Before I had two boys it would never have occurred to me to put spiders on a cake. Thank god for little boys! Of course, there are deeper things that I have learned since parenting, but seeing the world through their eyes has made me happier, younger and sillier, which is such a gift.
Spiders on a cake are just plain creepy and a whole lot of fun. The marble cake will satisfy your cravings for both vanilla and chocolate. Nutella buttercream and bittersweet ganache spiders are the perfect finishing touches.
Spider Cake for Halloween
2 1/4 (7 1/8 ounces) cups sifted cake flour – sift it into the measuring cup
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
2 large eggs, room temperature
3/4 cup sour cream
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
6 tablespoons milk
3 tablespoons cocoa powder
Nutella and Chocolate Buttercreams:
1 cup egg whites (about 8 large egg whites)
2 cups sugar
1 ½ pounds unsalted butter, softened
½ cup nutella
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, melted
Chocolate Ganache for Spider Body and Cobweb:
2 ounces bittersweet chocolate
4 tablespoons (2 ounces) unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces
Chocolate Spider Legs:
2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, melted
To make the marble cake:
Preheat oven to 350°F. Prepare two 8-inch cake pans with parchment rounds and grease. Set aside.
Sift together the cake flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt, set aside.
Cream together the butter and sugar until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time and mix after each, until well combined. Add the sour cream and vanilla.
Add the dry mixture in 3 batches, alternating with the milk.
Split the batter in half and sift the cocoa powder over one half. Stir gently to combine.
Place some of the white batter in the bottoms of the two 8-inch cake pans. Add the chocolate batter in blobs.
Very carefully stir the white batter into the chocolate, to achieve a marble pattern. Bake for about 25-30 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean. Once baked cool on a rack.
While the cake is cooling, prepare the buttercream:
In the bowl of a stand mixer combine the egg whites and sugar. It will be very thick and grainy.
Put the bowl over a double boiler and stir it with a rubber spatula until the sugar is completely melted. Brush the sides down with the spatula to make sure all the sugar is melted.
Feel the egg mixture between your fingers to check for graininess. Once it is completely smooth, put the bowl on the mixer and beat with the whip attachment on medium high speed.
Whip until it is light, fluffy, glossy and the bowl feels just about room temperature. If the egg whites are not cooled off sufficiently it will melt the butter when you add it.
Once the egg whites are whipped and cooled, add the butter, 2 tablespoons at a time on medium speed.
Warning: After you have added about half of the butter, it may look curdled and runny, this is normal and you should continue adding the rest of the butter.
Once you have finished adding the butter and it has mixed on medium speed for about a minute the buttercream will be creamy and glossy looking again. Add the salt, and vanilla.
Divide the buttercream in two bowls, 1/3 in one bowl and 2/3 in the other. Add the nutella to the bowl with 2/3 of the buttercream. Add the cooled, melted chocolate to the other.
Unmold the cooled cakes and cut each later in half. Spread about 3/4 cup of the chocolate buttercream on the first layer. Repeat with the next two layers of cake and buttercream.
Top with the final layer of cake.
Top the cake with 1 cup of the nutella buttercream. Spread it smooth with a metal spatula.
Put more nutella buttercream on the sides of the cake, using enough to cover all the crumbs.
Once the whole cake is covered, smooth the icing with the spatula,
until it is nice and flat. See my video on getting a smooth layer of icing.
To make the ganache spider web:
In a saucepan heat the cream, then add the chopped chocolate and the corn syrup. Swirl the pot to make sure the chocolate is covered in the hot cream, allow to sit for 3 minutes. Gently whisk together until the ganache is smooth.
Use a parchment bag to pipe a thin spiral around the cake.
Use a toothpick or skewer to draw lines from the center of the spiral out to the edge to create the web.
Use the chocolate ganache to draw a line down the side of the cake and pipe a smaller spiders body there. Repeat with as many spiders as you like.
Cover the rest of the chocolate ganache and allow it to cool to room temperature.
Once the chocolate ganache is set up, this may take an hour or two, place it in a pastry bag fit with a round tip. Pipe a large ball of the ganache to create the spider’s body.
Chocolate spider legs:
Fill another paper pastry bag about 1/3 full with the melted chocolate and pipe out the chocolate in the shape of the number 7 onto a silpat, waxpaper or parchment paper. Make sure you do a size that will fit the size of the spider body you intend to have. Pipe several extra in case you have breakage. Place the sheet into the freezer to set the chocolate.
Remove the spider legs from the freezer and using a small spatula, lift up the legs and place them on the spider, 4 on each side. Work quickly so the chocolate doesn’t warm up too much. You may have to return the legs to the freezer if you are doing several spiders.
More Halloween Recipes from Cooking Channel:
More Baking How-To’s from Zoe:
- Milk Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie
- Beehive Cake
- Strawberry-Rhubarb Crisp
- How to Write on a Cake
- No-Bake Strawberry Cheesecake
- Carrot Cupcakes
- Linzer Cookies
- Sweet, Cakey Banana Bread
- Chocolate Chunk-Peanut Butter Cookies
- Flourless Chocolate Torte
- Spring Cupcakes
- Lemon Meringue Cake
Zoë François, author of Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day, Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day and Artisan Pizza and Flatbreads in Five Minutes a Day, studied at the Culinary Institute of America in New York. She now calls Minneapolis her home, where she has worked with some of the top talent in the culinary world — Steven Brown, Andrew Zimmern and many chefs at the D’Amico company. In addition to writing, Zoë teaches baking classes and consults at restaurants, and she maintains her baking blog, zoebakes.com.