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Like so many people out there, I’m a huge Harry Potter fan. And because it is Harry Potter’s 20th anniversary [since the release of its first book and the start of my love story with the series] I had to bake a cake to celebrate the event. A tall, heavenly chocolate cake with the magical goodness of everything that makes chocolate cake that special something it is to everyone who loves birthdays and cakes. As soon as I saw this lovely chocolate cake on Diamonds for Dessert, I had my heart set on recreating it from scratch with the delicate pink icing and lopsided birthday wish scrawled carelessly across in green. The whole thing cannot help reminding me of the scene where Hagrid comes over to announce to an 11-year old Harry that he is wizard about to join Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.

“Anyway — Harry,” said the giant, turning his back on the Dursleys, “a very happy birthday to yeh. Got summat fer yeh here — I mighta sat on it at some point, but it’ll taste all right.” From an inside pocket of his black overcoat he pulled a slightly squashed box. Harry opened it with trembling fingers. Inside was a large, sticky chocolate cake with Happy Birthday Harry written on it in green icing.” – Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, J.K. Rowling

Harry’s birthday cake is also the first cake from the magical world we get introduced to, well before we hear of Bettie Bott’s Every Flavor Beans, Chocolate Frogs, Pumpkin Pasties, Cauldron Cakes, and many other strange sweets muggles like us can only dream about. So if you’re having a Harry Potter themed party, this is the perfect cake to have on your table though you could as well bake them into cupcake format, decorate them with the ‘Happee Birthdae’ message and give them away as party favors along with a couple of Hagrid’s rock cakes. And the magic lives on…

HARRY POTTER’S BIRTHDAY CAKE

For the Chocolate Cake

1 1/2 cup granulated white sugar

1 1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons flour

1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons cocoa powder

1 1/8 teaspoon baking soda

1 1/8 teaspoon baking powder

3/4 teaspoon kitchen salt

1 egg + 1 yolk, room temperature

3/4 cup fresh full cream milk

1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

3/4 cup boiling water

For the Chocolate Frosting

6 tablespoons butter, room temperature

3/4 cup cocoa powder

2 1/2 to 2 3/4 cup powdered sugar

1/3 cup fresh full cream milk

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the Vanilla Frosting

3 tablespoons butter, room temperature

2 to 2 3/4 cups powdered sugar

1/6 cup fresh full cream milk

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Red and green food coloring

Method:

  • Preheat oven to 350°F. Mix sugar, flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.
  • Stir in eggs one at a time. Add milk, oil, and vanilla extract and mix. Now add the boiling water.

  • Spray two round 9-inch diameter baking pans with nonstick spray. Pour batter in the two pans.
  • Place pans in oven and bake the cakes for 30 to 35 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

  • Remove from oven and cool in pans for 10 minutes. Transfer to a cooling rack to finish cooling.
  • When the cakes are totally cooled, slice them into half so you end up with 4 circular cake layers.

  • For the chocolate frosting, mix cocoa and powdered sugar together. Cream butter till it is fluffy.
  • Mix in 1/3 of the cocoa/sugar mixture to the creamed butter. Slowly, add about 1/3 of the milk.

  • Repeat this until all the cocoa powder, sugar, and milk are combined. Mix in the vanilla extract.
  • The frosting should be spreadable at this point. If it is not, add in more milk or sugar as needed.

  • For the vanilla frosting, cream butter. Mix in 1/2 of the powdered sugar and add 1/2 of the milk.
  • Repeat with other 1/2 of sugar and milk. Add vanilla extract. The frosting should be spreadable.

  • Now scoop out a portion of the frosting into a separate bowl, just enough for the frosting letters.
  • Add few drops of red food coloring to the remainder of the frosting and mix to get pink frosting.

  • In the other bowl, add green food coloring to get green frosting. Keep covered until ready to use.
  • To assemble, spread frosting on the first cake and smooth it out. Place another cake layer on top.

  • Dollop frosting and smooth. Repeat process with third layer of cake and top with final cake layer.
  • Press down to make sure it firmly sandwiched. Apply a crumb coat with the pink vanilla frosting.

  • Continue the crumb coat on the sides of the cake. Chill, then apply a second layer of pink frosting.
  • Place the green frosting in a piping bag and scrawl “Happee Birthdae Harry” on top of the cake.

Happy Birthday Harry!

I’ve grown to love my work. It does take up most of my time and keeps me away from the kitchen for days but I really dnt think I should complain.

Being in the surgical unit gives me plenty of opportunities to suture lacerations, excise cysts and carry out other procedures which I guess are too gross to mention on a food blog. The other ‘exciting’ aspect of my job is to assist surgeries which can range between few minutes to several hours long.

My primitive skills were put to test last night when I was called to assist an emergency craniotomy at around 22:00. The operating surgeon had once been my lecturer during those glorious college days and I was still very much in awe of him, as I was back then. Hope my shaky hands did not give me away.

Post call, I centred my weekend baking project around the unlikely theme of neurosurgery. And that’s how the lovely recipe from The Repressed Pastry Chef got converted into brainy red velvet cupcakes. I’d like to dedicate them to the neurosurgeon who’s been so nice to me all along. Thanks!

BRAINY RED VELVET CUPCAKES

 

Ingredients:

1 cup cake flour

1/3 cup cocoa

1/2 tsp salt

2/3 cup vegetable oil

3/4 cup sugar

1 egg, room temperature

2 tbs red food colouring

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1/2 cup buttermilk

1/2 tsp baking soda

3/4 tsp white vinegar

 

Method:

  • Preheat oven to 350 oF. Line muffin pan with cupcake liners.
  • In a medium bowl, whisk flour, cocoa and salt together.
  • Place oil and sugar in a large bowl. Beat till well blended.
  • Add egg and beat until light and fluffy for about a minute.

 

  • Slowly stir in food colouring to prevent any splashing.
  • Add vanilla, then fold in flour in two batches alternating with buttermilk. Scrape down bowl and mix until just combined.
  • In a small dish, combine baking soda and white vinegar.

 

  • Add to batter and stir vigorously for about 10 seconds.
  • Spoon batter into muffin pan filling each upto 2/3 full.
  • Bake for 25-30 minutes until cupcakes spring back to touch.

 

  • For icing, whisk together 100g softened unsalted butter with 1 cup sifted icing sugar and 1 tsp milk until silky smooth.
  • Place icing in piping bag fitted with a large plain nozzle. 
  • Draw the simple outline of  a brain on each cupcake.

 

  • To make it more real, drizzle with fake blood – a few drops of red food colouring added to 1 tbs light golden syrup diluted with 2 tsp warm water does the trick. Alternately you can use strawberry jam or syrup.

Hope all of you have a great week ahead!

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PrerrnaMirchi
Mauritius

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