Pull Me Up Cake, Lick it or Leave it?

Now that the summer is over and Covid is back, I imagine that I’ll be attending fewer birthday parties and that means fewer “Pull Me Up” cakes. I’m not sure how I feel about that. Surely, you’ve seen this cake trend that’s been popular for about a year now. Like all things, the Pull Me Up (or Tsunami) cake craze started on tik tok. There are many variations, but not quite enough for my taste, because I’m tired of the Disney doll that’s been featured at all the kiddy birthday parties I’ve had to attend. I want variety.

The cake is made by preparing layer cakes and icing them normally. You might want to put a skewer down the center of the cake, to keep the layers aligned.

Then use a plastic sheet. You can find one on Amazon if you search for “cake collar”. Take the sheet and wrap it around the cake. The wrap should be tight-fitting. Tape it securely. Then, get your liquid topping of choice. If you like chocolate, you can use 200 grams of heavy cream and 100 grams of chocolate.

You want to prepare it to a consistency so that it will flow like lava. It should be a little bit warm when you pour it, so that it’s fluid.

Slowly pour your chocolate liquid or ganache into the plastic, over the cake. The ganache will be “trapped” on top of the cake by the plastic, until you’re ready for the big event. You can also pour other toppings onto the ganache, so they will flow down with the liquid. You can use sprinkles or chocolate chips. I suggest something that is of a different color than the chocolate, for contrast and a more distinctive result.

Then, when you’re ready, pull up the plastic sheet. Pull it slowly and evenly, so that the ganache slowly drips down on all sides. If you used the popular Barbie doll model, when you pull up, the ganache will fall and will look like the skirt of her dress coming down, as if she is dressing for the ball.

The “pull up” is the big party moment. Since many people choose not to blow out candles on a cake any longer, this is something the birthday girl or boy can do which will make them feel like the center of attention at their party, in lieu of blowing out the candle and making a wish. The trend is to capture the “pull up” moment on video, so that it can be shared with friends and family who weren’t at the party.

The cake is great fun for kids, but not everyone’s a fan. For one thing, like everything else that is trendy, it eventually gets worn out. So many people start doing it. The novelty wears off and when you attend a party and see the cake on the table with the plastic around it, you almost feel like skipping dessert as soon as you walk in.

Furthermore, the “lava” can make the cake a gooey mess, especially if you’re serving it to kids. The “pull up” can become more like a science project than a food serving.

If you are a serious cake designer, you spend hours piping, shaping fondant, building your masterpiece and you certainly don’t want to drench it in syrupy cream and ruin the detailing. However, I have seen versions where the dripping colors actually enhance the design. Like this one for instance, where the lava is running paint from a canvas. It’s creative and beautiful.

@nayanecapistrano has made some of the most original and clever “pull me up” cakes out there. Check out her instagram reels.

For naysayers, taste is also a consideration. To make the topping “flow” correctly, you’re probably making it so that it pours better than it tastes. If you baked a delicious cake, you risk ruining the flavor balance by drowning it in the lava concoction.

What say you? Lick it or leave it? Would you welcome the “pull me up” cake as a fun party highlight or do you think it’s an overdone stunt?

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