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“What do you think that is?” she asked me, again pointing with her stick; “that, where those cobwebs are?”
“I can’t guess what it is, ma’am.”
“It’s a great cake. A bride-cake. Mine!”
–Great Expectations, Chap. 11
I asked the kids awhile back what theme they wanted this year for our Halloween decorations, and they all agreed (a miraculous occurrence) on Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations, especially the Miss Havisham parts.
“I’m sorry, kids, ” I told them, “That doesn’t sound very Pinnable. You’ll need to pick something else. I hear zombies are all the rage.”
I said okay, because I am not so secretly extremely excited that my kids think Miss Havisham is creepier than zombies.
And there’s no getting around it: she really is creepy. In case you’re not familiar with the story, Miss Havisham lives in an old, decaying mansion. She was left at the altar years before, and she spends all her time emotionally abusing innocent children and hanging out in her wedding dress, in a room still set up with her wedding feast, complete with a decades old cake and lots of spiders.
And that is why my kids happily listened to me read Great Expectations awhile back.
If we were doing this thing right, we’d set up a big, cobwebby feast on the dining room table and I’d wear my wedding dress until Halloween. But a. we need our dining room table for other stuff and b. it’s been a very long time since I fit in my wedding dress.
So a fun set up on the buffet will have to do.
Thus far, we have cake. And I’ll tell you how I made it just in case you need one, too. Stranger things have happened.
….couple of notes:
*I didn’t see the cake forms I linked to up there when I was looking. I went to Michaels, where they’re pretty expensive. I bought two of them using 40% off coupons, and then for the bottom layer I actually used a big hat box, because they were 50% off which made them cheaper than even a 40% off cake form. The styrofoam cake forms were easier to work with, but the hat box was fine.
*I used Plaster of Paris because it’s what I already had around. I’m sure other things would also work (including actual frosting, but since this was going to be sitting around for nearly two months, I didn’t want to chance REAL mice showing up to snack on it.
Okay, so here is my unfrosted “cake”
I mixed the Plaster of Paris with water and then played around with it to get the right consistency….the directions on the package said two parts POP to one part water, but I seemed to need more POP than that.
Honestly, this part was kind of a pain. But then again, I suck at frosting real cakes, too, so YMMV. The good news was that the cake was SUPPOSED to look crappy! Like it had been sitting around being gnawed at by mice for thirty years! I used a rubber spatula to slather on the frosting (I did several small batches, cleaning everything in between each batch, because you only have a few minutes (6-10, says the package) to work with the Plaster of Paris before it dries)
It got better (although still far from perfect. Not my fault: mice + time):
Incidentally–fun historical tidbit!–apparently Miss Havisham’s cake would likely have been a dense fruity type of thing. You can find recipes online if you want to make an edible one.
I wasn’t about to attempt to get any fancier with the icing, so I decorated the cake with artificial roses after that….just stuck them on with hot glue:
And then all that was left was to add the mice. I bought cockroaches, too, but I decided that might be a little too much. When I finish the whole display, spiders will definitely need to be involved, though:
The mice are very much enjoying the cake:
So there you go: Halloween season has begun! At least here it has. I like to get it done early because then it sticks around longer and also I get more of a break before I have to start thinking about Christmas decorations. I mean, there usually aren’t even any spiders or rotting cakes in Christmas decorating, so what’s the fun of that?
I should be back next week with the whole buffet all creepified.
Anyway, I made a nice pinnable image for the hordes of people who are ALSO having a Great Expectations Halloween.