Hello my Figgy Friends! I cannot think of a more perfect time for my first blog post than Halloween. It’s not only one of my favorite holidays all year, but it’s 100% my favorite holiday PERIOD for baking. There are so many fun ways to bake and decorate treats this season from spooky to whimsical to kid-friendly to just plain gross looking – but delicious tasting! I’ve done everything from colorful candy-covered cakes to zombie-brain-blood-oozing-knife-stabbing cupcakes. This year, I decided to take things in a different direction and create a sophisticated, white, webbed cake - perfect for any haunted castle shindig – with a bonus tasty surprise. In this post, I'll give you step by step instructions on how to make this cake and highlight 3 main techniques - how to cut and stack cakes to create the candy cavern, how to ice your cake to get a perfectly smooth/fondant-like finishing using buttercream, and how to create these marshmallow webs.
First up, bake your cakes. Any flavor will do. Since I was going for this bi-chromatic black and white scene, I opted for Devil's Food (muhahaha) with a vanilla American Buttercream.
I need to take a moment and give a shout out to Global Sugar Art for this buttercream. They have fa-bu-lous cake recipe and tutorials. What’s great about the buttercream I used for this recipe is that it’s a crusting buttercream. That means it will dry/crust after a few minutes in the fridge making it perfect for decorating and frosting beautifully smooth cakes. The shortening in this recipe is what makes it crust so feel free to swap out flavors, but keep that shortening in there! Go here right meow for the recipe: https://www.globalsugarart.com/chef-alan-s-buttercream.html
Once you bake your cakes, it’s time to cut and assemble. Depending on how tall you want your cakes, you can do this one of two ways. Either bake your cakes in two cake pans and slice the layers in half - like I am doing here.
Or you can bake the cake in four pans. Either way, you need to end up with at least four layers. Next you want to level out the cake to eliminate the dome that forms when it bakes.
This is where things start to get interesting…Using a round cutter, cut a hole and hollow out the middle of two of your cake layers. This will eventually become the hole to house all that candy goodness. The size of the hole will differ depending on what size cake you are making. Here I use a cocktail shaker (any circular cutter around your house will work) that has an opening approximately 3 inches in diameter for my 6inch cake. You can either cut the layers individually or cut them while stacked. I chose to stack my layers to ensure my cuts lined up exactly.
Now it’s time to stack your cake. Start with your first solid cake layer then add a layer of your buttercream.
Next, stack your first “holed” layer and again ice with buttercream. Then add your second “holed” layer ensuring the holes line up and your cake is even around the sides. Ice with buttercream.
Then comes the best part. Fill with CANDY! You can use any candy of your choosing. I decided to go with these adorable orange pumpkin marshmallow things. I loved the color, the classic Halloween symbolism, and the congruency of using marshmallow candy in a marshmallow-topped cake.
You can even used wrapped candy if you prefer. Any candies that have a colored outside that sometimes rub color off onto your hands may rub off onto your cake if left in there for a day or so. I would recommend using wrapped candy if you are making this a couple days in advance so there is a less likely chance the candy will bleed or melt.
Next, stack your top and final layer onto the cake. To get that straight top, I flipped my cake layer upside down.
Cover with buttercream all over. Don’t worry if crumbs stick in your frosting as this frosting layer will become your crumb coat. A crumb coat is a thin layer of buttercream you spread around your cake first so that it traps the crumbs. This allows your top frosting layer to go on smooth and crumb-free.
Place in the refrigerator for about 15 minutes. This crusting buttercream I’m using is will harden ever-so-slightly in the fridge. When you lightly touch the frosting and nothing comes off on your finger, it's ready to go. This keeps the first coat of frosting from sticking to your top coat, helping ensure no crumbs peak through. As you may have guessed, next step is to ice your cake with a top coat of frosting. This time be sure to keep your frosting knife flight against the edges to get a smooth finish.
Ok, now we’re onto a fun trick that I cannot be more grateful to Chef Alan for showing me via his YouTube tutorials (thanks Chef Alan!). We are using a Viva brand paper towel to smooth out any creases in our cake frosting to give it that smooth as fondant look – without fondant. If you want the cake to be super smooth, you gotta use that Viva brand towel. It has a side that has absolutely no pattern, like a regular paper towel does, so it doesn't leave any impressions in your cake.
So, check out our "before" where you can see the frosting crease…
Place your Viva paper towel smooth side down on the cake and gently press and wipe your fingers across the towel smoothing the frosting underneath.
Gently peel away and reveal your perfectly smooth frosting! Boom! Here’s the "after" shot…
Smooth as wrinkle-free silk baby. If the frosting doesn’t come out as smooth as you’d like the first time, give it another go and press down slightly harder. Repeat all over, then put back fridge for another 15 minutes to set.
Ok, ok, so now for the realllly fun part. Marshmallow spider webs!
Place a handful or so of marshmallows into a microwave safe bowl and microwave for about 20 seconds. However long it takes for them to start melting. Remove and stir with a wooden spoon. The marshmallow will become extremely elastic and stringy. Stir until the marshmallows begin to cool and are safe to touch.
Now, stick both hands in there and grab the mixture slowly pulling your hands and fingers apart. You’ll see your spiderwebs forming!
Stretch and spread around the cake. No rhyme or reason to this. Just spreading and stretching around randomly to get that webby effect.
This marshmallow is seriously no joke. Sticks like glue! So have fun with it : )
Next, adorn with spiders and admire your handy work.
Finally, and the absolute best part, cut into the cake and watch that beautiful treasure trove of candy cascade out in a sugar-y landslide. #winninghalloween
Thanks everyone! Hope you enjoyed this blog post and were able to get some helpful tricks. We'd love to see you use these techniques in your own recipes so if you do, please share with @feteandfigs on Instagram!