Ghosts, Ghouls and Black Widow Cake

Is everyone ready for a night of ghosts, ghouls and things that go bump in the night?

Halloween has snowballed in popularity in recent years and though there’s an assumption that it’s an ‘American import’, it’s actually thought to date back to the ancient Celtic pagan festival of Sahmain or ‘summer’s End’, which was a community celebration, held on November 1st to mark the annual harvest and the start of a New Year. It was a time of festivities and bonfires and the people of the time believed that the spirits of the dead were active.

Over time, elements of Sahmain merged with observance of the Christian feast day of All Saints or ‘All Hallows’ giving rise to the term of Hallow E’en for the night before the festivities . Children and the poor would go from house to house ‘souling’ to beg for small soul cakes in return for saying a prayer for the dead. Quite a ringer for modern day trick or treating!

Emigrants to the new world of America took these age old traditions with them and over time, it evolved into the much loved modern day celebration, which has come full circle back to the UK and is a perfect excuse to get together and party with family and friends.

Of course, all good parties need a celebration cake and we’ve found this fabulous idea from the Vegetarian Society for a creepy Black Widow cake. You’ve just got time to bake it before tomorrow night!


Black Widow Cake

Black Widow Cake

Creepy Black Widow cake

Serves 8-12 slices
Preparation time 15 minutes
Cooking time 45 minutes


For the cake:
100g soft eating liquorice pieces
175ml water
250ml vegetable oil
165g self-raising flour
100g sugar
25g cocoa powder
50g walnut pieces, ground
2 tbsp gram flour mixed with 4 tbsp water
2 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp baking powder
Few drops vanilla extract

For the icing:
60g icing sugar
½ tsp food colouring (optional)
1 tbsp water

To decorate:
Black icing pen
1 piece of soft eating liquorice

1. Preheat oven to 180C/ Gas Mark 4. Chop the liquorice into small pieces and put in a small pan with 175ml water. Boil for about 5 minutes until the liquorice is starting to go soft and mushy. Remove from the heat and pour in the vegetable oil, stirring well.
2. Put the remaining cake ingredients into a large mixing bowl and stir in the liquorice mixture.
3. Put in a small (18cm) lined cake tin and bake in the oven for 35 minutes, or until a skewer comes out of the middle of the cake clean.
4. Leave in the cake tin to cool for about 10 minutes, then remove onto a wire rack to cool completely.
5. Mix together the icing sugar, food colouring (if using) and water, then spread over the cooled cake with a palette knife, gently and evenly. Using the black icing pen draw a web pattern on top of the icing. Then make a spider out of the spare piece of liquorice!

Recipe © The Vegetarian Society 2012. Visit for more recipes and information.




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