A while ago, the New York Times best-seller list featured something interesting – an unofficial Harry Potter cookbook. Intrigued, I bought it as a birthday gift for my younger sibling during a cooking kick they were in. Of course, being a young teen this kick ended and the book lay under a desk, gathering dust for around two years. Then, we were hit by the pandemic and went into lockdown, and I found a new obsession: cooking. In the midst of that newfound love, I rediscovered an old favorite, this cookbook.
The cookbook, written by Dinah Bucholz, features more than 150 recipes from the books and movies. Something I love about it is that every recipe has a little excerpt that sources in which part of the books the food is referenced. The recipe that I will be reviewing is the recipe of Hagrid’s 13th Birthday cake for Harry. The recipe was included in tandem with three other cake recipes, all made by one of Harry’s friends. The excerpt at the beginning describes the book scene in which the Dursley’s lock Harry away from his friends, and they find a way to send him cakes and gifts anyway. I chose Hagrid’s cake admittedly due to the ingredients being readily accessible.
The recipe is extremely British and acknowledges that fact. The actual name of the recipe is custard sponge sandwich cake. With a little research, I discovered before cooking that British sponge cake is quite different from American sponge cake – denser. So, when the batter’s texture came out incredibly thick and sparse, I wasn’t as scared as I might have been.
The recipe was well written, easy to follow and designed with a great theme in mind. There are Harry Potter facts whimsically placed throughout the book, and this section too, features a few. It truly enhanced my experience. Here are some of my thoughts and observations from the process of preparing, baking and serving this cake:
- Not much batter
- Very thick
- Dry like cornbread
- Recipe said it had eight servings but my younger sibling and I ate half the cake the morning I assembled it
- Good but with a more subtle sweetness than we expected
- The custard was the best part
- Would make again
Overall the cake was well-received, although not perfectly executed. The custard was slightly lumpy and the cake itself was a little dry. I chalk that up to human error though and not the recipe itself. Tune in soon for part 2.