Sunday, May 30, 2010

Flight of the Golden Snitches

I have been making cupcakes for my niece Hannah's birthday for the last couple of years. This year she wanted a Harry Potter theme.

I have a small confession to make here - I have never read or watched Harry Potter anything. There is a back story to this but lets just say I can't. Harry Potter cupcakes, OK cool, I thought. Then she announced that she wanted Golden Snitches - what???

Anyway, brief lesson in Harry Potter folklore (there are university courses in the UK for this stuff now!) - Golden Snitches are a golden, walnut-sized ball with wings used in a semi-contact sport called Quidditch, apparently very popular with witches.

Ok - so she wants round balls with wings, coloured gold on top of cupcakes. I can do this.

One of the things I love best about cake decorating are the toys, I mean tools. This project allowed me to add a few more things to my arsenal. I tracked down a wing cutter and veiner to pattern the wings online at Iced Affair (arrived within 2 days! Really prompt service!)

I made the wings first with yellow modelling paste. (Yellow is a better colour base for edible gold paint.) To create movement in the wings, I laid them in round moulds (painting palettes).

For the round bodies I first tried rolling balls of fondant, but I really struggled to get them smooth and even. Walking down the confectionery aisle at the supermarket, I wondered if there was something already round that I could use. That's when I saw the Raffaello chocolates. Initially I only planned to rub off the loose coconut, but I accidentally rubbed off the whole chocolate layer leaving a perfectly spherical wafer ball. Perfect! (Raffaellos do contain nuts so if you're considering using them for your own decorating project, make sure you mention this.)

The balls were easy to paint. The wings were easy to paint. I used yellow royal icing to attach the wings to the bodies and then touched up the joins with more edible gold paint.

I used Toba Garrett's Decorator's Buttercream recipe for the icing. Purple is what I call a 'thirsty' colour - you need to add a lot of colouring gel to get a dark colour so I added another half bag of icing sugar to get the right consistency.

For assembly I piped a swirl of buttercream on top of vanilla cupcakes, placed the snitch on top and dusted liberally with gold disco lustre.

At the party I set the cakes up in a 5 x 5 grid on a square cake board and placed gold candles in the middle cupcake.

What do you think? I think they look pretty di-licious myself. And Hannah was delighted.