Museum Cakes - inspiration from the collection

On top of her work for our Photo Studio, Emily has been bringing another amazing talent to the museum. She's been recreating our collection - in cake form! 

For the past year I have been making and decorating cakes inspired by the Museum’s collections. It started with a Nelson cake and has grown from there with the encouragement of my colleagues.

What do you make for one of the curators of the Nelson, Navy, Nation gallery? A chocolate cake decorated like Nelson’s Trafalgar Coat, of course. After a tour of Nelson, Navy, Nation from James Davey, I couldn’t help but be inspired by the item and found a way to make it edible.

The Trafalgar Coat inspired cake The Trafalgar Coat inspired cake

To celebrate John Harrison’s 322nd birthday and the recent reopening of the Time & Longitude gallery at the Royal Observatory Greenwich earlier this year, I was challenged to make Harrison’s fourth sea-watch, H4.

The process of hand drawing the clock details The process of hand drawing the clock details

By this point I’d been making cakes for almost a year so had grown confident enough to free-hand draw all the clock details onto the icing in edible ink. Though I have now sworn to never make another cake-clock!

The finished cake The finished cake

To celebrate Richard Dunn’s upcoming publication, Navigational Instruments, I made a compass cake. The museum has got one of the world’s best compass collections so it was difficult to select one for a cake. Richard recommended this detailed Altazimuth compass.

The altazimuth compass cake The altazimuth compass cake

The compass rose was constructed out of layers of carefully cut icing. The compass also had a working needle made especially for it that Richard thoroughly tested before consuming cake.

Resisting the urge to dive in to the cake Resisting the urge to dive in to the cake

It’s not only the collection that inspires the cakes, but also the staff that I work with. I made a ship cake that was decorated with a motley crew of museum staff that some people may recognise.

The ship cake and its crew The ship cake and its crew

Museum staff members were also used as the cake decorations for curator of art, Katy Barrett’s birthday cake earlier this year.

Curator cake decorations Curator cake decorations

The collection has also inspired pies; we celebrated Trafalgar Day last year with a Nelson’s uniform pie. It was surprisingly easier and less stressful to make the pie than the cake.

Nelson Nelson's Trafalgar coat pie


The cakes are inspired by my love of the collection and enjoyment in sharing what I’ve created with my colleagues, who continue to encourage my baking. This next year will hopefully involve a Queen’s House cake, a Stubb’s cake and a dazzle paint cake so keep your eyes out.

To keep up to date with the latest news from the Photographic Studio and to see more cakes follow our Twitter Feed @RMGPhotoStudio.