We were asked to create a very fabulous Harry Potter cake back in November and I have to say it turned out bloody brilliant even if I do say so myself. I flipping loved doing this cake and getting all the elements in there – the sorting hat, the glass, the wand and the snitch – it looks really impressive and is amazing but actually not as technically difficult to do as you would think. That is, at least if you have a good set of power tools, some MDF board and don’t mind getting a bit dusty.
This cake was also travelling a fair few miles so needed to be secure. In the end, I decided the best way was to start with a piece of MDF board and drill a 10mm hole right through the middle. I then inserted a 10mm threaded steel rod, pre-washed of course. This was secured with washers and bolts either side. I also cut eight 2″ x 2″ pieces of mdf and glued them on top of each other to make four feet. I then glued these to the base board to allow for the bolts coming through the base.
There were three cakes in total in this cake so each one had to be put on a separate cake board. But before I could do that I had to drill through each board to create a hole for the rod to go through using a 10mm drill bit. See, it’s getting a bit technical now this Harry Potter cake! Trouble is, cake boards are made of compressed cardboard and if you drill through them you send bits of card flying everywhere. I haven’t encountered a full proof way of doing this save for placing it upside down on a piece of wood and drilling through that as well – it stops the mess a little.
The way to get it central, well as central as possible in my cackhanded way is to draw around the board on greaseproof or tracing paper, then fold that circle into four so you have a central point. Unfold it, lay it on the back of the board and mark that central point on your board.
Once you’ve drilled your holes you need to stop any stray fibres getting into your cake so use sticky tape to seal the sides of the hole all the way around. Make sure to drill a larger hole for the bottom tier as it needs to fit over the bolt – a 22mm drill bit works well for this.
Before you put the cakes on the central rod though it’s easiest to make a hole in the cake itself. Cake, unlike board, will move so the easiest way I find to do this is to put the cake on the board, securing with ganache, poke a dowel through the hole and push up into the cake so you know roughly where the centre is and then use an apple corer to remove some of the cake. After this, you slide the cake carefully over the hole. You’ll still need to dowel the cake in the normal way – I find eight – ten dowels is plenty.
Repeat the process with the next two smaller cakes – in this case, I used a 12″ round, 10″ round and 8″ round, all triple layer. At this point, if you have enough space in your fridge then it could do with being cooled down to make it easier to carve. If not, you’ll have to do your best without.
The top of the cake was made with fondant so don’t worry about carving it into a point. You also don’t have to worry about carving it into a perfect pyramid – it’s a Harry Potter cake, the sorting hat takes all sorts of different shapes and the fabric drapes!
Use white fondant to create some creases on the cake. It’s especially important to do this on the face part to create the mouth and nose so when you cover with brown fondant, it flows over the top and creates the shape you want.
We covered it in two parts with the Renshaw’s chocolate brown fondant, available from Cake Stuff. This paste is sturdier than white fondant and folds well. You can also smooth the edges together easier. You have to work fairly fast though as it will start to dry a little. The top part of the cake was made with a larger piece of brown fondant with some CMC in it to help it hold. Use a boning or balling tool to create creases in it before you add it in.
Next, I rolled out fondant and laid it around the base, scoring it to create the wood effect. This was airbrushed with a combination of black, brown and peach colours to create the shading.
Now you want to roll out more brown fondant with CMC in it into a long, thickish strip (about 3-4mm) and about 3-4″ wide. Carefully lay it round the base of the hat, pushing it into place and using foam to support the edges in certain places to keep the brim of the hat up.
Leave to set for a few hours. Once the Harry Potter cake is set, use black dusting powder or black airbrush colour to add in shading and definition. Give the whole thing a spritz with edible glaze to finish off and remove any icing sugar or cornflour marks.
Your sorting hat is finished! Leave it as it is or add in all sorts of other bits and bobs from Harry Potter. We did a golden snitch, Harry’s glasses, Gryffindor scarf and a wand for further effect. Ultimately, it looked really fecking cool!