to look like in the picture.

    • Oh, as for the woodruff – I should send you some woodruff jelly so you can see what the flavor is like. I hate it!

  4. That looks really cool! I bet my girls would love something like that.

  5. I remember looking at and reading this post but I must not have commented that day so I will do so now…this is the most special looking cake I have seen with all those colors, etc. How exciting for a birthday cake to get one of these! When you described it, I just could not picture it fully but now seeing it, it is exactly what you described. Very nice!

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