Mad Science Cake

Do you have a Mad Scientist in need of a cake? 

...or an idea for a Halloween party dessert?

I had a vague 'Mad Scientist cake' idea cross my mind once - I wanted to decorate with some test tubes and an Erlenmeyer (tapered) flask, but all of the places I checked for them online were *UBER* expensive. :/ Wasn’t super interested in investing $50 in equipment I'd never use again….for a cake. Meh. 

But! Then Michaels (craft store near me) was having a super sale on all of their Halloween decorations – and go figure; I found a set of test tubes and a perfectly-sized flask. BOOM! 

(Disclaimer. No actual booms. Just a cake 😉 ) 

That said - I've since gotten an Amazon Prime membership and their range of options for plastic test tubes that don't cost a fortune is impressive! I've done my best to link the most inexpensive ones in the recipe card. 

I loved the multi-color look of the different drips; thought this Mad Scientist cake turned out super fun! Recipe below! 

WHAT IF I'VE NEVER ADDED A DRIP TO A CAKE BEFORE?
  • Don't stress! It's easier than you probably think it is! 🙂 
  • My biggest tips - make sure you measure your chocolate and heavy cream accurately. Too much/little of either may affect your drip consistency. 
  • Make sure you try a test drip first! Don't pour the ganache over your whole cake until you're confident in the consistency of your ganache. 
  • I loved this YouTube tutorial by Sugar&Sparrow when I was new to cake drips! 
DO I HAVE TO MAKE THE CAKE / FROSTING FROM SCRATCH? 
  • Absolutely not if you don't want to! You can substitute 2 of your favorite cake mixes plus the ingredients the mix calls for; keep the baking pans the same! They'll just be a little less rich than scratch cake layers. 
    Store bought frosting is usually a little thinner than my recipe; add a 1/4 cup of extra powdered sugar at a time until you reach a consistency that spreads and stays in place on the cake well. 

(Disclosure: As an Amazon associate I may earn from qualifying purchases, and my posts often contain affiliate links. If you click a link and make a purchase, I may receive a commission at no extra cost to you!) 

Don't forget to pin for later! 

Mad Science Cake - pinterest pin

Mad Science Cake

A ganache drip, some test tubes, and a scientist's flask are all you need to decorate a deliciously dangerous-looking Mad Science Cake!
Prep Time20 minutes
Cook Time37 minutes
Decorating30 minutes
Total Time1 hour 27 minutes
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Mad Science Cake, Halloween Mad Science Cake
Servings: 16 servings
Calories: 740kcal
Author: Sarah H

Equipment

Ingredients

Vanilla Cake layers

  • 3 ¼ cup all-purpose flour
  • 3 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup unsalted butter (2 sticks; room temperature)
  • 5 eggs
  • 1 ½ cups buttermilk (room temperature)
  • 2 teaspoons clear vanilla extract
  • cup vegetable oil
  • 1-2 Tablespoons Sprinkles (optional; I swirled some into the cake layers for a bit of extra color)

Cream Cheese Buttercream Frosting

  • 8 ounces cream cheese (one package; softened)
  • 1 cup butter (2 sticks; softened)
  • 6-7 cups powdered sugar
  • 2-4 Tablespoons milk or whipping cream
  • 2 teaspoons clear vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoons salt (if using unsalted butter)

Drip & Decorations

Instructions

Cake layers

  • Preheat oven to 350°F. Prepare three 8-inch cake pans with baker's floured cooking spray, or grease and line with parchment rounds.
  • Mix together all dry ingredients (flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt) in a stand mixer with a paddle until fully combined.
  • Mix bits of room-temperature butter into the dry mix, on a low speed. Continue to mix until no large chunks of butter are visible, and the mix looks crumbly.
  • Pour in eggs, and mix on low until just incorporated. Add in the buttermilk on a low speed. Add in oil and vanilla, and mix at a low speed until fully incorporated. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula, then beat on medium speed for about 30 seconds.
  • Divide batter evenly between the prepared cake pans (I find a kitchen scale helpful for this part). This guarantees your layers will bake to be the same height. Add colored sprinkles to your cake batter – if you’d like to add a little color to your layers – and marble them in with an offset spatula or knife.
  • Bake for 35-37 minutes (or until a toothpick comes out clean). Allow cake layers to cool for 10-15 minutes on a wire cooling rack before removing from pans. Cool completely before frosting. Set in the fridge or freezer to accelerate the cooling process if desired.
  • Once the layers have fully cooled, they can be leveled and any caramelized bits can be trimmed from the sides / top of the cake using a serrated knife if desired. Be sure the layers are completely cooled or chilled before trimming. If you try to trim the layers while they’re still warm, they will crumble and break.

Cream Cheese Buttercream Frosting

  • Beat together softened cream cheese and butter; slowly add in powdered sugar alternating with whipping cream until frosting reaches desired consistency. Add vanilla and salt if needed and beat until well combined.

Assembly

  • Place a smear of frosting on your cake circle (to keep the cake from sliding while you decorate it) and center your first cake layer in the center of the circle. Spread the layer with frosting and toss on some more sprinkles if you’d like. Repeat the process with the next layer and add your last cake layer on top. (I put my top layer on upside-down to make shaping the frosting on top of the cake easier.)
  • Now you're ready to crumb-coat. If you're unfamiliar with crumb-coating, it's just what it sounds like - a thin layer of frosting over the entire outside of the cake to keep crumbs out of your final layer.
  • Once your crumb coat has set (this takes about 5-10 minutes in the fridge), add your final layer of frosting and smooth. I like to use an offset spatula and bench scraper for this part. Once your cake is covered, place it into the fridge so it's cold enough to set your drip.

Cake Drip(s)

  • Combine heavy cream and white chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave on half-power in 30-second intervals until melted and smooth, stirring in between.
  • Divide white chocolate mixture into four small bowls and color purple, green, yellow, and orange. (I don’t recommend liquid coloring; it can make the white chocolate seize and harden.)

Decorating

  • Okay! Now that all the pieces are ready, it’s time to decorate your cake! I recommend a test drip - your cake drip mixes should feel slightly warm and be liquid; too cold and they won't drip, but if they're too hot it might melt your frosting.
  • I started with the flask since it was the biggest, and piped some ganache into the inside before I set it on top of the cake, letting it run out onto the top of the cake once I set it down. With a piping bag, add more ganache around the opening of the beaker to the cake edge, letting it run over in several drips.
  • Repeat with test tubes, adding them at various angles around the cake so there are several drips coming off the sides. I used one smaller test tube set straight up in the cake with ganache coming out the top, and another larger test tube with a ‘sprinkle explosion’ coming out the top and over the top and down the side of the cake.
  • I’ve added pictures to give you some ideas, but feel free to take creative liberties with this part!
  • Refrigerate until ready to eat - and enjoy!

Video

Notes

Please note nutrition information is an estimate and may not be exactly accurate.

Nutrition

Serving: 1slice (1/16th cake) | Calories: 740kcal | Carbohydrates: 98g | Protein: 8g | Fat: 38g

Did you make this Mad Science Cake?

Let me know how it went – or make my day and find me on Pinterest or on Instagram and tag @IntensiveCakeUnit in your photo!

You can also add a comment or a recipe rating at the bottom of the page! 🙂

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