What’s more fun than dressing up for Halloween, getting the table set up for a little spooky fun! This year, witches cats and bats with a good dose of pumpkins bring their magic to the table.
A good place to begin is with the color theme, once you have a fair idea of the colors you’d like to play with, start to consider what kind of Halloween themes you’d like to use; ghouls, bats, cats, witches, skulls, there is so much to choose from! For your tableware, use a mix of patterned and plain dishes to serve food, it keeps the conversation interesting and adds a visual pop of appeal through color.
Add one or two surprise items to the menu at the table like this masala chai pumpkin cake that’s decorated with a couple of witch’s cats for added effect. This pumpkin cake is seasoned with black tea leaves and has an added dose of crunchy pumpkin seeds and tiny bits of crystallized ginger along with a spiced maple buttercream frosting. While Darjeeling black tea leaves are the best choice in this cake you can also try other dark varieties like Assam or even an English Breakfast tea blend. Maple and pumpkin with a little tea and spices makes this cake an exciting addition to the table.
An easy and creative way to give the cake a little bit of an extra edge is to get out your Halloween cookie cutters and some fondant. Roll the fondant out and then cut out cats (or witches brooms or whatever you want) using a cookie cutter. Stick these around the side of the frosted cake to create a border of cats.
Masala Chai Pumpkin Cake
Makes 12-14 Servings
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
2 tbsp ground ginger
2 tsp ground black tea leaves (like Darjeeling)
2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp fine sea salt
1 cup pumpkin seeds
½ cup chopped crystallized ginger
5 large eggs
1 cup sugar
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 15oz can pumpkin puree
1 ¼ cups olive oil
For the spiced maple buttercream frosting:
- 2 cups unsalted butter, softened at room temperature
4 cups confectioner’s sugar
¾ cup maple syrup
1 tsp ground cardamom
1 tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp ground nutmeg
For the fondant cats:
- 1 to 1 ½ cups black fondant
witch cat cookie cutter (or other shape)
Preheat the oven to 350F. Line two circular 8-inch x 3-inch pans with parchment paper and grease with a little butter.
Dry whisk the flour, ginger, ground tea, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Then sift this mixture, three times and keep aside. Reserve two tablespoons of the flour and add it to a medium bowl with the pumpkin seeds and ginger and toss to coat evenly, keep aside until ready to use.
Add the eggs to the bowl of a stand mixer and whisk on medium-high for about 2 minutes. Then slowly add the sugars and continue to whisk for about 4 minutes until the mixture is thick. Then reduce the speed to low and whisk in the pumpkin puree in two installments until combined, about 40 seconds. Add the oil slowly in a steady stream and continue to whisk on low speed for 1 minute.
Add the sifted dry ingredients in two installments and whisk until there are no visible flecks of flour. Remove the bowl from the mixer and fold in the pumpkin seeds and ginger. Divide the batter (about 6 cups in total) between the two cake pans and bake for about 30 to 45 minutes, rotating them halfway through baking. The cakes will be firm to touch in the center and a skewer will come out clean when inserted in the middle. Remove the cakes from the oven and allow to cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Then release the cake by running a knife along the edges and transfer the cakes to a wire rack to cool completely. Wrap the cakes with plastic wrap and freeze in airtight Ziploc bags until ready to use.
For the frosting:
Place all the ingredients in a the bowl of a stand mixer and whisk for about 4 to 5 minutes on medium-low speed until smooth and completely combined. You can prepare this a day in advance and store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator before using, just remember to let it soften for about 30 minutes at room temperature on the kitchen counter before applying it to the cake.
Assembling the cake:
Unwrap the cooled cakes. Trim the tops off the cakes and level them using a sharp serrated knife. Place one cake on a cake stand and then using an offset spatula, spread about 1 to 1/2 cups of frosting on top to form a layer of even height. Place the second cake on top. Apply a thin coat of the frosting all over the cake, to form a crumb coat and refrigerate for about 30 minutes. Coat the cake with the remaining buttercream frosting using the offset spatula.
For the fondant cats:
Knead the fondant to make it pliable and then roll it out on a clean and smooth surface to about 1/8 or 1/16-inch thickness. Using the cat cookie cutter, cut out as many cats as you will need to line the sides of the cake to form a single border. Carefully place them on the side of the cake to form a border (it will stick easily to the buttercream). Refrigerate the cake for at least 30 minutes before serving. This cake can be stored for up to 1 week in the refrigerator in an airtight container.