Hello, autumn. And hello again procrastination recipes, it’s been a while. I won’t go over everything that’s happened since I last posted, but the headline is that we’re now in a new team at work, and I find myself surrounded by some excellent bakers. With Halloween coming up, we decided it was time for an office competition – and so, the Data and Student Analytics (Survey Office) Great Halloween Bake Off was born.
My original idea, of a spooky ghost cake made from a hemispherical cake draped in white fondant icing was unceremoniously stolen by the goth baker from this year’s Bake Off, so I had to think again. I’ve wanted to make my own pumpkin pie spice for a couple of years, so I came up with this idea for a rich chocolate cake, filled with orange and pumpkin spice buttercream, covered in orange chocolate ganache and decorated to look like a graveyard… Then I remembered the great roasted cocoa cookies from Dan Lepard, and decided the cake needed roasted cocoa to make it really dark and spooky.
Here’s the final result…
And here’s the recipe.
Chocolate Graveyard Cake. (Vaguely based on Prue Leith’s all in one chocolate cake recipe… but heavily modified!)
For the pumpkin pie spice:
- 4 tbsp cinnamon
- 2 tbsp ginger
- 1 tbsp freshly grated nutmeg
- ½ tbs allspice
- Mix all 4 spices in a jar. Shake well.
For the cake
- 60g cocoa
- 170g plain flour
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 100g caster sugar
- 110g soft brown sugar
- 4 eggs
- 200g soft butter
- 1 tbsp vegetable oil
- 1 tbsp vanilla essence
- 1 tube black food colouring (yes, I know it sounds like a lot!)
- 4 tbsp espresso or very strong instant coffee
- Toast the cocoa – pre-heat oven to 150 C, line a baking tin with greaseproof paper and spread the cocoa out in a thin layer. Toast for 25 minutes until a good couple of shades darker. Allow to cool.
- Pre-heat oven to 180 C
- Line a 20cm cake tin with greaseproof paper.
- Sift together the flour, baking powder and all but 1 tsp of the toasted cocoa into a large bowl. Add the sugars, eggs, butter, vegetable oil and vanilla essence. Beat with an electric hand mixer until fluffy and well-mixed.
- Add in the black food colouring and espresso and mix again.
- Spoon into the prepared cake tin, level the top.
- Bake for 50 minutes, or until it’s firm to the touch.
- Cool in the tin for 10 minutes, then turn out and cool completely.
For the spiced orange buttercream:
- 150g butter
- 300g icing sugar
- Zest of one clementine/satsuma/little orange fruit
- 2 tbsp pumpkin pie spice
- 1 tube orange food colouring
- Soften the butter, sift the icing sugar into a very large bowl
- Add the zest, spice and orange food colouring
- Mix with an electric hand whisk until light, fluffy and very orange.
For the ganache:
- 180g very dark chocolate
- 160ml double cream
- 2 tbsp dark soft brown sugar
- 2 tbsp cointreau
- Melt all ingredients together in a saucepan over a low heat.
- Stir constantly until they melt together and become smooth and glossy.
- Allow to cool and thicken.
Putting it all together
- Slice the cold cake horizontally in half.
- Spread the buttercream over the bottom half, sandwich the top half on top.
- Spread the ganache evenly over the top and sides.
- Sprinkle over the remaining toasted cocoa to look like soil.
- Decorate with spooky gravestones and a menacing cat. I used these shapes from Hotel Chocolat.
Here’s our Director awarding me my medal…