Friday, May 15, 2015

Making a Golden Snitch Cake

It is my second girl's 10th birthday party on Saturday - the much-discussed and heavily-planned-for Harry Potter themed extravaganza. Preparations proceed apace, but one of the biggest items that we needed to concentrate on - as always - was the cake. So, with the help of my lovely cake decorating friend K, last Saturday was dedicated to the construction of ... the Golden Snitch.

The steps to making this cake weren't as onerous as they might, at first glance, appear. It was a lot less labour-intensive than earlier cakes we have done, such as Dorothy the Dinosaur, Lalaloopsy, or the memorable year that we made 110 cupcakes and decorated them all with chemical symbols to represent the Periodic Table of the Elements. (THAT was effort!)

So here's what we did, to make the Golden Snitch that we're all pretty happy with.

1. Acquire - buy, borrow or rent - a ball cake tin. It is *technically* possible to do this in a metal bowl, but I have to say, when I tried, it was a disaster. The soccer ball tin I bought - Wilton brand - wasn't cheap, but I intend to make many round cakes in the future now I have it, so the cost-per-bake will come out OK.

2. Bake 2x half-circle cakes. You are supposed to fill the tin to about 2/3 to 3/4, but I used gluten free batter and filled just over 3/4 and it didn't quite rise evenly to the top (close enough though). I would suggest a fairly dense cake, as anything light and fluffy like a sponge will just get crushed under the weight of the fondant that's coming up.

3. Wrap and freeze the cakes, preferably for at least 24 hours.
4. If you need to (and you probably will), use a breadknife to cut the non-flat end of the cakes to a level surface.

5. Make a very large amount of buttercream icing. By "very large", I used over 500g of icing sugar, mixed with margarine and a little hot water to loosen up. You want the buttercream to be thick - no dripping off the spoon!

6. Put Cake 1 (the bottom half) on some kind of holding up thing -  an upside down cup or something. (We used an old Tupperware bottle lid). Slather the top with buttercream, then "glue" Cake 2 to it by pressing gently down from the top.

(Tip: You should be working by this point on the cake board or serving plate - whatever you are going to present it on - as you are  approaching the point at which you do NOT want to shift this cake).

7. Now you need to slather the whole lot with buttercream! Go wild - you want it to be thoroughly coated.

8. Colouring the fondant (white icing) is the next step. We use Orchard White Icing because it's gluten free and easily obtainable in Australian supermarkets, but you can use any white icing / fondant available. If you are a perfectionist (or a confectionist :-) with too much time on your hands, you could make your own, I suppose, but we never do.

Colour gels work much, much better than liquid colouring in fondant. We used a gold colour gel for this cake. Latex gloves are your friend here - the colour must be kneaded into the fondant, and sans gloves, you will end up with stained fingers.

Kids usually love this part - pictured is the birthday girl in mid-knead.

9. Now you need to cover the cake with the gold fondant. This, I must fairly state, is haaaaaard.

The way it needs to be done is that you roll out the fondant to an even thickness, then carefully, carefully, lay it out over the cake and smooth it down with your fingers.

This will not be easy to do and get it looking right, and the weight of the fondant is going to very quickly start to pull down and the cake and tear little holes in the coating. (Ours tore three). You may also find it looks a bit like an octopus at this stage.

What you need to do *as quickly as possible* is to trim the "skirt" from the base of the cake. Use a small paring knife and trim it to just under the visible baseline. The sooner you get rid of the extra weight, the less repair work you will need to do.

The fondant you cut away should be saved as you will use it in the next stage for making the embellishments.

Once you have done this bit, very carefully lift the cake off the holder-up thing and place it flat to the board.

10. Next, position the wings / feathers. We used yellow feathers from the $2 shop because I am lazy, but if you want to go authentic,  you could make them out of icing or spun sugar. Once they are in place, roll out two thin "snakes" of fondant and make little holders  as pictured.

11. The decorations / embellishments come next. There are a squillion pictures of the Snitch on the Internet; we just blew one up, printed it and copied the design.

It is pretty much all made from fondant "snakes" - lines laid out on top and across the cake in the correct configuration.

12. Now comes the really fun step - spraying the cake! My friend K had acquired some edible gold spray from one of her mysterious baking sources, and we took the cake outside and sprayed it liberally.

It was just like I imagine graffiti art to be ... except not as stinky and a lot more delicious :-)

After spraying, you will need to let the cake sit somewhere safe, out of the sun and dry to "set" for a while.

14. The final, optional, step is to use edible marker to write "I open at the close" on the Snitch, and birthday wishes on the cake board (K used white fudge icing pen for the birthday message).

And with that ... you're done! One Golden Snitch cake, all ready to grace the most Potterific of parties.

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