Preppy Kitchen’s John Kanell Demonstrates How to Make a Halloween-Themed Bat Cake

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It’s the flavors of fall with a Halloween twist — a rich pumpkin spice cake filled with spiced pumpkin buttercream gets topped with an ombré of Italian meringue buttercream in various shades of orange. The final touch: an assortment of candy bats. John Kanell of the Preppy Kitchen food blog shares the recipe and guides you step by step through the decorating process.

This segment aired on KTLA’s California Kitchen: Episode 6.

Bat Cake


For the Cake:
• 2 cups all-purpose flour (250g)
• 4 large eggs (room temp)
• 1 1/2 cups white sugar (320g)
• 1/4 cup vegetable oil (60ml)
• 1/4 cup sour cream (60ml)
• 1/2 cup coconut oil (120ml)
• 1 can pumpkin puree (15 ounces)
• 2 tsp baking powder
• 1 tsp kosher salt
• 1 tsp baking soda
• 2 tsp ground cinnamon
• 1/2 tsp ginger
• 1/2 tsp nutmeg
• 1/2 tsp allspice
• Pinch ground cloves
• 1 tsp vanilla extract

For the Buttercream:
• 1 cup butter unsalted (226g)
• 1/4 cup pureed pumpkin (60ml)
• 4 cups confectioners sugar (450g)
• 2 tsp vanilla extract
• 2 tsp cinnamon
• 1 tsp instant espresso
• 1/4 tsp nutmeg
• 1/4tsp allspice
• 1/4 tsp ground ginger

For the Italian Meringue Buttercream:
• 4 egg whites large
• 1 1/3 cups sugar (290g)
• Pinch kosher salt
• 16 ounces butter (450g), unsalted, room temperature
• 1 tsp vanilla extract
• 1/4 tsp cream of tartar
• 1/3 cup water (80ml)
• Orange and brown gel food coloring

For the Bats:
• 1 cup black candy melts melted

For the Cake:
1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
2. Butter and flour three 6- inch cake pans.
3. In a mixing bowl, beat the wet ingredients together.
4. In another bowl, sift the dry.
5. Add the wet and dry ingredients and whisk until combined.
6. Pour into the pans. Add damp baking strips.
7. Bake for approximately 35 minutes or until centers are firm and springy.

For the Pumpkin Spice Buttercream:
1. Cream the butter and pumpkin puree.
2. Add in the sugar and spices.
3. Mix well and scrape down side of bowl.
4. Add vanilla and mix well.
5. Transfer to a piping and snip off the tip.

For the Italian Meringue Buttercream
1. Beat the egg whites, salt and cream of tartar. Slowly add in 1/3 cup of sugar and continue beating until soft peaks form.
2. In a medium saucepan add 1 cup sugar and 1/3 cup water and place on medium-low heat.
3. Stir until sugar melts and becomes clear.
4. Maintain at medium-high heat until temperature reads 240F.
5. Drizzle the sugar into the mixer immediately.
6. Run mixer until meringue is cool/tepid.
7. Switch to a paddle attachment. Add room temperature butter into running mixer one tablespoon piece at a time.
8. Add vanilla.
9. Beat until butter is combined and mixture has reached a silky consistency.
10. Separate into bowls. Dye a gradient of color using orange and brown food coloring. Transfer each color into piping bags and snip off the tips.

For the Bats:
1. Print out 3 pages of bat outline. Arrange them side by side. Add a sheet of parchment paper
2. Melt the candy melts and transfer to a piping bag. Snip off the tip.
3. Pipe the outline of each bat. Set aside to dry.

For the Assembly:
1. Pipe pumpkin buttercream between each layer. Cover completely, smooth with a bench scraper and off set spatula. Transfer to the fridge to chill.
2. Starting with the darkest orange, pipe each color of Italian meringue in a gradient. Smooth with tools and transfer to the fridge again.
3. Carefully separate bats from the parchment paper. They can be very fragile!
4. Attach bats by gently pressing onto the buttercream.

This recipe was reprinted with permission. 

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