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WanderSups: Bake the cutest Hallowe'en ghost cake

“Till 1am I worked, trying to create some semblance of Ghostface - you know the guy from Scream? Yet still, we have a family of Caspers.” Hannah Gregory, Velvet’s resident recipe writer, serves up the cutest Hallowe’en ghost cake you ever did see

Hannah Gregory's Ghostly Goth Cake (59046621)
Hannah Gregory's Ghostly Goth Cake (59046621)

I am not much of a holiday celebrator, but if I had to pick one it would be Hallowe’en. As a slightly alternative child I used to take great pride in the fact I was happier watching horror movies than writing letters to Father Christmas.

I loved the mystery and the darkness; the hushed voices whispering about what ghouls and ghosts may appear on this one night seemed far more exciting than all the forced joy and merriment that was brandished upon us as soon as November 1 rolled round. (This was the Nineties - we were still in a time where we were safe from festive mass marketing until the clocks went back.)

A cold lick of wind around the face just hit differently on October 31, it was almost welcomed, making trick-or-treating an extreme sport, rather than other times of the year when it’s just plain miserable. Hallowe’en was the closing chapter of a quaintly melancholy adolescence. After this it was all tinsel, twinkling lights and jingle bells until January rocked around and then you were given permission to be miserable for a couple of months before spring came about and it was acceptable to read poetry wistfully under the summer sun and so, the cycle continued.

You can imagine my glee when an email arrived from my editor suggesting perhaps a Hallowe’en themed recipe for this month’s magazine. I had been wanting to make a Hallowe’en cake for a while but never had the reason to. Here it was. My chance to perfect a decadent chocolate cake - the sponge so dark it is nearly as black as my Gothic soul, shrouded in unxious buttercream and topped with the spookiest of meringue ghosts.

Hannah Gregory's Ghostly Goth Cake (59046624)
Hannah Gregory's Ghostly Goth Cake (59046624)

You can then imagine my sheer disgust that no matter how hard I tried, these meringue ghosts were not going to be anything but the cutest little guys you ever did see. This is not the look I was going for. Till 1am I worked, trying to create some semblance of Ghostface - you know the guy from Scream? Yet still, we have a family of Caspers. Or perhaps that cute blob thing from the EDF energy advert a few years back.

So here you have it, my recipe for the cutest ghost cake you ever did see. Enjoy. *Rolls eyes and goes to watch a scary movie*.

* Note - I used carbon black cocoa powder (available online) as I love the dark sponge it creates but the regular stuff works just as well.

Ghostly Goth Cake

Serves 14

Hannah Gregory's Ghostly Goth Cake (59046622)
Hannah Gregory's Ghostly Goth Cake (59046622)

What you need:

For the cake

● 300ml veg oil plus extra for greasing the tins

● 500g plain flour

● 5 tbsp carbon black cocoa powder (This is available online. If you can’t get any, use regular cocoa powder with 30ml of black food colouring)

● 2 tsp bicarb

● 4tsp baking powder

● 500g light brown sugar

● 1 tsp fine salt

● 400ml buttermilk

● 2 tsp vanilla powder or vanilla bean paste

● 4 large eggs

For the frosting

● 150g unsalted butter

● 150g icing sugar

● 250g cream cheese

● 2 tsp vanilla powder or vanilla bean paste

For the meringue ghosts

● 2 egg whites

● 110g white caster sugar

● 1 tsp cornflour

● ½ tsp cream of tartar

● 1 tsp vanilla powder or vanilla bean paste

● Black food colouring

● Edible eye decorations (you could also just use black food colouring)

● Edible glue if using eyes

How you do it :

1. Preheat your oven to 180c. Oil and line two cake tins measuring 20cm.

2. Put all of your dry ingredients into a bowl and mix until combined making sure to get rid of any big lumps of sugar.

3. In a separate bowl combine the buttermilk, oil, vanilla, food colouring (if using) and 200ml of water. When all combined, whisk in the eggs.

4. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and whisk until everything is well combined.

5. Pour the mixture into your tins and bake for 45 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean.

6. Remove from the oven and allow to cool in their tins before turning out onto a wire rack.

7. Whilst the cakes are cooling make your ghosts.

8. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

9. Whisk the egg whites until stiff peaks form.

10. With the whisks still whisking, gradually add the caster sugar until all incorporated.

11. Add the cream of tartar, cornflour and vanilla and whisk until combined.

12. Fit a piping bag with a round ended nozzle (if you do not have one, you can just cut the piping bag straight across at the tip).

13. Carefully fill your piping back with the meringue - I do this by standing my piping bag up in a pint glass because I’m a clutz.

14. Use a dab of the meringue to stick the parchment paper to the baking sheet and then begin to pipe your ghosts.

15. To do this pipe a blob, lift the nozzle slightly, pipe a smaller blob on top, lift again and pipe a final small blob.

16. Pop the tray of ghosts into the oven and instantly turn down to 130c.

17. Bake for about 30 minutes or until the meringues are dry to touch. When they are, turn the oven off and leave the meringues inside until completely cool.

18. To make the frosting, cream together the butter and icing sugar until fluffy.

19. Add the cream cheese and vanilla and continue to whisk until fluffy.


21. Carefully cut the domed part of your cake off and keep to the side (you need this, don’t eat it).

22. Splodge some filling on top of one cake layer and sandwich the other on top.

23. Using a palette knife, smooth some of the icing all around the cake and on the top. Don’t worry if crumbs get mixed in, this is a semi naked cake so is all part of the look. Keep going until all your frosting is used and you are happy with the look - I like to keep some of the dark sponge showing through for contrast.

24. Whilst the crumb layer is firming up, take your reserved dome and whizz it with an electric whisk to create a bowl of fine crumbs.

25. Carefully spread the crumbs over the top of the cake and lightly press them down so they stick to the icing.

26. Remove your now cool meringues from the oven and glue (or paint on their eyes) and mouths.

27. Position your ghosts on their soily bed and enjoy!

A former BBC MasterChef quarter finalist, Hannah hosts WanderSups supper clubs, “serving meals created with love, inspired by journeys around the world, dished up on home turf”. Her ethos is simple - have fun, enjoy it, make it an occasion. To find out more follow @WanderSups or visit wandersups.com.

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