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overhead shot of tombstone cakelets decorated for halloween

Pumpkin Tombstone Cakes

Naturally dyed using activated charcoal, these tombstone cakes are scary good and easy to make with lots of pumpkin flavor!  A simple confectioners sugar frosting whips up easy for adding decorations.
Course Cakes
Cuisine halloween
Keyword activated charcoal cakes, activated charcoal recipes, cakelets, halloween desserts, tombstone cakes
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes
Servings 6 cakes
Calories 393kcal
Author Lauren


Pumpkin Tombstone Cakes

  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3 tablespoons food grade activated charcoal
  • ½ cup unsalted butter room temperature
  • ¾ cup granulated sugar
  • ¾ cup pumpkin purée
  • ½ cup buttermilk
  • 1 egg lightly beaten
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon optional

Simple Confectioners Sugar Icing

  • ½ cup confectioners sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon vanilla
  • 3 ½ teaspoons heavy cream


  • Preheat the oven to 350°F.  Spray the tombstone cake pan with baking spray for best results (see notes.)
  • In a small bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, egg and vanilla.  Set aside.
  • In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking soda and activated charcoal.
  • In a mixer or in a large bowl with a hand mixer, beat the butter on medium high speed until pale and fluffy.  Add the granulated sugar and cream together on medium speed for 1 minute.  Add the pumpkin puree to the bowl and beat into the butter and sugar.  It'll look a little strange, but everything will come together after adding the remaining ingredients.
  • With the mixer on low speed, add half the amount of dry flour mixture to the bowl, then half the buttermilk mixture.  Mix until just combined, about 1 minute.   Repeat with the remaining ingredients.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl and mix on medium speed until combined, about 30 seconds to 1 minute.
  • Divide the batter equally in the prepared pan.  Bake at 350°F for 20 to 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of a cake comes out clean.  Let the tombstone cakes cool in the pan for 5 to 10 minutes before inverting onto a cooling rack.  Cool the cakes completely before adding decorative frosting.
  • For the icing:  In a small bowl combine the confectioners sugar and vanilla.  Slowly add the heavy cream until a paste like consistency forms.  You want it thick so it will set and harden but soft enough to push through a piping bag using a Wilton Tip#3.


  • Be sure to use food grade activated charcoal!  If you don't want to use activated charcoal, you can substitute wilton cake dye gel in black.
  • For the best, cleanest cakes, grease the pan using a baking spray with flour.  You can use a traditional greasing method of butter and flour or brushing with pastry 'goop' but this will leave a residue on the final cake and might obscure some of the details in the tombstones.
  • If you don't have piping bags or decorating tips, use a plastic sandwich bag.  Cut as little off as possible of one of the corners.


Calories: 393kcal | Carbohydrates: 55g | Protein: 4g | Fat: 18g | Saturated Fat: 11g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 74mg | Sodium: 219mg | Potassium: 132mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 37g | Vitamin A: 5355IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 46mg | Iron: 2mg