There’s nothing like a tombstone cake to celebrate the day you died, right? Make Nearly-Headless Nick’s Deathday cake for your next HP party!Jump to Recipe
I’ve been to many birthday parties in my life, but never a deathday party! If you’ve only watched the movies, then you missed this reference. In Chamber of Secrets, Nearly-Headless Nick has a party on Halloween night to commemorate the day he was killed. It was leaving this party that Harry first heard the Basilisk (not leaving detention with Lockhart as in the movie).
Harry, Ron, and Hermione were the only living people at the party. The rest were all of the Hogwarts ghosts and others that Nick knew.
The smell was quite disgusting. Large, rotten fish were laid on handsome silver platters; cakes, burned charcoal-black, were heaped on salvers; there was a great maggoty haggis, a slab of cheese covered in furry green mold and, in pride of place, an enormous gray cake in the shape of a tombstone, with tar-like icing forming the words,
SIR NICHOLAS DE MIMSY-POPRPINGTON
DIED 31ST OCTOBER, 1492
-Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
Since ghosts can’t eat, everything at the party was completely rotten. When asked, one ghost tells them that when he walks through the table of food he can almost taste it because it’s so strong from being rancid.
Of course, I wasn’t going to make any rotten, nasty food. But the cake was something I could do. I had a hard time with this cake, and it’s not my best work. I like to think the house-elves were probably too busy making the Halloween feast and just threw this together for Nick, which is why the writing doesn’t look great. The truth is, I am horrible at writing with icing.
This cake was almost a fail. I was very close to giving up this night and trying again another time. I started trying to make a homemade angel food cake but didn’t have enough eggs for the 2 1/2 cups of egg whites it called for. After I had already mixed the flour and sugar together for the recipe. I wasn’t able to separate those. So I tried to find a recipe that used egg yolks, but most of those wanted the butter and sugar creamed. I didn’t want to waste the flour and sugar I already used, so I did what I do best: I just “winged it” and made my own cake!
It’s not quite the same as Harry Potter’s Birthday Cake. But, I wouldn’t expect a Deathday Cake to be as exciting as a Birthday anyways.
Step by Step
Preheat the oven to 350F. In a large bowl, sift together the flour, sugar, salt, and baking powder. Set that aside.
Using an electric mixer or stand mixer, beat the butter and egg yolks until they are combined. Then mix in some vanilla extract.
Add half of the flour mixture into the butter mixture. Stir until combined.
Pour in the milk and stir, then add the rest of the flour mixture and stir until it forms a creamy batter. Butter and flour a 9×13 metal baking pan. Spread the batter into the prepared pan and bake for about 35-40 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean.
While the cake is cooling, make the frosting by combining the cream cheese and butter. Stir in the powdered sugar, a little at a time, and the vanilla extract. Mix until it’s creamy. Separate the frosting into two bowls, with about 1/3 in one bowl and 2/3 in the other. In the first bowl, add a few drops of purple (or black) food coloring. In the small bowl, add a very tiny amount of either purple or black to give the frosting a gray tint.
Once the cake has cooled, invert it onto a work surface and round two of the corners to make it into a tombstone shape.
Spread the light gray frosting on the entire cake.
Use an icing piper to write the words on the cake. Serve within the hour, otherwise, the cake needs to be refrigerated because of the cream cheese frosting.
Originally Published On: June 24, 2018
Last Updated On: October 30, 2019
Nearly-Headless Nick’s Deathday Cake
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 1/2 cups granulated sugar
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 3 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 3/4 cup butter (unsalted, softened)
- 6 egg yolks
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 cup milk
- purple or black food color
- 6 oz cream cheese (softened)
- 6 oz butter (softened)
- 3 cups powdered sugar
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- In a large bowl, sift the flour, sugar, salt, and baking powder together then set aside
- Use an electric mixer to combine the butter and egg yolks
- Add the vanilla extract to the butter mixture
- Pour in half of the flour mixture and stir
- Mix in the milk, then the other half of the flour until the batter is creamy
- Spread the batter into a pan lined with aluminum foil
- Bake for about 35-40 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean
- While cake is cooling, make the frosting by combining the cream cheese and butter with an electric mixer until creamed together
- Add the vanilla extract, then the powdered sugar, a little at a time, until it’s creamy
- Separate the frosting into two bowls, putting about 1/3 in one bowl and 2/3 in another
- In the first bowl, add a few drops of purple or black food coloring (for the writing)
- In the second bowl with more frosting, add one drop of purple or black and stir to make a gray
- Invert the cake onto a work surface and cut the corners off the top to make the tombstone shape
- Spread the gray frosting on the entire cake
- Pipe out the words with the dark colored frosting
- Serve within the hour or store in the refrigerator
All nutritional information is based on third-party calculations and should be considered estimates. Actual nutrition content will vary based on brands used, measuring methods, portion sizes, and more.
32 thoughts on “Nearly-Headless Nick’s Deathday Cake”
Hey, I think that works regardless of the challenges it presented you in the making! And it looks perfect for a “deathday” tombstone cake!!! I am still loving this series – it’s so fun and creative, and my girls are just starting to really get into Harry Potter, so can’t wait to start making some of these when camp is done for the summer and the weather has cooled!
My boys have been reading them now, too. We have the illustrated versions and they love them so much. Everything is Harry Potter for them at the moment!
Very cute theme idea, though I have to admit, no food based on nearly headless nick’s deathly party seems particularly appetizing!
Hah, I totally understand that! I figured you can’t go wrong with a cake, but no thanks to the rest of it!
This is the most creative Harry Potter themed cake I’ve seen. Great job!
Thank you! We have a bit of an obsession with Harry Potter here 🙂
I love this! What a great idea for a Harry Potter themed birthday cake – so imaginative!
I wanted to do something different than the usual “Happy Birthday Harry” cake that most people do. I’ve done that one, too, but this was fun to create.
That’s a great idea for party, inspired by Harry Potter! Looks a little awkward but I bet is’s tasty and unique!
Yeah, it’s a bit strange, but that’s what you get for a recipe inspired by a party for a ghost I guess! 🙂
LOL! What an interesting theme for a cake and party! hahaha! I would probably tell my kid, um, yeahhhh let’s do BUNNYS and RAINBOWS, no? LOL!
Hah, I know what you mean! But since we were doing a Harry Potter themed get-together, I was going off the books and we were watching Chamber of Secrets that night. But, now that you say it, it has me thinking there are unicorns in the books!
Nice idea. I’ve never thought of making a cake for Nearly-Headless Nicks, who would never be able to think that the cake tastes good
I’m not so sure it does in the book, though they never try it, the rest of the food is rotten. But of course, we couldn’t do that to ourselves, so delicious cake it is!
This look delicious. We love Harry Potter in my home…my kids would love this!
We’ve gotten a bit obsessed lately, especially my boys. Everything is Harry Potter for them right now and I am totally ok with that 🙂
I absolutely love your Harry Potter recipes, they make me nostalgic (not that nostalgic, I just read all the books for the 10th time like 6 months ago lol)… Can’t think of a better combination – cake and harry potter! Thank you for sharing this 🙂
I read through them all at least once per year, so I know what you mean. We are reading the illustrated versions to my boys right now and it’s so fun to read it with them for their first time.
I am not the best at making cakes of any sort but this is fantastic! I would love to give it a go.
I’m not the best at the decorating. I have the baking part down, but still working on getting that frosting to smooth out and the words to look right. But, no matter what it looks like, it tastes delicious!
I love all your Harry Potter theme meals and deserts! This looks like an awesome cake and perfect for a HP fan!
Thank you! We have so much fun trying to make recipes based on a theme like this. Especially when it’s one I’m so passionate about like Harry Potter.
I wish I could have made this today. My daughter is sick and she couldn’t go trick or treating, her friends stopped by. That would have been a nice treat for them.
Oh no! My youngest sons allergies were horrible on Halloween which left him coughing a lot but as long as he had a hard candy in his mouth he was good. He was so sugared up by the end of the night! I hope she’s feeling better.
oh yummmm!!! This cake is so original and looks delicious indeed! I would love to bake it soon.
Thanks! It was fun trying to figure out how to make a cake based on a quick description in a book.
This is a neat idea to celebrate Harry Potter and Halloween! I am not much of a Harry Potter fan (I like the series but not a biiiiiig fan), but I see myself making something like this. Very creative!
Luckily, you don’t have to be a big fan to enjoy cake 🙂 It was so fun trying to figure out the best way to make the cake since the only description is one line in the book.
This is a fabulous idea. I think taking a project and making it unique is the best. Your cake turned out awesome.
Thank you! I love trying to recreate things like this. It’s fun to experiment and see what we can come up with.
Omg such a fun cake idea!!!! My daughter and I love making cakes together!!! This is perfect for Halloween
My boys love helping me bake, too. Well, my oldest likes to help bake, my youngest just wants to eat everything!