Creepy Cake


I’ve been growing pumpkins since 2004. I’ve grown them on acreage and in smaller backyards of suburbia. I think the thing about pumpkins that is most appealing to me is they are prolific and their seed (when properly stored) lasts for years. Why it was just last year, in the growing season of 2010, that I was harvesting heirloom varieties from the seeds of the fruit grown from that first year. Okay, the other attractive quality, and likely the most obvious, is the glorious shade of orange brought on by the orbs of autumn.

This post is published from archives as it originally appeared on October 17, 2011, making it an ideal time to revisit the recipe again. Enjoy! —Brooks


Atlantic Giant Growth


My children have been watching “It’s The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown” on DVD for a couple of weeks now. I always get a warm fuzzy feeling when I hear the music and dialogue from the Peanuts gang in this annual holiday classic. It transports me to 1966 when I watched the premiere in prime time, on a black & white TV with rabbit ears. TV was magical then. And it is now, but 1960s TV was so…atomic. How could you not admire Linus and his devotion to the Great Pumpkin?


 Orange Cream Cheese Buttercream Frosting


This year I dove into the science and philosophy of growing giant pumpkins. I’ve tried to grow them in years past, but I was never methodic about it. One seed variety, in particular, is said to produce fruits upwards of 1,500 pounds! Now what in tarnation would a suburban dweller do with a giant 1500 pound pumpkin? The baker in me answers that in a jiff—pumpkin pie for the entire town.


 Single Creepy Cake


The seed variety is Dill’s Atlantic Giant. I had some seed stock from a few years back, but because my growing method was carefree, I suspect the seed strain became a hybrid after cross-pollinating with a turban squash growing nearby. The tell-tale signs were apparent the next year…my basketball-sized pumpkins took on a bumpy, wart-like appearance with faint colored variegation along the rib lines. I love turban squash. They are beautiful with their colorful rainbow striations and unusual shape. But I was after rounded, ribbed globes of orange. So last spring I bought a new seed pack of Dill’s for 2011 from the local big box home improvement center.


Two Creepy Cakes


My research revealed many schools of thought on how to attain enormous giants from the fruit of a pumpkin vine. One suggested that size could be achieved from any pumpkin variety as long as the basic techniques were in place. Interestingly, the techniques from almost every source followed the same practice. But the common thread through most of the data showed that the best results came from seed with a proven track record.



I followed many of the techniques in this video from germinating indoors, mound planting outdoors, hand pollination, watering/feeding, pruning and shading. And as a backyard pumpkin patch goes, a mere 10’x3’ plot, I’d say I did pretty well!

Our 2011 pumpkin came in at 87 pounds—27 pounds more than my 6-year-old weighs! It’s by far the largest I’ve grown to date. It was so much fun to look outside my bedroom window every morning to see the progress. I’d say to my wife, “It looks like it grew overnight!” I think the kids got a giggle out of seeing it balloon too.


Atlantic Giant 2011

Atlantic Giant pumpkin along with assorted squash and pumpkins from our 2011 garden.


While this year’s effort may not feed pumpkin pie to the entire town, it sure will make a hefty jack-o-lantern when she’s carved up the weekend after next. Her eerie glow will cast that creep factor upon the walkway, lighting the path for little ghosts and goblins who dare to knock at the door for tricks and treats. I close the chapter on this growing season feeling accomplished and inspired. Will it be next year? Maybe next year will be THE year for a gargantuan orb of autumn.

Creepy Cakes by Cakewalker

I had an occasion to donate a cake this weekend to benefit Hands4Hope, a youth driven, outreach organization based in El Dorado Hills, CA. They held their annual Premiere Dinner Party & Costume Ball to raise funds for the organization as part of their popular Haunted House at Town Center. Dinner was included with entry into the gala, but dessert was on the guests. The largest Creepy Cake depicted in the photo (left) was my donation for the Dessert Auction, whereby tables of 10 diners bid on the dessert of their choice. I’m thrilled to report this cake ended up in a bidding war between two tables with the closing bid taking the cake at $500.00! How sweet is that?


Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 35 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour, 25 minutes

Yield: Makes one 9-inch double layer cake, for approximately 12 slices.

Serving Size: One slice


When pumpkin is added to this chocolate cake recipe, it lends an earthy depth making these seasonal Creepy Cakes extra festive. A ghoulishly delightful pinch of cinnamon enlivens the flavor - it's enough to awaken the dead!


  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup cake flour
  • 2/3 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1 1/3 cup buttermilk
  • Frosting:
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 4 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 4 cups sifted powdered sugar (approximately 1 pound)
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • pinch of salt
  • orange gel food coloring
  • Chocolate Ganache:
  • 1 cup good quality chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1/8 teaspoon cinnamon, slightly rounded


  • Preheat the oven to 375˚F. Grease two 9x2 cake pans, line with parchment paper, grease the paper and flour the pans; set aside. In a large bowl, sift together the flours, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt; set aside.
  • In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle, cream the butter and sugars until light and fluffy, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the vanilla and mix well. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Scrape the bowl. Add the pumpkin and mix well. The mixture might take on a curdled appearance—this is okay. On slow speed, alternately add the flour mixture and buttermilk in thirds, beginning and ending with the flour. Scrape the bowl and gently stir by hand. Pour batter evenly into prepared pans, smooth the tops. Bake for about 35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool in the pans for 10 to 12 minutes; turn cakes out onto wire racks to cool completely.
  • Meanwhile, make the frosting. Cream together the butter and cream cheese in a mixing bowl on medium-high speed. Mix in the vanilla. Stop mixing and add half the powdered sugar, salt and milk. Begin mixing on slow speed, initially, until incorporated. Add the remaining powdered sugar mixing slowly until incorporated, then increase speed to medium mixing until smooth and creamy. Reserve a small amount (about 1/4 cup) of the white frosting; set aside. To the remaining frosting, add the orange food color mixing in a little at a time until a desired shade is achieved.
  • Place one cake layer on a serving plate; frost the top. Place the second layer centered on top of the first. Frost the top and sides with a thin "crumb coat" coat to seal in any crumbs. Refrigerate the cake for a few minutes to firm the frosting. Frost the sides of the cake again in a finish coat, remembering to reserve some orange frosting for a piped border. Return the cake to the refrigerator to set, about 30 minutes.
  • Make the ganache. Place the chocolate chips and cinnamon in a small heatproof mixing bowl; set aside. In a heavy-bottomed sauce pan bring the cream to a slow boil over medium heat. Pour the hot cream over the chocolate and let sit for about 3 minutes. Using a whisk, gently stir until smooth. Allow the ganache to cool a bit and thicken slightly, 3 to 5 minutes. The desired pouring temperature should be slightly more than lukewarm.
  • Return the cake to the work area. Have an offset spatula or table knife ready. Pour the ganache onto the center of the cake and working quickly with the spatula, smooth the chocolate out to the edges allowing the ganache to cascade and finger down the sides. Let the ganache cool and set before piping the decorations.
  • When the ganache has set, use an icing bag to pipe a white frosting spider web design on top of the cake. In a separate decorating bag filled with the remaining orange frosting, pipe a border around the base of the cake. Decorate with plastic spiders, if desired. Serve within two hours or refrigerate.


To make all three cakes, the recipes for the cake and frosting were doubled. The additional pan dimensions used were 6x2 and 3x2.


  1. I think that giant pumpkin is awesome and will be spectacular when carved, but you’re going to need a bonfire inside it, no? 🙂

    I also adore this cake. I’ve got to try my hand at making one for Dudette. She’d love it.

    • Brooks Walker says

      Thank you Christiane, the pumpkin will require a good light source for that eerie glow. BTW, the recipe transfers well into cupcakes. If you try your hand, I’d love to hear what Dudette thinks.

  2. Brooks, I looked forward to the Peanuts Halloween special every year. Yes, I watched it in black & white too. I’m so glad it’s an annual tradition for each generation. Your home-grown pumpkin is spectacular, not to mention these cute cakes. Have a Happy Halloween!

  3. What a fun cake!! I love Halloween treats! They are just too fun 🙂

  4. Estera says

    Can’t wait to make it!

  5. Wow! That cake is really cool. A bit beyond my cake decorating skills but very impressive!

    • Brooks Walker says

      Do give it a try Christin, the decorating comes easier than you think. I appreciate your company.

  6. Brooks,
    I love the Snoopy Classics, too, and they have stood the test of time. Your Creepy cake is gorgeous, and I’m sure it won’t scare away your little ghosts and goblins!

    • Brooks Walker says

      This cake won’t repel the children a single bit, rather, it’s a ghost and goblin magnet! I’ll bet your festive cupcakes have the same effect.

  7. The pumpkins are fabulous and you reminded me of our great attempt at growing pumpkins in the back yard of our house outside Paris. We got one enormous pumpkin and one mini pumpkin and were thrilled! I must have made pies with the flesh. I love your Creepy Cakes (and yay for the success at the Hands4Hope event!). I love the idea of a pumpkin-chocolate cake and am bookmarking this recipe for when I next crave a pumpkin dessert (the season is just starting here. Fun!

    • Brooks Walker says

      This season is a favorite time of year in our house, Jamie. I hope you enjoy the recipe and thanks for stopping by—it’s great to have you here.

  8. Whoa! $500?! That’s amazing! I love your creepy cake, Brooks! And 87 pounds is a pretty impressive pumpkin!

  9. Marjorie Leatherwood says

    Thanks for sharing this with everyone, our children watched The Great Pumpkin, too. We had just moved back to Long Beach, CA. that fall & we watched it on black & white t.v. Too. We didn’t have a good growing season for just about everything because of too much rain. Other parts of our county did better. We usually had to buy pumpkins. I did the baking at our local Hosp. & retired in 2001. Don & I just celebrated our 56th wedding anniversary on the 19th of Oct. I will have to try your cake for our VFW meeting. Hope I am not boring w/ this. Marjorie

    • Brooks Walker says

      Not at all, Marjorie. The Peanuts gang has a tangible way of keeping us connected to the children we once were. Thank you for sharing your memories and congratulations to you and Don for your 56th wedding anniversary!

  10. Wow! Nothing creepy about that cake. And what could be sweeter than a $500 donation to the charity. Brooks, a job well done.

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