Hallo Witch, 1956 – A Vintage Halloween Recipe Test

Posted on Oct 25 2017 - 5:00am by RetroRuth

This week we don’t have a recipe so much as a cutting and frosting challenge. Which are always the best kinds of challenges.


This is Hallo Witch!

Hallo Witch - Cut Up Cakes

5.0 from 1 reviews
Hallo Witch
  • 1 9-inch square cake layer, any flavor
  • Vanilla buttercream (you can also frost the hat with chocolate buttercream)
  • Coconut
  • A candy for the eye (I used a chocolate melt disc) and licorice for the mouth
  1. Take your square cake when cool, and measure 4.5 inches down from the corner and cut diagonally across to the opposite corner. The large piece is the witches' face, the other her hat.
  2. From the shortest side of the face piece, cut off a wedge 2 by 3.5 inches to use for a nose. Tint frosting desired colors and assemble cake on a large board or tray.
  3. Frost cake and add coconut for hair. Place candies for eye and mouth.

Hallo Witch II - Cut Up Cakes

This recipe is from the classic pamphlet, Baker’s Cut-Up Cakes, which is actually a brillant little pamphlet that is a good example of some very easy cake sculpting. The idea behind Cut-Up Cakes was to bake whatever kind of cake you wanted in a regular square or round layer, and then create shaped cakes with the layer. And then to frost them heavily and douse them liberally with coconut. Baker’s Coconut, of course. We can’t forget that part.

But these cakes were very creative and fun and very popular, so much so that this pamphlet was followed by Baker’s Cut-Up Animal Cakes in 1959, and then a slew of cake decorating pamphlets featuring cutting up cake layers were published by Baker way up into the 1990’s. Some of these ideas were so easy and fun that they are still being trotted out in cookbooks today.

And since Halloween is coming up quickly, Alex and I wanted to give this little witch cake a try!


Alex, ready for some serious cake decorating.


Since we could use any cake and frosting, I decided to go with Black Magic Chocolate Cake and Vintage Bakery Frosting. (The frosting recipe is at the end of the linked post. I made it with half shortening and half butter) Black Magic cake is ideal for this sort of thing. It is a very stable cake that doesn’t dry out easily, and it’s really good for cutting and manipulating. Plus, we absolutely love it in our house and I use whatever excuse I can dream up to make it. And the Vintage Bakery Frosting dries with a crunchy sugar crust on it, so that would give this extra stability and hold all that silly coconut in place.


Since the recipe made two layers, I decided to be a little crazy and make our witch two layers. You do not have to do this. I just wanted to try it to see if it was more difficult than the single layer.




And spliced back together! This was actually very simple. In fact, I didn’t like the orientation of the board it was sitting on, so I picked up the whole cake and had Alex rotate the board, then set it down and assembled it. It did not fall apart, and I didn’t have a bunch of crazy stray frosting everywhere, so I was pretty happy.


And now, fun time! Alex decided that the witch should have a green face, like Lucy’s witch costume in It’s The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown. She also really wanted to make the hat red, but we compromised with red stripes because I really wanted to try out a fudge frosting recipe that I found for the hat.


In retrospect, we should have gone with the red hat. The fudge frosting ended up not being anything special and hard to work with.


But that didn’t stop us from making our witch cake extra adorable!


And then, thirty minutes later, even more adorable.


And an hour later, even more adorable. It turns out with you leave a four-year-old with a frosted cake and tubes of sprinkles and say, “You can do whatever you want”, they become very serious about decorating. She added every single sugar bit one piece at a time, and it kept her busy for an hour! Score for me.

The Verdict: Easy To Make

From The Tasting Notes –

This cake was very simple to make and frost. Including the time it took me to make and bake a “from scratch” cake and make the frosting, this took about an hour and fifteen minutes. Which is pretty good, I think. The shape was easy to make only using a knife and a ruler, and frosting it was not difficult. No piping required at all. It would have been even quicker if I would have made it one layer as well, but I didn’t find the two layers to be difficult to work with. So, if you are looking for a quick, fun activity for Halloween, this one is a winner!

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I love everything retro, vintage, mid-century, kitsch and all things atomic! A 21st century housewife just trying to fit in...to the 50's. I have a passion for vintage recipes and an enormous vintage cookbook collection that I keep testing, even though by now I should know better. Creator of Mid-Century Menu (www.midcenturymenu.com), No Pattern Required (www.nopatternrequired.com), and I Ate The 80's (www.iatethe80s.com).

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7 Comments so far. Feel free to join this conversation.

  1. Angela October 25, 2017 at 10:32 am - Reply

    Very cute! I’ve run across of lot of those cut-up cake cookbooks. I have those same Halloween cookie cutters (“stolen” from my mom, ha ha.)

    I should try this with my boys this year. It may be easier than Halloween cookies, which is what we usually do.

  2. Lassie October 25, 2017 at 1:18 pm - Reply

    That’s cute, I bet it was delicious, too. Looks like a lot of fun to make, not only the cake but wonderful childhood memories! Happy Halloween.

  3. Kerry October 25, 2017 at 5:42 pm - Reply

    I am going to make this this weekend with my 4 year old boy Jack! What a sweet cake:)

  4. Onyx October 25, 2017 at 7:19 pm - Reply

    One of my earliest memories of cooking with my mom is decorating a cake. She gave me free reign too, and that cake had candy canes, coconut, and red hots all over it (lol, christmas cake).
    Moments like that are what gave me my love of cooking, it’s good that you’re making memories too. 🙂

  5. MelM October 26, 2017 at 6:48 pm - Reply

    This brings back memories. My mother has three or four of those cut-up cake books. Every birthday the books came out and we picked which shape we wanted. Until we all got old enough to rebel and ask for birthday pie.

  6. Marty October 29, 2017 at 7:38 pm - Reply

    Great cake! I’m with Alex — the face needs to be green. 🙂 Alex is looking so grown up! I love that she placed each candy individually. As a teacher, I know that type of attention to detail will serve her very well in school. 🙂

  7. Ted D. Nichols, Jr. December 4, 2017 at 2:17 pm - Reply

    WOW, this brings back memories. I made this back around 1984-1986 when I was in College. My Major was Hotel and Restaurant Management and I loved fun stuff like this.

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