Another excuse to make some fun cakes has to be Halloween. There are only a couple of weeks until 31 October! I have made some Halloween cakes for a friends party previously and rather than create a big iced cake on the shape of a pumpkin (and let’s be honest we don’t really want to eat bright orange fondant icing!), I have used some basic recipes I have already talked about on my blog and decorated them with some Halloween decorations. It is surprising how just using some black and orange colours instantly make cakes look like Halloween cakes. Marks and Spencer sell some great jelly sweets with bats and spiders on which can be put on cakes and you can always pick up some good orange and black sprinkles from supermarkets and kitchen shops at this time of year.
Because I like to talk a bit about the history of cakes I thought I would add a bit to the blog about the history of Halloween.
Halloween's origins date back to the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain (pronounced sow-in). The Celts, who lived 2,000 years ago in the area that is now Ireland, the United Kingdom, and northern France, celebrated their new year on November 1. This day marked the end of summer and the harvest and the beginning of the dark, cold winter, a time of year that was often associated with human death. Celts believed that on the night before the new year, the boundary between the worlds of the living and the dead became blurred. On the night of October 31, they celebrated Samhain, when it was believed that the ghosts of the dead returned to earth. In addition to causing trouble and damaging crops, Celts thought that the presence of the otherworldly spirits made it easier for the Druids, or Celtic priests, to make predictions about the future. For a people entirely dependent on the volatile natural world, these prophecies were an important source of comfort and direction during the long, dark winter.
To commemorate the event, Druids built huge sacred bonfires, where the people gathered to burn crops and animals as sacrifices to the Celtic deities. During the celebration, the Celts wore costumes, typically consisting of animal heads and skins, and attempted to tell each other's fortunes. When the celebration was over, they re-lit their hearth fires, which they had extinguished earlier that evening, from the sacred bonfire to help protect them during the coming winter. Over time this has turned into the Halloween we know today where kids go ‘trick or treating’, pumpkins are turned into lanterns and everything becomes orange and black!
Here is a photo of a cake I have previously made for Halloween. It is basically the Victoria Sponge recipe below, but use Apricot jam in the middle to be more of a Halloween colour. On the top I then used a basic icing with some orange food colour and orange juice added to it. The recipe for the icing is:
2-3 tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice
200g icing sugar, sifted
few drops food colouring
Put 2 tablespoons of orange juice into a bowl and gradually sift in the icing sugar, stirring as you go until smooth and spreadable. Add more orange juice of required. Add afew drops of food colouring until you get the desired colour. Decorate immediately with black and orange sprinkles and any other Halloween decorations you can get!
You could also make some basic cupcakes with buttercream which again you could colour orange and add some fun decorations on.
Basic Cupcake recipe
115g butter (at room temperature)
115g caster sugar
115g self-raising flour
2 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
grated zest of one orange (optional)
150g softened butter
340g icing sugar
3 tablespoons (45ml) warm water
Few drops orange food colouring (black could be used for Halloween also)
1 12-hole muffin pan tray
large mixing bowl
• First preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius or 160 if it is fan assisted.
• Put the muffin cases in the muffin tray
• Beat the butter and sugar together using an electric mixer until smooth and fluffy
• Beat in the eggs one at a time
• Sift in the flour and fold in by hand using a figure of eight movement
• Stir in the milk and orange zest (if used)
• The mixture should be a smooth, creamy, spoonable mixture.
• Spoon into muffin cases (fill them just over half-full) and bake for 15-20 minutes until firm and springy
• Soften the butter and beat until smooth
• Gradually add the icing sugar, beating well
• Add the water and beat until smooth
• Add a few drops of food colouring
• Spread generously the buttercream over each cake and decorate with sprinkles and Halloween treats!