Friday, November 1, 2013

Day of the Dead Skull Cake

I finally caved and bought one of these pan last year in an after Halloween sale. I am so glad I did. This was a really fun project to do but you have to set aside several hours or divide the project up over several days.

First of all, the cake takes about two hours to cool completely before you can assemble it. Then there's the decorating time which is as much or as little as you want. You can just sift powdered sugar over the baked cake and call it a day but that's not how I roll. It's also not why I bought the pan. I envisioned making many glitter skulls, painted, disco dusted skulls and adhering lovely flowers and leaves. 

Initially I was going to cover mine with fondant but I chickened out at the last minute and went with a heavy glaze. If you do use the glaze and want to draw in it or adhere decorations, make sure you are super gentle as it will crack if you press too hard. You won't have that problem with fondant.

You also need to use a very dense pound cake like recipe for a cake sturdy enough to take it through all it's paces from start to finish. I used a recipe I found on William Sonoma's website (in the comments actually). Both Wilton and Williams Sonoma make versions of this 3D pan. This was the cake they recommend using with the pan.  Instead of vanilla extract, I added red velvet flavoring and some red paste food color to tint the cake. So the inside is sort of a white red velvet hybrid cake.

I bought fondant molds specifically to create some decorations for this project. I had lots of colored bits of leftover homemade fondant and this was a great way to use them up. After decorating the skull cake, I brushed the decorations with coordinating color disco dusts.

Happy Day of the Dead Everyone!

Day of the Dead Skull Cake

For the cake:

I used this recipe from the William Sonoma website. Scroll down to the comments to find it. Instead of adding vanilla extract I substituted a tablespoon of red velvet flavoring and add red paste food color.

You will also need about 1/3-1/2 cup of buttercream to glue the two halves of the sk

For the Glaze:

I used the glaze recipe from William Sonoma's site found on the same page as the cake recipe. However I added an extra cup of powdered sugar to the recipe to make sure the glaze was thick and the red cake would not show through.

For the marshmallow fondant:

  • 1/2  bag (1/2 pound) marshmallows (minis melt easier but you can use regular sized ones as well.)
  • 2 tablespoons of water
  • 1 pound of powdered sugar
  • Crisco or shortening
  • plastic wrap or cling film
  • Gel or paste food coloring
  • Cover the inside of a heat safe bowl and a wooden spoon with Crisco or shortening.
  • Place marshmallows and water in the bowl.
  • Microwave the marshmallows for 30 seconds at a time stirring the mixture in between with the wooden spoon.
  • When the mixture is the consistency of Marshmallow Fluff, stir in 3/4 of the powdered sugar one cup at a time.
  • Cover your work surface with powdered sugar and cover your hands with Crisco or shortening.
  • Dump the fondant on the sugared surface and knead the rest of the sugar in.
  • Separate the fondant into different parts and color as desired by adding a few drops of gel colors at a time and kneading it in until the color is evenly distributed and you get the color you want. 
  • Wrap each piece in plastic wrap until you use it.
  • Wrap leftover fondant tightly in plastic cling film and store in a zip lock bag.

To assemble the cake:

  • Once the cake has cooled completely (about 2 hours) trim the back of each half with a sharp knife. 
  • Place the bottom half on a plate and smear the cut side with buttercream.
  • Affix the top part to the bottom half. One tip I got from this informative cake central thread is to prop a piece of cake from the discarded scraps under the chin to keep the front from sliding down. You can actually use any small object.
  • Place the cake in the fridge for at least  30 minutes.
  • Place a wire rack over a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or foil.
  • Prepare the glaze, remove the cake from the fridge, transfer from the plate to the wire rack and pour the glaze over the cake making sure you cover the sides.
  • Let dry and then adhere the fondant decorations and cover with disco dust diluted with clean drinking alcohol (I used vodka).  I used the cake cooling time to create my fondant decorations so I could start decorating as soon as the glaze was dry.
  • Transfer cake to a serving plate and enjoy!


  1. I love this! Such a great Idea, and awesome cake mold!

  2. Wow - a skull mould? Spooky! Love your creative, colourful decor, Lora.

  3. This is just fabulous Lora! A lot of work to create it but I'm sure you enjoyed every minute of baking and decorating it.


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