It’s the time of year where I want to bake everything! My office holds an annual Christmas Bake Off, where nothing is too much, and everything is a little bit extra. Lasting a few weeks, each team has their own day to present their creations. Safe to say I love it..
This year my team chose the theme of a Christmas Tea Party, therefore we clearly needed a centrepiece. It gives me great pleasure to introduce the candle cake.
I decided to contribute a simple chocolate cake encased in buttercream, drizzled with rouge mirror glaze and topped off with an edible modelling paste flame. All vegan and gluten-free of course, surrounded by edible holly leaves and pine cones. This was my main contribution, followed by macron burgers, but let’s just start with the candles shall we?
To make the shape of my cakes I baked 6 layers of chocolate cake in 8 inch round cake tins. I used 1 ½ quantity of this sponge recipe here. After letting these cool (only just cool so it won’t crumble like a hot cake), I cut out circles with a large biscuit cutter.
The circles were then layered in varying numbers to make different heights with a vegan buttercream filling. For the top layer I cut the middle of the circle out with a smaller biscuit cutter to create a dip before putting on the top. I covered these in buttercream and placed in the fridge.
First things first with a mirror glaze, you want to make sure your cake is covered as smoothly as you can, but most importantly given time to get really cold. This will help your glaze set. I initially covered my cake in buttercream and left it in the fridge overnight, then popped it in the freezer for half an hour to ensure the outer layer was super cold before covering with the glaze.
If you don’t have time to leave it overnight the end result may not be as smooth and the glaze could melt the buttercream, I would recommend putting it in the freezer for a few hours at least if you’re short on time.
If you asked me to describe making a mirror glaze I would say stickier than a small child eating a melting ice cream! You have been warned, may your kitchen survive the gloop that will no doubt cover it. This recipe made way more than I needed to cover my candles, but I was being cautious, so if you are making a small cake you may want to halve the quantity.
You will need:
- A plate or tray to catch your glaze
- A cup or rack to hold your cake and allow excess glaze to run off
- A cake lifter (not necessary but useful)
- 675g (3 cups) granulated sugar
- 2-3 tbsp vege-gel or agar agar powder (agar will set it better if you can get it)
- 177ml water
- ¼ tsp cream of tartar
- 150g (1 cup) dark chocolate or vegan white chocolate if you want a light colour
- 125ml coconut milk (tinned)
- Gel food colour
Vege-Gel Method – Place your cold water and vege-gel in a pan and stir until dissolved. Dr. Oetker vege-gel states it is suitable for vegans, but may contain eggs (if you plan to serve this to most vegans it should be fine as it doesn’t contain eggs but I would check how sensitive they are to contamination if they are allergic to eggs). Once dissolved heat to just below boiling.
Agar Agar Method – Boil the water in a pan with the argar argar powder for about 5 minutes to activate the powder. This should set better than vege-gel and you can use less, so 2-3tbsp.
Add sugar to heated mixture and stir to dissolve. Once the sugar is dissolved take off the heat. Add cream of tartar and let the mixture cool slightly. This is so that the chocolate won’t separate when you add it in. Finely chop your chocolate while you wait.
Melt vegan chocolate into the pan, keep stirring with a wooden spoon. It should start to go glossy like melted chocolate (slightly more liquid). I used a dark cooking chocolate as it is easier to get hold of than a white vegan chocolate, which was fine as I wanted a dark red but if you want a lighter colour, or to use less food colouring then use a white chocolate. Mine was a little too hot so the chocolate didn’t blend very well, if this happens blend it for a few seconds. This isn’t ideal as it will create air bubbles but it brought the mixture together so I at least didn’t have to waste it. You could melt your chocolate before stirring it into the mixture to ensure it melts evenly.
Add the food colouring of your choice and let cool for half an hour, or until it is slightly sludgy and more sluggish in movement, then transfer to a pouring jug. I put all my patience into waiting overnight for a cool cake, then what gets me is not letting my glaze cool enough before pouring the glaze. Don’t be like me, be patient.
Place your cup upside down in the centre your plate/tray or position your rack over a tray. This is your cake set-up, having something underneath is essential not only to reduce mess, but it allows you to pour excess back into your pouring jug, smart. Now pour the glaze over the cold cake making sure to cover all the edges. Let this drip off then repeat until you have desired thickness of coverage. I like to lift the cake and pop it on a board in the freezer for 5 minutes between layers to help it set.
I let the glaze cool for longer at the end before dripping along the edges to create wax drips that stand out from the rest. Make sure to let it finish dripping (so it won’t pool at the bottom) before lifting with a cake lifter (if you have one) and place on a board in the fridge to set for at least an hour, I would leave overnight if possible.
And you’re done!
Thanks for reading ☺️
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