I had never made gelatin bubbles before, but was asked to make a bubble gum inspired cake! I had always wanted to try the technique, and learned quite a bit making them. I followed Cake Central’s tutorial, and learned a few things along the way!
I wanted to share the tips that I will keep in mind the next time I make these. These are much less difficult to make than I had initially thought, but it’s definitely a messy process! The below portions make enough bubbles to cover the top of an 8 inch cake.
Ingredients and Materials:
- 6 Tbsp. of unflavored gelatin (I used the Knox brand, can be found at most grocery stores and Target)
- 12 Tbsp of cold water
- heatproof bowl
- small balloons (I ordered these from amazon)
- gel food coloring or luster dust (optional)
- cooling rack (to dry bubbles)
I made three different batches of gelatin, because the gelatin cools very quickly!
The first thing I did was blow up my small balloons into varying sizes (1 inch to 3 inches in diameter). I did my best to shape them in perfect circles. I found it helps to tie the knot very high up on the neck of the balloon. I then fully coated the balloons with a thin coat of shortening. Be sure to wipe away any excess shortening (white areas), as the gelatin won’t stick to the balloon if there’s too much.
Begin by adding 4 Tbsp. of cold water to a bowl. Pour in 2 packets of gelatin (ratio should always be 2 parts water, 1 part gelatin). Gently swirl the water in the bowl to fully incorporate the gelatin in the water.
Let the mixture sit for couple minutes to bloom (absorb water). Once the mixture gels up, pop the bowl into the microwave for about 20 seconds (can vary based on your microwave). The gelatin should be warm and very fluid, but not too hot! Gently stir in a few drops of gel food coloring, being sure the gelatin is fully dissolved.
Using your fingers, gently roll balloon around in the gelatin, applying a thin and even coat of gelatin around the majority of the balloon. Gently rest balloon (with tie side down) on a cooling rack, and then dip 3 more balloons. Once the first coat of gelatin is on, test the remaining gelatin for fluidity.
I found that at this point my gelatin had generally cooled to a point where it was too thick and goopy. It didn’t evenly coat the balloon at all. After one coat, I needed to reheat my gelatin for about 5 seconds. I then re-dipped the balloons into the gelatin for second coat, using the same technique.
I repeated this process and made two more batches of bubbles. Once the balloons had sat for about 30 minutes (I found they were had started to set by this point), I used a fan (on a low speed) to speed up the drying process. Be VERY careful when you do this. If your fan is too strong, it will blow your bubbles right off your counter!! I added some bowls on the sides and behind my cooling rack to ensure the bubbles stays in place.
My bubbles dried after about 4 hours, but without a fan they will need about 12 hours to harden.
NOTE: As the gelatin hardens, it will shrink. This will create loud, crackling sounds. At first I was convinced my bubbles were shattering, but was relieved to realize it just meant they were firming up quickly!
Once the bubbles have hardened, use scissors to gently puncture the exposed balloon. Once it shrinks, you can easily loosen the balloon from the bubble, and remove it.
If your bubbles collapse at all during this process, don’t worry! They are rather sturdy, and any indents can be popped back into place.
Use scissors to trim away any jagged edges around the base of the bubble. Repeat with all balloons.
These can be made several days ahead of time, as this process is rather time consuming! The bubbles can be stored in a airtight container for several days. Here’s a shot of the cake I decorated with these bubbles! One the bubbles were try, it was very easy to place them on top of my cake.
DISCLAIMER! I do not recommend actually eating the bubbles. Although they are edible, they don’t taste great (plain gelatin!!). As you make them, the distinct and unpleasant smell will indicate how they would taste. These are much more of a decorative touch than an edible garnish.