While planning our little Halloween shindig, one of my first food ideas was to make a spider-shaped cake.
He’s made from a dome-shaped cake a’la the famous Barbie skirt cake, which I thought would also work out to be the perfect shape for our little buddy. The idea for Barbie cakes is this: Bake your cake in an oven-safe bowl, plop it out inverted, frost it, and stick Barbie in feet first so that it looks like her billowy dress. Hoo boy. I’m actually kind of surprised I didn’t beg and plead for this one when I was a kid.
I baked a test cake first, in an oven-proof bowl from Crate and Barrel. I used a boxed cake mix, and yay, it baked up fine – after about 60 minutes in the oven.
So as the party neared, I decided to bake the real deal. But the spider’s innards could be no ordinary cake. What would be better than cutting into the spider only to reveal bright red innards, a’la the famous Steel Magnolias armadillo cake? Enter: My first ever attempt at Red Velvet Cake – baked in a bowl!
Unfortunately, this one took about an hour and a half to bake all the way through. So the outside was nice and crisp by the time the inside was cooked. I figured I was SOL (Spider Out of Luck). Note lack of photographs from here until the surprisingly decently happy ending.
The next morning, with barely a glimmer of hope, I hacked off the burned outer layer and, because I was actually left with a reasonable amount of still-dome shaped cake, I decided to give it a whirl. I made yummy chocolate cream cheese frosting (see recipe at bottom), and frosted that dome to within an inch of its life (and actually probably about an inch thick). It worked!
So here’s the deal. I’m just going to give you a few spider cake instructions, and a frosting recipe, and I’m sorry, but I don’t have very many photos. But I promise, this really is super easy once you figure out the dome cake. Make the dome cake in a well-greased oven safe bowl (I hear Pampered Chef batter bowls are perfect), frost it, put on the candy face and some licorice legs! Boom, fresh spider!
- One cooled dome-shaped baked cake (see, I jumped right to the cake. Just prepare your batter that you know will bake up correctly in your bowl (boxed cake worked for me, red velvet cake didn’t).
- One batch Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting (below)
- Two sour apple slice candies
- Two blackberry gumdrops
- One red licorice strong
- Two candy corns
- Eight strands of black licorice vines
- Note on the candy: I raided the bulk foods section at my local grocery store. This place is genius for finding pieces for things like this.
- Using a sharp serrated knife, slice the dome shaped cake horizontally into two pieces. Set the larger piece, flat bottom down, on your cake plate, and frost the middle of the cake with about a half inch of icing.
- Top with the second piece, flat side down.
- Frost the sides and then the top, making sure the entire cake is covered in a thick layer of frosting.
- Push the blackberry candies through the sour apple rings from the green side out the white side, in a spiderly eye fashion.
- Press the eyes into the frosting. Wasn’t that easy? He’s starting to look like a cute, albeit dorky, spider! He also looks kind of like a legless octopus. (Ooh, I think someday I’ll make an octopus cake.)
- Unroll the red licorice and cut off about four inches or so. This is the mouth. Apply to cake!
- Press the candy corns into the frosting underneath the red licorice, point down. These are the spider fangs, or whatever those things are on spiders. I sort of like to think of them as buck teeth, too.
- Fold the licorice pieces in the middle so they’re just a little bent. Stick four into the cake on either side. Legs!
- We added a couple licorice antennas over the eyes, too, just to add to the dorky effect.
- Sprinkle with chocolate sprinkles – I just kept them on the top, mostly, as I was liking the idea of a hairy-backed spider.
And that’s it! We kept him chilled until about an hour before serving time.
Even with all the troubles with the red velvet cake, it was worth it. For one, it really was delicious. For another, I have to admit I loved cutting into this poor little guy and revealing his red innards. I’m a sick, twisted woman.
And here’s the chocolate cream cheese frosting. It’s really really easy, and really really good. Really.
Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting
Adapted from Food Network’s Cream Cheese Frosting recipe
- 1 pound cream cheese, at room temperature
- 4 cups powdered sugar, sifted
- 1/2 cup cocoa (I used Scharffen Berger for this one)
- 2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, softened
- 4 cups of powdered sugar, sifted
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Beat the cream cheese, powdered sugar, cocoa, and butter on low until it all comes together, then beat on high until light and fluffy – about five minutes.
- Add the vanilla, then beat again until it’s fluffy.
- If necessary, you can chill this to make it thicker.
Originally published on The Hazel Bloom, October 30, 2009. Updated and posted on Kitchen Treaty, October 28, 2012.