Preheat your oven to 175ºC / 160ºC Fan / 350º F / Gas 4
Prepare 5 layer tins with a circle of baking parchment on the bottom and give them a quick spray with Wilton Bake Easy this will stop the cakes from sticking.
Add the flour, cocoa powder, sugar, baking powder, salt and butter to a stand mixer or into a large bowl if using an electric handheld whisk/ whisking by hand. Beat slowly until the ingredients look like damp sand.
In a jug, whisk the milk, eggs and vanilla together, then slowly pour it into the sandy mixture. Beat on high speed until the mixture is smooth and creamy without any lumps.
Scrape the sides of the bowl down and beat for a further minute. Take care not to overmix or the cake will lose its fluffiness.
Spoon the mixture evenly between the 5 layer tins and bake in the pre-heated oven for around 25 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean. The cakes are properly baked when they spring back when pressed lightly with your finger.
Leave the cakes to cool in their tins.
Black chocolate buttercream icing
Add the room temperature butter to a stand mixer with paddle attachment fitted. Beat until very smooth and creamy (at least 3-4 minutes) If you are using a handheld electric whisk this will take longer. It is also possible to make the buttercream by hand but it will take a lot of elbow grease!
Sift the icing sugar and add it a few tablespoons at a time. Beat until fully incorporated. Add the cocoa powder and beat until there are no streaks of colour and the mixture is an even medium brown shade.
Slowly add the milk and vanilla and beat until smooth.
Add a teaspoon of Sugarflair black food colouring and mix thoroughly. The colour will resemble dark concrete and won't look black yet so don't be tempted to add more.
Cover the bowl and put the buttercream in the fridge to develop in colour for at least two hours but preferably overnight.
When you're ready to use the buttercream remove it from the fridge and microwave it in 15-second bursts until it's the right consistency.
Assembling and Decorating
Add the first layer cake to a cake stand or turntable.
Add buttercream icing on top of the cake - you can do this by using a piping bag without a tip fitted or spoon it on. Use a spatula to even out the buttercream.
Repeat for the next four layers. Don't worry if any of the buttercream escapes from the layers - you can use this to cover the sides of the cake later.
When you get to the final layer, pile the remaining buttercream on top of the cake and use a spatula to spread it down the sides.
Even out the buttercream on the sides and top of the cake using a cake scraper.
Press colourful sprinkles along the bottom border of the cake using the palm of your hand.
Push the skeleton hand into the centre of the cake. Drape the sweets between the skeleton's fingers. Add jelly rings and other decorations around the hand. Use lollies as tombstones and add any other sweet decorations you like.
Push a few plastic spiders into the sides of the cake and dangle them from the skeleton's fingers (don't eat them!)
Skeleton hand (meant for a fishtank) bought on Amazon
All Halloween sweets and plastic spider decorations found in B&M
White cake stand from M&S
Note: For very black buttercream you will need to leave the colour to develop over a couple of hours or preferably overnight.Cake and buttercream can be frozen (undecorated for up to three months) Finished cake will keep in the fridge for 5 days.