Monday, August 6, 2018

Cherry Bakewell Birthday Cake for Harry Potter


In Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Uncle Vernon and Aunt Petunia put Dudley on a strict diet. Harry informs his friends of the severe diet imposed on the whole family, and his friends in turn send him a variety of birthday cakes.


There are quite a few cakes featured in the Unofficial Harry Potter Cookbook, which showcases cakes that Harry may have received from his comrades. The one that my friend Camille decided to make to celebrate Harry Potter's birthday last week was the Cherry Bakewell Cake from Hermione.


This Cherry Bakewell Cake imitates the flavors of the famous Bakewell Tart. It's an almond cake with cherry preserves filling, and a decadent butter frosting on top. This is definitely more of a European style cake, less fluffy than an American counterpart. The cake layers are relatively dense with a firm crumb, offset by the sweet and tart filling and rich frosting.


Almond is the most prevalent flavor here, both through the ground almonds and almond extract in the cake batter. Camille suggests cutting the frosting recipe in half, as it was much more than what was needed to frost just the top of the cake, even with some generous piping detail along the edges. The frosting is quite rich, so a nice thin layer on top is more than enough.

Cherry Bakewell Cake (from Hermione)
Serves 8
(From the Unofficial Harry Potter Cookbook)

Almond Cake:
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup finely ground almonds
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 sticks (12 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon almond extract
1/2 cup whole milk, at room temperature

Butter Frosting: (Camille suggests halving the frosting recipe below, as it makes much more than you'll need)
2 sticks (16 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 cups confectioners' sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 tablespoons whole milk

To Finish the Cake:
1/2 cup cherry preserves (Camille suggests an extra tablespoon or two)
Maraschino cherries, for decorating
Toasted sliced almonds, for decorated (Camille omitted this)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease two 8-inch round cake pans and line the bottoms with parchment paper. Whisk the flour, ground almonds, baking powder, and salt in a mixing bowl and set aside.

Using an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugar in a large bowl until light and fluffy, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed, about 5 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, beating after each until incorporated, and scraping down the sides as needed. Add the almond extract and beat until combined. Add the flour mixture and milk alternately, beginning and ending with the flour, and mixing on the lowest speed to combine. Finish by scraping down and folding the batter with a rubber spatula.

Divide the batter evenly between the 2 pans (it will be thick) and bake for about 25 minutes, until the cake feels soft but firm when touched lightly in the center or a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Let the cakes cool in the pans for 10 minutes, then invert onto a wire rack and cool completely.

For the frosting, beat all the frosting ingredients together until smooth, creamy, and fluffy, scraping down the sides as needed, about 7 minutes.

To assemble the cake, place 1 cake top-side down on a cardboard round. Spread the cherry preserves on top of the cake all the way to the edges. Top with the second cake top-side up. Spread about 1 cup of the frosting on top of the cake. Place the remaining frosting in a pastry bag fitting with a star tip, and pipe a border around the edges of the cake. Line the inside of the border with maraschino cherries placed about 1 inch apart. Sprinkle the middle space with toasted sliced almonds.

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