Sometimes cake ideas come to me fully formed, sometimes they come from needing to use up leftovers, and sometimes I get a fun new toy I can’t wait to play with. A few weekends ago on a trip to TK Maxx to buy some pretty pots for some of my plant jungle (is 27 plants in the living room too many? If it is I don’t care!), I spied some Halloween cookie cutters. My cookie cutter collection didn’t have anything spooky in it at all, so I decided to buy them as a little treat.
Once I had them home I couldn’t stop thinking about the bats, and how they would look great flying over a really dark coloured cake, maybe with a little yellow fondant moon. Even though I’d decided not to make another Halloween cake this year to focus on the Great British Bake Off Technical challenges I’m baking along with, those little bats kept popping into my mind, and I decided to go for it anyway.
In keeping with Halloween, the biscuits are heavily spiced and flavoured with orange. Before the went in the oven, I stuck cocktail sticks halfway in, to make them easier to attach to the cake later. The royal icing is my now go-to recipe, made with aquafaba. There are lots of benefits of using aquafaba over eggs whites: it means anyone can eat them without fear of consuming raw egg; and it uses up something that would normally be thrown away. There is no chickpea smell or taste, I guarantee it. The icing itself I did by lining and then flooding each cookie. After they were dry, I added on details the next day and let dry again thoroughly.
After crumb coating the cake and leaving to cool in the fridge, I mixed several really dark coloured bowls of buttercream in navy, red and purple. I added it randomly to the outside and spread round for an uneven watercolour effect. There was no fondant in the cupboard, so I had to go without the moon, which I’m a bit sad about . The Boyf also suggested that the bat on the side distracts from the ones on the top – what do you think?
Want more Halloween baking ideas? How about the Blood Drip Cake with Meringue Ghosts and Bones I made last year?
Recipe: Chocolate Halloween Cake with Spiced Bat Biscuits
For the biscuits (recipe very slightly adapted from The Kitchen Paper)
380g plain flour
1tbsp ground ginger
2tsp ground cinnamon
1tsp ground allspice
1/2 tsp fine salt
85g unsalted butter
130g dark brown sugar
1tsp orange flavoring
- Preheat the oven to 180C and line several trays with baking paper ready.
- Add the flour, spices and salt to a bowl and whisk to combine.
- Cream together the butter and sugar until just together. Then add the egg and mix to combine.
- Add the treacle and orange flavour, mix to combine.
- Add the flour mix in two parts and mix on low until it comes together. Put a tea towl over the whole mixer to stop it going everywhere.
- Roll out to the thickness of a pound coin and cut into your desired shapes. Push cocktail sticks halfway into any cookie you will want standing up on the cake.
- Bake each tray for about 8mins. Leave to cool completely.
For the aquafaba royal icing (recipe from Black Food Bloggers Club)
40g aquafaba (the drained liquid from a can of chickpeas or beans)
285g icing sugar
1/2 tsp orange flavouring, or which ever you like
- Whisk the aquafaba for a minute until frothy. Beat in the icing sugar and flavour until combined. Then beat on medium for 5-7 minutes, then on low for a few minutes (to get rid of any big air bubbles)
- To decorate, first colour some icing the outline colour. Keep it a thick consistency and pipe the outline of all your cookies. Leave to set completely. Put clingfilm over any bowls of icing so it doesn’t dry out.
- Colour the icing you want to flood with, then water down very slightly. Flood cookies and leave to set, preferably overnight.
- Colour the icing for the details and keep a thick consistency. Pipe on details and leave to set.
For the cake
410g caster sugar
250g plain flour
140g cocoa powder
2tsp baking poder
1 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1/2 tsp fine salt
300g butter, room temperature
2tsp orange flavour
- Preheat the oven to 170C. Grease and line two tall 15cm cake tins, or 4 short sided ones.
- In a bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking powder, bicarb and salt.
- Add the butter in small chunks and mix on low until it looks like wet sand.
- Add eggs one at a time, mixing to combine after each. scrape down the bowl after each. Add the yogurt and vanilla and mix to combine.
- Add equally to the tins and bake for 40-50mins for deep cakes, 25-30 for shallow ones.
- Leave to cool completely.
For the buttercream
600g icing sugar
200g butter, room temperature
80g cocoa powder
1tsp ground cinnamon
- Beat sugar, cocoa and butter until the butter has disapeared.
- Add milk in several stages until combined.
- Beat on medium high for at least 5 minutes.
- Colour as required with gel food colouring.