Summon the spirits with this Ouija board cake and planchette! A rich, moist chocolate cake is sandwiched with chocolate buttercream but it's the message on top that is pure magic! With a hidden message, the spirits are trying to tell you something from the grave!
Every year for Halloween I make a big centrepiece cake. One year it was Hogwart's Castle out of gingerbread, another it was a road kill armadillo cake - there is no theme or logic, it's whatever gruesome that tickles my fancy.
I was prepping for my upcoming Halloween party when I unfurled a tablecloth from last year's party. It was a large ouija board and the pointer or planchette fell out. I took it as a sign that I should make a ouija board cake!
This cake was being served at the party location so I wanted it to be as fuss free and easy to transport as possible. My original idea had lots of fresh cream, berries and would have been incredibly stressful especially as I make 13 things every year. So a ouija board sheet cake was actually ideal. sheet cakes are great for feeding a crowd and I could transport it in its tin and I would also use an edible transfer sheet for the ouija board.
I enlisted the help of Mr NQN's sister Amaya, a graphic designer who helped me personalise the ouija board and I ordered it online and within a couple of days I received my print out and I was on my way!
The location for this year's party came to me in an interesting way. Anyone that knows me knows that I operate on 30% logic, 70% intuition which can drive the hugely logical person like Mr NQN a bit mad but he has seen many occasions where intuition works so he just goes with it.
I found this spot through spirits. And I'm not even joking Dear Reader. I was searching desperately for a Halloween party location but there just aren't many truly spooky places in Sydney. But one day I walked out an appointment and a voice guided me to walk down this street that I normally don't venture down.
I wandered and walked and then passed a gate where I turned left and I looked right. There stood a beautiful white picket fenced cottage that had a plaque called "Cemetery Lodge". I stood there staring at it for a good 10 minutes wondering if this was a figment of my imagination. Had I dreamt up this place?
I didn't know what to do, whether it was real, or whether someone lived there so I stood in front of it just taking the whole location in. In front of it was a majestic fig tree and there was a cemetery just yonder. I couldn't stop thinking about it and then I searched for the contact details of the church on whose land it sat and emailed them. And while they had never hosted an event, they were happy to have our crazy little Halloween party and I met the lovely tenants who were absolutely delightful. See, sometimes the spirits really do help!
Now that the spirits had helped me I decided that making them a cake to say thanks was in order (spirits eat cake right?). Making the cake was relatively easy-the only thing that really proved difficult was Sydney's recent relentless wet weather. The rain in the air is not great for fondant or gum paste. But I was pretty happy with how it turned out. This is a great cake if you want it to last at room temperature and bake it 3-4 days ahead of time it's that moist and forgiving and it gives you an extra hand in the kitchen so to speak. Just like the spirits who helped me out!
So tell me Dear Reader, what percentage of you operates of logical vs intuition? Do you have a spirit/s that helps you out?
Ouija Board Cake
An Original Recipe by Lorraine Elliott
Preparation time: 30 minutes
Cooking time: 30 minutes
Decorating time: 2 hours plus drying time
Feeds: 20 people
- 5 cups cake flour
- 5 cups brown sugar
- 1 1/3 cup cocoa powder
- 5 teaspoons bicarb of soda
- 2 teaspoons fine salt
- 2x350ml/12.4flozs. tins root beer or cola
- 3/4 cup water
- 1 2/3 cups oil (a flavourless one like rice bran or grapeseed)
- 10 tablespoons vinegar (I used red wine vinegar)
- 3 tablespoons vanilla extract
- 350g/12.4ozs. dark chocolate chips, roughly chopped
- 300g/10.6ozs. butter, softened
- 9 cups icing or powdered sugar, sifted
- 1 cup cocoa powder
- 2 teaspoons vanilla
- Water if needed
- An edible transfer A3 size of a ouija board (if you don't have time to wait for postage, you can always pipe this in royal icing or draw it on fondant with edible paint)
- Royal icing in black
- 600g/21.2ozs. black fondant (I used white but black is easier)
- cornflour/fine cornstarch
- Edible gold lustre dust mixed with a teaspoon of vodka
- 1 enormous shortbread cookie
- 50g/1.7ozs. yellow/brown gum paste
- White edible paint
- Small quantity black gum paste
- 4 x 200mm gauge wires
The cakes are best made a day ahead so they firm up and are less delicate.
I used black cocoa, hence why it was so dark
Step 1 - Grease and line two 45x30cms tins on the base and sides. Preheat oven to 180C/350F and have two racks in the oven ready for the cakes. In a very large bowl, whisk the cake flour, sugar, cocoa powder, bicarb and salt until well combined. In a jug whisk the water, oil, vinegar and vanilla. Make a well in the flour and add in the root beer and oil mixture and mix until just combined. Add in the choc chips and divide among the two tins (making sure that the choc chips don't all end up in one cake). This is a very liquid mixture. Bake for 35 minutes or until the centre bounces back when pressed gently. Cool completely, preferably overnight.
Step 2 - Make the letters as they will need to dry completely. Knead the gum paste and cut out the letters using the letter cutters. While it is still soft, gently insert the wires into the letters and allow to set overnight. Gum paste does set quickly but it was very damp with rain when I did this and they took a couple of days to set completely (sooo frustrating!). I had some issues with the M from M setting so I just made the message "HELP". Tip: make two sets if you have time in case one doesn't set properly.
Step 3 - Make the buttercream. Beat the butter until pale and fluffy and then on low speed add the cocoa, icing sugar and vanilla and beat until combined. Increase speed and beat until fluffy.
Step 4 - When cakes are cooled, carefully run a knife around the edge to release them. I find it helps enormously to put the cakes in the freezer and that way they won't fall apart. Remove the parchment. Place one cake layer back in the tin or on a cake board and pipe the buttercream on top and then sandwich with the other cake layer.
Step 5 - Sprinkle cornflour over a large clean surface and roll out the fondant to fit the top of the cake. Gently lay it on top of the cake and trim off any excess. This is the best surface for the edible transfer (buttercream is too wet). Take the transfer sheet by diagonal corners and gently run it against the edge of the table. The corner should come off and then you can carefully place it on top of the fondant. Once you have placed it correctly you can brush a little water on the fondant to adhere it into place. Smooth out any air bubbles.
Step 6 - Take the royal icing and place in a small parchment bag. Pipe swirls and patterns around the edge of the cake. Allow to set completely. Then take the gold paint and carefully paint over the swirls in gold.
Step 7 - Make the planchette. I took an enormous shortbread cookie and trimmed it to the shape with a paring knife. I then covered it with tinted gum paste and then drew a pattern over it. You can do this with a graham cracker too.