Halloween Pumpkin Cake tutorial
Halloween is one of my favourite times of the year because someone, somewhere, is giving out free candy. I am also a sucker for a dress up party and love seeing how creative people get with their costumes.
A few weeks ago, I was shopping and came across a ridiculously affordable cake frame ($2.50...total bargain compared to some in the stores that cost well over $100) so, never one to walk away from an impulse buy. I bought six. They sat in my kitchen for weeks until I finally decided on a Halloween design. If you can't find a cake frame, your local hardware store will have PVC pipe and valve sockets that will work.
Carved cakes are something I am in great awe of. You need to have faith everything will come together and work through the little creeping doubts of "oh dear, I can't do this" which every cake decorator will tell you they frequently experience.
There are a range of progress photos to show the steps taken to create this spooky pumpkin cake, but if you have questions, get in touch and I will be happy to help.
- A 7 inch cake, 4 inches tall (higher if you can)
- An internal structure. I used a food safe cake frame, but you can build one using cake boards and equipment from a hardware store
- Fondant (white for colouring and pre-coloured black)
- Chocolate ganache
- Rolling pin
- Corn starch
- Food gel (copper, black and avocado green)
- Dusting powders (lime green, moss green, orange, nut brown)
- Paint brushes for dusting (the fluffier the better)
- A small sharp knife for cutting details
- Bamboo skewers
- Sugar glue
Build your cake structure using your frame or from supplies sourced from the plumbing section of your local hardware store. I made previous structures from lengths of PVC pipe and valve sockets. I then drilled holes in my cake boards and secured the valve sockets with nuts.
Spread a layer of ganache onto your cake board and carefully place the cake onto the support tubes. Level off the top of the cake and cut out a small area where the pumpkin stalk will go. Divide the cake into sections by scoring with a sharp knife. Do not cut away any of the cake until you are happy with the placement, then cut away a little at a time. You can always cut away more but it is harder to replace it. Make the indentations a little deeper than you would like the end result to look as the ganache and fondant will fill in some space.
Cover the cake in ganache and smooth away any lines with a piece of soft plastic. I normally use a piece of plastic from food packaging but you can buy flexi smoothers from any cake decorating supply store. Spread a layer of ganache to the underside of the cake board so the fondant will have something to stick to. Allow the ganache to harden.
Colour your fondant using copper food gel until you get the desired shade. Brush a light coating of water or sugar glue onto the hardened ganache and cover the cake with the fondant. Use the side of your pinky finger to make smooth indentations between the sections and use a veining tool to give the pumpkin texture at the top and bottom of each section. With carved cakes, the best tool to smooth out the fondant is often the palm of your hand
To give the pumpkin more dimension, I brushed the entire cake surface with orange dusting powder.
Colour a piece of fondant using avocado food gel and roll into a sausage shape that tapers at the end. Using a sharp knife, cut a straight edge on both sides. Use a veining tool to give the stalk texture and drag out the fondant on the thicker edge. Brush the stalk using lime green and moss green dusting powders.
Using water or sugar glue, stick the stalk in place. Then, with a mixture of the orange and nut brown dusting powders, brush between each section and around the base of the stalk.
Less is more remember! It is easier to add more shading than it is to remove it if you have been too heavy-handed.
Cut out the facial expression using black fondant (get creative here) and shade around the edges using the same orange and nut brown dusting powder mix.
Make a marbled effect grey fondant by mixing grey and white fondant together. Don't mix too long or you will lose the beautiful marble. Put a light layer of water or sugar glue onto the base cake board and place the fondant on top.
Using a cobble stone impression mat, press along the cake board until it details the fondant
Using a piece of crumpled parchment paper or Aluminum foil, give the stones more texture by pressing the paper into the fondant.
Using nut brown dusting powder, dust in between the cracks
Using a dry bristled brush, randomly place white edible paint across the board and smudge with your finger.
Cover the legs in avocado coloured fondant and texture using a veining tool. Dust with the lime and moss green dusting powders
Make two arms out of the avocado coloured fondant and place a bamboo skewer dipped in sugarglue through each to stabilise. Dust with the lime and moss green powders and place into the side of the cake. Add a few vines to the pumpkin stalk for extra detailing, cover the edge of your board with a ribbon and hey presto, an impressive Halloween cake to be the showpiece at any party.
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