Advanced Warning! – This is a very long post! Proceed with Caution! OK let’s begin:)
Being a baker, and cake decorator comes with a lot of requests from family and friends for cakes. It can be an expensive gift with all of the detail that goes into making something you want to show off as a baker.
Not only that, but when you get a request from your sister to make a Harry Potter Spell Book cake for her son who is turning 13, and is such a huge Harry Potter fan, I had to pull out all the stops.
Harry Potter Inspired Book Cake Tutorial
Now before I go into the details of how that cake was done, I wanted to share with you one of my very first fondant covered cakes from 2009. This was my first year of baking, and I really wanted to challenge myself on Halloween by making a Harry Potter Hogwarts cake, for my kids, who at the time, we’re so much younger, and also huge Harry Potter fans. We have all the books, and DVD’s.
Please excuse the photo quality, as it was taken quite a while ago, but as you can see, it was huge, and my skills were very new to cake making. The great hall did not come out so great as I thought I would like it too have been. My kids loved the little characters made of sugar, though, so that was great. I found inspiration for them online.
So when my sister asked me to make her son this Harry Potter Inspired Book Cake, I knew I had to up my game. I made it two layer. Bottom layer chocolate, and top layer vanilla with vanilla buttercream frosting. To make the book wide enough to feed all of the guests, I made four 7 x 11 cakes. Here is where you can get one, or two for this cake. I made two chocolate and two vanilla.
I stacked the chocolate first, then frosted the center, and then topped with layers of vanilla cake. I just carved a bit from the center to create the book, and a bit from the edges, to create the shape. I placed it in the freezer before carving, as it is so much easier to carve a cake when it is firm and cold, rather than soft and crumbling.
Once I gave it a crumb coat of frosting over top, I let it chill in the fridge, so I can prepare my fondant. A crumb coat by the way, is the first layer of frosting on a cake, so that the fondant can adhere to it, and it also keeps the crumbles, on the cake, and not all over the place.
After you do a crumb coat, bakers either place another layer of frosting and make it nice and smooth, or place fondant on top to cover.
I chose fondant. Not a lot of people enjoy fondant, but myself and my kids do actually. I guess we just like the sweetness of it. Red fondant does have some funky flavor, as does black, but I think that is because of all the food color that goes into it. Vanilla fondant white, is my favorite of taste. I use Satin Ice, that is the brand of fondant that I like to use, but Wilton fondant is a good fondant as well. I use that a lot also.
If I have the time, and when someone requests it, I make marshmallow fondant, that is so delicious and buttery, and tastes just like..well…marshmallows! I will show you how that is done one day. I love the taste of marshmallow fondant, but sometimes the consistency just does not come out right for me, and it takes too much time, just to have a bad batch, and start all over again, or keep trying to fix it with no use, so I just stick to ready made fondant these days.
So back to the cake. I covered the cake in fondant, and quickly but gently smoothed it out, and it took a while, but the book really started to come together. I colored my fondant off white, so that it’s easier to make the book look a little old, and distressed, and more of a parchment look, so starting with off white looked awesome. Once it is covered, I used a fondant tool to create lines for the pages of the cake on the sides, and I also make a gentle score in the center to create the book shape.
Then it came to shading. I used a bronzing powder. Not the kind for your face, the kind for cakes. You can get some here. I used a new makeup brush that I bought just for cakes. The places that need the most shading with food grade bronze, was the edges, the center crease, and the outer areas of the pages. But be sure to place a bit of the bronze, in the center of the pages as well. Just a light brush here and there, to make it look like an aged book.
Now from this point, you can make it any kind of book you want, but we were going for a spell book, and by we, I mean my husband who helped with the shading because when I was shading it, I was disappointed to say the least. So I called him in, for an opinion, and he helped more than he knows.
After the shading is done all over. It was time to write the spells. That was the hardest part for me. Bakers are supposed to have superb writing and calligraphy skills, but sadly I do not. I’m working on it though. So each sentence took a lot of time. I needed to place the name of each spell, and a short meaning next to each spell.
I wanted short, easy spells, that were kid friendly, and easy to write, with short and easy meanings as well. Harry Potter spells, can be complex, and some can be known for being scary for little kids, so I looked for more family friendly Harry Potter spells to place on the cake. I really took my time, and wrote out each spell, with edible markers. I love these, and you can use them to write special messages on cakes, cookies, foods, and they are easy to use.
Here is a picture of my very first book cake, and as you can see, the writing has some mistakes.
Here is a tip: When you make a mistake with edible marker on white fondant, use a Q tip with a bit of vodka to erase, and let dry then start over. Vodka works in so many ways when decorating cakes, and you never taste it.
So after I wrote the spells and let them dry a bit, I started on the scarf. I wanted more of a maroon/burgundy color, with thin stripes of gold-ish yellow, to look like the scarves from the more newer Harry Potter films. If you ever watched the movie series, you will notice that in the first few films, the Hogwarts Gryffindor scarves were more brighter red with thick yellow stripes, but in the later films, the scarves have been updated a bit, and I liked the look of these updated scarves. I am sorry that I don’t have pics of this part of the process. I was in the moment!
I rolled it out to about 4/12 inches wide, and about 12-13 inches long. I placed the yellow stripes of fondant on the red fondant scarf, and I placed the scarf on the cake, in such a way, that it kind of draped on one side, but covered the crease in the center. You are trying to make it flow a little naturally like Harry just threw his scarf on an open book, as he came in from the cold. ( That is how I imagined it, anyways.)
Now, to make the other accessories, I did them a few days ahead of time, so that they can dry firm. See if you leave fondant out in the air for a few days, it will become quite firm. Like hardened Play Dough. Still very edible. It can stay good for a long time. It’s just sugar really. Let’s begin looking into how much made these elements.
The first thing I made was the wand, because I really wanted it to dry hard so that when I layer it on the cake, it would hold its shape, and the kids would be able to actually pick it up and play with it. If I was to make the wand any later, it would have just laid on the cake all droopy like, and look like melted rubber, so start early.
The handle is what I started on first, and what I did was, buy some ready made brown colored fondant. I shaped a smallish, but thick log, then used my fingers to create rims on the handle. Kind of like a mini barbell. I used a fondant tool like the one you see above, that has a plastic dull blade, to create grains of wood by making lines, and curves like you find in natural wood. I then set that upright to dry, and set aside while I work on the wand that I will later attach to the handle.
To create the wand, I made a long thick log that I sort of shaped so that it tapered like a candle on one end. Going from a bit thick, to long and narrow, with a rounded, yet pointed end. The other end is still a bit thick, and flattened a bit to attach to the handle.
I let both of the pieces dry separately for a few days, before I attached them together. I placed them in a food safe storage tub, that is lined with a piece of parchment paper, then I covered the container loosely with paper towels while I’m working, and keeping an eye on them, then cover with a top at night.
When both pieces have dried nicely, I attached them together with edible glue. Just a few dabs on each end, and let it become a bit tacky, then stick together. Place a piece of napkin to hold up the wand part to touch the handle in the center, and keep it at the angle you want it to dry. In between working on the handle, I worked on the other pieces as well. Like the Sorting Hat.
The Sorting Hat:
If you’ve watched the Harry Potter movies, or have read the books, then I’m sure you are well familiar with the talking hat that sorts the students in their proper groups, or houses I should say. Kids will recognize the Sorting Hat as soon as they see it, and it is really easy to make believe it or not.
It’s just brown colored fondant, and Wilton SHAPE-N-AMAZE edible dough, that I shaped into a large, fat, cone. Then I used my fondant tool to create dents in the eyes. Then I bent the top of the hat to droop on one side, and I enhanced the creases where it folds down. Then use your fondant tool to make the mouth. Here is where I get my Fondant Tools. The best part about making the hat, is that he does not have to look perfect. Tethered and uneven is better. I gave him a Stallone looking smile, that my son got a kick out of!
Then create some lines, dents, and a few pokes in the hat and place him on a circle of brown fondant with a dot of edible glue, or a dab of water. Curl up an edge of the brim of the hat, and he is ready for the party!
Harry Potter’s Glasses:
The glasses was easy for me anyways, because I love working with edible glass. To make edible glass, put 1 cup of granulated sugar in a microwave safe measuring cup, along with 1/2 light corn syrup, and microwave for about 7 minutes until you see that the sugar has melted, and liquid is bubbling. Stir once, at the halfway point. Be careful though, because if you microwave too long, you can make the sugar too brown and burn. When you take it outside of the microwave, wear oven mitts, because it will be hot!
I poured just a little bit, in a silicone cupcake mold, that these will cool really fast, and they pop right out. I poured about an 1/8 on an inch of melted sugar liquid in each. This is like homemade isomolt.
When they are completely cooled, I popped them right out, and covered just the edges of the edible glass rounds, with black fondant to create rims, and set aside. I then rolled out more black fondant, to about 1/8 of an inch thick, and cut out the handles of the glasses, and set those aside. I then made a nose piece for the glasses, by molding a small bit of black fondant, and created a bend, then attached it to each glass rim with edible glue. Set aside to dry.
The Golden Snitch:
The most challenging part for me aside from writing the spells, has got to be the Golden Snitch. A Golden Snitch, is what you must catch in a Harry Potter game of quidditch. It is a little gold ball, that has wings, and it flies very fast. The ball itself was not that difficult, but the thin wings, that must look like feathers and are painted in gold edible paint, can be a challenge.
I have seen some pretty awesome golden Snitches online, and I’m pretty proud of how mine came out. Once you shape your small ball of white fondant, or gumpaste, create lines in the snitch like it has in the movies, then set aside. Using thin white floral wire, roll out some gumpaste thin, and drape a piece over each piece of wire, and cut like wing. Create feather lines with your fondant tool, and stick them in each side of the golden snitch with a bit of edible glue on the end of the floral wire, so that the wire will stay in the ball.
Let this ball with wings dry before gently painting it all gold with edible paint. To create edible paint, you need gold edible dust. You can find it at your craft store, in the baking/cake decorating isle. Place a good amount in a small bowl, and douse with a bit of vodka, or lemon extract, until it is liquid. Mix it up with a brush, and paint away. It won’t take long for the gold liquid in the bowl dries out from the vodka, so just add more vodka, and mix it up again. A little gold dust goes a long way.
The wings, are the hardest things to paint, but when it is done, it looks beautiful! These accessories for the cake, were made a few days…like 3 days, before the day of putting it all together and taking it to the party, so do these things ahead of time.
Once you have baked, filled, iced, covered, bronzed, written, and laid on the scarf, you can now place the hat on the cake with a dot or two of edible icing, along with the other elements. To place the glasses, I laid the arms of the glasses in an x pattern, with a bit of edible glue, on the cake, so they look the way folded glasses look. Then I placed the lenses on top of the arms, with another bit of glue.
To lay the wand on the cake, just place where you can lay it flat, and look for the touch points. That means that you can see where the wand actually touches the cake. That is where you add a bit of edible glue to keep it in place. Do this with all accessories that may fall off in transit.
Finally, I made a nameplate by rolling out some gumpaste thin, and bronzed it a bit on the edges after I cut it to look like a banner. On each end of the banner, I painted on tiny footprints, with brown edible paint, to represent the footprints that you see in the Marauders Map. You can find out about this famous map, in the third film of the Harry Potter series.
Then I just wrote a birthday message on it with edible markers, and I used edible glue to place it on the cake board. I added a few stars to make it pop a bit, and that’s it!….Oh yeah, I also made cupcakes that match:
And here is how it looked on the birthday boy’s table. Cupcakes and all!
It was so much fun to make, and with Halloween just around the corner, this would be awesome for a Halloween party as well. If you live in the Los Angeles area, and would like to place an order, please feel free to contact me;)
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