Friday, October 28, 2016

Knife in the Head Skull Cake

My whole focus on making this year's Halloween treats was to create recipes that were easy and fast to make. 

Let me say first off, this skull cake takes a long time to make. However, the time-consuming part is for creating the cake only. It has several steps involving cooling and chilling in the fridge. 

In keeping with my quick and easy theme, once the cake was completed, uncomplicated decorating was in order. 

I whisked together a simple white sugar glaze and poured it over the assembled cake then rummaged through my kitchen drawer to find a cool knife (thank you, Wusthoff!) and stuck it in the top of the cake. The finishing touch was pouring edible fake blood around the base of the knife, letting it drip down the cake. Done and dusted. 

Day of the Dead Sugar Skull Cake
My previous skull cakes have been elaborately decorated. See the Day of the Dead Skull cake above  I made a few years ago. 

Last Halloween I made a black and orange tiger striped cake and covered the entire thing with black sugar glitter. Trying to get the sugar to stick to the sides of the cake was a whole lot of fun. 


And the reward for all my hard work? The dang thing sat untouched on it's Halloween themed cake stand the entire evening of my Halloween party because everyone thought it was a decoration and had no idea it was a cake. I forgot about it until the end of the party. It's fate ended up in a bag whisked home by a notorious and grateful cake loving guest. Lesson learned.

Unless you have got some mad cake carving skills, you will need a skull cake pan. I lusted after, at that time, this fairly expensive pan ($45.00) for months before scoring one for $15 at Michaels. The store was blowing out their Halloween stock in early November plus I had a coupon which further reduced the price of the pan. I practically danced out of the store but my excitement was short lived when I realized I would have to wait a whole year to use it.

It was worth the wait. I love using it and would like nothing more than to make skull cakes for every season or holiday if it wasn't so inappropriate. 

Wilton and Nordic Ware both make their own version of this skull pan which has significantly come down in price ($25.00 ish) since I bought it.  There are a few tricks to using it properly so make sure you read and follow the instructions that come with the pan thoroughly. 

This year, I will make sure to officially present the cake at the party so guests know it exists. 

Aside from the quick and easy decorating, The second best part is the cake comes with its own serving knife. 

Knife in the Head Skull Cake
Prep/Decorating Time: 30 minutes
Cool/Chill Time: 3 hours
Yield: Serves 15
You will need:

  • Skull cake pan
  • Cake recipe or cake mix (this one is specifically for the pan)
  • kitchen knife

For the sugar glaze:

  • 3+ 3/4 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1+1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

For the edible fake blood:

  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • red food coloring
  • 1 teaspoon cocoa powder
  • 1 tablespoon water


  • Once you have made, de-paned and properly cooled the cake. The last step is to glue the two halves together with buttercream and let the cake set in the fridge for another 1/2 hour.
  • After removing the assembled cake from the refrigerator, place it on a baking cooling rack positioned over a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or foil. 
  • In a separate bowl, whisk together all the ingredients for the glaze. You can adjust the thickness be adding more milk or powdered sugar. You want an opaque but pourable glaze. 
  • Before glazing the cake, make sure you sweep away any crumbs that fall onto the baking sheet. In case you need to scoop up glaze that has dripped onto the pan to reapply to the cake to fill in holes, etc. , you don't want cake crumbs in the fallen glaze.
  • Tip the bowl over the top of the cake and pour the glaze over the top. Use a rubber spatula to help fill in the sides and other spaces the glaze misses.
  • Stick the kitchen knife into the cake. Position it where ever you like, front, side, back, etc.
  • In a separate bowl, whisk the edible fake blood ingredients together. If the blood looks too fake, add more cocoa powder a bit at a time until it looks realistic.
  • Carefully spoon the fake blood around the knife and let it drip down the cake.
  • Wait until both the glaze and the blood have hardened before transferring the cake to a serving plate or cake stand and serving. 

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