Juliet Sear's Halloween baking hacks
If you’ve run out of time and need some quick spooky Halloween ideas, Juliet Sear’s devilishly genius baking hacks are for you!
From creepy cobweb marshmallows to gruesome glass cakes, Juliet’s showing you how to transform your basic sweets into spooktacular creations.
Bake time: 20-25 minutes
Decorating time 30 minutes with an hour chilling time
Serves: 16-20 small portions
For the sponge cakes
300g soft salted butter, at room temperature
2 tsp vanilla bean paste
300g golden caster sugar
6 medium free range eggs
Food colouring of choice, gel colours work best
300g self-raising flour, with ½ tsp baking powder whisked into it
For the buttercream frosting
400g soft unsalted butter
2 tsp vanilla bean paste
800g superfine icing sugar, sifted
Food colouring of your choice - we used purple, green and orange
For the decoration
Mini white marshmallows, a couple of handfuls
Plastic spiders, optional
Medium crank handle palette knife for frosting
Side scraper (optional, but helps for a neat and flat finish)
Cake leveller or large bread knife
8” round drum or cake stand/plate to support the cake
cake stand or plate/board for display
Microwave safe bowl
3 x 8” round sandwich tins, base and side lined (or do in batches)
1. Preheat the oven to 180C fan. Grease, base and side line 3 x 20cm (8”) round cake tins
2. Beat the butter, vanilla and sugar on fast speed in a stand mixer bowl with a paddle beater attachment (or large bowl using a hand whisk, or you can use a bowl and wooden spoon but it will take longer) until really light, pale and creamy. Stop the mixer and scrape the bowl down as needed throughout.
3. Add the eggs, one at a time, and beat until combined on a slow speed. Add in your food colouring to make your sponge a bright Halloween colour and mix well. Lastly add the flour and baking powder in increments of 3, beating very slowly until only just mixed. Do not over beat.
4. Equally divide the batter mix into the three tins and bake for around 20-25 minutes until the sponges are springy, light golden and cooked in the centre completely. Leave to cool in the tin for 5 minutes, then turn out onto a cooling rack, remove the paper and allow to cool.
5. While the cakes are cooling make your frosting. Place the butter and vanilla in your stand mixer bowl with the paddle beater (or use a bowl with a hand whisk) and beat on high for a minute or so until very creamy and smooth.
6. Gradually add the icing sugar, about a quarter at a time, beating each addition on slow first so the icing sugar doesn’t puff up everywhere, once combined turn to high speed for a minute or so each time. (A good tip to ensure your butter cream is creamy and fluffy - add a tablespoon of recently boiled water into the bowl with each addition of the sugar, mix it on slow then turn up to high.)
7. Add the food colouring until you get a lovely Halloween colour. Set aside, covering with cling or a damp clean cloth to prevent it crusting over.
8. To assemble and decorate, level off any uneven humps from the top of each cake to make flat with a cake leveller or bread knife
9. Place the first layer onto a stand, board or plate and spread over a layer of frosting. Add the second sponge onto the frosting layer, line it up neatly and add a further layer of frosting.
10. Add the last sponge, turn it over so it’s cut side down and the smooth part that was in the bottom of the tin is uppermost. Press down on the top sponge gently with your palm to secure the sponges and frosting together.
11. Use a palette knife, generously spread more of the frosting all around the sides of the cake first (this allows you to be able to hold the top of the cake still while you work around the cake). Use a gentle pressure against the side of the cake with the palette knife and use a back and forth spreading motion to spread the coating over the sides. Once the side is covered, spread a nice even layer over the top of the cake.
12. Once the whole cake is covered, clean the palette knife and go around the cake again to smooth off the excess covering, spreading it until you are happy that it’s nice and neat. This is a crumb coat, which is a good base to work on to give a neat second coat finish as it locks in any crumbs and holds the sponge together firmly once chilled. Pop this into the fridge to chill and firm up for an hour.
13. For your final second coat layer or frosting, repeat the crumb coating process as above, but using a slightly thicker coating. Paddle around the side and over the top until you are happy with the covering. (If you have a side scraper, use this to neaten around the side and top of the cake.) Place in the fridge to chill for a further 30 mins.
14. For the web decoration, microwave the marshmallows for about 30 seconds. Stir well and make sure they aren’t too hot to handle.
15. Using your fingers (you can dampen them to help prevent being so sticky) grab some marshmallow and begin stretching it right out to create long thin web like strands. Place all over the top and sides of the cake, including the stand if you are using one, to create a web effect.
Glass and blood cupcakes
For the glass decoration
1 x 200g pack of foxes glacier mints
For the blood decoration
2 tbsp seedless raspberry jam
2 tsp light agave syrup or light runny honey
A little red and blue food colouring
1. For the glass, preheat the oven to 180c fan. Line a large baking tray with a heat proof silicone matt or strong baking parchment.
2. Unwrap the mints and place closely together on the centre of the baking tray
3. Place in the oven for about 5-6 minutes until the mints have melted. Carefully remove from the oven, tap the tray and tilt slightly to remove any bubbles. Leave to cool and set hard.
4. To decorate the cakes, break up the mints into shards to look like broken glass
5. Mix the blood ingredients in a small bowl, tinting with a little red colouring and a tiny amount of blue to get the blood effect. Use a spoon or small piping bag, to pipe or drizzle the blood where the glass is impaling the frosting.
Apple monster treats
Serves: makes 8 apple treats
16 Mikado sticks (optional)
2 tbsp smooth Peanut butter
cashews, almonds or sliced cheese, for the teeth
2 strawberries, for the tongue
16 lychees, for the eyeballs
16 blueberries, for the eyeballs
1. Cut a large piece off each side of the apples, leaving the thin core slice behind
2. Cut each half in two so you have 4 small quarters of apple
3. Using a knife, cut out a small wedge from each quarter to create the open mouth for filling with peanut butter, teeth etc - leave 1cm thickness at the top so that the apple doesn’t break when you make holes for the mikado sticks - use a wooden skewer to create two holes in the top of the mouth.
4. Create spooky monsters by spreading smooth peanut butter inside the ‘mouth’. Push the Mikado sticks into the holes you have made and then add the teeth and tongue pieces.
5. Suspend the lychees on the top of the Mikados (it will hang by resting up inside the lychee on the more woody part) then pop a blueberry in the middle of the lychees for the pupil.