Halloween is nearly here, and with it the chance to decorate!
Get even more exciting ideas on how to host a wonderful Halloween party without breaking the bank.
Halloween Magic Even on a Budget: Halloween Activities, Costumes, Crafts and Recipes (Holiday Entertaining)
In the last section, we discussed how to make a fast and easy Tombstone cake. Now we are going to look at how to create one or more attractive pumpkin cakes to add to your holiday buffet spread or potluck.
Your round pans will be perfect for making a pumpkin face. You can then use the wedges left over from the tombstone cake to make stems for two pumpkin cakes by frosting them green and positioning them over the round cakes. (If you have not made a tombstone cake already, not to worry. We will tell you what to do when it comes time to decorate and assemble the cake.)
For the pumpkin faces, once your round layer cakes are completely cool, you will be ready to frost. First dye your white frosting orange, or use ready-made orange frosting. (We recommend trying to make your own natural food colorings rather than buying commercial products. There are many recipes online that can help.)
If you need to create a stem, cut off about an inch of one side of the cake and then cut it in half or into a stem shape and position it on top of the cake. Frost it green and set aside until it is time to assemble the cake.
Frost the whole cake ‘face’ with your orange frosting, and then decide how you wish to create the features of the pumpkin face.
There are a number of options for creating the faces. Again, if you are a green mom, you might want to create these as naturally as possible. If you are calorie or sugar conscious, this will also help you select the right choice for your whole family and any guests you might be serving cake.
You can draw eyes, nose and mouth with frosting gel or make some very dark black frosting with red and blue drops of color and create triangles for the eyes and nose and some jagged ‘teeth’ for the mouth.
You can also make the facial features using a number of pieces of candy corn. Make two triangles pointing downwards for the eyes and one triangle pointing upwards for the nose by positioning the candy corn as needed. The mouth can be as jagged and snaggle-toothed as you like, positioned in the center of the cake under the nose.
You can add the lines of the pumpkin down the cake in slightly curved lines parallel to each other like parentheses, starting on either side of the face, with the left-hand-side lines curving out to the left, and the right-hand side line curving out towards the right like this: ((*^*))
You can also use icing gel, sprinkles and so on to fill in the features. Don’t forget to color green the stems of the ‘pumpkins’ (your leftover cake wedges from the tombstone cake) using some green frosting or green sprinkles or colored green sugar.
These are quick and easy cake ideas that will feed a large number of people for gathering at a school, church hall or other community group . An attractive cake also works very well as the centerpiece for a Halloween buffet table. Best of all, you can use any recipe you like, so you can be sure of how wholesome the ingredients are. You can even make your own buttercream frosting or a festive-colored cake glaze using natural ingredients, without a lot of fat and sugar or food coloring, in order to avoid gaining weight or feeding your family and friends too many unhealthy items.
If you are really in a hurry, you can resort to boxed mixes, pre-prepared frosting, and food color, but remember that one drop of color can go a long way and use it sparingly.
If you make a mistake frosting your cake, just scoop it off and start again. If the worst comes to the worst, you can even cut off one part of the cake and start again or use it for cake pops and bake another one.
And no matter what it looks like, there is no such thing as a bad cake as long as you follow instructions for the recipe you are using or the mix you are making. Don’t burn your cake/s, time everything carefully, and test it for doneness according to the package instructions.
Note to beginner bakers:
Your oven may vary in terms of temperature, so always check for doneness about 5 minutes before the lowest recommended time. For example, if it says Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, check its progress at the end of 25 minutes. Our oven is so good that if it says 350 for 30 minutes, it will be done to perfection in 30 minutes. 35 would be overdone.
We once had an oven that was 100 degrees cooler than it should have been and one that was 75 degrees hotter than it should have been. If you want to save a lot of money and calories by learning to make and decorate cakes yourself, it is a fun hobby the whole family will love, but you might want to invest in an inexpensive oven thermometer just to check your oven so all your cakes will come out great.
There are many way to make a homemade sheet cake into an attractive and festive one for Halloween. The first thing to consider is the shapes and size of the pans you have. Most of us will own the usual 9” x 13” baking pan and a couple of round cake pans to make a layer cake.
The next thing to consider is how many people you will need to feed if you are having a party, or are contributing to a Halloween potluck or buffet.
In this series of articles, we will teach you how to make a fast and easy Tombstone Cake and a Pumpkin Cake.
A 9” x 13” sized cake can serve at least 12 people, more if you cut into smaller slices rather than squares or rectangles. Make a tombstone cake by positioning the cake on a board that you can use to transport the cake. Hold it so that the shorter edge of the cake is nearest you. With a sharp knife, cut off the top left corner of the cake, working from the center downward in a curve, to create the first curved edge of the top of the tombstone. Repeat with the right corner. Save the cake wedges for more yummy treats later.
Using pure white frosting, frost the cake. Using icing gel in black or blue, write on your tombstone. You can put the initials R.I.P for Rest in Peace to make it look like a gravestone. Or you can write a Halloween sentiment like “Happy Halloween” in ‘spooky’ looking or spidery letters. You can also add a cobweb to one corner of the tombstone, on the top or bottom, using the icing gel, complete with a small spider if you really want to get into the ‘spirit’ of Halloween.
You can also use some of the gel to outline fingers and nails for a hand coming up out of the grave on the bottom of the tombstone cake. Coconut dyed green and some chocolate sprinkles will work well as ‘grass’ and ‘dirt’ for the bottom edge of the tombstone to add to the spooky effect of the hand coming out of the ground.
You can make the hand a little pink or even green with one drop of food coloring added to the white frosting. Create the frosting fingers by placing them in your desired area. Outline them with the gel. You can aim for a scary effect or a funny one. You might want to try the new Neon food colors from McCormick for a ghastly glow in the dark green. Just use one drop to start with. You can always add more if you have to, but it is impossible to remove it if your color ends up too dark.
In the next section of this article, we will look at how to make a fast and easy pumpkin face cake.
Q. How do I save money on candy at Halloween?
A. Candy prices go up during the last couple of weeks of October because everything adopts the Halloween packaging and is sold specifically for this purpose. Beat the price jump by buying your candy a couple of weeks before the big rush. Store your candy in a cool, dry place, so it’s fresh when it’s time to use it. To save big, shop the sales after the holidays and buy anything that is not specially packaged for Halloween. This candy will do just fine for the Christmas holidays and can be up to 90% off the list price. If it is orange and other fall colors, it will probably do just fine for the Thanksgiving holiday.
Halloween has become a huge holiday in the United States. If you want to get into the holiday spirit without spending a fortune, shop smart and try a bit of DIY and enjoy the sense of accomplishment that you and your children will experience in having a do it yourself Halloween.
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Q. How can I save money on the things I do need to buy for Halloween?
A. Avoid the fancy Halloween party stores and opt for other options instead. You can buy Halloween decorations through Goodwill and similar secondhand stores. Halloween decorations and certain costume elements can easily be purchased inexpensively secondhand and, when you are done using them, you can donate them back to these stores to pass the savings on to someone else. You can also get a receipt for your donation from the Salvation Army and take the deduction on your taxes next April. Check their website for the value they allow for each item you donate and be sure to get a receipt from them for everything you bring.
Another way to save big is to check out 99 cent stores. They often have cheap decorations, paper goods and coloring books and activity books with holiday themes that your kids can use for decorations, placements, costume ideas and patterns, and more.
Check Pier 1 as soon as the season is over and save up to 90% off on any leftovers of their holiday line. Then put them away until next year.
Q. How can I save money on Halloween decorations?
A. Let your children participate in the decorating. Buy craft paper in a variety of colors and help each child create their own decorations. Create leaves, pumpkins and other seasonal items in various appropriate colors. (Hint: You can keep these kinds of decorations around the house right the way through to Thanksgiving.)
Also let them make some more scary ones, ghosts, zombies, witches and so on.
Tape them into the windows or mount them on the fridge door our your outer door. You can cover the ones on the outer door with plastic film to protect them from the wind and rain. For example, using just plain white computer paper, your kid could make a huge life-sized skeleton for your door.
Go online to some homeschooling or teachers’ resources sites to download free coloring sheets and more. You don’t have to go the expensive route for excellent Halloween decorations. Let the kids use their imaginations, and keep the pumpkins and leaves for Thanksgiving. Save the more spooky items for next year and they can be keepsakes for years to come.