Thursday, 20 October 2016

GBBO 2016 Week 8 - Halloween Marzipan Centrepiece

I really wanted to make a cool halloween cake that was in the theme of the showstopper challenge from week 8 on the Great British Bake Off. The challenge was to make a marzipan centrepiece, and I think I accomplished this :)
A chocolate cake baked in a small hemisphere tin (mine was from Lakeland), filled with an orange buttercream, and covered in a layer of marzipan. 
With the spare marzipan I added mini pumpkins, and my boyfriend had the genius idea to add little pieces of grape to them to resemble faces.
It was really fun to make, and perfect for halloween. Here I bought marzipan, but you could make your own using this easy recipe (I couldn't get hold of ground almonds).
I realised that I could have made my life a lot easier (when carving the face) by making a chocolate orange buttercream. If you do this, replace a tablespoon of icing sugar with that of cocoa powder. This means that no additional work is needed after cutting out the face pieces. The orange buttercream (without cocoa) is a nice contrast to the chocolate cake though, so either option has its benefits!

Makes 1 cake


For the cake:

  • 75ml (1/3 cup) vegetable oil
  • 100ml (1/2 cup) yoghurt
  • 50ml (1/4 cup) strong coffee or espresso
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 egg
  • 100g (1 cup) self-raising flour 
  • 140g (3/4 cup) soft light brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp cocoa powder

For the orange buttercream:

  • 100g (1/2 cup - 1 tbsp) butter, softened
  • 200g (2 cups) icing sugar (or replace 1tbsp of icing sugar with that of cocoa powder if chocolate orange buttercream is preferred)
  • 1-2 tbsp orange juice

For the chocolate buttercream:
  • 50g (3 tbsp) butter, softened
  • 85g (3/4 cup) icing sugar
  • 1 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 1/2 tbsp milk

To finish:

  • 500g marzipan
  • Orange food colouring (concentrated gel)
  • Green food colouring (concentrated gel)
  • Sliced red grapes (optional)


1. Preheat your oven to 180c (160c fan)/355f/gas mark 4. Grease two small hemisphere pans.

2. Break up the sugar so that no large lumps remain. Sift in the flour and cocoa powder and stir together. 

3. In a jug beat the egg with the oil, vanilla, coffee and yoghurt. Pour into the dry ingredients and beat until smooth.

4. Pour into the prepared tins and bake for 22-25 minutes, until they are coming away slightly from the sides of the tin, and spring back when pressed. Leave to cool in the tin.

5. Make the orange buttercream. Beat the softened butter with the icing sugar and orange juice until smooth and spreadable.

6. Cover the sides of the cakes with buttercream and place in the fridge for 20 minutes - this will help in the assembly.

7. Use the remainder of the buttercream to sandwich the two halves together. Place back in the fridge whilst you make the chocolate buttercream and prepare the marzipan.

8. Make the chocolate buttercream. Beat the softened butter with the icing sugar, cocoa powder and milk until it is smooth and spreadable. 

9. Use 150g of the marzipan for the cake. Colour it orange. If the marzipan gets sticky, add a little icing sugar to the marzipan, and work in. 

10. Roll out the marzipan on a surface lightly dusted with cling film, until it is a few mm thick, and is a circle around 18cm in diameter.

11. Cover the cake with the marzipan, and gently smooth it over. Use the back of a spoon to lightly run lines over the cake (to resemble the ridges on a pumpkin).

12. Take around 50g of marzipan and colour it green. Shape two thirds of this into a stalk and place on top of the cake.

13. To get the jack-o-lantern effect, use a sharp knife to carefully cut out shapes for the face. Place small amounts of chocolate buttercream in the gaps (or scrape out the orange buttercream). 

14. Cover a cake board with the remainder of the chocolate butter cream. Place the jack-o-lantern cake in the centre of the board.

15. Colour the rest of the marzipan orange, and make ovals (a little larger than golf balls). With the reserved green marzipan, add stalks to each pumpkin. 

16. Slice the grapes into small pieces and add features to the marzipan (optional).

17. Enjoy!

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