spider web cake
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A Spider Web Cake For Halloween

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This weekend my kids decided not to go trick-or-treating for Halloween. My son is now in high school and getting a bit old for this tradition and my daughter wanted to stay home and have a friend sleepover instead. I agreed to let her friend sleepover with the caveat that I would make a Halloween themed cake and that they wouldn’t eat so much before-hand that they were too full to try any cake.

I chose to make a spider web themed cake with orange frosting and a black frosting spider web. I wanted to make at least one spider to go on it as well. I looked up ideas on the internet for how to do edible spiders. Some used chocolate-coated marshmallows, some licorice and some used piped chocolate. One idea that I liked showed a piped chocolate body that used a piece of colourful candy for a body on top. I liked how vibrant these ones looked so I decided to go for that.

I went to the bulk food store to see what I could find to make my spiders with. They had dark chocolate callets (little disks of Belgian chocolate used for melting) that I thought would work for the piped chocolate part and I found some caramel m&ms that had a nice round shape that I thought would work for the body.

At home, I found an image online of some black widow spider shapes that I could use as a template for piping the legs and body. I printed out a page of these and cut them into squares that I put under some parchment paper. Then I melted some of the chocolate callets, piped out the bodies and topped each one with an m&m for the body. After I was done, I thought they looked more like mites than spiders. Then I had the idea that I could use one of the callets as the head along with the m&m body. I still had chocolate left, so I did another 12 spiders. These were much better. I hadn’t completely decided on my colour scheme yet, so I made a few different colours.

I knew that I wanted an orange coloured frosting for the cake, but hadn’t decided in advance flavour or what kind of cake to make. While chocolate cake would have matched well in colour with orange frosting, I chose not to make that kind, because my mom comments often that I make a lot of chocolate recipes. After a bit of consideration, I thought pumpkin would work well for a Halloween themed cake.

Pumpkin can be notoriously dense, and I was determined to make a light textured cake. I found a recipe from Life Love and Sugar that showed good texture in the picture. That recipe added an extra egg white to the batter and highly recommended creaming the butter and sugar for 3-4 minutes to get it very fluffy. I knew that both of these would help the texture. I also liked that she gave the weight amount for the pumpkin, so I could be sure to use the exact right amount. I started with that recipe and swapped in cake flour for extra lightness and some brown sugar for a portion of the sugar amount and increased the spice amount.

I couldn’t do a cream cheese frosting as would be traditional with a pumpkin cake because a) that wouldn’t ensure my daughter wouldn’t even try the cake and b) it would be more difficult to decorate the cake with that kind of softer frosting. I decided to go with Swiss meringue buttercream. To my buttercream, I added some cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg and the grated zest of one orange. This gave it a lovely complimenting flavour to the pumpkin cake.

I’ve talked about this kind of frosting before. It’s much less sweet than American buttercream and I really like the texture and the ease with which I can manipulate it when I’m frosting a cake. It does take longer to make because you have to first cook the egg and sugar to 160F to make sure it’s safe to eat, then after whipping it, you have to make sure it’s cooled to between 72-75F/22-23C before adding the butter, or it will be too soft to work with. Another drawback is that you then have 6 egg yolks to use up. I think the extra effort is worth it though.

After frosting the cake with the orange coloured buttercream, I put a border of white, black and orange sprinkles around the bottom edge. Then I created a spiderweb pattern over the top and sides of the cake using a storebought tube of black icing. Then I used a bit of that icing to glue some of the red and yellow spiders around the cake and my Halloween themed cake was complete.

After a pizza dinner, we waited an hour then called the girls up from the basement for cake. They said they were too full! Oh well, my husband, son and I enjoyed it. The cake was a fluffy as I had hoped and the orange and spice buttercream worked well with the cake. The only issue was that I made it a bit too thick on top. More practice needed I guess!

spiderweb pumpkin layer cake
Yields: 12 Servings Difficulty: Medium Prep Time: 3 Hr 30 Mins Cook Time: 30 Mins Total Time: 4 Hr
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Spiderweb Pumpkin Layer Cake

Fluffy layers of pumpkin spice cake are combined with orange and spice Swiss Meringue Buttercream and then decorated with a black icing spiderweb and cute little chocolate spiders. Cake recipe adapted from Life Love and Sugar. For most accurate results I recommend measuring by weight.  


0/27 Ingredients
Adjust Servings
    For the Cake
  • For the Orange Spice Swiss Meringue Buttercream
  • For the chocolate spiders


0/22 Instructions
  • Place an oven rack on the lower-middle position and preheat the oven to 350 F/180 C. Grease 3 8-inch round cake pans. Line with parchment paper then grease and flour the parchment paper and sides of the pans.
  • In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream butter and sugars together until very light and fluffy, about 3 to 4 minutes (don't shorten this step as it's integral to a fluffy cake).
  • Add the eggs and egg white and mix on medium speed until light and airy, about 2-3 minutes.
  • In a medium bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cloves, and allspice.
  • Add half of the flour mixture to the egg mixture and mix to combine.
  • Add the pumpkin puree and mix until combined.
  • Add the rest of the flour mixture and mix until combined.
  • Give the batter a final stir by hand, incorporating any dry bits that may be on the bottom.
  • Divide the batter evenly between the 3 prepared cake pans and smooth the tops with a rubber spatula. Bake for 20 - 25 minutes until a toothpick comes out with a few crumbs. Let the cakes cool in the pans for 10 minutes then remove from pans, remove parchment paper and let cool completely on racks, about 2 hours.
  • For the Orange Spice Swiss Meringue Buttercream
  • Place the egg whites and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer. Place over a pan of barely simmering water and heat to 160F/71C, whisking constantly.
  • Carefully move the bowl to your stand mixer and beat over medium-high with the whisk attachment until the bowl is just warm to the touch, about 10 minutes. Move the bowl to the fridge and let the mixture cool until the centre reads between 72-75F/22-23 C, about 30 minutes.
  • Return the bowl to the stand mixer and beat over medium-high for 1 minute to return the volume to the mixture.
  • With the mixer on medium-low speed, add the butter, one pat at a time until all the butter is incorporated. The mixture will start to look curdled. That is okay. Then add the orange zest, spices, vanilla. Increase the speed to medium-high and beat until smooth and fluffy, about 2 minutes. The mixture may be kept covered at room temperature for up to 12 hours.
  • For the Chocolate Spiders
  • To easily make the spider shapes, I found a page of spiders in a shape that I liked online and printed them out. Then I put them under a piece of parchment paper set on a baking sheet to trace over with my melted chocolate.
  • In a microwave-safe bowl, heat 1/2 cup of chocolate callets in 20-second bursts, until melted. Transfer the chocolate to a squeeze bottle or cool slightly and transfer to a piping bag with a small round tip.
  • Pipe the chocolate in the shape of a spider, then put one callet at the top for the head and an m&m underneath for the body. Let cool until hard. Spiders can then be stored in a container in the fridge.
  • For Assembly:
  • Trim the domed portion off of the top of your cakes so that they all have flat tops.
  • Place one cake layer on your cake board and cover it with a thin layer of buttercream. Repeat with one more layer of cake and buttercream, then top with the 3rd layer, placed upside-down for even edges. Place the cake in the fridge to harden while you add colour to the buttercream.
  • Return the buttercream to your stand mixer and add orange food colouring. Whip to combine, adding more colour as needed to achieve the desired colour of orange.
  • Remove the cake from the fridge and spread the top and sides with a thin layer of orange buttercream to lock in the cake crumbs. Place the cake in the freezer for 15 minutes or the fridge for 30 minutes until the crumb coat has hardened.
  • When the crumb coat has hardened, add another thin layer of buttercream over the top and sides of the cake and smooth to finish, filling any holes with more buttercream as necessary. Place the cake in the freezer to set for 30 minutes or the fridge for 1 hour.
  • Once the buttercream has set, pipe a spiderweb over the top and sides of the cake with black icing. Then pipe a small dollop of black icing on the bottom of each spider and press lightly to secure around the spider web. Keep cake chilled until ready to serve.

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