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Spider Cake

I’m still going strong with my animal cake series and decided to make this spooky (but mostly cute) spider cake this week!

To make this adorable spider cake, I used a chocolate cake base and dark chocolate buttercream. Using a chocolate base allows you to use a lot less food coloring to create dark cake layers and frosting.

image of a cute halloween spider cake made with chocolate cake layers and chocolate buttercream frosting

Making this Spider Cake: Step-by-Step Tutorial

Let’s walk through each step of this spider cake together to make sure it turns out as amazing as possible!

Step 1: Bake the Chocolate Cake

Grease two, six-inch domed cake pans with non-stick spray or homemade cake release. Grease two heating cores and place in the center of the pans to help it bake more evenly and quickly.

Place the pans on a baking sheet to help you easily move them in and out of the oven and set aside. If you want to use 8-inch domed cake pans, double this recipe and double the frosting recipe.

Divide the batter evenly between the prepared cake pans, making sure you fill the pans no more than 2/3 full (mine were about 1/2 full). They will rise and can overflow if your pans are too full.

image of chocolate cake batter in domed cake pans ready to be baked

Bake for about 35-40 minutes or until a toothpick comes out with a few moist crumbs. Bake time can vary quite a bit based on your oven and if you use a heating core, so keep an eye on the cake once it’s been in the oven for 35 minutes.

Remove the cake layers from the oven and let them cool in the pans for about 10 minutes, then flip them into wire racks to finish cooling.

Once fully cooled, remove the heating cores and use a serrated knife to level the top of each cake layer. Trim off about an inch from the domed side of one of the cake layers.

image of a heating core being removed from a domed cake layer

This will make it easier to stack the cake layers on your cake board. If make these in advance, wrap and freeze them at this point. If you’re making these in advance, wrap and freeze them at this point.

Step 2: Make the Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

While the cake layers bake and cool, make the chocolate buttercream frosting with either an electric hand mixer or a stand mixer.

If your frosting seems too thick after mixing together all your ingredients, add in additional cream (1 teaspoon at a time). Or if the frosting is too thin, add in more powdered sugar (quarter of a cup at a time).

image of black cocoa buttercream frosting

If you’re unsure how thick your frosting should be, you can learn what consistency you’re looking for in my frosting consistency post.

I highly recommend using black gel or powdered food coloring instead of liquid food coloring! It helps you get a deeper color without throwing off the consistency of the buttercream.

If your buttercream doesn’t look as dark as you want, check out my black buttercream tutorial for some helpful tips!

Step 3: Prep the Spider Legs and Stack and Frost the Cake Layers

Start by folding each of the bubble tea straws about 1/2 of the way down the straw and place in a large/ thick book to help them keep their shape.

They need a bit of time (20-30 minutes) to allow them to stay bent once they’re removed from the book.

image of a bubble tea straw being bent to make the legs of a spider cake

Stack and frost the cake layers on a greaseproof cake board. Use the cake layer with the trimmed dome first, sticking it in place with a dab of chocolate buttercream.

Carefully spread an even layer of chocolate buttercream on top of the cake layer with an offset spatula. Stack the next cake layer on top, then freeze the cake for about 10 minutes in the freezer. This will help the buttercream between the cake layers firm up and make the cake easier to frost.

image of black chocolate buttercream being smoothed on a spherical cake

Cover the cake with an even layer of chocolate buttercream and smooth using an acetate sheet or small offset spatula.

Step 4: Add the Spider’s Face & Fuzz

Use the white and black buttercream to pipe two eyes onto the side of the cake.

image of eyes being piped onto a cake to make a cute halloween spider cake

Place the rest of the black buttercream in a large piping bag fit with a large grass piping tip. Cover the cake with black buttercream to make our spider look fuzzy.

image of black buttercream being piped onto a spider cake to make it look cute and furry

Step 5: Give this Spider It’s Legs

Press 4 bubble tea straws on each side of the cake to look like legs, using tiny strips of clear tape to anchor the base of the straws to the edge of the cake board. Then enjoy!

image of a cute and easy spider cake made for halloween

Substitutions and Swaps – Chocolate Cake Layers

This halloween spider cake uses quite a few ingredients and I know you might not have all of them on hand. Or if you have food allergies or restrictions, I’ve got you covered.

Below are some swaps and substitutions that can be made in this cake recipe.

  • All Purpose Flour – This recipe turns out best with all purpose flour. However, you can swap in a good gluten free flour blend (like this) if needed. Just be sure to stir the batter longer than normal to help give the cake proper structure, and let the batter sit for about 20 minutes before baking it if you opt to make a gluten free version.
  • Granulated Sugar – I do not recommend reducing the amount of sugar or changing the type of sugar, as it will change the texture of the cake layers.
  • Dark Baking Cocoa – I like to use the Hershey’s brand of dark baking cocoa, but you can also use black cocoa. If you can’t find dark cocoa powder or don’t have any on hand, you can use regular unsweetened baking cocoa in its place.
  • Buttermilk – You can also use full fat yogurt, sour cream, whole milk, or an alternative yogurt or milk (almond, soy, oat).
  • Vegetable Oil – Any flavorless oil can be used in this recipe. Canola, vegetable, or even sunflower oil would all work great. I don’t recommend olive oil though, as it has a strong flavor and will change the taste of the cake.
  • Eggs – This recipe uses 1 large egg. If you have an egg allergy you can try using a vegan egg replacer.
image of moist chocolate cake batter being mixer together

Substitutions and Swaps – Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

  • Unsalted Butter – If you only have salted butter on hand you can use it in place of the unsalted butter. Just be sure to omit the salt that this frosting recipe calls for. You can also use vegan butter in its place (and omit the salt)!
  • Heavy Cream – Whole milk or alternative milk (soy, almond, oat) will work fine in this frosting recipe if that’s what you have on hand.
  • Dark Chocolate – You can use dark chocolate chips, baking chocolate, or good-quality chocolate bars to melt and add into the frosting. In addition, you can also use milk or semi-sweet chocolate if you have a strong preference.
  • Dark Cocoa Powder – If you can’t find dark cocoa powder or don’t have any on hand, you can use regular unsweetened baking cocoa or add additional powdered sugar in its place.
  • Gel food coloring – Natural food coloring (like black carrot powder) or liquid food coloring can be used if needed.
image of a cute and easy spider cake made with buttercream and straw legs

Tips for Making the Best Spider Cake:

  • Be sure to properly measure your flour (spoon into the cup measure, then level) or use a kitchen scale to measure your dry ingredients.
  • Use gel food coloring to create brightly colored frosting without throwing off the consistency of the frosting or giving it a bitter taste.
  • Ingredients at room temp mix together better, so be sure you set out any cold ingredients ahead of time.
  • Mix your cake batter just until the ingredients are incorporated. This will ensure your cake layers are tender and soft.
  • Chill your cake layers in the freezer for about 20 minutes before assembling the cake. This makes it easier to stack and frost.
  • Make this spider cake vegan or dairy free if needed! Use your favorite type of dairy free milk to replace the buttermilk and heavy cream, and use vegan butter sticks in place of the butter. For the eggs I recommend using an egg replacer like this.
image of a bite of chocolate cake on a fork that was cut from a slice on a plate

Making this Spider Cake in Advance & Storage Tips:

  • Make your cake layers in advance and freeze them. It breaks the process up and make it more approachable.
  • Make your frosting ahead of time too or save any leftover frosting. It can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a month. Or store it in the freezer for up to 3 months! Be sure to give it a good stir once it thaws to get the consistency smooth again.
  • A frosted cake can last in the fridge for up to a week. The buttercream locks in all the moisture, keeping the cake fresh and delicious.
  • If you cut into the cake and have leftovers, use any remaining frosting to cover the cut section to keep it moist. It can be stored in the fridge like this for up to a week.

Let Me Know What You Think!

If you try this spider cake recipe, I’d love to hear what think of it! Let me know by leaving a rating below.

If you plan to share on social media, you can tag me @chelsweets and use #chelsweets so that I can see your amazing creations on social media.

Other Recipes You Might Like:

Yield: 12

Spider Cake

image of a cute halloween spider cake made with chocolate cake layers and chocolate buttercream frosting

Learn how to make this adorable spider cake! My detailed recipe & step by step tutorial share everything you need to nail this design!

Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Additional Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 55 minutes

Ingredients

Moist Chocolate Cake Recipe

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour (130)
  • 1 cup granulated sugar (200g)
  • 1/3 cup sifted dark cocoa powder (30g)
  • 1 tsp baking powder (4g)
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda (5g)
  • 1/2 tsp salt (3g)
  • 1/2 cup hot water (120g)
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk, room temperature (120g)
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil (55g)
  • 1 large egg, room temperature (56g)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract (4g)

Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

  • 1 cup (or 2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature (226g)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract (4g)
  • 1/4 tsp fine table salt (2g)
  • 3 cups powdered sugar (375g)
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream, room temperature (120g)
  • 3/4 cups dark chocolate chips, melted and cooled (135g)
  • 1/2 cup sifted, dark baking cocoa (40g)
  • squirt of black gel food coloring

Recommended Tools

Instructions

Chocolate Cake Layers

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F / 175 C. Grease two, six-inch domed cake pans with non-stick spray or homemade cake release. Grease two heating cores and place in the center of the pans to help it bake more evenly and quickly. Place the pans on a baking sheet to help you easily move them in and out of the oven and set aside. If you want to use 8-inch domed cake pans, double this recipe and double the frosting recipe.
  2. Sift or whisk together the dry ingredients (flour, sugar, dark cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt) into a large bowl.
  3. Pour in the hot water, sour cream, oil, eggs, and vanilla into a separate bowl and whisk together until fully incorporated.
  4. Mix the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients just until they're incorporated into the batter.
  5. Divide the batter evenly between the prepared cake pans, making sure you fill the pans no more than 2/3 full. They will rise and can overflow if your pans are too full. Mine were about 1/2 way full. Bake for about 35-40 minutes or until a toothpick comes out with a few moist crumbs. Bake time can vary quite a bit based on your oven and if you use a heating core, so keep an eye on the cake once it's been in the oven for 35 minutes.
  6. Remove the cake layers from the oven and let them cool in the pans for about 10 minutes, then flip them into wire racks to finish cooling.
  7. Once cooled, use a serrated knife to level the top of each cake layer. Trim off about 1/2 an inch from the domed side of one of the cake layers. This will make it easier to stack the cake layers on your cake board. If make these in advance, wrap and freeze them at this point.

Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

  1. Beat the butter on a medium speed for 30 seconds with a paddle attachment until smooth. 
  2. Add in the vanilla extract and salt. Mix on low until the ingredients are fully incorporated.
  3. Slowly mix in the powdered sugar. Half way through, add in the heavy cream to make the frosting easier to mix. Place 1/4 cup of the white buttercream in a small piping bag fit with a round piping tip like Wilton 10 or cut a small opening in the bag that's about 1 cm wide. Set aside.
  4. Mix the melted dark chocolate, sifted dark cocoa, and black gel food coloring into the remaining frosting. Mix on a low speed until the ingredients are fully incorporated and the desired consistency is reached. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl as needed to make sure the buttercream is evenly colored.
  5. Place 2 Tbsp of black buttercream and cut a small 1/2 cm opening in the bag. Cover the rest of the frosting with plastic wrap to prevent crusting and set aside.

Assembling this Spider Cake

  1. Start by folding each of the bubble tea straws about 1/2 of the way down the straw and place in a large/ thick book to help them keep their shape. They need a bit of time (20-30 minutes) to allow them to stay bent once they're removed from the book.
  2. Stack and frost the cake layers on a greaseproof cake board. Use the cake layer with the trimmed dome first, sticking it in place with a dab of chocolate buttercream.
  3. Carefully spread an even layer of chocolate buttercream on top of the cake layer with an offset spatula.
  4. Stack the next cake layer on top, then freeze the cake for about 10 minutes in the freezer. This will help the buttercream between the cake layers firm up and make the cake easier to frost.
  5. Cover the cake with an even layer of chocolate buttercream and smooth using an acetate sheet or small offset spatula.
  6. Use the white and black buttercream to pipe two eyes onto the side of the cake.
  7. Place the rest of the black buttercream in a large piping bag fit with a large grass piping tip. Cover the cake with black buttercream to make our spider look fuzzy.
  8. Press 4 bubble tea straws on each side of the cake to look like legs, using tiny strips of clear tape to anchor the base of the straws to the edge of the cake board. Then enjoy!

Notes

My Tips for Making the Best Spider Cake

  • Ingredients at room temp mix together better! Be sure you set out any cold ingredients ahead of time.
  • Be sure to properly measure your cake flour (spoon into the cup measure, then level). Or better yet, use a kitchen scale to measure your dry ingredients.
  • Mix your cake batter just until the ingredients are incorporated. This will ensure your cake layers are tender and fluffy.
  • Use a scale to weigh your cake pans as you fill them. Make sure each pan has the same amount of batter will make your cake layers bake to the same heigh and bake more evenly.
  • Bang your cake pans on the counter before putting it in the oven. This brings any air bubbles that are trapped in the batter to the surface.
  • Level your room temperature or thawed cake layers with a serrated knife to make them easier to stack.
  • Chill your cake layers in the freezer for about 20 minutes before assembling the cake and before adding the simple syrup. It makes it so much easier to stack and frost them!

Making this Spider Cake in Advance & Storage Tips

  • Make your cake layers in advance and freeze them. It breaks the process up and make it more approachable.
  • Make your chocolate frosting ahead of time or save any leftover frosting! It can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a month.
  • This frosting can also be stored in the freezer for up to 3 months! Just be sure to give it a good stir once it thaws to make it nice and smooth again.
  • A frosted cake can last in the fridge for a week, or in the freezer for a month. The buttercream locks in the moisture and keeps the cake fresh and delicious!

Nutrition Information

Yield

12

Serving Size

1

Amount Per Serving Calories 461Total Fat 16gSaturated Fat 6gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 9gCholesterol 43mgSodium 351mgCarbohydrates 76gFiber 2gSugar 58gProtein 4g

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