Haunted Forest Spiced Pumpkin Cake

Haunted Forest Spiced Pumpkin Cake

The perfect Halloween themed cake - featuring a spooky forest and delicious meringue ghosts!

Prep Time


Cook Time







Recipe created by Dan Beasling-Harling:

"This Halloween themed cake was inspired by my love of autumnal Pumpkin spiced lattes.

I figured that children probably wouldn’t go for that coffee flavour though, so I contrasted the spiced pumpkin cake with a classic vanilla buttercream instead. And I’m glad I did, because this tastes just wonderful!

I just love the cute little ghosts and spooky forest surrounding the cake - they just scream Halloween, don’t they?!

You could just skip all the decoration of course, the cake’s delicious as it is, but I think it adds something really special!"

  1. Preheat the oven to 180c/160c fan.
  2. Grease and line three 20cm/8-inch cake tins.
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and spices.
  4. Using the paddle attachment to slowly stir them together, while you prepare the wet ingredients.
  5. In another bowl, combine the eggs, oil, milk, pumpkin puree, and vanilla extract.
  6. Use a whisk to bring everything together and create a smooth texture.
  7. Add about half of the wet ingredients to the stand mixer, and combine on a medium speed.
  8. Scrape down the bowl, and mix again until everything is an even texture.
  9. With the mixer on a low speed, slowly pour in the rest of the wet ingredients.
  10. Crank the mixer up to a medium speed and whip everything together for 30 seconds.
  11. Scrape down the bowl, and mix again until everything is an even texture.
  12. Distribute the cake batter evenly between the prepared cake tins.
  13. Bake for 30-35 minutes, until the tops of the cake are firm.
  14. Cool the cakes in their tins for 5 minutes, then invert onto a wire rack and peel off the baking parchment.
  15. Leave to cool completely.

Prepare the buttercream

  1. To prepare the buttercream, begin by separating the eggs. *Do not throw away the precious egg yolks! Use them to make custards, creme patisserie, ice creams, and curds. You can always use egg whites from a carton, although the meringue will not hold it’s shape quite so well.
  2. Place the egg whites and sugar into a heatproof bowl, and set over a bain-marie. *I use the bowl of a stand mixer, to make everything easier and less messy.
  3. Stir gently over a medium heat until the sugar has all dissolved.
  4. Transfer the bowl onto the stand mixer, then whisk the meringue mixture for about 10 minutes, until cool and thick.
  5. Set up a piping bag up over glass, and place on a scale. Zero out the scale and place about 140g of the uncooked meringue into the piping bag. Set aside to create the meringue ghosts later.
  6. Add the butter to the stand mixer, a little at a time, and continue whisking until the buttercream is smooth.
  7. Once all the butter is nicely incorporated, add the vanilla extract and orange food colouring, and beat again

To assemble the cake

  1. To assemble the cake, use a smear of buttercream to attach the first cake to your presentation plate.
  2. Spread a layer of the buttercream on top of the cake, and then place the next cake on top.
  3. Continue stacking the cakes, and then completely cover the top and sides, saving a little buttercream for piping a border.
  4. Use a cake scraper, or a palate knife to make the sides and top of the cake as smooth as possible. *Don’t make yourself crazy over this - perfection is unattainable!
  5. Chill the cake for at least 30 minutes in the fridge, while you make the meringue ghosts and prepare the chocolate trees.

Make your meringue ghosts & spooky forest

  1. Take your piping bag full of meringue, and snip off the top at about a 1cm width.
  2. Pipe 7 ghosts onto a lined baking sheet, using a large blob for the base, and a smaller blob for the head.
  3. Simply pull the piping bag directly upwards to create the pointy heads.
  4. Place the baking sheet into a cold oven and set the temperature to 75c, and leave for 1-2 hours.
  5. The meringues should be crisp on the outside, and like a marshmallow inside.
  6. Leave to cool completely on the baking sheet.
  7. Melt the chocolate in the microwave in short bursts, stirring well. Transfer the melted chocolate to a piping bag.
  8. Cut out a piece of baking parchment 70cm long, and about 15cm high.
  9. Measure the height of your cake, and draw a line on the back of your baking parchment, just so you can get an idea how it will look.
  10. Snip the tip off your piping bag, and pipe the cooled melted chocolate onto the parchment to create some tree shapes. *Spooky trees tend to be gnarled and twisted, so the more bendy the trunks, the better!
  11. Remove your chilled cake from the freezer and carefully lift the parchment onto it, chocolate facing inwards.
  12. At the overlap, allow one side to touch the cake completely, and the other to go over the top.
  13. Place your cake back into the fridge to allow the chocolate to set up completely - about 30 minutes.
  14. While you’re waiting, use some black food colouring to paint little faces on your meringue ghosts. *I like to make a mixture of emotions - happy, sad, surprised, and scary!
  15. Remove the cake from the fridge, and carefully peel back the overlapping paper.
  16. Use a sharp knife to cut away the chocolate at the join, until you can safely peel back the rest of the paper.
  17. Pipe a border around the bottom of the cake to finish, and to hide any little mistakes!
  18. Place your meringue ghosts on top of your cake in any pattern you like.

And voilà - a haunted forest spiced pumpkin halloween cake - perfect for Halloween!

Fred's Tip

If you decide not to make the ghosts, in the buttercream recipe reduce the egg whites to 165g, and the sugar to 330g