Black velvet brushstroke cake with burnt vanilla icing

October 3, 2017
Black velvet brushstroke cake with burnt vanilla icing

A boo-tiful cake, perfect for Halloween.

Recipe, styling and photography by Katelyn Williams

Assisted by Cassandra Upton

Black velvet brushstroke cake with burnt vanilla icing

Serves: 8
Cooking Time: 2 hrs



  • 240g cake flour
  • 490g castor sugar
  • 100g cocoa powder
  • 10ml (2 tsp) bicarbonate of soda
  • 5ml (1 tsp) baking powder
  • large pinch salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 180ml (¾ cup) strong coffee, cooled
  • 320g buttermilk
  • 125ml (½ cup) canola oil
  • black gel food colouring

  • 1 vanilla pod, halved
  • 125g butter, softened
  • 60g cocoa powder, sifted
  • 300g icing sugar, sifted
  • 45 – 60ml (3 – 4 tbsp) milk
  • black gel food colouring

  • black powder food colouring
  • 100g dark baking chocolate, melted



For the cake, preheat the oven to 180˚C. Grease and line 3 cake tins (20cm diameter) with baking paper.


In a large bowl, sift together the dry ingredients and make a well in the centre. In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs, coffee, buttermilk, canola oil and a few drops black gel food colouring.


Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and whisk until just combined. Divide the batter among the tins and bake in the preheated oven, 30 – 40 minutes or until springy to the touch and a skewer inserted in the centres of the cakes comes out clean. Allow to cool in the tins, 5 minutes, before turning out onto a wire cooling rack to cool down completely.


To make the icing, place the vanilla pod on a baking sheet in the oven and roast, 5 minutes, until fragrant. Scrape the seeds from the pod and discard the pod. Place the seeds in a blender or pestle and mortar and blitz or pound to form a fine powder. Cream the butter until light and fluffy, then add the vanilla powder, 60g cocoa, the icing sugar, milk and enough gel food colouring to make a black icing. Beat until smooth and completely combined.


For the brushstrokes, line a baking sheet with baking paper. Mix the powder colouring into the melted baking chocolate. Drop a teaspoonful coloured chocolate onto the baking sheet, then use the back of a spoon to smear the chocolate like a brushstroke over the baking sheet. Repeat until all of the chocolate has been used up. Allow to set before peeling off the brushstrokes.


Assemble the cake by layering the sponges with burnt vanilla buttercream icing between each layer. Cover the entire cake in icing and smooth out with a palette knife. Using dollops icing, stick the brushstrokes on the front of the cake to decorate.

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