“A mirror glaze is shiny, like a polished, posh car.” – Mary Berry
In the “Cake” episode of season four of The Great British Baking Show, Mel Giedroyc issues the first Showstopper challenge to the bakers: make a Mirror Glaze cake “so shiny that Paul can look into it and say ‘you’re looking gorgeous’.”
For the uninitiated, Mirror Glaze Cakes evolved from glaçage miroir, the layer of beautiful shiny glaze on the outside of many French confections.
When the challenge is over, judges Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood pepper the contestants with feedback:
“A smashing shine.”
“The mirror glaze is really letting you down”
“A beautiful shine.”
“There is no mirror glaze there.”
Some American viewers may not be familiar with Mirror Glaze cakes. While popular on the internet, the shiny cakes haven’t yet made their way into bakery cases across the USA. In fact, there aren’t many people in the Los Angeles area making Mirror Glaze cakes.
Olga Haulas, owner of Cakes Nouvelle is among the few.
When Haulas moved to Los Angeles from Belarus three years ago, she didn’t speak any English. Lots of subtitled movies later, and she can explain how to make a mirror glaze cake (in itself not an easy thing) in English, and detail how each ingredient lends itself to creating a velvet smooth, reflective, edible coating for a beautiful mousse cake.
Although, it’s not just a mousse cake. Haulas’s cakes consist of a thin sponge on the bottom, two inner layers made from fruits and/or berries, and then the magical outer mousse layer. Each layer must be frozen, resulting in a final cake that took several days’ worth of labor.
It’s logical to assume, then, that Haulas has been baking for her entire life, but that is not the case. In fact it was last July, a mere year ago, when Haulas started making Mirror Glaze cakes. She’d seen online photos of such cakes and thought they were unusual, so she researched how to make her own. Her attempts didn’t result in the beautiful cakes she was hoping for. After much trial and error she perfected her glaze (and cake) recipes.
Haulas rents kitchen space at Crafted Kitchen in Downtown Los Angeles where she can develop (and freeze) all of her inner and outer layers. After she reaches the final step of the cake process: pouring the mirror glaze over the frozen mousse cake, she delivers the order to the customers–they receive their cake within an hour or two of Houlas completing it.
Houlas started selling the cakes through her website this past January, and hasn’t looked back.
Here’s Haulas explaining step-by-step the process in creating the Mirror Glaze:
Olga’s Mirror Glaze
- Bloom 11g / 2.5 tsp. gelatin in 55g / 3.75 tbsp of water
- Refrigerate about 11 mins
- Mix 150g / 3/4c of white chocolate chips with 100g / 1/2c of condensed milk
- In a saucepan combine 150g / 1/4c + 2.5tbsp of glucose syrup, with 75g / 1/3c of water, and 150g / 3/4c of sugar
- Heat mix on stovetop to 103c or 217f
- Add heated syrup to white chocolate chips and condensed milk—combine to melt chips
- Add cold bloomed gelatin—mix
- Emulsify using immersion blender to remove air bubbles
- Add food coloring and continue blending
- Cover with plastic and refrigerate for 12 hours
- Warm/stir refrigerated glaze in microwave in ten second intervals until it hits 35c or 95f
- Pour over frozen cake