The Sugar Glass Cake

So, it’s been a while since my last post. But I have something rather special to return with, a cake I designed and made commissioned by The V&A Museum.

I always like to try new things and experiment with things I’ve seen or read about, and sugar glass was high on my list of things I thought looked insanely complicated, but was worth a try.

And you know what? It isn’t really that difficult to make, but looks incredibly impressive.

So, behold The Sugar Glass Cake

The Sugar Glass Cake

sugar glass

All good cakes meet a sticky end…


the aftermath

I first encountered sugar glass in the form of sugar sculpture; an elaborate form of artistry meets food in the form of some stunning sugar creations that almost look like glass; similar methods used in glass blowing are actually used in sugar sculpting, sugary fact of the day!

sugar

Sugar glass is typically a somewhat less glamorous affair, often being used in films as stunt glass in place of real glass; a less painful and tastier experience if you go crashing through it.

‘That’s all very interesting, but how do you make the stuff if it’s so easy?!’ I hear you cry! Well, observe.

You get to use the mysterious and magical ingredient I’ve always wanted to use: Glucose! Although having just said that I have now realised I have previously used Glucose in making marshmallows…but anyhow, with sugar glass, you get to use LOADS of glucose! I even had to buy a special sciencey looking tub of it from a proper cake shop, not Dr. Oetker.

Serious stuff.

To make sugar glass, you essentially just need glucose (interestingly, golden syrup is pretty much glucose by another name, we’re just talking liquid sugar here basically…) equip yourself with a sugar thermometer, water, and the final mystery ingredient, did you guess it yet? Sugar. Shocking I know.

Essentially you boil the lot to 130 degrees celcius (which takes ages, I got impatient, insisted my thermometer was broken, poured out my sugar and to no one’s surprise it didn’t set, so stick with your thermometer, let it do its thing, chill out, and be patient!)

At 130 degrees celcius, you pour your absolutely boiling liquid into a greased, foil lined baking tin (and by boiling, I cannot stress enough how boiling I mean by ‘boiling’, this is liquid sugar people, think molten glass and you’ve got an idea of how hot this stuff is. So, genuinely, keep out of reach of children. They may think you’re Willy Wonka, but you’ll be Willy Plonker if you let children near this stuff.)

After pouring, within minutes you’ll start to see the sugar hardening. It stays incredibly hot for a fair bit, but very quickly becomes rock solid, so if you’re planning anything fancy like teasing it into shapes or scoring shapes into it to snap off, it really has to be done instantly.

Here are some pictures from my adventures in Sugar Land

red spoon146 144 139a golden lake purple blue 073 072 sugar therm sugar liquid041 red foil

Now I wouldn’t show you all these lovely pictures and videos without giving you some cold hard facts about to make the stuff! That would just be mean. If you want to take on Sugar glass yourselves, simply follow the following…

Ingredients:

500ml water

785g granulated sugar

A few drops of food colouring (can be gel or liquid, I used liquid)

250ml liquid Glucose

1//4 tsp cream of tartar

_________

1 shallow baking tray, lined with foil with no gaps

Oil spray

Sugar thermometer

(If you don’t have oil spray, I found dribbling a bit of oil onto a clean sponge and using the sponge to coat the foil worked really well. You’re able to cover the foil completely and it doesn’t leave bubbles on your sugar glass when you’re finished.)

Method:

1. Spray (or sponge) your prepared baking tray all over with the oil at least 30 minutes before you want to use it.

2. Place the water, sugar, food colouring (if using), liquid glucose and cream of tartar into a pan with a sugar thermometer attached and stir to combine. Bring to the boil over a medium heat, until it reaches 150 degrees celcius – approximately 15 mins.

3. Remove from the heat and let the mixture cool to 130 degrees celcius – approximately 10 minutes – then pour the mixture quickly and carefully into the oiled baking tray. Allow to cool completely.

4. Pop the sugar sheet very carefully out of the tray. Now, either leave it is as a massive slab and comically approach someone pretending you have a sheet of glass and proceed to smash it over their head (warning, it’s only comical after you’ve done it, the lead up to it for the victim of your hilarious sugary fun probably experiences mild terror upon thinking they’re about to have glass smashed over their head; good to emphasise how hilarious the whole saga is when calming down your victim…and to the police…)

OR

If you havn’t scored it prior to letting it cool to make cleaner shards of sugar (as I did with my cake; scoring long triangles into the square of sugar in the tray then snapping when it cooled) you can use a meat tenderiser/hammer/brick/generic heavy object, hit the sheet of sugar carefully in the centre so it cracks into shards whereupon you can decorate cakes, cookies, yourself, to your hearts content with lovely pieces of sugar!

See this nice man doing all of the above here:

I will say this however, and it does somewhat contradict all of the above, like, every word of it. But sugar glass is horrible. As in, really, don’t eat it. Unless you can make it incredibly thin which in itself has its own problems because it becomes incredibly snappable. Sugar glass tends to come out quite thick, and I view it as just a really decorative and dramatic thing to create to embellish cakes/comedy smashing moments. Eating it is a whole world of pain, stuck teeth, and extremely happy dentists when you have to pay hundreds of pounds for new none-sugar coated teeth. It’s solid sugar people, and somewhat flavourless, so eat at your own peril!

But having said all that, it’s fun to make because you feel properly chefy fiddling with thermometers and glucose, and the end result is really rather cool, so I highly recommend giving it a go!

I’d love to hear from you guys if you try it out and see what you created with it x

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This entry was posted in January 2010. Bookmark the permalink.

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