Spider's web cake 2016

Spider's web cake

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(8 ratings)

Prep: 1 hr, 15 mins Cook: 40 mins

More effort

Serves 15

Swiss meringue buttercream icing transformed into a spooky Halloween showstopper - this rich chocolate sponge will be the guest of honour at any Halloween party

Nutrition and extra info

  • sponges only

Nutrition: per serving

  • kcal595
  • fat34g
  • saturates21g
  • carbs64g
  • sugars49g
  • fibre2g
  • protein6g
  • salt0.7g
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    For the cake

    • 110g unsalted butter, plus extra for greasing
    • 3 tbsp cocoa powder
    • 140ml chocolate stout (we used Young's Double Chocolate Stout, available from Tesco)
    • 170g white caster sugar
    • 170g light brown soft sugar
    • 1 tsp vanilla extract
    • 3 large eggs, lightly beaten
    • 100g dark chocolate, melted and cooled
      Dark chocolate soup pots with double cream in spoons

      Dark chocolate

      dahk chok-o-let

      Dark chocolate means the shiny, dark-reddish brown treat produced from the cacao bean, theobroma…

    • 280g plain flour
    • 2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
      Bicarbonate of soda

      Bicarbonate of soda

      Bicarbonate of soda, or baking soda, is an alkali which is used to raise soda breads and full-…

    For the white chocolate buttercream

    • 3 large egg whites
    • 240g caster sugar
    • 360g unsalted butter, room temperature
    • 200g white chocolate, melted and cooled
      White chocolate squares, stacked

      White chocolate

      why-t chok-lit

      To purists, this is not chocolate because it is made only from the fat or butter of the cacao…

    To decorate

    • 100g white mini marshmallows
    • 25g black sugar paste


    1. Heat oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4. Grease three 20cm round cake tins and line the bases with baking parchment. To make the cake, put the cocoa in a bowl, add 280ml boiling water and whisk until dissolved. Pour in the stout, mix, then set aside to cool.

    2. In a stand mixer or a large bowl using an electric hand whisk, beat together the butter, both sugars and vanilla extract until light and fluffy (about 5 mins). Add the eggs little by little, mixing until fully incorporated before adding more. Once all the egg has been added, spoon in the melted chocolate and mix to combine.

    3. In another bowl, mix the flour, bicarb and 1/2 tsp salt. Add this mixture to the butter mixture in three stages, alternating with the stout mixture (which will be very runny). Pour the batter equally between the prepared tins and bake for 25-30 mins until a skewer inserted into the cake comes out clean. Leave to cool in the tins for 10 mins, then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

    4. To make the buttercream, put the egg whites and sugar in a heatproof bowl and set over a pan of gently simmering water. Stir with a whisk until the sugar has dissolved and the mixture is warm to the touch. Remove the bowl from the heat and beat with an electric hand whisk on high speed until the mixture has tripled in volume and has cooled down. Slowly add the butter 1 tbsp at a time while continuing to whisk. Once all the butter has been added, the mixture should look glossy and thick – if it doesn’t, keep whisking until it does, or if the bowl still feels warm, chill for 10 mins before whisking again. Once ready, mix in the melted white chocolate.

    5. To assemble the cake, put one of the cake layers on a cake stand and top with a layer of buttercream. Repeat with the other two layers. Spread the remaining buttercream all over the cake, using a spatula or palette knife to smooth the sides. Chill for 1 hr or until the buttercream is firm (see tip, below).

    6. To decorate, melt the marshmallows in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water, stirring from time to time. Remove from the heat and put to one side for a few mins until the mixture is cool enough to handle. Use your fingers to grab a small amount of the marshmallow and stretch it out to form long strands (dipping your fingers in vegetable or sunflower oil will help!) Drape the strands over the cake in a random pattern, so it’s thoroughly covered. Create a spider using the sugar paste (roll two balls, one bigger than the other, for the body, and thin strands for the legs) and place on top of the cake. Will keep for up to three days in an airtight container.

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    Comments, questions and tips

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    30th Oct, 2016
    Fab recipe! Followed the instructions to the letter to make a Halloween cake for a few friends at my party. The white chocolate Swiss meringue buttercream was a little extra effort but definitely worth it - it looked a treat and the whole thing tastes delicious! Melted marshmallow webs looked especially good. Very pleased overall :)
    24th Oct, 2016
    I had never decorated a cake before and I thought I would try with this recipe. For me, it was more about the decoration part rather than the cake itself, although of course I wanted it to taste good. I couldn't find chocolate stout so instead I increased the number of tbsps of cocoa powder (5 in total) and added an extra 140ml of water to make up for the absence of stout. I only make two thirds of the quantity of buttercream as I feared it would be too sweet. I baked the cakes at 180 degrees with a fan oven instead of 160. In the end, the sweetness was very pleasant, the sponges tasted amazing and I didn't do a bad job with the decoration. I was extremely pleased with the result and everybody loved this cake. I will definitely make it again when I get a chance.
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