Circus Balancing Acts

1. Preparing the stand

Paul prepares the stand getting all the hardware jobs out the road before adding the cake.

2. Adding and carving the cake

Time to add the cake over metal rod then starts carving. As always, it’s worth taking your time carving to big top shape.

But don’t worry, as Paul reminds us if you make a mistake just stick it back on with ganache.

3. Ganaching the cake

You’ll want to give this cake additional structure. Dark chocolate ganache helps with the structure so watch how Paul layers on the ganache.  It takes a little longer than usual for this one.

4. Covering the cake

With the big top roof to get on this one is worth watching as Paul figures out how to cover the cake. He then mixes up his special red in preparation for cutting the stripes.

5. Decorating the roof and sides

Adding the red stripes makes the big top very distinctive and finishing with the decorative gold band gives it that all important circus look.

6. Adding the door

There are a number of ways you can do this, but Paul’s preference is to cut out the area using the template then add the door.

7. Adding the curtains

Now to make the door look like something out of the circus in this lesson Paul creates the curtains and door frame lined with a colourful selection of lights.

8. Making the elephant

We’re getting there, but now comes the fun part where we add the animals to the cake. In this lesson, Paul adds the elephant’s body and legs, which gives a flavour of how the finished design will look.

9. Finishing the elephant

Time to bring our elephant to life and give him character along the way by adding his head, trunk, tail and those very distinctive ears.

10. Zebra time

In this lesson, Paul positions the body and legs of the zebra before starting to add the stripes.

11. Adding the zebra’s head and front legs

He’s starting to take shape, so time for the head and a very important facial expression! His character builds as the front legs are placed over his eyes to keep the frightened look going.

12. Finishing the zebra

This is where the zebra gets his stripes and ears and the wee character comes to life.

13. Adding the monkey

In this lesson Paul positions the monkey sitting on the zebra’s head with his legs dangling down.

It’s your choice where you put the legs, but you will want to consider the overall look of the cake.

Every cheeky monkey needs a cheeky smile so here you add the head and facial expressions.

14. Finishing the monkey

In this lesson, Paul adds the ears, eyes, nose, arms and of course his tail to finish things off.

Paul has a debate about the positioning of the arms, which again gives you some options.

15. Finishing touches

Paul just adds some detail to each of the animals to finish this cake off. It’s been great fun to make this one!

16. Other Ideas

Paul shares with you some other ideas you could do for a design like this.

17. Pro Lesson

Paul shares with you everything a professional cake decorator should know for producing a cake like this.

18. Highlights

We take a look at some of the highlights from this cake tutorial.

Learn how to make a circus cake with Paul Bradford...

In this tutorial, you will learn how to make a circus cake stacked (literally) with some of your favourite animals from the show.

Want to learn how to make an elephant cake? a monkey cake? a zebra cake? why not learn them all at once with this easy to follow tutorial.

In the following cake decorating tutorial you will learn how to...

Don't forget to share your interpretations of this wonderful cake with Paul and rest of the Sugarcraft community on our Facebook group.

Who knows? You may even end up featured in one of our monthly members' cake blogs.

Circus balancing acts downloadable tools and ingredients

Grams to lbs

Inches to cm or vice versa

Other US to metric and Metric to US


  • 3x 6” round chocolate cake (3” deep)


  • 1.4Kg dark chocolate


  • 1.7 Kg white
  • 80g brown
  • 50g blue
  • 50g yellow
  • 50g black
  • 15g pink
  • 10g lime
  • 10g pale blue
  • 10g purple

Paints and Dusts

  • Red pro gel – rainbowdusts


  • Red and white striped (15mm)


  • Modelling paste – 80g grey
  • Styrofoam ball 5cm diameter
  • Styrofoam ball 2x 4cm diameter


  • 10” cake drum
  • 6” cake drum
  • Threaded rod 26” (5mm diameter)
  • 10 x 5mm washers
  • 8 x 5mm nuts


  • Sharp cutting knife
  • Serrated knife
  • Palette knife


  • Round cutter set


  • No 1,2,6
  • Pastry brush

Modelling Tools

  • PME modelling tools

Cakey Tools

  • Rolling pin
  • Cake smoothers


  • Extruder
  • Hot glue gun
Paul Bradford

Paul Bradford

Paul Bradford´s mission is to ‘Empower people to achieve their cake decorating dreams’ by providing a range of cake decorating courses and online tutorials through their website, which currently teaches 195,000+ students.  


  1. WytchyWayz

    What a really cute cake. Techniques are awesome. And I learned a lot from this class. Thank you PBSS for putting out another wonderful tutorial.


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