This nostalgic pumpkin cake not only tastes great, but will bring back fond memories of trick-or-treating.
For most of my childhood, candy from trick or treating was collected in a plastic pumpkin pail. These classic pails are still one of the most popular vessels for kids to carry around their sweet treats on Halloween, and its shape is quite easy to recreate out of cake.
Not only does this cake look like a pumpkin, it tastes like one too! I doctored up a Betty Crocker Spice Cake Mix by adding some pumpkin puree and pumpkin pie spice to make this cake pumpkin through and through.
The toughest part of decorating it was covering it in fondant. Covering a spherical cake in fondant is not for the faint of heart. It takes patience; I suggest keeping the fondant rather thick when it's rolled out so when it's stretched over the bottom curves of the cake, it doesn't get too thin and tear. But once you get it covered, it takes mere minutes to transform it into a cute pail filled with candy!
First, you'll need a sphere-shaped baking pan to make this cake. Coat both halves in baking spray and set them on the support rings on a baking sheet.
Whip up the pumpkin spice batter.
Then divide it among the pans.
Bake the cakes, rotating them 180 degrees after 45 minutes. This will keep one side from browning too much. The cakes will crack, but don't worry; you're going to cut off the cracked tops anyway.
I find it easiest to level the cakes using a cake leveler, but a serrated knife will do. You need to make sure you hold the cakes so that you are cutting straight across, not at an angle. It's easiest to cut a small slice off the rounded part of the cake, so they sit flat before leveling them.
Choose which cake will be your bottom and cut a small round of a cake board to fit the bottom of the cake. To keep things neat and clean, set the bottom layer on a larger cake round. You'll remove this later, but it will keep your lazy susan free of orange frosting.
If you want candy hiding inside your cake as well as on top, cut a shallow round well in the bottom half of the sphere. To do this, I pressed a round cookie cutter into the cake, then scooped out the cake crumbs and removed the cutter.
Next, you'll need to make the top sphere look like the top of a pumpkin pail. Cut a slice off the top and create another well.
Fill the bottom well with candy. Use orange coloring to color the white frosting and then spread some around the edge of the bottom cake layer, keeping the frosting 1/2-inch from the candy.
Set the other cake on top and carve it to give it a more realistic shape. You can leave it round, if your prefer. I made mine a bit more oval.
Frost the entire cake, including inside the top well.
Smooth out the frosting and pop the cake in the freezer for 30 minutes.
Roll the orange fondant out to a 14-inch circle. Cut a 2-inch circle in the center.
Place the fondant over the cake, lining up the hole with the well in the top of the cake. The hole will stretch a bit but still be smaller than the opening, which is what you want.
Here is the tricky part. Begin smoothing the fondant around the top of the cake. As you go down and around the cake, pull the fondant up and out, away from the cake, and smooth as you go, stretching the fondant. Go slowly so you don't tear the fondant. Continue around the cake and down under the bottom. You may want to cut off some of the excess before you go around the very bottom so it won’t continue to pull. Then smooth out the bottom and cut off any remaining excess.
Cut a round of fondant to go in the bottom of the well, then cut a strip to run around the inside edge of the well. Finally, fold the fondant down into the well.
Use a fondant tool to create vertical grooves in the pumpkin.
Poke a lollipop into the center of the well so it's tall enough to attach to the licorice handle. Poke a black licorice lace into each side of the pumpkin cake to create the handle. Attach the top of the licorice to the lollipop using some tape. I couldn't get my licorice handle to stay perfectly curved, but by taping it to the lollipop, at least it stood up!
Roll out the black fondant quite thin. Cut out two eyes, a nose and a mouth and attach them to the cake. Mine just stuck, but if yours don't, use a bit of water to attach them.
Fill the cake with more candy and it's ready to serve.
Beth happily spends her days creating fun food and handmade chocolate and enjoys sharing step-by-step tutorials with her readers on her blog Hungry Happenings. Be sure to check out her profile to see all the other festive foods she's made for Tablespoon.com.