Halloween is a perfect time to make a cake. Gatherings and parties scream “cake!” The usual Halloween cakes include toppings such as plastic spiders, graveyard settings and chocolate eyeballs. For something new this Halloween, try a “Nightmare Before Christmas” cake!
Jack is one of the popular main characters from the animated feature. Tim Burton’s full-length movie brought deceased, kind-hearted characters to life with the moviemaker’s usual humor and a great sense of what makes an animated movie an instant classic. Children and adults found the movie to be creative, fun and instantly fell in love with the characters.
Now you can bring one of the favorite characters, Jack, to your table this Halloween on a three-tiered cake that is easy enough to make and will give your Halloween party guests a nice dessert to snack on and a character most will recognize.
Items You Need:
To make a Nightmare Before Christmas cake, you will need four cake mixes of any flavor. The best cake to use when creating a three-tier cake is a pound cake. Pound cake ensures the cake remains steady enough to withstand the weight of all the tiers. Some bakers make pound cake from scratch but incorporate their favorite flavors to the recipe. If you have a favorite pound cake recipe, you can use it or you can purchase pound cake mixes from the supermarket.
Regular cake mixes will work too, however, they hold a bit more moisture than the pound cake recipes. The cake I made is from three different cake mixes. One tier was vanilla, one was checkered and the final tier was cherry chip. The cake held together as well as can be expected with store-bought cake mixes. What crumbled was repaired with a bit of frosting, fondant and a lot of patience!
To make the cake, you will also need three varying sizes of cake pans. I chose the 6-inch, the 8-inchand the 10-inch pans from Wilton. Wilton cake pans hold up for years with a non-stick ability that is unsurpassed by any other pans.
Black candles are in order for a Nightmare Before Christmas cake. I located some tombstones in the cake-decorating aisle of the local store, along with some plastic spiders. There is a strand of tiny white battery operated lights on the cake, specifically designed for cake decorating, along the bottom of the second tier. I found these in the cake decorating supply aisle in a craft store. The lights seemed to add a bit of ambiance to the cake, since the home it was in was kept darker to keep with the Halloween theme.
Fondant can be homemade, which is what was used on the cake. Fondant is a simple material to make and is used for many designs on cakes, cookies and baked goods. Once it is made, you can roll it out to sculpt it into various cake decorating items. The fondant on the Nightmare Before Christmas cake shown here was used for the circles and the bats.
You will need the regular ingredients to make the cakes according to directions on the back of the box. One cake mix will make two of the 6-inch cakes. One mix will also make two of the 8-inch cakes. You will need two cake mixes, one each for two tiers of the 10-inch pans.
Frost and Place Tiers
Once all of the cakes are finished baking, flip each individual cake out on to a platter or plate. Flip the cake back onto another plate or platter, flat side down. Allow the cake to cool. Using a large, sharp knife, slice the uneven top from each cake.
As with a regular cake, dab frosting on the top of one cake from each size tier. Place the second cake on top (cut side down) of the first frosted tier to create a solid, two-layer cake for each size. “Dirty frost” each tier by coating the cakes with a thin layer of frosting. If you are using fondant, this will help seal the cake and glue the fondant onto the tier. When frosting the entire cake (as I did in the photo) the “dirty frosting” will help seal the cake crumbs that are loose so they will not come off when adding the final layer of frosting. When using the fondant, dirty frost the cake right before you are ready to place the fondant on the cakes. The fondant will harden up immediately and you want the frosting to be fresh enough to ensure it will “glue” the fondant to the cake.
For the cake here, I used white frosting on the top, black frosting on the middle layer and white frosting on the bottom. This helped with the flavoring of the cake by using as little of the black as I could while still keeping with the theme.
Stack the tiers on to each other. Make sure you place them as evenly as possible. These cakes should not have any need for dowels inserted into the cakes or the layering procedure using tier holders. I laid all three tiers on top of each other without any need for dowels or tier holder placement.
Decorate the Cake
Once the cakes are placed neatly, you are ready to decorate. The frosting or fondant makes the perfect canvas to let you imagination run wild! I cut out circles in various sizes, hearts and bats from the fondant. They were opposite colors. Some were made from white fondant and some in black but all were varying sizes. After laying out a few white hearts, I designed the smaller hearts to fit in the larger heart of the opposite color.
I added a string of white “pearls” along the bottom tier. This eliminated the need for any shells or piping of any type to be done on the bottom. I did put piped shells along the middle tier bottom and white dots on the top tier bottom. Mix and match decorations however you see fit. The lights on this cake were strung along the bottom of the middle tier, outside of the dots.
Add large spiders, bats, tombstones and candy skulls if you can find them. Spiders in webs look nice, when mixed in with the hearts and other designs. Draw a picture of Jack or a favorite character on the top of the tiers. It’s simple to do!