Day of the Dead Cake, a delicious vanilla sponge cake in the shape of a skull topped with vanilla cream cheese buttercream frosting and decorated with vibrant icing, a great treat for Dia de Los Muertos celebrations. It’s a quick and easy recipe that never fails to impress, and when it comes to decorating the cake, the sky is the limit in terms of designs, as it enables you to unleash your creative side.
Unlike Halloween, which is centred around spooky decorations, dressing up, carving pumpkins and trick or treating, Dia de los Muertos is all about gathering all the family together to honour and remember the loved ones who passed away. Colourful skulls and skeletons are the main attraction, rather than pumpkins and spookiness.
So my skull cake is a celebration of the Day of the Dead, and it’s an excellent dessert to share with the family. Based on my Victoria Sandwich Cake recipe, this delicious sponge cake ticks all the boxes when it comes to taste and texture. The vanilla sponge is beautifully moist and buttery, while the buttercream is smooth and silky.
You can make extra buttercream and divide it into several bowls and use food colouring to create different buttercreams for decorating, but l find the shop-bought writing icing to be quite effective. If you can ease for work, why not?!
I used a skull-shaped cake tin, which helped massively, but otherwise you can perhaps use a large round cake tin and cut it in the shape you want, all you’d need it a sharp knife to get the job done.
Ingredients used to make the skull sponge
- flour - l used self-raising flour for a lighter texture
- baking powder - it helps the sponge rise nicely
- butter - l went for salted butter, l actually prefer it in my baking
- eggs - at room temperature
- vanilla extract - you can always go for a different flavour too
- sugar - either caster or granulated sugar
Step-by-step photos and instructions
- In a large mixing bowl, add the sugar and butter and use a hand mixer to beat them well until you get a creamy texture and a pale yellow colour
- Add the eggs one by one beating well after each addition
- sift in the flour, add the baking powder and vanilla extract, and mix to get a smooth batter
- Grease and flour a large skull cake tin and spread the batter well
- Bake in the preheated oven at 180 degrees Celsius (350 Fahrenheit) for 25 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean
- Remove from the oven and allow it to cool down completely
Ingredients used to make the vanilla cream cheese buttercream
- butter - soft, but not melted
- icing sugar - or confectioners' sugar
- cream cheese - full-fat is the best, as the lighter versions are too watery and could spoil the frosting
- milk - again, I recommend full-fat one
- vanilla extract
- writing icing - for decorating the cake
Step-by-step photos and instructions to make the frosting
- add all the ingredients to a food processor or a blender - apart from the writing icing
- blitz until smooth
- alternatively, you can add the ingredients to a large mixing bowl and use a hand mixer to do the job
It is crucial to allow the sponge to cool down completely before decorating it with icing, as otherwise you will end up with a big mess - the frosting will be way too runny.
As for decorating, it is entirely up to you what you use - writing icing, edible sugar decorations, sprinkles, you name it.
If you do not have a skull-shaped tin, you can bake the sponge in a regular cake tin and use a sharp knife to shape it into a skull.
If you’ve liked this recipe or any other recipe on the blog then don’t forget to rate the recipe and let me know how you got on in the comments below, I love hearing from you! You can also FOLLOW ME on FACEBOOK, INSTAGRAM , YOUTUBE, TIK TOK and PINTEREST to see more delicious food and what I’m getting up to.
Day of the Dead Cake
For the sponge
- 250 g self-raising flour ( 2 cups)
- 200 g granulated sugar ( 1 cup)
- 225 g butter, soft (1 cup)
- 4 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
For the frosting
- 75 g butter, soft ( ⅓ cup)
- 150 g icing sugar (1 cup)
- 1 tablespoon milk
- 60 g cream cheese (½ cup)
- writing icing to decorate
- To make the sponge, add the butter and sugar to a large mixing bowl, and use a hand mixer to cream them together.
- Add the eggs one by one mixing well after every addition.
- Sift in the flour, add the baking powder and vanilla extract, and mix again to get a smooth batter.
- Grease and flour a skull-shaped cake tin, and spread the batter evenly.
- Bake in the preheated oven at 180 degrees Celsius (350 Fahrenheit) for 25 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean.
- Once the sponge is ready, allow it to cool down completely before removing it from the tin.
- To make the frosting, add all the ingredients - except the writing icing - to a blender and blitz until smooth.
- Remove the sponge from the tin, cover it with the vanilla frosting, and decorate with the writing icing.
- It is crucial to allow the sponge to cool down completely before decorating it with icing, as otherwise you will end up with a big mess - the frosting will be way too runny.
- As for decorating, it is entirely up to you what you use - writing icing, edible sugar decorations, sprinkles, you name it.
- If you do not have a skull-shaped tin, you can bake the sponge in a regular cake tin and use a sharp knife to shape it into a skull.