25 of the Best 40th Birthday Cakes Ideas

Latest posts by Candace Osmond (see all)

Is your 40th birthday coming up, and you’re unsure what type of cake you’d like to have this year? Or perhaps you’re planning a birthday party for someone turning 40 and would love some cake ideas to inspire you. Whatever you may need them for, here are some 40th birthday cake ideas for people who would like to try something different.

Bottom Line Upfront

Now that I’m quickly approaching 40, I thought it was fitting to write an article for 40th birthday cake ideas LOL! I bookmarked a few of these beauties to send to my husband, but I think y fav might be the Sweet Skull day of the dead theme!

Top Picks at a Glance

Best 40th Birthday Cake Idea for Men

Best 40th Birthday Cake Idea for Women

Best 40th Birthday Cake Idea Overall

The Best 40th Birthday Cake Ideas

Ravishing Rose

There’s something about the idea of a rose gold cake that feels almost decadent. With layers of vanilla cake that squeeze the delicious vanilla buttercream, my mouth is already watering at the idea of how this tastes. The Swiss meringue buttercream on top is pared with delicious macarons, resulting in a birthday cake that almost makes me wish it was my 40th birthday.

Sweet Skull

I love the whole idea of the Day of the Dead, which is actually more wholesome than it sounds. People gather around for festivities meant to honor the lives of dear ones that passed away. One of the symbols of this day is the sugar skull, which we can also see being used as a topping for the cake. With colored frosting flowers, a suitable dark chocolate dripping topping, and plenty of colors to pick, this is one of the most original 40th birthday cakes I’ve ever seen.

See also: 18th Birthday Ideas: 17 Amazing Ways to Celebrate a Big Day

Fruity Fourty

If you’re celebrating a summer birthday, nothing beats a fruit and meringue cake. This double-layer cake is adorned with macarons, strawberries, and flowers, much to the delight of consumers who love to eat a cake that’s not overly sweet. Having a 4 and 0-shaped cake instead of a traditional one is also an interesting approach.

Fancy Fondants

While this cake may appear to be pretty simple, I love the message that makes it feel so personalized and unique. Since men aren’t all that crazy about cake (or so they claim), you can go with a classic black fondant to cover the cake entirely for a more serious vibe. Much like a fine wine or an old bottle of scotch, the birthday “boy” has aged to perfection, as this very clever message suggests.

Golden Goodies

Golden foil has been quite the used decoration in baking recently, as it gives cakes and deserts a more luxurious vibe. While seemingly simple, this cake is actually decorated to perfection, with colors that remind us of fancy marble furniture. The golden edible foil that adorns the top edges literally makes me feel like I’ve struck gold by buying this cake.

Celebratory Cupcake

Choosing cupcakes instead of a cake is the new thing, so don’t be surprised if you see this approach more and more. The combination of gold and black is pretty easy to obtain if that’s something you’d like to see on a cake. There’s also a mini cake on top so you actually have something to cut, as per the usual tradition.

Marvelous Marble

Cakes that have that marble-like effect are just too precious to ignore. The fact is that these marble cakes look more like decorations or works of art rather than your average chocolate goodness. You can create this effect using pretty much any color you’d like. Add gold foil for a more stunning visual impact.

See also: Sunflower Cake Ideas

Football Frenzy

I stumbled across another marvelous cake that’s perfect for a soccer lover. The marble fondant combines blue food coloring and golden foil, sticking to a minimal color scheme for a fancier look. The golden topper is the perfect addition to a cake designed for a soccer lover.

Spectacular Splatter

When it comes to color combinations worthy of being on a cake, you can’t really go wrong with blue and gold. I love the splatter effect which makes the cake feel messy but spectacular at the same time. Golden macarons and blue meringue are perfect for decorating this cake.

Bodacious Black

Black might not seem fitting for a woman’s cake, but can you think of color more mysterious and elegant? Black cakes for a 40th birthday are truly exquisite, especially since they allow you to get creative with toppers and other decor pieces. The roses and gold pearls are a nice touch, making the cake even more elegant and festive.

Cuckoo for Chocolate

Throughout the years, bakers have come up with so many flavor combinations for a cake that one can’t even keep count. However, nothing will ever beat the traditional chocolate cake because let’s face it, everyone loves chocolate. This particular cake is decorated with cake pops, chocolate and hazelnut bonbons, pralines, and other chocolate goodies that we love to indulge ourselves with.

Bring the Beer

Not every 40-year-old wants cake for their birthday, and that’s perfectly okay. For men that prefer to indulge in a cold brewsky for their birthday, while not making a cake out of beer cans (filled with actual beer, of course)? Just slap some ribbons on the sides to hold the cans together, put some confetti on top, and you’ve got yourself a cake that lots of men would love to… drink.

Fab Frogs

I’m not 100 percent sure what the theme of this cake was but I absolutely love it. If you have experience working with fondant, you can attempt to make all kinds of cake toppers and decorate the cake with the theme of your choice.

Whacky Whiskey

If you have a birthday boy or a girl who is passionate about spirits, consider a whisky-themed cake for their upcoming 40th birthday. You can decorate the cake with icing and treats that stay within the range of whisky colors and you can also slap a couple of mini whisky bottles on top. You can do this with vodka, rum, gin, champagne, and pretty much any type of alcohol.

Versatile Vintage

This seemingly simple cake is one of the most elegant cakes for men we’ve seen so far. Promoting the idea that men look at their best when their forty and that they age like fine wine, this cake has the potential to be delicious as it is good-looking.

Crunchy Cake

One of the best parts about making your own 40th birthday cake is that you go crazy with the toppings and toppers. I love the idea of adding chocolate-covered wafers and other crunchy goodies on top of the cake. It’ll save you a ton of trouble with decorating because you don’t need fancy frosting and icing tips.

F Me, I’m Famous


Sometimes, all a cake really needs is an inspiring message to an absolute success with the guests. Since no one is a fan of growing too old, the topper on this cake pretty much sums up what most people feel when they turn 40. The fact that the topper is covered in glitter makes the cake even more fabulous.

Cake for Connoisseurs

We come across yet another whisky-inspired cake with details that come together so well, it’s actually amazing. The whisky label has been replicated to include the recipient. The cake is shaped to look like a whisky barrel, while the fondant letters couldn’t be arranged to make words more fitting than these.

Happy Harry

Since you can never be too old to like Harry Potter, how about a cake inspired by the story of the “boy who lived”? The key here is to know how to work with fondant to make the elements that make the cake theme easy to recognize, like the wand, the scarf, and Harry’s well-known spectacles.

Cheerful Champagne

When it comes to drinking, nothing says fancy and fabulous more than a bottle of Moet. That’s what makes this cake so exquisite. The colors are minimal but the devil is in the detail. The patterns and the golden accents are mimicking the Moet package, suggesting we are dealing with a cake for a fancy birthday party.

Naughty Numbers

Here is another piece of inspiration for those who want to make their 40th birthday cake all about the numbers. You can opt for a chocolate cake decorated with vanilla icing, meringue, macarons, chocolate-covered strawberries, roses, and more.

Perfect Photos

I love the idea of this cake, but I would never try it myself. Why? Because it’s not easy to resume 40 years in just a few photos placed on a cake. I do find that it is perfect if you’re planning a surprise birthday party for someone truly special to you. It’s the type of cake that’s not easily forgotten because it is filled with memories and emotion.

Mischievous Message

When you’re making a 40th birthday cake for a close friend, there are two ways to approach this: either do something so emotional it makes them cry or do something so funny, you’ll laugh about it for years. For those going with the second option, this whooping cushion cake seems like a perfect idea.

Devilish Details

I can’t even… I love this cake. It’s like dark chocolate goodness breaking from a marble vase, reaching for the sky. The top is decorated with what appears to be a sugar-made bowl that’s perfect for placing fruits (such as these strawberries). This is one of those birthday cakes that look like a work of art.

Foamy Fun

A buttercream cake should be really easy to make. However, when you’re going to tiny details like the ones we see here, things can get a little more time-consuming. You need to work your way around using fondant if you want to get all these details right. I promise it’s worth it, especially considering that the end result will look like this.

Best Cake Flavors for a 40th Birthday

It doesn’t matter, you will never be too old for a birthday cake. If you’re planning to make (or even buy) this year’s cake, here are some flavors we think you ought to try:

  • Prosecco
  • Lemon
  • Vegan
  • Gin and tonic
  • Coffee
  • Mint
  • Walnuts and pistachio
  • Anything with berries
  • Whisky cream

What You Need for a DIY Theme Cake

If you decide to make your own birthday-themed cake, there are a few things that you’re going to need if you want the end result to be a good and tasty one.

Cake Pans

The most important thing you’ll need is a nice cake pan. There is nothing more frustrating than squandering all of your time and effort only to end up with a burnt, uneven cake.

Offset Spatula

This particular kitchen utensil will make sure that you can smoothen out buttercream without getting your hands all over it.

Piping Bag & Tips

You can easily find disposable piping bags if you don’t want to spend any time cleaning them. People that don’t usually decorate cakes will avoid buying these bags and just use a Ziplock bag with a pinched corner.


Sprinkles are great for decorating the top of the cake. They used to be very colorful, but you can now purchase monochromatic sprinkles or even sprinkles that look like pearls.

Food Coloring

If you’ve prepared some simple icing but you want to give it a little color, food coloring is the way to go. Make sure to opt for gel food colors instead of the liquid ones you find at stores.

Cake Stand

Cake stands not only elevate your finished work so that it can be appreciated to its full potential but they can also be rotated while you’re decorating. Try it out: The combination of height and rotation makes the job significantly easier.


Have you seen those cakes adorned with a layer of delicious frosting that can be molded to look like anything? That’s fondant, and it’s something you want to have on your birthday cake. You can either purchase fondant online or from a specialty store, or you can manufacture your own fondant in your kitchen.

40th birthday cake

Different Types of Icing for Themed Cakes


Fondant is very popular amongst bakers because it can easily be sculpted into a variety of shapes. This makes it an excellent choice for decorating a themed cake.

This particular frosting is made using sugar, water, glycerine, and gelatin. Certain recipes replace glycerine or gelatin with marshmallows. Fondant is sugary and sweet. You can give it different flavors as you prepare it.


This is an excellent icing choice because it’s easier to spread compared to most other icing varieties. As a mixture of butter and sugar, buttercream can also be made with other fats (like margarine or lard) but note that what you use will impact the end taste and consistency.

Aside from icing, you can also use buttercream as a cake filling. You can also give it different flavors (for instance, just add vanilla extract). Before applying buttercream, make sure to store it in the fridge because it will easily melt at higher temperatures.

Royal Icing

This is a white and fluid paste that hardens into a hard outer shell when dried. It is traditionally used to cover and adorn rich fruit cakes. After being dried, this smooth, firm, matte confection is made by mixing egg whites with lime juice and icing sugar.

Because raw egg whites carry a risk of salmonella, some bakers choose to use meringue powder instead. To keep the frosting from becoming too firm, glycerine is frequently incorporated into the recipe. You can also add food dye for more interesting colors.

Whipped Cream

The term “whipped cream” refers to heavy cream that has been beaten to a light and fluffy consistency. It’s usually mixed with confectioner’s sugar because it dissolves easily and doesn’t leave a grainy texture behind.

Whipped cream is used in a variety of different recipes and makes for a very delicious topping as well. Aside from being used to decorate cakes, pies, and cookies, whipped cream is also consumed with fruit or put on top of certain drinks.


If you beat up some egg whites and combine them with sugar, you’ll end up with meringue. Sugar stabilizes the eggs’ white which can expand up to eight times their original volume when making meringue.

The amount of sugar depends on what you plan to do with the end result. If you want to make toppings for pies and cakes, you want less sugar for a softer meringue. If you want to pipe it into shapes, the meringue needs to be harder, so it needs more sugar.


Ganache is a combination between frosting and icing that can be used to coat a variety of desserts and pastries. Once the ganache has been chilled, you may use it to make chocolate truffles for a bite-sized dessert option.

Made using only a couple of ingredients, ganache is thick, silky, and creamy. You can use it to cover or fill eclairs, cheesecakes, or cakes. If you want to use ganache as frosting, whip for an extra four minutes on high speed to give it a fluffy consistency.

chocolate 40th birthday cake


Question: What can we replace with cake for birthdays?

Answer: If you find yourself pressed for time or would like to serve something different this year, there are a few alternatives to the traditional birthday cake. You can try some fruit taste, a no-bake cheesecake, some cupcakes, a stack of pancakes, or even some cookie bars.

Question: What is the most famous cake?

Answer: You can make a cake with pretty much any flavor in the world, but have you ever wondered what the most popular cakes are? Carrot and banana cakes are pretty famous but, for a birthday, red velvet and chocolate cakes are the most popular choices.

Question: What is the most expensive cake?

Answer: A bakery in England made a wedding cake decorated with 4,000 diamonds. The total price for this masterpiece was $52.7 million.

Happy Birthday

Did you find a 40th birthday cake idea you loved? Was it my pick, the Sweet Skull day of the dead theme? As always, when it comes to birthday cakes, the sky’s the limit. You can get creative and make an unconventional cake, but you can also take these ideas to the nearest bakery and see if they can make it for you. However, I can guarantee that making and decorating the cake by yourself can be extremely fun. For more great ideas, check out our website!

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