“Holy cow, is that cake glowing?” Yes, yes, that cake is totally glowing and it’s making me smile from ear to ear.
When I first brought up the subject of making a glowing ghost cake, well, let’s just say there were some skeptical looks and dubious frowns. Not that my team of fellow bakers and bloggers didn’t believe in me, but they couldn’t really see the cake in their mind’s eye like I did.
Growing up with a birthday three days before Halloween I’ve always loved the wild makeup, opulent costumes, and over-the-top feeling of the whole day. It feels like an extended celebration just for me. Even the color scheme is based on my favorite color – black. How could I not just embrace it all? How could I not want to bring to it my passion for baking and decorating cakes?
Luckily, my team supports my occasional wandering off the normal path, and I was given free reign to create my vision. Sure, this luminous layer cake isn’t for everyone; but I truly hope that folks will see it as an expression of joy and creativity. It’s good to step outside the routine every now and then and really let your imagination fly, float, and flitter.
The cake itself isn’t difficult, but it does require some pre-planning. You’ll need to make the ghosts at least a day ahead of time to let them dry. Once the ghosts are done, it’s a matter of baking and decorating your base cake, gathering some glow sticks at the party store, and inviting your Halloween familiars over for a good time.
Start by checking out our recipe for Meringue Ghosts. Meringue is made by whipping egg whites with sugar, piping it, and baking at a very low temperature. It’s quite simple to make, and has a million uses.
Pipe your large meringue ghosts about 3″ to 4″ tall. Don’t worry if they’re not all straight and standing up tall. If you turn the trays around and view all sides, you’ll see the personality of each ghost.
Some will be lumpy, bumpy spooks; some ghouls will droop. Pointy heads, sleepy heads, even ghosts with bed head. Just use your imagination and your new ghoul-friends will appear before your eyes.
Remember, even the best meringue can be fragile, and you’ll likely lose a few ghosts along the way, so make plenty of extras.
Allow the ghosts to bake at 170°F for 1 hour. Turn off the oven and leave the ghosts to dry overnight. Be sure not to open the door, not even for a peek. I find a nice big note taped on the oven door is a huge help in preventing accidental openings.
To show you how to work with the ghosts after they’ve dried, I’m using a Styrofoam ball. It will behave the same way, and I won’t mutilate several ghosts trying to get photos. The unfrosted cake is helpful in seeing details, too.
For each ghost, turn upside down and use a chopstick, crochet hook, or other long implement to drill a hole in the bottom and up the center. You’ll need to make the hole just as wide as your glow stick, but not so wide that the ghost will wobble all over.
Drill, hollow, test. Drill, hollow, test. If you had a few meringue ghosts fail or flop, they make great test subjects.
There we go, a nice hollow tunnel up the center of the ghost.
Believe me, at this point I did behead a couple of ghosts. Luckily I was able to shave the head portion off of a few other ghosts and swap those out for the missing ones. If you look at the main photo, the tall ghost in the center has a separate body and head.
As you prepare to cut the holes in your cake for inserting the glow sticks keep in mind that they shouldn’t stick up too much, or they may tip over. They shouldn’t be sunk all the way into your cake either, or your ghosts won’t have much glow to them. About 2/3 of the stick should rise above the top of the cake.
When you’re ready to assemble the cake, you’ll need to make holes for the glow sticks to sit in. A smoothie straw makes an excellent cake drill. Be sure to take a dry run, testing for fit. Once you activate the glow sticks you’ll want to present the cake right away, for the best glow.
Now, your glow stick may end up being a bit on the chubby side, requiring a larger hole. Try using an apple corer; they work great. In my case, a new toothbrush holder made lovely, large oval holes that worked quite well.
I did get over-ambitious on a couple of the holes. At the photo studio, some of the holes were too deep for the size glow sticks I was using. No worries, though; I just pushed a little extra cake down into the holes to raise the sticks up again. Filling in with a little frosting would work well, too, like filling the holes with delicious cement.
One final test with the Styrofoam… brilliant! Be sure to leave a little space between the bottom of the ghost and the top of the cake for that aura of underglow.
So, ghosts are ready, cake is ready, guests are ready. Let’s snap some glow sticks and make Halloween magic!
We hope you enjoy this post on one outlandish cake. Have a safe and fun spooky season, and be sure to walk on the wild side every now and then!