Cake Ideas for a 40th Birthday

Updated February 21, 2017

You're never too old to enjoy a festive birthday cake. Fortieth birthday parties celebrate a milestone for the birthday guest. Commemorate the passing of another decade with a personalised or themed birthday cake for the guest of honour. From formal tiers to clever over-the-hill themes, a birthday cake is a sweet end to a birthday party for a 40-year-old.

Carved Cakes

It doesn't get more straightforward than a cake carved into the number 40 to commemorate a 40th birthday. A simple double layer sheet cake transforms into a festive birthday cake with a few strategic slices of a knife or carving blade. Stack the cake layers before carving to avoid breaking the delicate pieces after they are cut. For additional decor, decorate each number with 20 fondant circles, stars or other shapes.

Photo Cakes

Create a personalised cake by transferring a photograph onto the final piece. Most professional bakeries offer photo cakes as a option. The baker scans the desired picture onto a computer. Choose a favourite baby picture and a recent picture for a then and now theme. The images print onto edible icing paper with food colouring ink so that the image can be transferred to the top of a sheet cake. A talented artist may also opt to create a butter cream transfer from a photograph. Place the photo beneath a sheet of transparent paper and use several colours of stiff butter cream to recreate the image on the paper. After cooling, the transfer flips onto the finished cake as an edible picture.

Over-the-Hill Cake

A 40th birthday is a bit premature for an over-the-hill themed party, but play with the theme for a birthday guest with a sense of humour. Carve a layered cake into a hill shape, or frost a sheet cake to resemble a small grassy hill. Instead of including a gum paste human model on the top of the hill, place the figure on the side of the hill as if he is slowly climbing. Write "Almost There" across the cake as a tongue-in-cheek jest about turning 40.

Cup Cake

Cup cakes are an alternative to standard cakes that allow guests to choose from several flavours. Purchase a cup cake tier or stand with a 50-cup cake capacity. Bake 40 full-size or miniature cup cakes for the stand. Pipe the birthday guest's name, age or date of birth onto each cake. Choose frosting in the guest's favourite colours or opt for black frosting as a nod to the guest's advancing age.

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About the Author

Hannah Wahlig began writing and editing professionally in 2001. Her experience includes copy for newspapers, journals and magazines, as well as book editing. She is also a certified lactation counselor. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from Mount Holyoke College, and Master's degrees in education and community psychology from the University of Massachusetts.