Birthday Cake Tutorial~ Harry Potter’s Monster Book of Monsters

“Monster Book of Monsters”

Once upon a time, there was a 6 year old boy that was soon turning 7.  His Mommy asked him what kind of birthday party he wanted. The boy said, without hesitation, “Harry Potter.”  And so it begins….

Every year since his 2nd birthday, I make a fancy cake and a homemade birthday party for my boy.  Cheap on the wallet but rich with memories!  Let’s see, here are the ones he’s had so far:

1st birthday:  Dumb store bought cake with 1st Birthday theme. Dumb. Dumb. Dumb.

2nd: The Wiggles!….have to find photo to post of cake, but here is my little family. Aren’t we the cutest? 🙂

This started our tradition of my husband dressing up as some character from the theme at each party.  Captain Feathersword!

3rd: Curious George (CG’s head)…have to find photo to post!

4th: Ben 10…have to find photo to post!

5th: Star Wars R2D2

6th: Lego Minifigures on giant Legos

7th: Harry Potter

Then word got out on the street about my cake attempts, and I was asked to do this one for Max’s classmate:

8th: Well, for his 8th birthday, which is in January, he currently has a request in for a Bey Blade cake…. which will surely change 5 more times before he decides.

BUT the focus of this post is his Monster Book of Monsters cake from his last birthday.  I decided this time to take a step by step photo log, and here it is!

First I decided to draw out a sketch, because I find that easier to go from than a photo and makes me think out the parts and how I’ll do them as I draw it.

Next the baking.  I just baked up basically all the cake I had in the cupboard, figuring I’d use it all or could freeze what I didn’t need for later.  Also, I don’t have fancy baking tools or icing tools either as you will soon see.  As a matter of fact, the cake was baked in a hodge-podge collection of small bread loaf pans, giant lasagna pans and tiny brownie tins. (Good news is that since then I’ve finally splurged on an eBay purchase of silicone cake pans! Worry not my frugal friends, they were bought used so I got a steal.)

My trick to make box cake taste more homemade is to add vanilla flavoring, no matter the cake flavor, and a bit of butter, even if the recipe doesn’t call for it.  Once the cakes were baked, I wrapped them in plastic bags and stuck them in the freezer overnight.  Frozen cakes are WAY easier to cut, put together, don’t crumble as much and as they thaw make for a wonderfully moist cake.  As you can see above, I mixed my flavors making marble cakes for each piece.  I saved a large chunk to add the eyebrow as you will see later.

My frostings though, are always from scratch.  Waaaay cheaper and tastes so much better!  Usually some combination of powdered sugar, heavy whipping creme, vanilla and a touch of butter.  I don’t use a recipe, I just wing it. Delish everytime!  This one, I did add melted bittersweet chocolate to help with the color too.

Note basting brush used to brush crumbs off cake before adding crumb coat.  Easy peasy. Now for the fun stuff…

First, I cut a hunk of eyebrow and frosted that like the crumbcoat base.  Next, pure white frosting in a ziplock back with a tiny corner snipped off worked excellent for the “pages of the book”.  Just ran multiple lines around three sides of the cake.  The area in front that I left blank is where the teeth are going.

Going into this, I had no idea what to use for the “gums and tongue” on the mouth, then it hit me…..FRUIT LEATHER!  Not just fruit leather, but fruit leather with some black food dye colored on it with a toothpick for definition.  Niiiiice.  Just make a ribbon out of the fruit leather like gathering together like fabric and stick it on. Each “hole” in the ribbon will hold a fang you will soon see.

More fruit leather for the tongue, also enhanced with some black food coloring to accent the line that goes down the middle and of course, it MUST be forked!

Next, let’s prep the eyeballs.  Four marshmallows smooshed down a bit, then yellow frosting for the iris and black frosting for the pupils.

Don’t forget a little block of cake to build up the nose.

I’ll finish the mouth later, but now onto the tentacles.  Fill another ziplock bag with frosting, snip a bit bigger corner off and squirt away.  A few Cheerios work nicely for the “suckers”.

Using the same bag, I piped on some coverage over the eyes, nose and defined and built up the “face” a bit. Don’t forget the overhanging tentacles/fur stuff coming over the top down the sides.

Sorry, a little fuzzy, but here are the fangs.  White frosting in a ziplock back then add a dollop of yellow frosting too, but don’t mix! Let it come out as yellow streaks on the white. Start at the “root” up in the fruit leather. Make sure this frosting is a bit stiffer than the chocolate or your teeth might fall out!

Crooked and jaggedy teeth are good, so don’t worry about them being perfect!

Now back to a brand new ziplock bag with the darker chocolate frosting.  I happened to have an old plastic “grass or hair” frosting tip, so I was VERY glad to use that. It looks like a thimble, but with holes in the top. Perfect for spooky hair.

Note the black “nostrils”.  The way I did the hair was to start on the edges and work my way to the eyes, that way the hair looked like it was laying on each other the way I think it would probably grow.

See the ridge left from the original piping around the “face” to add definition.  Once you have the hair how you like it, time to add the wording on the “cover”.

Writing on hair is tricky.  Especially without a proper decorator tip.  I just snipped the edge of a ziplock again, and it worked just fine.  Time to add the tongue!

As you can see, the tongue doesn’t go in the same spot as the teeth in my cake, I liked that look best and made it all the more freaky.  See how cool it looks with the black food coloring?  You can mold the leather to look like a real tongue. Cool!  Also, the kids LOVED that the tongue went off of the base. Really made it look more threatening and “real”.

Here’s a better top shot of the wording.

The finished product on the birthday table, complete with decorated plastic goblets and all sorts of fancy Harry Potter-ish stuff.

I think the wizards kids approve!

“Monsterio Leviosio Blowoutis!”

Awww…poor thing.  He never hurt a fly!

What kind of cake are YOU going to try to do next?
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