Halloween Cake Conjures Up A Witchs Brew!

Just as the little ones thrill to the ultimate night of make-believe, it's a thrill for us to see our Halloween cakes inspire looks of such surprise and delight on their faces.

This cauldron cake, a design we created as a spin off from the volcano cake, lends itself well to a cake decorator's imagination. And if you're not sure what to add to the brew, ask the kids. Then as a surprise, just before serving, add a little dry ice for magical steam.

Cauldron Halloween Cake

What You'll Need
- Bundt pan or large, glass oven-safe bowl
- Dry ice: Check your Yellow Pages for a distributor. Follow all safety precautions given to you. You can read them now at wrh.noaa.gov/vef/kids/dryice.php
- Sturdy, round cake board
- Orange or red foil gift-wrap to cover cake board and miniature red and/orange lights (optional)

Bake a firm cake (such as butter, pound or pumpkin) inside the greased and floured pan or bowl. If using glass, lower oven temperature by 25?.

To make the removal of your cake from its pan easier, here's one of the secrets guarded by the pros:
Professional Baker's Grease

Mix together equal parts flour, vegetable shortening
and vegetable oil. First cream shortening, and then
add vegetable oil and flour. Mix until well blended.

You will have a bowl of greasy paste that is
especially helpful with difficult pans such as
bundt pans with their deep crevices and indentations.

This delightfuly greasy tip comes straight from
"Cake Decorating Made Easy!"

Here's what one reader wrote about our Video Books:

"I highly recommend them to anyone who
enjoys baking, decorating and the
feeling of accomplishment when everyone
crowds around your cakes for a closer look."

Joanne Robitaille,
Windsor, Ontario, Canada

While your cake is baking, cover your cake board with the foil. After the cake has cooled in its pan or bowl on a wire rack, release it.

If necessary, level the bottom so it rests evenly on your cake round.
If you used a glass bowl for baking your cauldron cake, you may need to slice a couple inches off the bottom where it narrows, so that the wide and heavier part of the cake has a strong enough bottom.

Next, carve out a "well" wide enough to hold a small juice glass or jelly jar. If you've used a bundt pan, you already have the well, although you may need to widen it. Then drop the glass gently down into the well.

Cover your Halloween cauldron cake with smoothed, black buttercream (see tips below) Green gel icing could be added on top for an eerie brew.

Now comes the fun part! Decorate the top of the cake with marzipan or rolled buttercream figures that you've model or created with gum paste molds. Or you could use store-bought candies that depict your typical witch's brew ingredients; eye of newt and so forth.

Another decorating idea: Using a jelly roll cake (flat, not rolled), cut out shapes you want, decorate with icing and then plop onto your witch's brew.

Hint: String licorice makes great spider legs!

For added drama, tuck miniature red and orange lights around the base of the cake. This will bring a fiery reflection to the foil-covered cake board.

Just before serving, put your witch's hat on and tell the party guests you have a special cake brewing, but to make the magic work, you need them to recite from Shakespeare: "Double, double, toil and trouble, fire burn and cauldron bubble!"

Ask them to recite each verse louder than the last (while you in the kitchen carefully and using a pair of tongs, place a few cubes or chunks of the dry ice into the glass (that's in the cake's well). Then carefully pour some hot water down into the glass over the dry ice.

As the excitement reaches a crescendo around the dining table, pour an ounce or two of water into the well and carry your steaming cauldron cake out.

When the steam (and applause) fades, you can rekindle it by stirring the dry ice or adding more hot water if needed. Then it's time to serve your creepy Halloween cake. Be sure not to let the children touch the dry ice!

And here's that tip for the black in your cauldron: While we don't usually have to use enough to notice, food coloring can be bitter. The amount needed to achieve black can make your buttercream cauldron taste creepier than it looks!

Here's what you can do to keep that buttercream tasting soft and sweet:
- Use gel coloring. It's concentrated, so you won't need as much.
- Begin with dark chocolate buttercream, and you'll need even less.
- Instead of black icing, cover the cauldron cake with plain buttercream and then crushed, dark chocolate cookies.
Happy Halloween Cake Making!
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