Halloween: Black Velvet Graveyard Cake

If you have been following the blog at all, gentle reader, then by now you know I have a bit of an obsession with cookies, which is why you don’t see a ton of cake recipes on the blog. However, as Halloween quickly approaches, I couldn’t not share this amazingly delicious and ghoulish cake recipe with y’all. With some basic cake decorating techniques and some creepy cake toppers from the grocery store, you too can have your very own Black Velvet Graveyard Cake. Because nothing says “cake” like graves and fake dead people. Yay!

C and S Note: Always remember to have fun with cake decorating. Even if it looks like crap it will still be cake and cake is yummy. So have get to work you Halloween fiends and have your self a ghoulish slice of Black Velvet graveyard cake!

Black Velvet Graveyard Cake, Makes 3, 8” cake rounds


  • 3 ¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons of All Purpose Flour
  • 1/4 cup Coco Powder (I use Hershey’s dark cocoa powder)
  • 2 ¼ teaspoons Baking Soda
  • 1 teaspoon Kosher Salt
  • 1 ½ cups Buttermilk,
  • 1 ½ tablespoons cider vinegar
  • 1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons black food coloring, plus 1 teaspoon for the icing
  • 3 eggs at room temperature
  • 1 cup plus 3 tablespoons (2 sticks and 3 tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 ¼ cup sugar
  • Optional: Halloween decorations for your cake such as some creepy tombstones



  • 3, 8” round cake pans (if yu have fewer pans, just stagger baking them making sure to clean and re-prep your pan between baking)
  • Parchment paper cut into 8” rounds
  • Electric stand mixer, handheld mixer, or a whisk and a strong arm
  • Cooling rack (though you could let them cool on the counter. They will just cool more evenly on a cooling rack)
  • 1, 2-cup liquid measuring cup or bowl
  • 1 large bowl for mixing dry ingredients
  • Offset Palette knife or spatula for frosting your cake
  • 1, 8” round cake board or a flat surface for icing and serving your cake
  • Optional: Plastic Bench scraper, cake turntable

The Process:

1) Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Grease your pans with shortening, butter, or a nonstick cooking spray. Place the parchment round on the bottom and grease it too. Dust the inside with flour until the whole pan is evenly coated. Dump out any excess flour from the pan and set aside. Repeat with the rest of your pans.

2) In a large mixing bowl, mix together the flour, cocoa powder, salt, and baking soda. Set aside.

3) In the liquid measuring cup, mix together your buttermilk, vinegar, vanilla extract, and food coloring. Set aside

4) With your mixer on low, begin mixing together your butter and sugar. When its just combined turn the mixer speed up to medium. Mix on medium for 5 minutes until the mixture is pale and fluffy.

5) Turn your mixer to low speed and add your eggs one at a time you batter. When all the eggs have been incorporated, turn the mixer off and scrape down the sides of the bowl. Blitz the mixture for about 10 seconds to make sure everything has combined thoroughly and turn it back off.

6) Begin adding your dry ingredients, making sure to mix them on low speed. You will add the dry ingredients in 3 stages, alternating with your wet ingredients (you will have two additions of wet ingredients). You will end with dry ingredients. Make sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl between each dry addition to ensure even mixing. Make sure to not over-mix or your cake will become tough, which is gross.

7) Evenly distribute you batter between your pans using a measuring cup or a kitchen scale if your fancy. Smooth out the batter with a palette knife or butter knife. Do NOT do the thing wear you slam the pans on the counter to get them to level off. All your doing is knocking the air, and therefore, the fluffiness, out of your cake.

While you wait for your cakes to cool, feel free to light some candles and have a seance. Nothing like opening a portal to hell while you wait for your cakes to cool.

8) With your oven racks arranged in the middle of your oven, bake the cakes for 30-35 minutes until done. Cakes are done when you can insert a toothpick into the middle of the cake and it comes out clean. Let your cakes cool on cooling racks for at least 30 minutes.

9) Using a pairing knife, gently loosen the cakes from the sides of the cake pan and turn over onto a cutting board to finish cooling.

10) Using a long bread knife or cake leveler carefully level your cakes (a.k.a cut off the rounded tops so you are left with a flat surfaces on all of your cakes. Set aside. *I guess you could save the scraps for cake pops, but I typically just eat them as I decorate. Decorating is exhausting and requires a lot of sugar and carbs.



10) Using the frosting of your choice begin assembling your three-tiered cake. Put a smudge of icing on either a cake board (I used an 8” round cake board from Michael’s) or other flat surface and place your bottom layer of cake on it making sure the cake is in the center of your cake board. The smudge of icing will help glue it in place.

11) Using a measuring cup or ice cream scoop (I used an ice cream scoop), scoop some frosting onto the first layer. Use an off-set spatula (or a butter knife in a pinch) to smooth the frosting into an even layer across the surface of the cake. Place the next layer of cake on top making sure its sides are even with the bottom layer. Plop the same amount of icing on the second layer and smooth out with an offset spatula. Repeat with the third and final layer.

Crumb Coat:

The finished crumb coat.

12) Using an offset spatula, cover your cake in a thin layer of frosting. This will help smooth any rough edges on your cake and lock in any crumbs that might mess up your pretty decorative icing. This layer does not need to be pretty so don’t fret too much if it looks a mess. Place your crumb coated cake in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes to allow the frosting to set. Afterwards, you can decorate the cake as you wish…or you can copy me and make an awesome Graveyard cake with Grey Marble icing!


Making the Grey Marble Icing: This technique is technically called “water color icing“, but works great for recreating stone. There are also a ton of videos on how to do this online. I highly recommend Cupcake Jemma’s videos or Martha Stewart Everyday Food for any and all cake related questions. I used a simple buttercream icing for this cake, but feel free to use whatever icing floats your boat.

1) Make two recipes worth of your favorite buttercream icing (I highly recommend mine). Reserve 1/4 cup of icing for the white threads that will ripple through your grey marble icing.

2) Reserve another 1/4 cup of icing. Pour some black food coloring, about 1/4 – 1/2  teaspoon, into the icing and mix it until it is solid black.

3) Take 1-2 spoonfuls of the black icing and mix into the main batch icing still in your mixing bowl until you have your grey base. This technique of coloring your icing allows for more even dispersal of color through your icing. You’re welcome.

Those blobs of white and black icing will soon get smoothed out to look like the veins you see in marble.

4) By now you should have 3 colors of icing: a small amount of white icing, a small amount of black icing, and a large amount of grey icing. Frost your crumb coated cake using the grey icing first. I start at the top of my cake and work my way down the sides. I use a cake turntable to help me decorate (it allows you to hold your palette knife or spatula in place while you turn the cake, making for smoother icing); however, it is not necessary. Do not worry if your icing isn’t perfectly smooth. You’ll take care of that later. Just make sure there is a nice even covering of grey frosting. This is the base for your marble.

5) When your cake is completely iced in grey, wipe of your palette knife. First, put small blobs of white icing haphazardly around your cake. They don’t need to be perfectly spaced. Just like real stone, streaks aren’t always even. Repeat this step with even smaller blobs of the black icing.

Keep your your scraper as straight as possible, so your icing stays even on the sides.

6) Now the “watercolor” or “marbling” part comes in. You will want a lot of paper towels handy for this next bit. Set a plastic cake smoother or a clean palette knife parallel with the sides of the cake so its barely touching the icing. You will do this next bit in stages. Gently drag the cake smoother/scraper along the side of the cake for a few inches making sure to keep it straight while you do so. The blobs of icing should smear into streaks across the cake and should begin to look like streaks of marbling through stone. Make sure to stop after a few inches to clean off your palette knife or cake smoother on a paper towel. Otherwise, the colors will become really muddy. Keep repeating the process until you have worked your way around the cake and all the sides are smooth and marbled with streaks of white and black. Repeat with the top of the cake moving your cake smoother or palette knife in a gentle circular sweep over the top of the cake making sure to stop frequently to wipe off your palette knife/bench scraper.

Voila! Your cake is marbled!

7) You can stop here or you can pipe the top edge of the cake. I just put any left over icing in a plastic piping bag or Ziploc bag. I alternate spreading streaks of grey, white, and black  to create a swirl of all my colors. Then I just snip off the tip of the bag and pipe some squiggles along the top edge to finish it off. You can also sprinkle black sprinkles or crushed up Oreos or Halloween candy around the top as well. I found some sweet sugar gravestone cake decorations at my local grocery store (it wasn’t even the fancy kind of grocery store) and decorated the top of my cake with those for some extra creepy graveyard vibes.

Disclaimer: This was completely unsponsored. This recipe is a reflection of my love for Halloween and all things creepy.

If you liked this post, then make sure to hit the Like, Share, and Subscribe Button. Thanks a million, my little baking ghouls.

These are my neighbor’s kids. I like to come over and fill them with sugar and leave. I’m a super good neighbor.
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