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DEMO: Intro to Pastillage


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#31 Wendy DeBord

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Posted 23 June 2005 - 04:32 AM

I also am very curious about microwaving pieces. VERY INTERESTING!

Also it nice to see another take on underwater cakes............(one day we need to do a thread on Steve and your portfolios, I bet it's stunning.) I love how clean and elegant all your work is........it's really inspiring!

#32 chefette

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Posted 23 June 2005 - 04:57 AM

I wanted to add another method of shaping pastillage that does not require any equipment or forms to shape and dry. Instead of using the horizontal (top and bottom) surfaces of the pastillage think about the vertical edges. If you lay the pastillage on its side you are able to curl it and achieve many intricate and exciting shapes.

Here is one example:
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This is how we created the curly pieces for the mermaid outline on the previous undersea cake.
This will work fairly well on even a fairly large piece - you need to experiment and be prepared to add some support for larger pieces.

Another trick is making curlyques. This works best on lighter strips but can be done with larger heavier pieces - it just depends on the pastillage's ability to support itself - so test it out with thickness and width:
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I also really like wisps and tendrils. The way that I do it is roll out a sheet of pastillage fairly thin, trim it so it has clean edges and then cut it into 3 equal strips.
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you sandwich these strips then cut long thin strips - I generally do a wedge with a wider end that trails to a point. Pick the threesome up by the wedge end (you can pinch this lightly if you want them to stay together, then sort of flip, spin, twist, loop to get amusing effects. Ewald Notter was the first person I saw do something like this. I usually make a bunch of these because its easy and the tendrils come in handy for all sorts of things.
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#33 K8memphis

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Posted 23 June 2005 - 07:30 AM

Oooh oooh the triple tendrils are way cool!!!

#34 chefette

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Posted 23 June 2005 - 01:26 PM

After your pastillage has completely dried - and you should allow 12-24 hours for drying - depending on thickness of the pastillage, size of the pieces, and ambient humidity this could take more or less time. A fan can help, so too placing pieces under a lamp.

But still there is more dangerous work ahead – where bad things happen and why you need to seriously overproduce. SANDING. For smaller finer pieces I like an emery board, but squares of medium or fine sandpaper are the norm.

You have to have some saintly wonderful patience for sanding and some very gentle hands. Personally this is hell for me and I don’t have what it takes – so I try really hard to make my pieces as nice as they can possibly be so that I do not have to do too much sanding. Steve is a really first rate sander.

And just so you know – nothing ever breaks until you are almost done sanding. Always at the last minute when you are pretty much ready to say finis – crack – it is one of the worst sounds and feelings in the world. (Surpassed only by an entire showpiece collapsing.) This is especially bad in situations where you are competing in another city and are allowed to bring your dried pastillage pieces with you or when you're doing a cake on the road for an important client. There you'll be with your carefully cut and toted pieces doing some sanding and snap, crackle or pop. Always make more than you could possibly imagine needing – especially for exhibitions and competitions. And always save your leftover pieces. You never know when you'll need them.

Finally we get to assembling your pastillage. Since most people use pastillage for its architectural, structural properties some assembly will be required--and all of that should have gone into how you designed your piece to begin with. Now, real purists will swear by royal icing as the best glue – and certainly royal is good because it is edible and also because it can mask small flaws or gaps – but don’t count on this – its like thinking you can just take crappy pictures and make them all perfect using Photoshop – its doesn’t really work out all that well and it is very time consuming – better to do it right in the first place.

You can gently melt some pastillage and use that as glue. It melts in about 10-15 seconds in the microwave. I do not like using the melted pastillage - It does dry fast, and that is both good and bad. Good that it will stick to your pieces fast - but bad that it dries up in the container again. Another alternative is to add some additional water and make a wetter pastillage but then you are back to the royal icing issues. (You really have to respect the cake decorators who do all that amazing string work with royal. I don't know how they manage.)

You can also use molten sugar or isomalt – but that isn’t really ideal for gluing together pieces and is more for attaching pastillage and sugar together or securing the base – especially on sugar. If for some reason you were using pastillage in conjunction with chocolate you could use chocolate as glue, but we don't mix chocolate and sugar often, if at all, on a cake or showpiece.

The key in gluing is to be as unobtrusive and invisible as is humanly possible. Since pastillage is not normally eaten - you can often use real glue for securing the elements of 3D constructs. However most modern competitions in which one must assemble their work in front of the judges strictly forbid the use of glue so if you are submitting your work to competitive judging it is best not to use glue since you may lose points or even be disqualified.

For fun display work I prefer real glues – especially glues that set up right away – I like using a glue gun. Some people use other glues. Sometimes gluing is tricky because the pastillage is basically dried powdered sugar and you may encounter problems sometimes with the glue just not adhering, especially if you've sanded your pieces--be sure to brush or wipe the sugar dust off. Once again the need for patience and steady hands.

Here are some pictures of my biplane going together:

In this first picture you can see how I secured the struts to the wings. Since the struts are actually weight bearing and important to the structural integrity of the plane they needed to be securely attached so as you see here - I added small semi circles of pastillage on either side to make a safer and stronger attachment:
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In the background you can also see that I have secured the plane base to the fuselage. For this I did melt some pastillage and seal the seams really well, let it dry and sanded it all down - practically seamless.

In this picture you see that the wheel struts are secured with the wheels. Since I was planning on my planes being airborne in my display I didn't put much thought into the wheels - but until you are ready to put it on the stand at the exhibit - guess what - it needs the frigging wheels! The ones I made really were not sturdy enough so I had to be very careful about protecting them. If I do something like this again I will come up with a more sturdy wheel solutution:
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The tail sections are also attached and were quite troublesome. I had to adjust the tail design by breaking them in half (the pastillage is much thicker than the cardboard and the easiest way to accommodate the fuselage neatly was to break the tails cleanly and not try to make the notch bigger. Always important to remain flexible and try to come up with the cleanest solution to the inevitable problems.

The lower wing was very simple and just attached to the base of the fuselage.

In these next two pictures you see the completed plane.
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Note that the top wing is very very thin. In something judged this might be perceived as a flaw since it is not the same width as the lower wing, but for one thing I was not competing, and the reason that I did make the top wing super thin was to reduce its weight. I wanted to minimize stress on the wing struts and the lower wing. Normally, you'd want to roll out your pastillage for pieces like this to the same thickness--using metal guide rods makes this fairly easy.
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The windshields worked out great I thought - I actually used gumpaste for those. They were formed in the same former as the fuselage at the locations where they needed to be fit.

The engine lugs were also made with gumpaste. They were my biggest creative problem and should in theory have been easy. I tried several ways to do the lugs realistically but wasn't happy with most of them and they were quite time consuming since I needed 9 or 10 for each plane. In the end I decided to go interpretive and just made these little gumpaste cones using the tip of a wide paintbrush as a guide.

The propeller attachment/nosecone was also an interesting challenge. I came up with a simple slotted foldover. When designing pieces that will be pierced by other pieces or that will pass through a slot in another piece it's imperative to ensure that the slots are big enough and that the pieces that need to fit inside or through them. It's easy to forget this when you are working with a paper model.

And here is a plane up on the display stand so I can see how it looks and works:
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One minute later. Oops!
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Fortunately it wasn't the end of the world. I brought three planes to the San Diego Airport successfully and managed to install two of them on their posts (I had designed for one or two planes not knowing exactly how much interior space I would have inside the display case). In the end I had half of a case--sharing space with a Margaret Braun sugar sculpture--instead of a third so I could have made a larger piece.
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I was terrified that the showpiece would meet the same crash and burn fate as the test--and as a biplane might in a real dogfight--but apparently they both survived the 3 months in the case and even made it back to the shelter of the Sugar Museum's home storage.

Next - coloring and packing for transport.

#35 K8memphis

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Posted 23 June 2005 - 02:10 PM

Way too absolutely freakin' cool--I LOVE this thread. The planes are beyond cool <hands up in the air> just way too cool. Love the windshield. The final design is so airborn--it has so much movement. Insert clapping hands smilie face--Oh oh the tendrils coming out as a contrail--over the top!!!!


On a parallel plane type note--pun intended--I did a bi-plane in royal--it was in one of the wilton encyclopedia's a million years ago--my landing gear was, well, it ruled--I was quite proud of that--I made a fluffy fluffy cloudy cake to set my masterpiece on and the fluffy fluffy cloud ate the landing gear--sunk right down like a weight--hahahayeahnotfunny hahahaha!! :laugh:

#36 In2Pastry

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Posted 23 June 2005 - 05:16 PM

Chefett, I am just in awe!! This thread is unbelievable, I am learning so much from you. Thanks for taking the time and effort to do this!!

#37 RuthWells

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Posted 23 June 2005 - 05:44 PM

Oh. My. God. I think I would have cried for hours at losing one of the planes after such painstaking work. My hat is off to you -- I am in awe!

#38 DianeB

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Posted 23 June 2005 - 07:25 PM

I wish I could convey how much I appreciate your time, talent and sharing ... to simply say 'thank you' just isn't enough....

#39 Wendy DeBord

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Posted 24 June 2005 - 06:42 AM

I LOVE your honesty and showing us what happened to your test airplane! It's so good to know that happens to others and I'm not alone................

Learning these behind the scenes details are priceless! This has more and better info. then anything I've seen to date in a book........HAT'S OFF!!

#40 chiantiglace

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Posted 24 June 2005 - 05:57 PM

I have to say, this almost feels like arts and craft demo rather than pastry, haha. Crazy its somewhat food form.
Dean Anthony Anderson
"If all you have to eat is an egg, you had better know how to cook it properly" ~ Herve This
Pastry Chef: One If By Land Two If By Sea

#41 Steve Klc

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Posted 24 June 2005 - 06:24 PM

Right, but you also raise a good point: arts and crafts and trades have influenced food--and how we work--for hundreds of years, just open any cookbook from the Middle Ages forward and look at the pieces montees on display, and you'll start to get a sense of what we're missing in these modern times. We've always had to make our own tools and solve our own problems ingeniously and we've often borrowed from other trades and disciplines to do so. Food has always masqueraded as sculpture and art and entertainment. The school of influence just varies from decade to decade and generation to generation. Not too long ago the best pastry chefs in France also had to be well-rounded, they were schooled in all areas, had to do sugar and chocolate and pastillage and become competent in all facets of patisserie, etc, before they could, you know, "be" a pastry chef. They could knock out literal realistic pastillage pieces easily, so could pastry cooks in London. We're more relaxed now, we're less educated and less trained, most working pastry cooks and chefs, including some famous ones, can't do much worthwhile in any of these artistic mediums if asked because it's just not required anymore. But not required and not relevant aren't necessarily the same things--there will always be a market for really artistic work--the challenge for the pastry chef or wedding cake artist with skills is tapping into that % of their potential market who will appreciate what they're capable of doing--ask them to push themselves--and compensate them more as an artist than as a blue collar wage slave.

This particular plane project is really model building, but with an edible medium and the rules and skills which are defined by that medium. One could also choose to stetch those rules. The principles and thought process you take away can be applied to very organic or even avant garde forms more appropriate for a traditional or modern wedding cake. what this says to me, more than anything else, is that there are many ways to appreciate pastry--and pastry chefs--this is just one narrow example that doesn't happen to involve actual taste or flavor. It does stretch people's sense of sugar. Me, personally, I don't know that I'd ever have the patience to do something so literal and exact as a real plane--I'd take the easy way out and opt for something "deconstructed" or wavy, organic and curvilinear representative of a plane in flight--why do you think all those French guys starting doing pastillage and very tall showpieces in those abstract shapes 10 years ago? because it was harder? No, they did it because it was easier and the style was more forgiving. When you go literal--there's very little margin for error. A figurative Taj Mahal, an idea of the Taj Mahal, is much easier and more simplistic to pull off than a literal Taj--but both would be artistic attempts which should be appreciated for their own merits.

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Here's something I did in pastillage a REALLY LONG time ago, it was a groom's cake to bring together the two families meeting for the first time: the Indian side of the groom's family and the Chinese side of the bride's family--but the key to its success (for me) was that I could pull the pretend-Taj off in one night, a hour or two cutting shapes the night before, actually (then some sloppy assembly I cringe revisiting now but that the clients still loved.) I had a big wedding cake to do for them as well. Colleen and I developed this model together, and she drew and cut all the templates for this Taj--and get this, she had never even heard of pastillage at the time--this was before she packed up and moved to NYC to go to FCI.
Steve Klc

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Oyamel : Zaytinya : Cafe Atlantico : Jaleo

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#42 Jessica Parsons

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Posted 24 June 2005 - 07:13 PM

Wow, this looks like fun!

Chefette, you mentioned using modeling clay or plaster as one of the ways to create molds/forms for the pastillage--I was just looking for a way to do that very thing.

I noticed from the historicfood.com link that I could carve these molds out of wood, but.... :wink:

I want to create a relief mold of an existing object. Have you done this sort of thing before? Is plaster food-safe? Do you know what sorts of modeling clay is food-safe?

Thanks for all the time and energy you have put into this. It is very much appreciated!

#43 chefette

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Posted 24 June 2005 - 08:50 PM

I put the reply in your question thread so it would be together - but I can address your question here as well.

The modeling clay I would use for pastillage would be more for a showpiece where I kew the pastillage would not be in any danger of being consumed. I have created 3D sculptural effects using the modeling clay - let them air dry and then dusted them all over with corn starch before draping pastillage over them. I don't have the brand of clay I use handy - but next time I am at a craft store I will look it up. I don't think it would qualify as food safe. You CAN use it to create a form that you then make a food safe silicon mold from.

Check Albert Uster Imports - Chef's fluid or Beryl's http://beryls.safesh.../cat130.htm?463

Two places I am aware of that have food safe silicon for mold making. The Uster product is quite pricey last time I used it - maybe $50.

Edited by chefette, 25 June 2005 - 02:54 AM.


#44 Jessica Parsons

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Posted 24 June 2005 - 09:46 PM

Thank you for both!

#45 chiantiglace

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Posted 25 June 2005 - 12:34 PM

Well Steve you are right. But I wouldn't say were too much more relaxed these days. Theres is ten times the knowledge to learn these days than then. In the past 50 years fusion of cultures has blown up and we a blending at an alarming rate. Quite honestly I think its extremely challenging for the average culinary enthusiast to keep up. I read everything I can get my hands on and experiment with any idea that dashes into my brain. But yet you guys here still show me more doors to enter. I have one question. Will it ever end?

No it won't. So i'd say, not just to contradict you but to share another opinion, that we are infact less relaxed and more focused on being different than traditionally skilled in its artistry. I garuntee you chefette wouldnt be making pastillage PLANES in the 18th century.
Dean Anthony Anderson
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Pastry Chef: One If By Land Two If By Sea

#46 JamericanDiva

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Posted 25 June 2005 - 11:01 PM

Chefette, I am lovin' this thread!!! :wub: Thanks so much for taking the time to share!!!! It has given me so many ideas already!!!!
Diva

#47 Steve Klc

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Posted 26 June 2005 - 04:04 AM

Theres is ten times the knowledge to learn these days than then. In the past 50 years fusion of cultures has blown up and we a blending at an alarming rate. Quite honestly I think its extremely challenging for the average culinary enthusiast to keep up.


Now that would be the subject of a really good thread if you want to start one, I wonder if most pastry chefs would agree...

that we are infact less relaxed and more focused on being different than traditionally skilled in its artistry. I garuntee you chefette wouldnt be making pastillage PLANES in the 18th century.


Well, in terms of pastillage, if planes had been invented back then, the pastry cooks and confectioners to a royal house somewhere probably would have been asked. The royals would have been the only ones able to afford a plane, and the in-house teams would have produced them in pastillage for some dinner party they were having, that's guaranteed: they would have wanted to show their latest and greatest off. Look at the links, look in some of the books with graphics from these eras, that's what this was about--showing off: you'll see table pieces in sugar with biblical, Greek, Roman, mythological or historical focus and also modern ones with whatever currently was in vogue, made in sugar--and the pastry cooks and master confectioners at the time, say from the mid-18th C forward, had to make all their molds to pull this off, especially the wooden-carved ones for the smaller table displays, the baskets, the gifts, the tazze to present the petits fours, etc. They carved, sculpted, assembled, reproduced what they needed. This is what the job entailed for the elite in the profession working in the major metropolitan centers and for seats of power and it was "model-building" just with different models. This was the fashion of the time for those working in foodservice, and when royalty toured their realm or entertained at court, and threw lavish parties, they had to show off and this was how they did it, how they reinforced their place at the top of the autocratic pecking order. When a Queen wanted something no one had ever seen before, the same display in ice, say, instead of pastillage, the teams of pastry cooks had to turn to the in-house metallurgists to fashion molds so they could freeze all the component parts down in the snow cellars, snow that was carted in from thousands of miles away, then assemble it all quickly and reveal it to the guests. There's a very decadent description of one of these ice displays for a banquet in Elizabeth David's book "Harvest of the Cold Months," where an entire banquet scene, table, chairs and all the fixtures was presented outdoors in ice--encasing all sorts of little fruits for the guests to marvel at on a hot day in the Summer.

The forms may be different but the model-building process, and the stress of assembly and transport, and the desire to impress guests is the same--and throughout history the pastry cook/confectioner has had to get the job done for themselves, this was pre-Industrial Revolution and pre-mechanical manufacture--to this day much of this still is: yes, there's a Chocolates a la carte so pastry cook/confectioners everywhere can buy what they need rather than mold it themselves, but there's a sameness about Chocolates a la carte, and a sameness that pervades the work of pastry chefs who use a company like that. What this thread ultimately speaks to is that even today we'll make our own molds or buy some tool or device from another craft and do it ourselves in order to be more artistic and more individual--need to make a box with a lid out of chocolate to serve your chocolate truffles in? Well, thanks to the Industrial Revolution we can 1) readily buy chocolate you can temper and create with and 2) buy a cheap plastic box to use as a mold and mold it right off in one shot--pour in, pour out, pop out. However, if you don't have the right size or shape plastic box, you're back to pen and paper and X-acto knife, making templates so you can assemble your model. Only the dates have changed, the process remains the same.

Of course, back then chefette wouldn't have been making any of these things in pastillage anyway because she's a she, and these guilds and professions were all male.
Steve Klc

Pastry chef-Restaurant Consultant
Oyamel : Zaytinya : Cafe Atlantico : Jaleo

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#48 helenjp

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Posted 26 June 2005 - 06:41 AM

Not one but TWO!!! airplanes! I have to show my son1 this...but maybe I shouldn't after what I told him was *not* possible when I made him an Airbus 380 cake for his birthday!!

I'm really impressed that you took the trouble to make it as accurate as possible.

#49 chefette

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Posted 26 June 2005 - 10:43 AM

I intend to show you some basic painting and coloring approaches before we bring this demo to a close. I don't actually have time right now - but I promise - soon!

Meanwhile here are a couple pictures of pastillage pieces from a birthday cake I just did yesterday that show some painting techniques. It was a lighthearted, colorful and 'fun' project so no Michelangelo art here.

Here is a fun TV set - I have painted the screen - originally I painted the "J TV" on the screen - but didn't feel that it stood out enough so i piped it on in royal and painted that. I love this little TV - it is actually 3D but I didn't take a picture from an angle that shows that. It is one thing that I really really wanted to do on this cake but there were more important items so I literally did it when we were packing up and on our way out the door - so no backup. It worked out pretty well. If it were a more important component overall or I had had more time to fuss with it I would have made some improvements.

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Here is a Department of Defense Seal in pastillage that I have painted using petal dusts with water. It isn't show quality but was perfectly appropriate for a fun birthday cake commemorating the achievements of the recipient's life. You can see the back corner of the TV behind the seal on the right.

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It is an example of painting - I like very fine watercolor brushes. The color abosorbs almost immediately into the pastillage so you don't really get the chance to finesse it at all. I think that the working with wet royal and dusts gives you more of a painting opportunity.

And lastly - here is an easy pastillage hat. The brim and bowl of the hat are pastillage - I molded the bowl of the hat in a chocolate dome mold and the brim I shaped on the posterboard former. After shaping the dome - I slid it out of the mold and let it dry on the shaped brim to minimize problems fitting them together.

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the ribbon is gumpaste. I kneaded some black petal dust into the gumpaste which ended up basically charcoal. I finished it by giving it a quick brush with the black powder and water to darken it up.

#50 chefette

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Posted 26 June 2005 - 07:09 PM

I don't do all that much pastillage painting actually - so I don't have any special tools. I like the dusting powders for painting because we have a lot of them lying around to dust gum paste flowers. I just put a little in a small dish - dribble in a few drops of water and then use. It dries really fast so you always need to moisten your brush. It's a lot like watercolor.
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It's a good idea to have separate brushes for different colors. They don't just wash out of the brush with water so if you can't afford mixing - use dedicated brushes.

When you paint - the water will sort of melt the top of the pastillage and you can use this to your advantage if you make a mistake - add more clear water on a brush and you can basically erase - but it affects the surface - so don't plan on doing a lot of that if you want a nice surface.

A lot of the coloring I do is just dusting on a little color or coloring a whole piece. Applying a little steam will really intensify the color - but will also expose flaws.

Here is something I just did to show how you can do a fairly detailed painting.
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And here I tried something that I had not actually ever done before. I piped the face in royal then painted by coloring and pushing the royal around while wet. I think it actually has some potential. I know that a lot of people out there actually do some really amazing and intricate painting sort of like this - only lots better. You can see that it has a completely different effect. I think it's worth working on. This didn't turn out really well - but I think it's interesting.
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Kneading color into the pastillage dough is a good way to achieve consistent color on large pieces or many pieces the same. Here I used dusting powder - but you can also use liquid paste.
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I sandwiched the blue pastillage between two pieces of white then rolled out. This will give me a subtle strip of color along the edges of my pastillage. depending on what you are doing - this can be a cool, subtle effect adding depth and complexity without crossing color lines that might draw negative attention from judges in a competition or detract from the beauty of your piece.
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You can also knead it up together to get a marbled effect as you might do with rolled fondant:
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So - depending on the time, the project, and your artistic capabilities - you can do almost anything with pastillage and color.

#51 Wendy DeBord

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Posted 27 June 2005 - 09:39 AM

I'm suprised that you can use water instead of a faster drying alchol. You make this sound similar to watercolor painting and I find that very exciting!

I don't quite understand how you did the black ribbon around the bonnet. I understand how you colored it but...............how did you make it? Did you form it over the bonnet and just lift it off to spray it in another location, let it dry and replace it?..........it appears to be remarkably thin and I can't imagine it not breaking as you moved it.

Also that's mean teasing us with all your cake decorations and not showing us the finished cake.......... (hint, hint).

#52 chefette

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Posted 27 June 2005 - 04:03 PM

Painting with the powders and water works out great! Normally I would dust an area or do a sort of colored sketch like the Defense Plaque so not really too much painting.

I decided to do a little more extensive painting painting - the face and I really thought it worked great. Using more water and more aggressively painting in a watercolor style yields nice results.

The top of the pastillage gets sort of wet and slick/sticky and is pretty much how you would work on nice watercolor paper and lets you manipulate your 'paints' more. (You can see this in the first painted face half). This also seems to result in a nice sheen once it dries. I also tried lightly spraying with spray oil. In this case I used Trader Joes Olive Oil spray. Tough to get a fine mist but after 12 hours it dried with no ill effects.

The oil is not responsible for the light sheen on the painted side. I see that the other hald of the piece that was spot piped/painted retains its normal matte finish despite the spray of oil. It also did not yellow or discolor.

I dusted a flat strip with two colors - transitioning from yellow to green. This I also sprayed to see the effect. It intensified the colors and yielded a light sheen. In both pieces there is a slightly oily feel to the surface - except on the half of the face that was not completely wet painted.

Regarding the black ribbon on the hat:
1- I formed the pastillage brim and placed that on a former to crate the floppy brim effect
2- I formed the dome
3- I set the dome onto the brim so it would dry to match the curve of the brim as much as possible
4- I attached the dome to the brim
The ribbon is gumpaste - so that I could achieve that thinness and finesse
5- I kneaded some black dust into my gumpaste. At first it appeared charcoal but the color developed as it absorbed moisture from the paste
6- I rolled out the gumpaste into a long thin strip - just as if I were planning to cut petals
7- I cut several thin strips
8- I fit a strip around the rim of the dome (there is a slight slope - plus I needed to cover up the areas where I did not have a perfect join
:wacko: :unsure:
9- I cut the strip so that the ends just overlapped
10- I moistened the inside of the ribbon and put it in place (so in this instance the fresh wet gumpaste is applied to the dried pastillage)
11- I attached the flowy end ribbons shaping and adhering them to give some life
12 - I formed and attached the bow
13- Using a flat brush about 1/4" wide I lightly brushed black coloring onto the ribbon

I cannot say that this last painting was a great idea - it is sort of risky because I could have got paint on the hat then had to redo or repair. Also, the paint doesn't dry as fast as you would like it to on the paste - especially the gumpaste because of the crisco in it. This could have resulted in the paint from the blasted ribbon marring the fondant on the cake or another decorative element.

#53 chefette

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Posted 27 June 2005 - 04:33 PM

I wanted to get back to you about microwaving pastillage. I really don't care for the effect that much - but can appreciate the novelty. In fact - I can't claim that I have perfected the technique. Maybe Nightscotsman can give more authority on this.

Anyway - I have experimented placing lumps of wet pastillage in the microwave, fried pastillage, dried pieces that I have then briefly soaked in water to rehydrate to see how that worked out, partially dried shapes and lumps.

So far, my most satisfaying results come from pieces that I have cut approximately 1/2" thick, and allowed to dry (without flipping) 12-24 hours. Most of my pieces are about 20-30 grams in weight and it is not use being too detailed about the shape - the more important shape - the drier the pastillage needs to be before you wave it.

I place the pastillage subject in a glass ramekin (about 3" tall and about 3" in diameter) and microwave on high about 40 seconds.

The pastillage melts and bubbles up after about 15 seconds - it seems that at 30 seconds it isn't done enough to maintain height, and beyond 40 seconds you seem to start caramelizing.

Let it cool briefly and then remove from the container. Working on a square of parchment or a small silpat square would prooably be best

Here is my 24 hour dry piece of pastillage - wet side up (might be worth seeing how it worked with dry side up)

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I didn't knead this or anything - just sliced it off the lump yesterday and let it sit

Here it is after 40 seconds in the microwave. I waved it on a square of parchment -(make sure your square is big enough since there is lots of expansion)
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Note the browned pastillage - you can carefully pick most of this off.
You can see that it does bear some vague resemblance shapewise to the piece we started with. I found that microwaving drier cut pieces results in portions of them puffing up which can be fun - but this is something that you really have to play around with if you are interested. I also find that using a cylindrical container also results in a more cylindrical and rounder shape, but more difficult to remove from container without breaking.

But maybe someone who does a lot of pastillage microwaving will put in their two cents.

#54 chefette

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Posted 28 June 2005 - 07:33 PM

Finally – there remains how to transport your pastillage. Like all this – it depends on your project, the size, delicacy, and complexity of your piece, as well as distance to be traveled, mode of transport, time and facilities available at destination, ability to pack or carry tools and other materials.

In the case of my bi-planes my original plan was to cut and dry all my pastillage at home then pack and carry it to California where I could do some sanding and assembly before packing the planes and driving them 2 hours to San Diego to put on display.

Most of these pieces are flat so they are pretty easy to pack. Just provide some separation, some padding, a little care, a few toothpicks, a box that will fit in the overhead compartment as my carry on and voila. However, somehow I just didn’t have the pieces that I was satisfied with prior to leaving so I packed up two batches of fresh pastillage, my templates, Xacto knives, glue gun, sandpaper and flew to California. It is much less stressful to travel this way – however – I had to really focus and do all my work out there. But it worked out.

I assembled three complete planes – so that I would have one spare and in a pinch could get by in the exhibit with one if disaster struck. After the ‘crash’ (pictured) I was very worried about the planes just collapsing under their own weight, and every jounce and bump I imagined I could hear pastillage crumbling in the back of the car.

Because of the delicacy of the wings – I needed to provide them support so I packed each plane in its own box in a cushion of plastic bubble wrap.

If you are decorating a cake with pastillage pieces – you may be able to attach most of the pieces to the cake. Delicate pieces such as a delicate arbor or topper should be packed separately and you should probably have a spare. I normally place a delicate topper piece on a Styrofoam square, and secure the base with toothpicks places so it will not slide. If feasible or necessary, I will also provide some plastic cushioning support. You don’t want to create a rigid unmoving environment in which your pastillage might move and break against its restraints – you want to protect it.

Larger curvy pieces frequently do best packed on their sides with toothpicks securing them to Styrofoam. If you have many pieces with the same curve they can nest – but you would be safest leaving breathing room between them so that a problem does not cause the whole group to break.

Most flat pieces should be packed flat and provided with some cushioning.

Always always make multiples and spares and think about alternatives. Any really delicate dangerous pieces should be assembled on sight if practical.

Driving your pastillage isn’t too bad if you have packed and designed well. Flying leaves you with tight size restrictions and means that your pastillage will be out of your control several times. Have extra tape on hand to retape and close boxes after they are examined by TSA. Explain to everyone who needs to examine or handle your boxes that they contain delicate sugar decorations. Try to get a seat in the rear of the aircraft – you usually board early and can secure an overhead bin – fill the extra space with your fluffy coat. Don’t sit or someone coming in will roughly push your box aside and cram in their carry on bag that is well outside the size restrictions cited. Find out what plane type you will be traveling on and see if you can get specs on the size of overhead bins. Get boxes that conform to carry on requirements since you never know when airline personnel might actually decide to abide by those guidelines – plus you do want your boxes to fit. Consider getting a friend to travel with you – but force them to come with almost nothing so they can be dedicated to carrying your boxes.

Always travel with spare parts and tools, maybe even a batch of pastillage so you can redo anything that breaks.

Always be gentle.


That’s about it I guess – and I can see that I must have killed just about any interest anyone ever had regarding pastillage. I think that I have at least covered the bases here so get out and start making things. If you have questions, please post and we can see if we can work them out.

I feel that for every thing I have told you here there are at least two more that I didn’t get to, and still things that I don’t even know about. But I think that maybe now you can start to appreciate how incredibly versatile and useful pastillage is as a pastry décor tool.

Good luck everyone! I am interested to see what you do.

Edited by chefette, 28 June 2005 - 07:34 PM.


#55 alligande

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Posted 29 June 2005 - 04:21 AM

Just wanted to say thankyou for the tutorial, I have dabled using pastllage as support pieces on cakes but this has inspired me to see what can be created thanks.

#56 Wendy DeBord

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Posted 29 June 2005 - 04:42 AM

Chefette, can I store a p display piece in the cooler for a couple hours? I've pushed gum paste into that and they'll hold for an hour or two, not much more..........would p hold a little longer then gum paste?

#57 Desertm

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Posted 29 June 2005 - 06:29 AM

Hi,

I am new here, and this is my first post. I want to express my thanks for the wonderful demo you have posted, and all the time and effort you have invested in it. I think the best expression of my thanks is to show here what I just finished yesterday, inspired by your demo. I know that I have not reached perfection yet, but I am a self taught person, who just got hooked into cake decoration late in my life, and am enjoying every moment of it!

So thanks again, and thanks to EGullet for hosting this and all the incredible threads here!:smile:

Posted Image

#58 Genny

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Posted 29 June 2005 - 09:22 AM

Desertm- Welcome and thanks so much for sharing this lovely piece! How inspiring that you are self taught. I love the two-tone colors on this. Did you make this for a cake top or other application or just for practice and creative outlet? How long have you been playing with Pastillage?

#59 K8memphis

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Posted 29 June 2005 - 09:46 AM

DesertM--I agree wholeheartedly with Genny--what a wonderful beautiful creation!!! Your enjoyment, your passion is showing in that pretty pretty piece.
Chefette should be so happy to be so inspiring too!!!

<applause erupts from all corners of the internet>

<DesertM takes a bow, Chefette takes a bow>

<the crowd goes wild>


:laugh: Cool and very cool!!!!

#60 chefette

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Posted 30 June 2005 - 04:19 AM

Desertm
Great job! Thanks for posting.
How was your experience?
What recipe did you use?
Did you create a form for shaping or use an actual shoe?
On the two color ribbons - did you end up rolling two colors together - or making the peach color pastillage and dusting the darker color on one side?
For the heel - did you roll that?
What next?

Who's next? I am anxiously awaiting creations from all 5 of you following this demo :laugh:
I think that I am all out of space in the image thing so probably cannot post any more pics in the near future.

Wendy - I have not actually put pastillage in the cooler = but I will leave some in there today to see how it goes and get back to you on how it behaves = I know that overall - it is much more durable than gumpaste though.