For someone who hates Halloween as much as I do, I’ve baked a pretty good cake for it. Today is the office Halloween Bake Off to help raise money for Mind, a charity that provides advice and support to anyone experiencing mental health issues.
So in the name of charity, Halloween and I have put our differences aside to create this (dare I say it) rather pretty graveyard cake. So let’s enjoy this stupid, nonsensical day and raise some dosh by eating loads of cake… The things I do for charity.
Stout & chocolate graveyard cake
Serves 8-10 / Hands on time 45 mins / Total time 1 hr 30 mins + decorating / V
You’ll need: A stand up mixer or electric whisk and a 9″ round cake tin.
60g Cocoa powder
350g Golden caster sugar
250g Unsalted butter
2 Large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
280g Plain flour
2 tsp Bicarbonate of soda
Pinch of salt
Cream cheese frosting
250g Cream cheese
250g Icing sugar
200ml Whipping cream
1 Packet of Oreos, crushed
8 Rich tea finger biscuits
200g Green & Blacks white chocolate, melted
1 black icing pen
1 small paint brush (optional, although I find a paint brush handy if the icing pen is too thick)
A few sprigs of thyme
1. Preheat your oven to 180oC/160oC fan/gas mark 3 and line a 9-inch round tin with baking paper and grease the sides with butter.
2. Pop the Guinness and butter on a low heat in a large saucepan until melted. This could take 5-10 minutes, so use this time to measure and prepare the rest of the ingredients. Once the butter has melted, give it a good stir and take off the heat. Tip in 350g of golden caster sugar and 60g of cocoa powder and beat until combined with a hand whisk.
3. In a separate bowl, beat the eggs, vanilla and the buttermilk together with a fork then whisk them into the warm mixture using your hand whisk. (You can use an electric and whisk if you prefer but be careful not to over whisk the mixture). By now the mixture should look lovely and glossy.
4. Sieve 280g of plain flour, 2 tsp of bicarbonate of soda and pinch of salt, straight into the mixture. Whisk for a final time until combined and the lumps reduced (don’t try and work out all of the lumps out, just whisk until smooth-ish for not longer than a few minutes).
5. Pour the mixture, into your tin and bake for 45 minutes. Leave to cool fully in the tin. (The cake might be raised in the middle when you take it out the oven but as it cools, it tends to level out.)
6. To make the cream cheese frosting you will need either a stand alone mixer or hand whisk. In a big bowl, whisk the cream cheese until smooth and then sieve in all of the icing sugar. Whisk until fully combined before adding the whipping cream. Whisk on a high speed for 2-3 minutes or until the frosting is thick and spreadable.
7. Turn the cake out and carefully, using a large knife, slice the cake horizontally as even as you can, giving you two large disks. Spread an even layer of buttercream on the bottom layer, before topping with the other disk to create a sandwich (this bit is optional, if you’d rather not have any layers, then simply jump to step 8.
8. Using a spatular or palette knife, carefully spread the remaining buttercream over the whole cake, including the sides as evenly as you can. Put to one side.
9. Pop your Oreos in a sealable plastic bag and give them a good crunching with a rolling pin. Keep working the rolling pin over the Oreos until you have a good soil texture. Sprinkle the soil over the cake and pat down slightly with your hand, making sure they stick to the buttercream.
10. Melt the 200g of white chocolate in a heatproof bowl over a pan of boiling water. Meanwhile, line a Tupperware with foil and put to one side. Once melted, carefully dip in your rich tea biscuits one at a time, leaving a quarter of the biscuits uncoated (this is the part you’re holding). Once you have an even coating of chocolate front and back, pop the biscuit in the Tupperware by lean it against the side keeping it upright. Repeat with the other 7 biscuits and make sure they don’t touch each other in the Tupperware. Put the biscuits in the freezer for 5-10 minutes or until the chocolate has fully set.
11. Pull each biscuit away from the foil (there’ll be a small chocolate indent on the back of each biscuit but as it’s at the back no one will notice). One by one, pipe on the words RIP onto the front of each biscuit using your icing pen or your pain brush, dipped in a pool of your icing pen. On a chopping board remove the quarter of the biscuit without the chocolate on using a sharp knife and then submerge your gravestone into the cake. Repeat until you have the desired number of graves.
12. Finally, cut several thyme storks and submerge them next to a few graves on top of the cake and Bobs your uncle, you’ve just made my stout and chocolate graveyard cake.
If you’ve had a go at making my graveyard cake or any of my other recipes, I’d love to hear about it @corrieheale firstname.lastname@example.org