We tried it out, and here’s what we learned.
Even if you don’t particularly love to bake cakes (or eat them, for that matter), I think we can all agree—we love to look at cake. We’re constantly witnessing Internet baking sensations and bloggers on Instagram toss out new flashy cake designs and decorating techniques to ooh and aah over. There’s just something about a jaw-dropping cake that really gets a party started (or gets you tons of likes). But with all the trendy cakes out there, like Zodiac Cakes, Unicorn Cakes, Narwhal Cakes, Llama Cakes and Confetti Flower Cakes, we thought we had hit our limit. Until we reflected on the ever-mesmerizing mirror cake.
Mirror cakes are glossy and gorgeous. A thick, shiny glaze is poured over a perfectly white cake, only to harden into a mirror-like reflective smooth shell. It’s just about the coolest thing since cauliflower crust or avocado toast (in our opinion), but way more difficult to pull off. In fact, unless you know exactly what you’re doing, have the right equipment, and keep ingredient temperatures in check, the mirror cake can be a little bit out-of-our-league as a homemade dessert.
So, we put it to the homemade test. We challenged the co-hosts of Homemade vs. the Internet to take on the Internet sensation. Through some trials (and errors), our chef extraordinaires took on the perfectly glossy mirror cake, and walked away with a few key takeaways for anyone planning to attempt one at home.
1. The cake needs to be frozen solid
Temperature is key to make the mirror cake succeed. As a first step, you’ll need to bake the cake, ice it with a crumb coat that’s as smooth as possible, and freeze overnight. The cake needs to be frozen solid and removed from the freezer just before you pour the warm glaze on. This ensure the glaze solidifies over the cake.
2. The temperature of the glaze needs to be precise
Again—temperature is essential to the perfect cake. Grab your digital thermometer and pour the glaze when it reaches between 90 to 95 degrees fahrenheit. Some recipes call for the glaze to be warmer, but our Homemade Vs The Internet stars stand strongly behind this slightly lower temp.
3. Use the right kind of gelatin and bloom it properly
If you have a choice between gelatin sheets and powdered gelatin, go for the sheets. Gelatin sheets produce a shinier finish than the granules, but can be much harder to find (you can order them online). If you’re using granules, be sure to bloom the gelatin in warm water to prevent the hot liquid from seizing or clumping when combined. Also, be sure to double check all the granules have dissolved to avoid a grainy glaze.
4. Don’t do anything to mess with the mirror effect
The goal of the cake is to not only look stunning, but also to be reflective. In a successful mirror cake, you should be able to see yourself in the glaze. Avoid topping the cake with anything, like glitter, which may ruin the shine. Instead, go ahead and mix the glitter into the glaze before pouring. This will give a dull shine without sacrificing the reflective properties.
5. Consider your glaze colors and choose wisely
The first challenge is finding a perfect balance between the white chocolate and sweetened condensed-milk mixture. You’re looking for a bright white, opaque color to serve as the foundation. This can be achieved by playing with the ratio of the white chocolate to sweetened condensed-milk, or by adding a good amount of white food coloring. Then, you need to pick your base and accent colors properly. Skip the light colors, as they’ll result in a glaze that’s way too translucent. Opt for a darker base color, which hides the cake better and reflects properly. Then, choose an accent color that’s a bit lighter—instead of equally as dark as the base.
6. Don’t plan to make a mirror cake for a fine dining experience
Truthfully, the cake is impressive and beautiful, but eating it is like chewing on bubblegum and a slice of cake all at once. It’s just not delicious. There’s absolutely a place for mirror cakes in your life—like at kid’s birthday party or for a gorgeous Instagram photo. However, there’s so much sugar and gelatin in the glaze that the consistency isn’t something we’d serve to a crowd looking for a killer cake experience. For that, we’d suggest checking out this collection of our most impressive cakes or our guide to all things cake for more recipes and tips.