Unofficial Cookbook Shares Harry Potter’s Favorite Dishes

July 11, 2011
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The Unofficial Harry Potter Cookbook by Dinah Bucholz is perfect company until the lines at movie theaters vanish for Harry Potter The Deathy Hallows – Part 2 opening this week. I did stand in line to get the final Harry Potter book the minute it came out, at midnight, devouring it into the dawn. Wish I had also had a plate of Hagrid’s Rock Cakes to nibble on…not because they are authentic to the Harry Potter books, but because they are delicious.

Sampling from the more than 150 recipes in The Unofficial Harry Potter Cookbook, a charmingly designed compendium of magical recipes, most dishes I have tried are spellbindingly good. Those rock cakes, light, buttery, and touched with a flick of spice, contradict the stodgy image of this and other British classics .

For Pumpkin Juice, a Hogwart’s staple that appears in a glass pitcher in Harry Potter and The Sorcerer’s Stone, Bucholz had to make up its actual ingredients. Combining pumpkin puree, apple, pineapple, and white grape juices, the sweetness of this orange potion seems more suited to the taste of youthful Potter fans than more mature ones.

Food plays an important part throughout the Harry Potter books and it features in spectacular feasting scenes and beguiling smaller movie moments, as when Dumbldore, contemplating the taste of the Bertie Bott’s Everyflavor Jelly Beans he has selected, declares “earwax” with chagrin.

Bucholz, Muggle, i.e. not a wizard, is a self-taught American mother of four who here uses her passion for cooking to produce pleasing results. Her recipes cover classic English cooking, from brewing a proper cup of tea and making bangers and mash, and shepherd’s pie, to Treacle Tarts. Whether they are nursery favorites, like Spotted Dick, or food for adults with a grown-up palate, they please. (To make the book family friendly, she gives booze-free versions, then shares boozy authentic versions at www.unofficialharrypottercookbook.com.

Potter fans will appreciate that dishes are cited by actual book and chapter, showing their place in the Harry Potter canon. Also larding her pages with culinary history and facts about British cooking and culture, Bucholz gives us a book fit for broader interests, too. As a parent, she excels at showing how to involve children.

If there’s an Anglophile bone in your body, regardless of whether Harry Potter and his wizard’s world captivates you, this is an enjoyable book to read and a solid, delicious cookbook to use.

Hagrid’s Rock  Cakes

Makes 12

Light and tender, rather between a scone and a cookie, these generous, buttery cakes are flavored by the perfect touch of cinnamon. I would perhaps increase the raisins to 1 1/2 cups. Using coconut milk gives excellent  dairy-free results.

See Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, Chapter 8; Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Chapter 3; Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Chapter 11.

2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 cup sugar

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 stick (8 tablespoons) cold unsalted butter, cut into small cubes

1 large egg, at room temperature

1/3 cup whole milk (see note)

1 cup raisins

Preheat the oven to 350°F, and grease and flour a large cookie sheet. Combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon and salt in a large mixing bowl. Using a pastry cutter or your fingertips, work the butter with the dry ingredients until the mixture resembles moist sand.

Beat the egg with the milk and add the liquids to the flour-butter mixture, using a rubber spatula to stiff but supple dough. Fold in the raisins. Dividing the dough into 12 parts, mound it on the prepared cookie sheet, spacing the cakes 2 inches apart.

Bake for 25 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through baking. When the bottoms are golden, the tops just lightly colored outside, and the Rocks are evenly cake-like in the center inside, cool them on the baking sheet. Serve warm or cooled, the day they are made.

 

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