If you're looking for the perfect spooky treat then this fun and delicious Halloween Pumpkin cake, bursting with sweets and candy, is the ultimate trick or treat dessert. Rich, chocolate bundt cakes frosted with smooth and creamy vanilla buttercream, this easy decorate cake recipe is sure to impress your spooky party guests!
I absolutely love this time of year and get so excited for all the baking and dessert opportunities there are from now until Christmas. The only question really is what to bake first?
And with all that baking, I get asked so often about how I don't end up eating everything I make. All those cakes and desserts are a hazard of the job! Especially when there's chocolate involved...
However, if you've been watching the latest series of Kitchen Live you'll know that most of the cakes, bakes and recipes I make get devoured by my husband Ian.
And for me, well... I guess I could say that over time they become less tempting when you've tried and tested a recipe so many times.
But there's some bakes that I just can't say no to, nothing beats that fresh from the oven smell for temptation. And if it's a rich chocolate cake smothered in a creamy vanilla buttercream there's no stopping me.
It's the simplest things that bring so much joy.
So when it comes to Halloween and the only time of the year when I dig out my pumpkin bundt mould from the cupboard, I know that has to be a chocolate and vanilla flavour combo to go with all the trick or treat sweets.
So if you're as excited to get stuck into this recipe as much as I am, here we go...
Take me to the pumpkin already!
Table of Contents
If you want to skip the essential info and handy tips for making this piñata Halloween pumpkin cake then head down to the printable recipe card.
You'll love this recipe because...
Taste: Rich chocolate and creamy vanilla
Ease: Easier than it looks, just take you them
Pros: The hidden sweetie surprise!
Cons: Halloween is only once a year
Make again: Yes, it's so much fun!
Just look at him, how could you not love this little guy! Not only is he really cute, but he's made from rich chocolate cake, covered in smooth and creamy buttercream and filled with Halloween sweets. Surely you don't need anymore convincing?
But if you do, then let me tell you about...
- Show-stopping centrepiece to any Halloween party to wow your guests
- Easy to make and no special decorating skills needed - you'll nail it!
- Extra spooky surprise hidden inside - will you trick or treat?
- Easy to adapt for other celebrations and occasions, perfect for parties
What you'll need
View my Amazon shopping list with equipment and ingredients
Now this is an easy recipe, a simple chocolate cake and vanilla buttercream, but I'll be honest there's a few more ingredients than I usually have in my recipes.
It is however still easy, with no faffing and utterly delicious and you've probably got most things hanging out in the kitchen cupboards. So here's what you'll need...
The cake recipe is pretty easy as always, with just a few ingredients to give you the richest chocolate cake possible. I've a couple of different versions of chocolate cake, but the one I use for my chocolate orange bundt cake holds up perfectly and is lovely and moist.
- Unsalted Butter - Adding ¼ teaspoon of fine sea salt helps bring out the flavour and creaminess of the butter. If you prefer you can use a slightly salted butter instead
- Plain Flour or All Purpose Flour - I prefer to use plain flour rather than self-raising flour as it will give you a better structure for stacking the cakes. You don't want them too light and soft otherwise they may collapse
- Baking Powder - As we're using plain flour we need to add a raising agent; baking powder is best
- Intense Cocoa Powder - I love using this for a really dark chocolate cake that is perfect for Halloween. You can also use regular cocoa powder if you have that available.
- Soured Cream or Natural Yogurt - Cocoa powder can sometimes make your cakes dry, so adding soured cream helps to keep them nice and moist
- Halloween Jelly Sweets - I used a mix of spooky sweets and candy including jelly brains and eyeballs for an extra spooky surprise; but you can use you favourite sweets. M&Ms or Smarties work well as they spill out easily when the piñata is sliced.
- Dark Chocolate
- Icing Sugar or Powdered Sugar
- Vanilla Extract
- Orange Food Colour Gel
- Coloured Fondant Icing or Ice Cream Cone
TOP TIP: I've used vanilla buttercream frosting to fill and decorate my pumpkin cake, but you could use my ultimate chocolate buttercream to fill the cake for an extra chocolate hit.
So then, most of the equipment you'll need is as simple as the ingredients. The only thing you will need that might be a little different is what you bake the cakes in.
You want something that will give you that pumpkin look nice and easy without having to carve cakes, unless you really want to. I typically use...
- Pumpkin Cake Mould - I brought this mould years ago in Spain but you also pick it up on Amazon. I love that it means you end up with a full pumpkin cake with the centre hollowed out ready for the piñata.
But if you don't want to use a mould like this then use...
- Bundt Pans - You can use 2 individual bundt pans to create the pumpkin shape and them and sandwich them together. If you don't have bundt pans, you can use round cake pans and carve then into a pumpkin shape instead. The Nordic Ware 6-cup pans are perfect.
You'll also need some basic baking equipment so grab...
- Large mixing bowl
- Hand held mixer
- Rubber spatula - For scrapping the bowl done with
- Angled Palette Knife - One of my essential pieces of equipment
I like to use a stand mixer for ease; but if you don't have one I recommend a hand held mixer. Alternatively you can use a balloon whisk and a lot of elbow-grease.
How to make the piñata pumpkin cake
Full measurements and instructions can be found on the printable recipe card at the bottom of the page
The chocolate bundt cake
For the pumpkin I'm going to use my chocolate orange bundt cake and swap out the orange chocolate for regular dark chocolate. Let's go...
Begin by creaming the butter and sugar together in a large mixing bowl with a handheld mixer or you can use a stand mixer. When the mixture is light and fluffy, add the eggs one at a time; and beat everything together until the mixture is thick and pale.
Next melt the chocolate then mix together with the soured cream, cocoa powder and warm water until it forms a smooth paste. Add the chocolate mixture to the cake batter and continue to mix until well combined and chocolatey.
Finally fold in the flour, baking powder and baking soda until you have a smooth chocolate cake batter.
Spoon the batter into your greased cake pan until two-thirds full and pop in a preheated oven at 180C/ 350F for about 40-45 minutes.
TOP TIP: Don't mess with melted butter and flouring your cake pans. Get into all the nooks and crannies with this quick and easy homemade cake release.
The buttercream frosting
Are you ready for the easiest, and most light and creamy vanilla buttercream buttercream? I love this one for my vanilla traybake. Right then...
First up, whip the butter, with either a handheld mixer or a stand mixer with the balloon whisk attachment, on medium-high for about 3-4 minutes. The butter will become pale in colour, light and airy.
Next add vanilla extract then the icing sugar a tablespoon at a time. Whisk between each additional until fully incorporated. The buttercream will be smooth but thick.
Add the double cream and whisk again for 2-3 minutes to allow the cream to thicken up.
TOP TIP: Whipping the butter before adding any other ingredients, makes the buttercream light and fluffy and so much easier to use!
Decorating the pumpkin cake
Before you get into decorating the cake, you need need to assemble it.
Start off by colouring the buttercream. I prefer to use ProGel food colouring gels, but Americolor gels create fantastic colours too! Food colouring gels are highly concentrated and will not alter the buttercream consistency.
Next levelling off the bottom of the cakes with a large serrated knife, and place one onto a cake board. Fill the bottom of the bundt hole with cake offcuts, saving some for filling in the top then spread the top with a good layer of buttercream. An angled palette knife helps you get a nice smooth finish. Place the second cake on top to form the pumpkin shape.
At this point fill the centre of the pumpkin with your Halloween sweets and candy, and add the remaining cake offcuts on top to seal the top.
Add a layer of the buttercream all over the pumpkin cake, spreading it all over. Once you have a good layer remove the excess with a palette knife or cake side scraper. Chill the frosted cake for at least 30 minutes in the fridge, to allow the layer of frosting to firm up.
Add another layer of buttercream to the cake and remove the excess again. Chill again before decorating.
TOP TIP: You can swap the sugar paste pumpkin stem for an ice cream if you prefer. Just pop in the top of the cake to close the piñata, then frost in buttercream coloured green.
Video: Step by step Halloween pumpkin cake
Frequently asked questions
The recipe will serve between 18 and 24 portions depending on how big you make the slices. You can also split the full slices in half if you want to make the cake go further.
Once decorated, the cake should be kept covered with either clingfilm or kitchen foil at room temperature. When the cake is smaller in size, keep it in an air-tight container. You can also cut the cake into slices and keep in a sealed container if you prefer.
The cake will keep for up to 3 days stored at room temperature or up to 1 week in the fridge. If freezing, the cake can be stored for up to 2 months.
Yes, the cake can be frozen and stored for up to 2 months. The cake is best frozen un-iced. Wrap each individual cake well in clingfilm/ plastic wrap then freeze. Remember to defrost thoroughly before decorating.
Recipe notes and top tips
Are you ready to give the pumpkin cake a go? If so, then here are my hand recipe notes and top tips for getting this little guy ready for your trick or treaters.
Making the cake
- Don't overfill the cake pan - If you're using a pumpkin cake mould or bundt pans, only fill the pans to no more than ⅔s full, you don't want it overflowing. Also place the cake pan onto a baking sheet before popping it in the oven just in case it overflows. If you have any batter leftover, pop it into cupcake liners for an extra tasty treat.
- Use a quick and easy homemade cake release - Whatever type of cake pan you are using you'll need something to get the cakes out nice and easily. I highly recommend that you ditch the cake spray, and make your own cake release. It's so much cheaper and once you've tried it, you'll never use anything else again. Make sure you get it into all the nooks of your bundt pans.
- Let the cake cool in the pan for 15 minutes - If the cake is not cool enough when you try to take it out of the pan, it's still too soft and can break up. Also if you leave it in for too long, it can also break as you try to take it out. The sweet spot, is to cool for about 10-15 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack.
Decorating the cake
- Use a skewer to help keep everything together - If you find that your cake are moving a little when you are adding the layers of buttercream, use a long skewer through the top of the pumpkin to hold everything in place. Remember to remove before serving.
- Crumb coat and chill - After you've added the first layer of buttercream, remember to chill for 30 minutes. This makes adding the second layer so much easier as you've not battling the soft buttercream layer beneath. If also helps prevent any rogue cake crumbs coming through into your second layer.
- Use an ice cream cone for the pumpkin stalk - If you would rather not use green sugarpaste icing, use an upturned ice cream cone in the top of the pumpkin. Save some of the buttercream and colour it with green food colour gel, then cover the ice cream cone for a similar effect.
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Halloween Pumpkin Cake
For the Cake
For the Buttercream
To Fill and Decorate
- 300 g Halloween Sweets
- Green Sugarpaste Icing
- Black Sugarpaste Icing
- To make the cake: Preheat the oven to 180C/350F and grease your cake pan with quick and easy homemade cake release. If you are using two cake pans, grease both and bake the cakes together. If you only have one pan, make the full batter and divide equally into 2 bowls. Bake one cake and then the other once the cake is released from the pan.
- In a large mixing bowl, add the butter and sugar and using a handheld mixer beat together until light and fluffy. Alternatively, use a stand mixer. Add the eggs, one at a time, and mix well until fully incorporated. Beat until you have a pale, thick and creamy mixture.4 Eggs, 400 g Caster Sugar
- Add the chocolate to a small heatproof bowl, place over a saucepan of simmering water. Make sure that the bowl does not touch the water. Heat until all the chocolate has melted. Alternatively, melt in the microwave.150 g Dark Chocolate
- Add the soured cream, cocoa powder and boiled water to the melted chocolate and stir together until you have a smooth chocolate paste. Add the chocolate paste into the egg mixture, and whisk together until well combined.60 g Cocoa Powder, 150 ml Soured Cream, 75 ml Water
- Sieve the plain flour, baking powder and baking soda into the chocolate mixture, and fold together until you have a smooth cake batter.300 g Plain Flour, 3 teaspoon Baking Powder, 1 teaspoon Baking Soda
- Spoon the cake batter into the greased cake pan until about two-thirds full and gently smooth over.
- Place the cake pan on a baking sheet, and bake at 180C/350F for 40-45 minutes, or until an inserted skewer comes out clean. When baked, leave to cool for 10-15 minutes in the pan before turning out onto a wire cooling rack.
- To make the buttercream: In a large bowl with a handheld mixer or stand mixer with the balloon attachment, whisk the butter until pale and creamy. This should take about 3-4 minutes on medium-heat.250 g Unsalted Butter
- Add vanilla extract, and then the icing sugar, a tablespoon at a time, beating between each addition until smooth. If the frosting is too stiff, add a tablespoon of whole milk and mix.1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract, 500 g Icing Sugar
- Once all the icing sugar is combined, add the double cream into the buttercream mixture. Whisk on medium-high for 2-3 minutes to thicken the cream. The buttercream should be thick but easily spread using a palette knife.80 ml Double Cream
- Add orange food colour gel to the buttercream and mix through until you get an even orange colour.
- To assemble and decorate the cake: Using a large serrated knife, level the top of the cakes and fix the ‘bottom’ layer to a 6-inch cake board with a little of the frosting. Fill the bottom of the bundt hole with the cake offcuts, saving some for the top.
- Using a palette knife spread buttercream over the top of the bottom cake, then place the second cake on top to form the pumpkin shape.
- Fill the centre of the pumpkin with your Halloween sweets and candy, and add the remaining cake offcuts on top to seal the top.300 g Halloween Sweets
- Spread buttercream all over the top and sides of the cake. Use a palette knife or cake side scraper to take off the excess frosting to smooth the cake. Chill the cake for at least 30 minutes in the fridge, to allow the layer of buttercream to firm up.
- Add another layer of buttercream to the cake and remove any excess. Chill the iced cake for another 30 minutes in the fridge.
- Using black sugarpaste icing, shape eyes and a mouth, then place firmly on the side of the pumpkin.Black Sugarpaste Icing
- Use green sugarpaste icing to make the pumpkin stalk and leaves and decorate over the top of the cake.Green Sugarpaste Icing
Disclaimer: The nutritional information provided is approximate and is calculated using online tools. Information can vary depending on various factors, but we have endeavoured to be as accurate as possible.
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