Dia De Los Muertos Cake

Dia De Los Muertos Cake

Prep Time

180 minutes

Cook Time

70 minutes


16 people

A twist on the traditional sugar skull, this orange and cinnamon cake is both aromatic and delicious. Glazed with a white frosting, it features a Calavera inspired decoration that is drawn with edible markers.

In celebration and honor of Dia de Los Muertos, The Food Channel has created our take on some traditional dishes, to fuel your own celebration.

Pan de Muerto: Bread of the Dead

Calabaza en Tacha: Candied Pumpkin

Traditional Red Chile Pork Tamales


For the cake

  • 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 1/2 sticks unsalted butter
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 5 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon orange extract
  • 1 1/3 cups milk

For the buttercream

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 3/4 cup confectioners' sugar, sifted
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons milk
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • pinch of salt

For the glaze

  • 5 cups confectioners sugar
  • 8 tablespoons warm water
  • 1 tablespoon orange extract
  • 3 tablespoons meringue powder


  • 1 Have all ingredients at room temperature.
  • 2 Position rack in the lower third of oven and preheat to 325°F.
  • 3 Grease and flour both wells of the Skull Cake Pan; tap out excess flour. Place the pan on a parchment- lined baking sheet.
  • 4 To make the cake, in a bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt; set aside.
  • 5 In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the flat beater, beat the butter on medium speed until creamy and smooth, about 30 seconds. Add the granulated sugar and continue beating until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes, stopping the mixer occasionally to scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the eggs a little at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in the vanilla, cinnamon and orange extract just until incorporated, about 1 minute.
  • 6 Reduce the speed to low and add the flour mixture in 3 additions, alternating with the milk and beginning and ending with the flour. Beat each addition just until incorporated, stopping the mixer occasionally to scrape down the sides of the bowl.
  • 7 Spoon batter into the prepared wells, dividing evenly. Tap the pan gently on a work surface to release any air bubbles. Bake until the cake begins to pull away from the sides of the pan and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 65 to 70 minutes. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and cool up-right in the pan for 15 minutes.
  • 8 Meanwhile, make the buttercream: in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the flat beater, beat the butter on medium speed until smooth and creamy, about 1 minute. Add the confectioners' sugar, milk, vanilla and salt and beat until light and fluffy, about 1 minute more, stopping the mixer to scrape down the bottom and sides of the bowl as needed.
  • 9 Tap the pan gently on a work surface to loosen the cake. Invert the pan onto the rack and lift off the pan. Let the cake cool completely, at least 2 hours, before assembling.
  • 10 Return both halves of the cooled cake to the pan. (This is easily done by placing the pan over the cake halves and inverting the rack onto the pan.) Level the cake by using a serrated knife to gently saw off the part of each cake half that rose above the edge of the pan. Then remove the back half of the cake from the pan.
  • 11 Spread a thin layer of buttercream, about 1/3 cup, over the cut side of the cake half that is still in the pan. Place the other half on top of the buttercream and press down gently to secure the 2 halves. For added stability, insert a 4-inch skewer into the base of the skull and another skewer into the upper half of the skull from the back side of the cake. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and refrigerated the cake until the buttercream is firm, about 30 minutes.
  • 12 In the center of a serving plate, place a mound of buttercream (about 1 1/2 tablespoons) half the size of the cake's base. Remove the cake from the pan by lifting the pan vertically and tilting it forward, then catching the cake with your hand Place the cake upright on the plate, on top of the buttercream.
  • 13 For the glaze: mix ingredients together until glaze is smooth. Pour over assembled and fully cooled cake. Use a spoon or spatula to pour into eyes, jaw and under the back of the head. Let cool and fully harden.
  • 14 Decorate with your favorite frosting, gel pens or edible markers.



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