Enjoy some Halloween fun with this bewitching cake
Perfect to bake with children, this chocolate cake contains a welcome surprise
Spiderweb candy cake: Photograph: Harry Weir Photography
When I was growing up, Halloween was the only time of the year when it was acceptable to hoard and consume considerable amounts of sugar. The best part about trick or treating was coming home after our escapades and tumbling all of our goodies out onto the floor, taking stock and sorting through it all, swapping with each other for the treats we secretly had our eye on. Monkey nuts were cast aside, and a mental note was made for the following year to avoid the house that gave us the oranges.
This year is going to be different for most children, so making this bewitching bake as a family would be a wonderful way to enjoy some Halloween fun. It’s the perfect cake to bake with children; toying with the marshmallow spider web is a novelty, resulting in deliciously sticky fingers, and the hidden sweets are a welcome surprise when you cut into that first slice and they gush out onto the table.
Overall, the components of this bake are pretty simple. A standard sponge is layered with a two-ingredient chocolate ganache, but the real joy is in the decorating.
A disc is cut out from the centre of two sponges and, once assembled, the holes are filled with your favourite sweets. The cake is frosted with the cooled ganache, and melted marshmallows are pulled and twisted around the cake to look like a spiderweb.
The ganache will set quite firm, which makes it easier for the marshmallow to stick. The finished cake will keep for two to three days.
SPIDERWEB CANDY CAKE
For the ganache:
450g dark chocolate, chopped
A few drops of black food colouring (optional)
For the sponge:
335g unsalted butter, cubed and softened
335g self raising flour, sifted
1½tsp baking powder
A few drops of orange food colouring (optional)
For the candy filling:
150g sweets of your choice
For the spiderweb:
150g white marshmallows
1 For the ganache: Put the cream in a medium saucepan on a medium heat. Once the cream has reached a simmer, remove from the heat and pour it over the chocolate in a bowl. Allow to stand for a minute, before mixing with a spatula until the chocolate has melted and you have a smooth ganache. Add the black food colour if using and mix well to combine.
2 Leave the ganache to cool at room temperature for about three to four hours until it is slightly set and has reached a thicker, spreadable consistency. Alternatively, place the ganache in the fridge for an hour or two to firm up, giving it a stir regularly.
3 Once the ganache is cool, place in a bowl and, using an electric beater or stand mixer, whisk until thick and fluffy.
4 For the sponge: Grease three 20cm sandwich tins with a little oil or butter and place a disc of parchment paper in the base of each. Preheat the oven to 175 degrees Celsius.
5 Cream the butter and sugar together until pale and soft. Add the eggs one by one, allowing each egg to incorporate fully before adding the next.
6 Add the flour and baking powder and mix gently to combine. Add the orange food colouring if using and mix until incorporated.
7 Divide the mixture between the three cake tins and bake in the preheated oven for 20-25 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Remove the cakes from the oven and allow to cool completely in the tins.
8 When the cakes are cool, turn the sponges out and, using a glass or a circle cutter (about 7-8cm in diameter), cut out discs from the centre of two of the sponges.
9 To assemble: Place one of the sponges (with centre removed) on a plate or cake stand. Spread some of the whipped ganache onto the sponge. Repeat with the other sponge (centre removed). Before placing the final (uncut) sponge on top, fill the hole with sweets.
10 Spread the remaining ganache onto the top and around the sides of the cake and smooth out. Leave the ganache to set completely on the cake for one or two hours or overnight.
11 When the ganache is set, melt the marshmallows in a bowl over a pan of simmering water, stirring regularly, ensuring the base of the bowl doesn’t touch the water.
12 When the marshmallows are completely melted, pull and stretch the marshmallow (about a tablespoon at a time) over and around the cake. Continue until you have used all of the marshmallow and the cake is covered in a spiderweb.