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!
- 1 9-inch square cake layer, any flavor
- Vanilla buttercream (you can also frost the hat with chocolate buttercream)
- A candy for the eye (I used a chocolate melt disc) and licorice for the mouth
- 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.
- 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.
- Frost cake and add coconut for hair. Place candies for eye and mouth.
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!