How To: Spider Cake
Zoe Francois shows how to bake a spider cake for a Halloween dessert or creepy fall treat.
Creepy, crawly spiders have never been as sweet as they are spinning their webs across this Nutella buttercream-topped cake.
Follow this step-by-step to create your own spider cake for Halloween, fall parties and beyond. For the ingredient list, go to the Spider Cake recipe.
Prepare the Cake Batter
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Prepare two 8-inch cake pans with parchment rounds and grease. Set aside.
In a bowl, sift together the cake flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt, then set aside.
Cream together the butter and sugar until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time and mix after each, until well-combined. Add the sour cream and vanilla.
Add the dry mixture in three batches, alternating with the milk.
Split the batter in half and sift the cocoa powder over one half.
Stir gently to combine.
Making It Marble
Place some of the white batter in the bottoms of the two 8-inch cake pans. Add the chocolate batter in blobs.
Very carefully stir the white batter into the chocolate to achieve a marble pattern.
Bake for about 25 to 30 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean. Once baked, set on a rack to cool.
Prepare the Buttercream
While the cake is cooling, prepare the buttercream. In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the egg whites and sugar. It will be very thick and grainy.
Put the bowl over a double boiler and stir the mixture with a rubber spatula until the sugar is completely melted. Brush the sides down with the spatula to make sure all the sugar is melted.
Feel the egg mixture between your fingers to check for graininess. Once the mixture is completely smooth, put the bowl on the mixer and beat with the whip attachment on medium-high speed.
Whip until it is light, fluffy and glossy, and the bowl feels just about room temperature. If the egg whites are not cooled off sufficiently, it will melt the butter when you add it.
Once the egg whites are whipped and cooled, add the butter, 2 tablespoons at a time, on medium speed.
Note: After you have added about half of the butter, it may look curdled and runny; this is normal and you should continue adding the rest of the butter.
Once you have finished adding the butter and it has been mixed on medium speed for about a minute, the buttercream will be creamy and glossy again. Add the salt and vanilla.
Divide the buttercream into two bowls, 1/3 in one bowl and 2/3 in the other. Add the Nutella to the bowl with 2/3 of the buttercream. Add the cooled melted chocolate to the other.
Put the Cake Together
Unmold the cooled cakes and cut each layer in half. Spread about 3/4 cup of the chocolate buttercream on the first layer. Place the next layer of cake on top, and apply another layer of buttercream frosting. Add a third layer of cake and buttercream.
Top with the final layer of cake.
Icing the Cake
Top the cake with 1 cup of the Nutella buttercream. Spread it smooth with a metal spatula.
Put more Nutella buttercream on the sides of the cake, using enough to cover all the crumbs.
Once the whole cake is covered, smooth the icing with the spatula.
Continue smoothing until the entire cake is nice and flat. (Need more help getting a smooth layer of icing? Watch Zoe's icing how-to.)
Make the Ganache Spider Web
Heat the cream in a saucepan, then add the chopped chocolate and the corn syrup. Swirl the pot to make sure the chocolate is covered in the hot cream and allow to sit for 3 minutes. Gently whisk together until the ganache is smooth.
Use a parchment bag to pipe a thin spiral around the cake.
Use a toothpick or skewer to draw lines from the center of the spiral out to the edge to create the web.
Add the Spiders
Use the chocolate ganache to draw a line down the side of the cake, and pipe a smaller spider's body there. Repeat with as many spiders as you like. Cover the rest of the chocolate ganache and allow it to cool to room temperature.
Once the chocolate ganache has cooled (this may take an hour or two), place it in a pastry bag fit with a round tip. Pipe a large ball of the ganache to create the main spider's body.
Make the Chocolate Spider Legs
Fill another paper pastry bag about 1/3 full with the melted chocolate and pipe out the chocolate in the shape of number sevens onto a silpat, wax paper or parchment paper. Make sure you pipe a size that will fit the size of the spider body you intend to have. Pipe several extra legs in case you have breakage. Place the sheet into the freezer to set the chocolate.
Remove the spider legs from the freezer, and use a small spatula to lift up the legs and place them on the spider, four on each side. Work quickly so the chocolate doesn't warm up too much. You may have to return the legs to the freezer if you are doing several spiders.
Cut yourself a slice and enjoy! Cobwebs have never been so tasty.