Summon Some Halloween Spirit(s) With This DIY Planchette Cake

When it comes to baking... well... let's just say it's not one of my strongest skills. I'm best known for cookies that turn out hard as rocks and cakes that look like they've been decorated in the dark. But honestly, baking a cake is easier than ever with tons of excellent boxed options for those of us who aren't as savvy and millions of excellent recipes on the internet. Now decorating, that's a different story. It's definitely not a foolproof skill and I tip my proverbial hat to those who can excel at this brand of sorcery.

Just because I'm not great at it doesn't mean I don't try. I was DETERMINED to make a planchette cake tutorial easy enough for those of us who might not be the greatest cake decorators. If I can do this, anyone can! It just takes a little patience and a lot of frosting. Hey, you've got to cover up those mistakes with something, right?


Here's what you'll need:

  • 1 pre baked rectangular cake (no shame in using the box mix)
  • 2 contrasting frostings (and lots of it)
  • An offset spatula
  • A serrated bread knife
  • A pastry bag and fine tip


Cool cake completely and transfer to a cutting board, flat side up (meaning the bottom of the cake) - this will give you a smoother surface to work with. Gently trim your cake into the outer shape of a planchette by taking a little off of each side at a time. It's easier to go back and cut more away than it is to put it back together so go slow! Once the overall shape is what you want take a cup or bowl that is the proper size for the hole, line it up with the center of your cake and cut around it. Remove the circle of cake (bonus mini cake for the baker to "test") as well as any crumbs that may have accumulated from trimming the cake. Once your cake looks like a planchette it's time to frost!

The most important step to making your frosting look decent is to do a "crumb coat." This means you will frost your entire cake with a thin layer of icing and then chill until the surface hardens. This essentially locks the crumbs in so your next layer of frosting will be nice and smooth. 20-30 minutes should be enough time to chill your cake between frosting layers. Once you have a nice smooth coat on your cake you can think about decorations.


There are plenty of different options for decorating based on your preferences and skill level. I challenged myself to pipe writing onto the cake... and when I say challenge I mean it. It's definitely difficult to write on a cake! If you decide to do some lettering on your cake you will need a pastry bag filled with your contrasting frosting as well as a fine tip. Practice your lettering on a cutting board or a piece of waxed paper before you move on to your cake, that way you can try it a couple times before you do the real thing. If you do mess up, don't worry. You can gently scrape off your lettering and reapply a bit of the dark frosting to cover up any imperfections.

If lettering is too daunting to you why not try topping the cake with a few sugar cookies. This cake would be adorable topped with some glittery moon and star cookies - and even more delicious at that. 

Many stores also sell sugar letters and shapes that you can use to decorate your cake if you want to keep it simple. Or why not combine a couple shades of frosting for a wood grain or galaxy effect? The possibilities are endless.

Pull out your Ouija board and ask the spirits for some ideas while you're at it. That ALWAYS goes well.