Do you ever commit to making someone a birthday cake, then remember that they actually dislike sponge? If you find yourself trying to cater to a cake-hater, don’t fear! We have a list of birthday alternatives to satisfy all taste buds.

Personally, we love cake here at F&W: there’s something about tender sponge and pillowy icing that just speaks to us. However, we have come across the occasional person who looks at their birthday cake begrudgingly as everyone else tucks in. While we don’t fully understand the dislike, we do have some sympathy for cake-avoiders.

To help you out with any upcoming birthdays, we have a list of our top 10 alternatives for those who don’t like a traditional sponge.


Who doesn’t like a pavlova? Super sweet, crispy on the outside and marshmallowy on the outside, pavlovas are often associated with summer, but we love them at any time of the year. The best thing about pavlova is that you can customise the flavours: think coffee and chocolate in winter, or strawberry, pomegranate and kiwi in summer – the options are endless.

Read more: Darina Allen’s chocolate meringue gateau

Cheese Cake

Not to be mistaken for cheesecake, this cheese cake literally does what it says on the tin. If your taste buds lean towards savoury rather than sweet, a stack of all your favourite cheeses will make any cake-hater/cheese-lover’s dreams come true. Our preference for cheese cake would involve a wheel of mature cheddar on the bottom followed by a creamy Wensleydale, a wheel of stilton or Cashel Blue, Manchego and a round of brie or Camembert to top it off.

Cheese cake, image from

Cheese cake, image from

Chocolate Strawberry Pile

Sweet and simple, a stack of chocolate dipped strawberries is quick to make but looks very impressive. Strawberries are a definite crowd pleaser too, so cake-haters are sure to be happy. Classic milk chocolate will suit the strawberries perfectly, but if you’re feeling adventurous try to mix up which chocolate you use and experimenting with piping for a pleasing look.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Tower

Chocolate chip cookies are a childhood favourite that evokes total nostalgia – did anyone else enjoy baking cookies with their parents or grandparents as children? A chocolate chip cookie cake would definitely be a winner for any cake-hater’s birthday; surely they can’t hate cookies as well as cake. We like the idea of this indulgent stack below that involves individual cookies layered with torched marshmallow and covered with melted chocolate, but if you’re looking for something a little less decadent, bake cookies in a variety of sizes, stack them up and you’re done.

Read more: Flourless chocolate chip cookies

Pizza Cake

Pizza is one of the greatest foods ever created, but you know what makes it even better? More pizza! This cake consists of several pizzas baked on top of each other, all encased within a layer of crust. You can customise the toppings to your liking, but we’re big fans of pepperoni.

Read more: Best ever pizza recipes

Doughnut Stack

Not so much a cake as a stack, who wouldn’t be happy with a pile of doughnuts topped with a candle for their birthday? Doughnuts are still very in right now, so you’ll be bang on trend with this ‘cake’. If you’re not in the mood for making your own, Dublin has heaps doughnut shops offering a multitude of flavours, so cake-haters will definitely be satisfied one way or another.


If the birthday boy or girl is fond of the finer things in life, then a croquembouche is sure to impress them. Made of a stack of cream puffs or profiteroles that are stuck together with caramel, then encased in finely spun sugar, the croquembouche isn’t easy to recreate but it is a total showstopper.

Breakfast Pie

This one is for anyone who has more of a savoury tooth than sweet. You can make this as easy or as intricate as you like – everything basically gets mixed up together in a sort of giant frittata then baked. If you are feeling adventurous, we have seen breakfast cakes with bacon or hash brown crusts, so there are ways to jazz up this option.

Cake Pops

Technically, these do involve some cake, but perhaps the birthday person just doesn’t like big portions – if so, then individual cake pops are ideal. However, if cake truly is the enemy in this scenario, then we advise trying our recipe for doughnut cake pops. They are a delight to look at and contain absolutely no cake, so cake-haters are sure to be happy.

Biscuit Numbers

Not to be confused with the aforementioned cookie cake, biscuit cakes have become all the rage on Instagram in the past year. Biscuits are baked in the shape of the birthday boy or girl's age (or if they don’t want to disclose that number, then you could bake their name), then sandwiched together with pastry cream and decorated with macarons, flowers and other pretty garnishes.

Do you know anyone who doesn’t like cake? Tell us what they have for their birthday in the comments below.