With Halloween looming, I thought I would take inspiration from Marks & Spencer and create my own version of their Spooky Chocolate Mud Cake. It was very easy to make, and again for an beginner it came out looking and tasting fantastic! I can see this being great fun for the kids this half term…
For the sponge cake –
300g self-raising flour
100g cocoa powder, sifted
1 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
420g light brown soft sugar
Pinch of salt
3 tsp vanilla extract
3 large eggs
225ml vegetable oil, plus extra for greasing
For the chocolate icing –
100g milk chocolate, finely chopped
100g dark chocolate, finely chopped
400g salted butter, softened
700g icing sugar, sifted
25g cocoa powder
3 tbsp milk
Halloween sweets to decorate, plus extra sweets
to fill the hidden centre (I got mine from Marks & Spencer)
To make the cakes, heat the oven to 180°C/160°C fan/gas 4 and boil the kettle. Grease 3 x 20cm cake tins with a little oil and line the bases and sides with baking parchment.
In a large bowl, combine the flour, cocoa, bicarbonate of soda and sugar. Squeeze any lumps of sugar through your fingers until you’re left with a loose, sandy texture. Whisk the buttermilk, vanilla extract, eggs and oil in a jug and pour into the dry ingredients. Add 150ml hot water to the bowl, then whisk until you have a smooth, runny batter. Divide evenly among the tins and bake for 25-30 minutes, until cooked through.
A skewer inserted into the centre of the cakes should come out clean when they’re ready. Leave to cool for 15 minutes in the tins, then turn out onto a wire rack and leave until completely cold.
Now make the icing. Melt the chocolates in a bowl, in 20-second bursts, in the microwave. Set aside to cool a little. Put the butter, icing sugar, cocoa and milk into a large bowl and beat until smooth. Add the melted chocolate and beat again. Cover and leave at room temperature until you’re ready to assemble the cake..
Using an 8cm plate as a template, cut a circle from the
middle of one cake and carefully remove it. Crumble it
to fine crumbs, then set aside. Place a whole sponge on a cake plate or stand and spread with a layer of icing. Sit the cake ring on top and fill the middle with sweets.
Spread a little icing over the sponge ring and top with
the final cake.
Use the remaining icing to cover the outside of the cake – it doesn’t have it be too neat
Press the cake crumbs all over the top and sides of the
cake, to create a ‘muddy’ surface. (it’s best to do this
straightaway while the icing is wet). Press creepy crawlie
sweets all over the cake. The cake can be made up to a
day ahead, but add the sweets just before serving. Any
leftovers will keep in a cool place for up to 3 days.