27 Sep 2016

Blackberry and Orange Spider Cake by Jane Asher

Blackberry and Orange Spider Cake

It’s Halloween month of course, and a great excuse to do a cake featuring witches, skeletons and such like.


Last year I made lots of little pop cakes decorated like ghosts and eyeballs (click here for Halloween Cake Pops recipe) but this year I thought I’d make one full sized cake to be shared, and decided to top it with spiders (not that I’ve got anything against them – I’m the person in our household who’s always called for to rescue them from the bath).

I wanted to use the classic orange and black Halloween colours, and to echo them in my ingredients, but there aren’t many fruits or sweet ingredients that are naturally black. However at least a blackberry has the colour in its name, and it’s such an autumnal fruit that it’s perfect for including in a cake this time of year.

The cake itself is very moist and tasty, and delicious eaten without any icing or decoration as a pudding with some whipped cream or crème fraiche on the side, but of course I had to make it look spooky for Halloween. Just the one large spider looks good, but the extra blackberries do make cute little baby ones, and echo the fruit inside the cake.

I added a few cup cakes (made from my Victoria Sponge mix) piped in the black and orange frosting sprinkled with the black and orange shimmer: they’d make a good alternative and easy to eat on the move if you’re trick or treating.

Happy October, I’ll be back next month with something wintry and warming, as the days get chilly.

Love, Jane.


For the cake:

  • 225g softened or spreadable butter
  • 225g castor sugar
  • 4 medium eggs
  • Zest and juice of two blood oranges (optional but as I saw them in the supermarket they seemed to fit the horror theme!)
  • 250g plain flour
  • 2 level tsps (10g) baking powder
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 350g blackberries
  • 50g extra castor sugar for syrup

To decorate:

  • 1 tub orange frosting
  • 1 tub black frosting
  • 2 good handfuls cooked cake crumbs (I used two cup cakes)
  • 1 pot black sugar shimmer
  • 1 liquorice wheel
  • 2 white chocolate buttons


“The blackberries I used were so large that, in spite of rolling them in icing sugar, they all sank, but I think that’s quite tasty: a layer of sweet, cooked blackberry at the bottom of the cake.”

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 175°C (160°C fan assisted, 350°F, gas mark 4). Grease and line a 20cm (8”) loose bottomed or spring-form cake tin (or grease and line two sandwich tins). Put all the ingredients except the orange juice, blackberries and extra sugar into a mixing bowl and beat with a wooden spoon, rotary whisk or electric mixer until soft, fluffy and well combined. Keeping back a few blackberries to make baby spiders, fold the majority of the blackberries gently into the mix (if using my sandwich tins, divide the cake mix in half before folding the blackberries into one portion only).
  2. Put the cake mix into the tin(s). For one tin, bake for 60-70 minutes, or until the top is well-browned and a knife inserted in the centre comes out clean. For the two tins, bake and check after 35 minutes.
  3. Remove from the oven but leave in the tin(s). While the cake is cooling, dissolve the extra sugar in the orange juice over low heat, then turn up and boil for a few minutes until reduced slightly and a little thickened into a syrup.
  4. Make holes in the cake(s) with a wooden skewer and pour the syrup over, encouraging it to soak into the holes with the back of a wooden spoon. Allow to cool completely in the tin(s).
  5. Meanwhile, make the spider. Mix the cake crumbs in a bowl with about 2 dessert spoonfuls of black frosting and form into a ball. Roll in black shimmer sugar and chill to firm up – re-shaping as necessary.
  6. Turn the cake(s) carefully out of the tin and place on a cake board or plate. Warm the orange frosting slightly in the microwave if it is stiff, to make it easy to spread. If you’ve made two cakes, sandwich them together with a little black frosting. Spread orange frosting all over the cake with a palette knife, keeping back a tiny bit for baby spiders’ eyes. Place the large ball in the centre and make slits either side for the legs. Put a little black frosting into a disposable piping bag with small nozzle or cut end. Unwind the liquorice and cut into eight pieces. Slot them into the body, sticking with a little black icing if necessary, and press the other ends onto the top of the cake. Stick the white chocolate buttons onto the spider with a little black icing and add two tiny pupils with a little more (use a disposable piping bag). If desired, add baby spiders by placing blackberries onto the cake and piping on little legs. Add orange frosting eyes and black frosting pupils.
  7. For the cupcakes, I used my Victoria Sandwich mix and baked it in 12 paper cases for about 25 minutes. I piped black and orange frosting onto the tops and sprinkled with black and orange shimmer sugar.

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