Every year I watch the Great British Bake Off and every year I feel inspired to get the kids in the kitchen to join me in creating some crazy, outlandish showstopper-style masterpiece*.
The problem is, and I know I’ve said this before on the blog, but I’m just not a natural-born baker. That’s not to say my bakes don’t taste good. Nine times out of ten they most certainly do. But all too often they just don’t look good. And that’s the whole point of a showstopper, isn’t it? To impress? To wow? So perhaps our attempt this year at a ghoulish bake for Halloween is more a pause-glance-and-nod-approvingly before moving on than a full-blown stop-them-in-their-tracks-in-awe showstopper. The children loved it though, and that’s what’s most important.
*easily interchangeable with ‘monstrosity’, but quite appropriate really for this time of year.
At the heart of this creepy creation is a very delicious spiced chocolate and beetroot cake, topped with a gorgeously indulgent mascarpone icing. So if you can’t quite cope with the Barbie-pink Halloween decorations, you’ll at least enjoy the moist chocolatey deliciousness hidden at the core.
You’ll find my recipe for the cake here. I stuck pretty much to the recipe, but replaced the fresh ginger and cardamom with half a teaspoonful each of ground ginger and cinnamon, and simply added some red food colouring to the mascarpone topping. And you can feel slightly virtuous in the face of all that sweet gloopiness knowing there’s a small helping of goodness in there in the form of beetroot, which is of course in season right now and a staple of every veg box.
The cake itself is a doddle to make, made even easier for me with the aid of my lovely new Kenwood Patissier, which really is a thing of beauty and makes light work of whipping, beating and creaming. Simply by possessing one, I swear I am now a better baker…
I am very much an internet magpie when it comes to ideas for creations such as this, and these cake decorations were inspired by the good people at both Blue Peter and BBC Good Food. For this single cake we’ve brought together delightful severed fingers (also known in our house as Barbie fingers), deadmen’s eyeballs (chocolate cake pops) and putrid pink brains, which we initially intended to be bloody guts after starting life as jelly worms but, after disintegrating quite rapidly on handling, were then renamed brains by my youngest.
For the cake pop eyeballs, we followed this recipe on BBC Good Food almost to the letter, but swapped out the cookie quota for extra Madeira cake. Jessie and her friend from school got us started by rolling the cake balls, which we then froze before Jessie and Mia then decorated the following day. Team work at is best.
The putrid brains started life as jelly worms which we came across on the Blue Peter website, where you’ll find a video of Barney and friends making them. I’m not entirely sure the whipped cream was totally necessary. Our mixture split as the jelly set, and we didn’t use the creamy opaque sections in the end, so next time I don’t think I’ll bother.
Finally, our pièce de résistance were the severed fingers surrounding the cake, pressed into the pink mascarpone icing. These came again from the BBC Good Food website and were ridiculously easy and incredibly effective.
Put them all together and hey presto! You have your Halloween showstopper. Of sorts. Well, as I say, my kids loved it and I reckon it would go down a treat at any children’s Halloween party. Particularly a girly pink Halloween party. You could try to make the icing, brains, blood and finger nails red if you prefer. I tried and tried, but no matter how much red food colouring I added, it simply wouldn’t go past a deep shade of pink. So I gave up in the end. Barbie Halloween it was to be.
So, just as the last series of the Great British Bake Off is about to bow out on the BBC, here is my entry for AO.com‘s ‘Show Us Your Showstopper Challenge’. I’m not convinced it’s quite worthy of the #GBBO crown but we had a lot of fun in the making – and eating.
Disclosure: I was supplied with a complimentary Kenwood Patissier by ao.com in order to take part in their ‘Show Us Your Showstopper Challenge’. No money exchanged hands and, as with all my blog posts, all views expressed are mine and those of my family.
More Halloween bakes