Our favorite kind of kitchen techniques are the ones that are low-effort but extremely high-impact (read: impressively intricate without any actual hard work). And Halloween is the perfect time for one of our go-tos in this department: creating a spiderweb icing design on top of a cake. Here’s how we did it —no fancy cake-decorating techniques necessary!
Begin with a cake.
We like a chocolate-based cake the best, because its dark hue takes well to the colors of the spiderweb. You could use a from-scratch recipe like our top-rated recipe for Devil’s Food Layer Cake. Alternatively, you can shave off time by using a cake mix like our Devil’s Food Bundt Cake Mix, which we split into two 8-inch pans and baked at 350ºF for 35 minutes. Set your cake on a cooling rack (we’re obsessed with this 12-inch round one in copper).
Next, prepare your icing.
For greatest effect, you’ll want to have icing on hand that is white. We opted to make our own by combining 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar with 5 teaspoons of water. It came together easily, and we transferred it to a piping bag with a small seamless 2.5 round tip.
Then, make a chocolate glaze.
Using a double boiler or a microwave, make your own chocolate glaze from scratch by melting down chopped semisweet chocolate, then stirring in 1 cup heavy cream that’s been heated over a stove until it begins to bubble at the sides. Make this immediately before you decorate your cake; when it’s ready to be used, the glaze should be glossy.
Quickly pour the glaze over your cake.
Working as quickly as possible, pour the ganache glaze over your cake, using an offset spatula to spread it out evenly across the top and sides. Starting from the center, use your piping bag to pipe the royal icing in a spiral on top of the cake, leaving about an inch of space between concentric lines, until you’ve reached the edge of the cake.
Starting from the center and using light pressure, drag a sharp paring knife or a toothpick outward until it reaches the edge of the cake. Turn the the cake 90 degrees and repeat this action, turning 90 degrees twice more until you’ve dragged a line across each quarter of the cake. Now moving in the opposite direction, drag your knife or toothpick inward from the edge to the middle in the center of each “quarter” so that the cake looks like a web that’s been divided into 16 parts. Serve!