Okay so I know that Harry Potter is a lot of things, but it's not a TV show. I WILL say that it might as well be because if any of the movies are on TV, I will watch it. Not to mention that I OWN all eight movies. I love it so much, and in my head it spans genres, so I couldn't not commemorate the 20th anniversary of the first book release on Harry's birthday (don't worry, I will also commemorate the 20th anniversary of the US release). There are a lot of food moments to choose from, but this one felt super special because it's the same time he finds out he's a wizard. The best birthday present ever! I read this shortly before I turned 11, and I spent my whole time leading up to my birthday hoping the book was semi-nonfiction and that I would have a certain letter waiting for me that day. It was nice to finally see someone recognizing Harry in the respectful way he deserved and to give him something...anything, especially this life changing news that gets him away from the Dursleys.
Those familiar with the movie might notice that the cake does not look like the one in the movie. They switched out the chocolate glaze and icing for strawberry and spelled happy wrong, my guess is because it shows up better on screen and to drive Hagrid's character home. In the book, the cake was a large, sticky chocolate cake with "Happy Birthday Harry" written on it in green icing.
My cousin and fellow superfan (and former midnight movie goer) got me the Unofficial Harry Potter Cookbook, and I've been so excited to make something from it. It was hard to choose, but this just felt right. I have to say, I bake a lot and this cake recipe was so soft and fudgy, I think it was the best I've ever had cake turn out. Plus it was my first layer cake! It was a process in my hot apartment waiting for the cakes to cool and the icing to harden, but it was a lot of fun and the end result was super nostalgic.
I used parchment paper on the cooling racks because the cakes were SO soft and fudgy the grid on the racks was digging into it and I didn't want to 1) waste cake and 2) have it be too uneven under the frosting.
Chocolate Layer Cake
inspired by Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, chapter 4
for the cake
- 3/4 cup boiling water
- 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 tsp instant coffee (optional)
- 1 cup flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter at room temperature
- 1 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
- 3 large eggs at room temperature
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
for the chocolate glaze
- 8oz chopped bittersweet chocolate
- 3/4 cup heavy cream
- 1/4 stick butter
- 1/4 cup corn syrup
for the chocolate frosting
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
- 1 cup powdered sugar
- 1 tbsp heavy cream
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/2 of chocolate glaze from recipe above
for the green icing
- 1 cup powdered sugar
- water, 1 tbsp at a time
- green food coloring
Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Grease two 8-inch round cake pans* lined with parchment paper.
In a small bowl whisk together boiling water, cocoa powder and instant coffee if you're using it until the mixture is smooth. In another bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt.
In a large bowl (with handheld mixer) or the bowl of a stand mixer, beat butter, sugar and brown sugar until light and fluffy, 5 or so minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, beating after each addition until it's incorporated. Add vanilla and beat until combined. Add cocoa powder/water mixture and beat until combined. Scrape down the sides as needed throughout every step. Add the flour mixture and stir on the slowest speed until combined. Scrape the bottom of the bowl and fold with spatula after to ensure it was totally combined. Divide the batter evenly between the two cake pans (it's fine if you only have one, just do it in shifts!) and bake for 20 minutes or until the cakes are firm and a toothpick or knife inserted into the center comes out with a few crumbs attached. If it's not ready, careful how much time you add because the cake overbakes easily. Cool the layers in the pans for 10 minutes then flip them onto a wire rack and cool completely.
For the glaze, place chocolate, heavy cream, butter and corn syrup in a bowl and microwave for 1-2 minutes. Whisk until smooth. Cool until thick but pourable.
For the frosting, place the butter, powdered sugar, heavy cream and vanilla in a large mixing bowl. Beat until light and fluffy, about 7 minutes. Scrape down the sides as necessary. Add half of the cooled glaze and beat until combined. If the frosting is too soft to spread, chill for about 10 minutes and beat again. Chill again if necessary.
For the piping frosting, add 1 tbsp of water at a time to the powdered sugar. Mix to form a thick paste. Work in the food coloring a few drops at a time until the frosting reaches the desired color green.
Once everything is cooled, place one layer of the cake top-side down on a cake stand or cardboard round. Use a dollop of frosting to secure the layer if necessary. Spread about 3/4 cup of the frosting over the top of the layer and smooth to the edges. Place the second layer top-side up on top of the first layer. Spread the remaining frosting across the top and over the sides to the bottom. Pour the remaining glaze over the top of the cake and smooth to the edges, letting the drip down the sides freely. Warm the glaze in microwave and whisk if it's too stiff (you might have to let it cool again). Pipe a decorative border around the bottom if there is leftover frosting. Place the green icing in a piping bag or sandwich bag with the corner cut off. Write the words (or whatever words you want!) on top of the cake. The cake should not look super professional if you want the Hagrid-made-it look.
*I was making this for a smaller group of people, so I used a 6" cake ring inside a bigger cake pan. I only had one so I had to do the layers separately, which worked fine, but for the proportions I made the whole recipe and baked the leftover batter in a ramekin to save for later.
recipe from The Unofficial Harry Potter Cookbook.
[made while watching GLOW.]