Fright night feast!
Ghouls, ghosts, bats and black cats never tasted so good, sitting on a fantasy Halloween cake by Angela Romeo made with spooky chocolate sponge.
1 quantity of Double Chocolate Sponge mixture (see below) baked in three greased and lined 18cm/7inch cake pans for 40 minutes until an inserted cocktail stick/ toothpick comes out clean, then cooled
1 quantity of Classic Buttercream (see left)
Black gel or paste food colouring
100g/3½ oz seedless raspberry jam/jelly
For the cookies:
100g/7 tablespoons butter
100g/½ cup soft brown sugar
1 egg, beaten
Few drops of pure vanilla extract
275g plain flour, sifted, plus extra for dusting
200g/7oz black fondant icing
150g/5oz orange fondant icing
150g/5oz white fondant icing
Black and green writing icing pens
1 teaspoon each chocolate flake sprinkles and chocolate pearls
For the fruit syrup:
375g/13oz frozen mixed summer fruits
4 tablespoons caster sugar
2 teaspoons arrowroot powder mixed with 2 teaspoons water
1 set of Halloween cutters
6-8 wooden skewers
2 baking sheets lined with baking parchment
1 disposable piping/pastry bag
Small round nozzle/tip
Small-medium round nozzle/tip
For the cookies, cream the butter and brown sugar together, then stir through the egg and vanilla extract. Stir through the flour. Turn out onto a lightly floured work surface and press together to form a ball of dough.
Wrap in clingfilm/plastic wrap and place in the freezer for 30 minutes to chill.
Roll the dough out to 4 mm/ß-ª inch thick. Using the Halloween cutters, stamp out 16-18 shapes (you will not need them all for the cake). Insert skewers into 6-8 of the cookies. Cut out small rectangles from the trimmings for gravestones. Place on the lined baking sheets. Chill for 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 180˚C (350˚F) Gas 4. Bake the cookies for 10-12 minutes until just golden. Cool on a wire rack.
Roll out the fondant icings 2-3mm/1/16-ß inch thick on a work surface lightly dusted with icing/confectioners' sugar. Use the Halloween cutters to stamp out shapes to fit the cookies and stick on with a little water (reserve the black trimmings). Score lines down the pumpkins with the blunt side of a dinner knife. Use the black icing pen to write RIP or spooky dates onto the gravestones.
Use the green icing pen to pipe detail onto the cookies. Attach the chocolate flake sprinkles to the wet green icing for the cat's eyes. Use the reserved black fondant to decorate the pumpkins, sticking the shapes on with water. Use the small-medium round piping nozzle/tip to cut out mouths of the ghosts and use the black icing pen to attach the chocolate pearl sprinkles for eyes.
Trim the tops of the cakes to make level, if necessary. Remove 75g/2ƒoz of the buttercream and colour it grey. Set aside. Sandwich together using 350g/12oz of the remaining buttercream and the jam/jelly - the bottom side of the top cake should be facing up. Place on a cake board.
Crumb-coat the cake using 450g/1lb of the buttercream. Place in the fridge for 15 minutes, then use the remaining buttercream to coat the cake in a second layer. Smooth and remove the excess buttercream with a palette knife/metal spatula. Smear on small blobs of the reserved grey buttercream, then smooth and remove the excess.
For the fruit syrup, heat the fruits in a pan with the caster sugar and 3 tablespoons of cold water for 10 minutes, until the fruits are broken down. Strain into another pan. Return to the heat for 2-3 minutes until thickened, then stir through the arrowroot mixture and gradually stir through 3ƒ tablespoons of just-boiled water. Heat until thickened and glossy.
Leave to cool, stirring occasionally. Drizzle the syrup over the cake (stir in a little water if it has thickened too much) and add the cookies at different heights.
Fright night cake
Makes enough for 1 large cake
450g self-raising flour plus 2 teaspoons bicarbonate of soda, sifted
3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder, mixed with 4 tablespoons just-boiled water
500g caster sugar
240g melted and cooled, plus extra for greasing
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
50g/5½oz dark/bittersweet chocolate, melted
Preheat the oven to 180˚C (350˚F) Gas 4. Place all the ingredients in a large bowl and beat with an electric hand whisk until combined and smooth. Transfer to greased and lined pans specified in each recipe (if using 18cm/7inch cake pans, ensure they are at least 4.5 m/3/Qtr inches deep and lined with a 1.5cm/‡inch collar). Bake for the time specified in each recipe.
Double chocolate sponge Recipe
Makes 1.5kg/3lb 5oz
300g butter softened and cubed
200g/7oz vegetable fat (such as Trex or Cookeen), at room temperature
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1kg icing sugar, sifted
Using an electric hand whisk, beat the butter until light and creamy. Add the vegetable fat, vanilla and 2 tablespoons water. Gradually whisk in the icing sugar in batches, until smooth and spreadable. Add another 1 tablespoon water, if needed.
1. A spoonful of icing spread onto the middle of your cake board will stop your cake from moving around.
2. When crumb-coating it's best to apply the buttercream little and often, this will help to give an even distribution and prevent dragging crumbs around the cake. Use the tip of a dinner knife to apply icing to the sides and top of your stacked cake, slightly spreading a little more buttercream into any gaps or recesses, if necessary.
3. Smooth the top with a palette knife/metal spatula. At this stage, the sides do not need to be completely smooth.
4. When the cake is covered, take the palette knife/ metal spatula or a cake scraper and hold vertically at a 45˚ angle against the cake. Sweep around the cake with a little pressure to remove the excess icing. Scrape this icing into a separate bowl (as it may have crumbs in) and continue to remove the excess buttercream. If there are any gaps or holes, fill with a little buttercream and smooth again with the palette knife/metal spatula or cake scraper.
5. After finishing the sides, you will have little peaks at the top edge of your cake, use the palette knife/metal spatula, held horizontally, to draw these peaks into the centre of the cake, using gentle but sturdy sweeping motions. Chill the cake for 15 minutes.