This is Halloween. This is Halloween.

HALLOWEEN! HALLOWEEN!

I love Halloween. Could you tell? The Halloween season kicks off the marathon of holidays through New Year's. It's my absolute favorite time of year.

I go all out for Halloween. Our house is decorated. My office is decorated. I must watch all the Halloween movies. Pumpkin spice everything (I'm a basic bitch sometimes. Don't hate). Sweater weather. Fall festivals. Haunted houses. Spooky ghosts.

And autumn baking!

I love baking and holiday baking is the peak of my baking enjoyment. This year for Halloween, our office decided to do a Halloween dish contest. There were two categories: baked goods and snacks. Dishes were judged on taste and Halloween theming.

This was a perfect chance for me to go all-out. I don't half-ass any baking contest ever.

Since it's Halloween, I developed a pumpkin cake. I used food coloring to give it a striped black and orange look. And the whole thing is topped with my trusty spiced cream cheese icing. I really think cream cheese icings go best with pumpkin cakes/cupcakes.

The cake recipe turned out perfectly. But I didn't stop there. More theming was needed. I don't do any baking half-ass, remember?

This cake took on a Nightmare Before Christmas theme. I used black and white fondant to make the whole thing look like Jack Skellington's head. A goal of mine this year has been to improve my cake decorating skills and I think I'm getting better. This one turned decently.


And I won!

This cake is super tasty. It will now be my go-to for Halloween/fall get-togethers. Maybe without all the pomp and circumstance of the Jack Skellington head. And if you want to bake this yourself but you're intimidated by the Jack Skellington theming, this cake is just as tasty as a more simplistic four-layer cake without that extra piece.

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

~ Ingredients ~

Pumpkin Cake

2 ¾ c. flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. salt
¾ c. butter, softened
1 c. sugar
1 c. brown sugar
3 eggs
1 c. pumpkin purée
½ c. buttermilk
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
½ tsp. ground nutmeg
½ tsp. ground ginger
Orange food coloring
0.5 oz. Black food coloring

Spiced Cream Cheese Icing

8 oz. cream cheese brought to room temperature
1 c. heavy whipping cream
1 c. confectioners sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
¼ tsp. ground nutmeg

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

~ Directions ~

Preheat over to 350° and grease four 8-inch round baking pans.

In a medium-sized bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

In a larger bowl, whip sugar, brown sugar, and butter until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time. Beat in vanilla extract, pumpkin, buttermilk, and spices.

Slowly add dry mixture to wet mixture, beating well until combined.

Split the batter evenly between two separate bowls. Add 8 drops of orange food dye to one bowl and the all the black to the other, mixing until there is color throughout.

Move the batter to the four round cake pans. Bake for 20 - 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the centers comes out clean.

While the cakes are baking, make the icing. In one bowl whip together the cream cheese, vanilla extract, cinnamon, and nutmeg. In a separate bowl whip the heavy whipping cream and sugar until soft peaks form (about 3 minutes). Add the cream cheese mixture to the whipped cream mixture and whip together until smooth. Refrigerate until ready to use.

Remove the cakes from the oven and allow them to completely cool before icing. Carefully slice off the very top of each cake, making the tops completely flat and even. Stack the layers with icing in between, alternating the colors.

If you're making a Jack Skellington cake, roll out the black and white fondant and shape over the cake to get the look you're going for.




If you're just making a traditional cake without the Nightmare Before Christmas flair, ice the top and sides of the cake. I like to ice this cake so it has a naked look but you can be more generous with the icing and completely cover it if you so desire. The naked look is kinda nice for a rustic fall-looking cake.