I think, over time, it has become quite clear how much I love all things Harry Potter. Sometimes, when it comes to Harry, I’m as much of a rabid fangirl as those half my age. I try not to embarrass the hubster and our boy too much with my fanaticism, though.
Over the last four days I had the luxury (seriously, it was a luxury) to read over 350 comments sharing with me your favorite Hogwarts houses and students. You guys amaze me. Really. Very, very few of the comments, I would say less than a dozen, were just “I like this house and this student.” Almost each and every one of you shared! You shared your favorite house, but you also shared why it was your favorite. You shared what made each student your favorite; the qualities they possessed that you admire. Some of you made me laugh until I cried, and some of your comments were so touching that I cried in empathy. My very favorite commentors were the ones who didn’t have a favorite house…they had THEIR house. It wasn’t, “My favorite house is…” It was, “I am IN this house…” And that is what makes Harry Potter so special, isn’t it? That’s what makes J.K. Rowling so gifted. It isn’t just that she wrote great stories that are fun to read. She touched us…her characters, her magical places resonated with so many of us in a much deeper way than just being an enjoyable story.
I know a lot of you struggled with picking a favorite student because your favorite character isn’t a student at all. I understand, and I can relate. If I had to pick my absolute favorite character of the entire series, it would be Dobby. He is so admirable: brave, strong, loyal, kind, loving. More humans could stand to be like that heroic little elf. However, I wanted to focus on Hogwarts, it’s houses, students, and staff, for this survey. You see, for me, Hogwarts itself is as much a character of the series as any one of the walking, talking characters. When I read the books and watch the films, imagining and seeing Hogwarts is half the enjoyment for me. I was fortunate enough to get to see an early premiere of the film last night at 7pm. Watching Hogwarts being destroyed during battle was almost as heartbreaking as the deaths of beloved characters. Seeing the rubble, the explosions, the debris…it was painful to watch happen.
Teach us something please!
Whether we be old and bald,
or young with scabby knees…
That’s why today’s post, and today’s treat, is dedicated to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. I wanted to make Hogwarts a cake, but one that suited everything we’ve learned about the school. I made a delicious spice cake with cream cheese frosting (recipes below), keeping the outside rustic and homespun, just like I think they would serve it at Hogwarts. I covered the whole cake in a thick, fluffy, creamy buttercream and left it au natural, rather than smoothing everything down. Next, I created a banner with the first lines of the Hogwarts school anthem to drape across the top of the cake, as well as each of the four house banners. I love the way the cake looks, and I can easily picture it sitting amongst the amazing desserts and puddings in the Great Hall. But nothing at Hogwarts is what it seems, and this cake is no different.
I was inspired to make a cake with the four main Hogwarts house colors by a twitter friend of mine, John (@chocchunk). I was further inspired by the Hogwarts house scarves to give it a vertical striped filling (except I’m firmly canon when it comes to Ravenclaw, it’s blue and bronze, not blue and silver). I’m thrilled with the results! I love this new, interesting, surprising way to assemble cake and I can hardly wait to try it again!
This is why I wanted everyone to share their favorite houses and their favorite students this week. Without Harry, there is no Harry Potter, but the same can be said of dear, old Hogwarts.
That being said, here are the numbers for your favorite students:
Your #1 favorite Hogwarts student (by a landslide), past or present, is loopy, loony, lovable, and loyal Luna Lovegood. I can’t even begin to express how happy this makes me.
Second place goes to our clever Hermione. Third goes to brave Neville, with Fred and George Weasley coming in a close fourth. Finally, Ron comes in fifth, with several more votes than the next closest student. Ginny, Harry, Professor McGonagall, Sirius Black, and Severus Snape all came in next, within one or two votes of one another. The next group of close calls includes Dumbledore, Lupin, and Hagrid. Finally, the last group includes all of the students who got one or two votes each: Lily, Tonks, Arthur, Molly, Cedric Diggory, Lucius Malfoy, Dean Thomas, Moaning Myrtle, Draco, Blaise Zabini, Oliver Wood, and Tom Riddle.
Now for the house standings:
In fourth place with 8% of the comments is HUFFLEPUFF
In third place with 11% of the comments is SLYTHERIN
In second place with 26% of the comments is RAVENCLAW
Which means the winner of the Hogwarts House Cup is GRYFFINDOR with 55% of the comments!
I don’t think many people are surprised by those results, although I do have to say that I don’t think Hufflepuff gets nearly enough credit. After all, the Goblet of Fire chose Cedric Diggory, a Hufflepuff, as the Hogwarts Champion. There’s a reason for that.
Now for the winner of my Harry Potter apron giveaway!
The winner is…
For everyone else, as a consolation prize, you can download and print my Hogwarts Anthem and house banners to use for your own Harry Potter party decorating. Just click here to download the image and print at 100% (do not scale) on heavy, bright white paper.
To celebrate the release of the eighth and final film, the hubster and I had a small viewing/pre-premiere party last night. It was just the two of us and a few friends, so with my cake as the centerpiece, we had a small dessert table set up. We’re fortunate to have the sweetest little stone building on our property that was a perfect location for our party. We put all of our food inside with candles, and set up a few small garden tables and chairs outside. We had delicious chicken pot pies for dinner with grown up butterbeer. Afterwards, we all made our way to hammocks that the hubster had strung amongst the trees and watched Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part I projected onto a large white sheet that we had mounted to act as our movie screen. It was a wonderful night and exactly the kind of evening that suits a Harry Potter viewing party.
For the cake, I divided the batter equally between four bowls and colored each one to match a Hogwarts house. I made my cake six-inches round, but this recipe can be altered to suit any size cake. By make a six inch round cake, I was able to make a single recipe and get all four layers. If I were to make an eight- or nine-inch round cake, the recipe would have to be doubled.
Once the cakes were all baked and cooled, I cut rings into them. I used two different sized cutters as guides. Once they were cut, I then cut them open and trimmed a small extra amount off of each of the outer layers. If you don’t cut this extra bit of cake out, then the ends of the rings won’t meet once the filling is added. To make things super easy, I filled a decorating bag with a coordinating frosting color and squeezed the frosting around the outside of it. At first, I used a star tip, but it’s better not to use a tip at all, just snip the end of the bag off. Be sure to apply a generous amount of frosting, so that you can see the colors in the layers. Once the frosting was on, I gently wrapped the next layer around it and pressed it gently to the frosting. One more layer of frosting and the final ring of cake, and each layer was complete.
I stacked the layers right on top of each other, without any frosting between them. You could certainly add more frosting between the layers, but I felt that the amount added already (plus the frosting that goes on the outside) was plenty for flavor, and the inside of the cake looks far more striking without that extra frosting separating the layers.
This cake is far, far easier than you might think. I had it completely assembled, filled, and frosted in only 15 minutes! That’s even with all of the cutting and trimming that had to be done. This is very similar to a vertical layer cake, but even easier.
The inside is so exciting, beautiful, and unexpected. Everyone was oohing and ahhing, and as I’m sure you know, there’s no better feeling than for everyone else to love your work as much as you do! If you still have a Potter party planned for tonight, and you want a spectacular centerpiece that’s much faster and easier than anyone would guess, then this cake is perfect. Enjoy your parties, premieres, and Potter farewells! Happy Harry Weekend, friends!
Hogwarts Spice Cake [Printable Version]
Makes 2 8- or 9-inch rounds or 4 6-inch rounds
4 eggs, at room temperature
1/2 cup milk, at room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups (7 ounces) cake flour
1 1/2 cups (10 ounces) sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour 2 8- or 9-inch round cake pans, or 4 6-inch round cake pans; set aside.
Combine the eggs, milk, and vanilla in a small bowl and whisk until mixed; set aside.
In a large bowl, or the bowl of a standing mixer, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves. Add the butter, one tablespoon at a time, mixing until the mixture looks sandy. Add about half of the egg mixture, mixing on low speed until incorporated. Increase to medium high speed and beat until light and fluffy. Return the speed to low and add the remaining egg mixture. Again, mix until just incorporated, then increase speed to medium high and beat until thoroughly combined.
Divide the batter, adding color if desired, between the prepared pans. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes. Allow to cool before frosting.
Cream Cheese Frosting [Printable Version]
8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
4 cups confectioners’ sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
In a large bowl, or the bowl of a standing mixer, beat the cream cheese and butter together until completely combined. Add the sugar, one cup at a time, beating well between each addition. Stir in the vanilla until thoroughly combined. Beat the mixture well, until light and fluffy, adding up to a tablespoon of heavy cream, if the frosting is too stiff.
Recipes, Hogwarts Banners by Darla
Click on the link(s) below, then click File > Save as or Print. Print at 100% (do not scale) on heavy bright white paper, cut out, and assemble as directed above.
Paper owls courtesy of 3eyedbear. Snowy (black and white), Gryffindor, and tawny versions are available through 3eyedbear’s site as Orly, Lava, and Hoothoot!, respectively. Hufflepuff, Ravenclaw, and Slytherin versions are 3eyedbears creations, edited by Darla. Follow the links to download and print the owls.