Shallow Grave Chocolate Orange Fudge Cake

I love Halloween, it’s one of our oldest festivals and one of my favourites. Whether you choose to light a candle and remember loved ones who are no longer with us, eat your body weight in chocolate and scare yourself silly watching horror films or don your finest fancy dress costume, douse yourself in fake blood and party hard; I believe it should definitely be celebrated.

For me it signifies the change of seasons – from summer into autumn, and brings with it the fruits of summer labour (literally). Our store cupboards are stuffed full of not only the last of the summer produce, but the gorgeous autumn fruit and veg too – blackberries, raspberries, pears, plums, apples and squashes to name but a few. It’s the time to cozy up in blankets and watch the leaves dance past your window, to hunker down and prepare for the winter ahead (and watch a good horror film).

This cake is an amalgamation of a few recipes, given a Pesky twist, a Halloween theme and a spooky surprise inside.

The cake recipe is by Simon Rimmer, I first saw it on an episode of Something For The Weekend years ago (it was later bought by Channel 4 and turned into Sunday Brunch) and I have made it many times. The soured cream is a surprising ingredient, but it really works – it keeps the cake moist and gives it a ‘fudgy’ consistency, and you can’t taste it once it’s baked. The butter cream recipe is based on one from my old Dairy Book of Home Cookery cookbook (see my About page for more info) but I’ve altered it a bit to incorporate the chocolate orange flavours.

I’ve given you 2 examples for decorating below – 1 using smarties to swirl a pattern up the sides, and one using some of the white chocolate bones saved from the centre. But please feel free to decorate in any way that takes your fancy. I love seeing how creative people get when decorating cakes, so if you have a go, post a picture in the comments section or tag us on Instagram #peskyrecipes I’d love to see what fiendish things you’ve thought of.

Happy Halloween, and happy hunting, baking.

Ready in 1hr 40mins – 2hrs 40mins + cooling (10 mins prep, 60-90 mins bake, 30-60 mins assembly and decorating)


  • 125g of butter
  • 225g of soft brown sugar
  • 2 free range eggs
  • 150ml of soured cream
  • 175g of plain flour
  • 1 teaspoon of baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda
  • 50g of cocoa powder
  • The zest of one orange
  • 100g of soft butter
  • 250g of sifted icing sugar
  • 50g of melted and cooled (runny but not hot) dark chocolate + extra to write on the gravestone
  • 2 teaspoons of cold milk
  • 2 tablespoons of orange juice from your zested orange
  • 150g of white chocolate
  • 6-10 oreo biscuits, crushed/blitzed
  • Smarties/any other decorations you like


  • Preheat oven to 180c / 160c fan / gas mark 4.
  • Grease and line a cake tin. (I spray with Fry Light or something similar to stick the grease-proof paper to the tin) It doesn’t matter if patches aren’t lined, as long as the majority is. – Pic 1
  • Beat 125g of butter and the soft brown sugar in a bowl until light and fluffy. – Pic 2
  • Beat in the eggs and soured cream. – Pic 3
  • Sift in the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, cocoa powder and orange zest and mix well. – Pic 4
  • Pour the mixture into your prepared cake tin and bake for 60-90 mins, or until a skewer inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean. – Pic 5
  • Allow to cool completely.

Tip: If the cake isn’t set, but the top is catching, cover the top of the cake with foil, but not the sides or the bottom of the tin. This will slow down the burning on the top of the cake but wont stop the rest from cooking.

  • While the cake is baking and cooling, melt your white chocolate, pour into a piping bag and snip the end to create a small hole. Pipe bone shapes and a gravestone onto a piece of baking paper and place in the fridge to set. – Pic 6

Tip: Pipe the gravestone first so it can set while you pipe the rest of the bones. Then melt the dark chocolate for the butter cream and decorate the gravestone with some of it while it cools before making the buttercream.

  • In a small bowl, beat 100g of butter until soft.
  • Beat in the icing sugar a tablespoon at a time, alternatively with the dark chocolate, milk and orange juice to make the butter cream.
  • Put a spoonful of the buttercream onto a cake board and place the cooled cake on top. This will stop the cake from sliding around whilst you are decorating.
  • Cut a circle out of the middle of the cake (I used a champagne flute as I didn’t have a deep enough cutter) and slice the cake in half, horizontally. – Pic 7
  • Spread about a quarter of the butter cream onto the top of the bottom layer of cake, place the other layer on top to create a sandwich and spread about another quarter of the butter cream on top and round the sides. this first layer of buttercream is called the crumb coat. – Pic 8
  • Chill in the fridge for 10-15 mins to set the crumb coat and then spread the rest of the butter cream around the sides and the top of the cake, avoiding the hole in the middle. – Pic 9
  • Fill the hole with your set chocolate bones. – Pic 10
  • Decorate the sides of the cake however you wish. – Pics 11 & 12 are examples
  • Push your chocolate grave into the cake slightly so it stands up, and sprinkle the crushed oreos on top to look like soil. I mixed a few orange and chocolate sprinkles into mine too to look like worms. – Pic 13
  • Then ‘dig in’.

If you liked this recipe, you may also like:

Lime and Coconut Cake

Pan Fried Prawns in a Bloody Mary Sauce

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5 thoughts on “Shallow Grave Chocolate Orange Fudge Cake

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