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SPECIAL REPORT: 3-day sugar class w/ Anil Rohira


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#31 simdelish

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Posted 29 August 2005 - 09:14 PM

Can you tell me more about the plastic tubing used to shape the red sugar tube.......

If I go to my local hardware store what is that tubing called, in what department will I find it?

I've always wanted to know how you remove the tubing once the piece has set. You showed that you score thru it......while the sugar is still warm? How deep do you score it and when? Then when you want to completely remove it how do you make sure you don't score into you sugar? Is there a tip for removing the tube? Should you cut it into smaller sections as you remove it?

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I too wanted to be able to walk in to Home Depot and get the same tubing, so I pulled off the label from the long coil of it, and stuck it to my notebook! I am looking at it as I type. It says:

WATTS Clear Vinyl Tubing
10 feet
3/4" outside diameter x 5/8" inside diameter
used for:
- low pressure
- food/water uses
- do not use with ice makers.

other than the barcode, the tiny numbers on it, I assume an item number, are:
42143810

How's that for accurate info? :wink:

as for the department... dunno! Beats me! Can't be too hard to let them direct you though.

I am happy to give a bit more details on the technique. I am, of course, trying to be cognizent of how much info I am imparting in this thread... I don't want to give away all Chef Rohira's secrets, nor do I intend on conducting an online course, (I wouldn't dream of thinking myself knowledgable enough on the topic of sugar to do so.) and, I am treading a fine line between giving an account of the class, versus every tiny detail so you don't need to take the class yourself. :laugh: Of course, we all know nothing beats doing this kind of thing with an instructor showing you in person, and you practicing on site, with the instructor correcting you as you go. However, I will attempt to better explain this tube thing:

The scoring part is a bit tricky. You have poured the hot sugar into the tube, and clipped the ends shut. You set the tube in whatever shape/direction you desire, (we did a circle), and then I guess it was about 7 or maybe even 10 minutes later before we scored. This is where the lovely Amanda was so crucial. She was the one pinching our tubes to see when they were 'ready.' Because I was so curious as to EXACTLY what 'ready' was, I kept bugging her and pinching too! "Is it ready yet?" "Hey Amanda, how about now?" "Ok, I think we're there, aren't we?" :wacko: "AaaaMANNNNda?" :laugh:

All I can say is it's FIRM in the tube, but still able to indent slightly with your thumb. Not too squishy, but not rock hard either. The idea is so that when you score it, the sugar will hold its shape, and not ooze out, or lose its perfectly round thickness. Cut too late, and you risk scratching it (which can be torched smooth later if it's not too scratched). I had trouble at first when I began to score. I couldn't figure out how deep the plastic was, where it stopped and the sugar started. Amanda could see I was going too deep, and corrected me. Once I got a little further along, I could instinctly tell exactly how deep to score. It just sort of came to me, and hopefully you, too. (The next day when I release mine, it is clearly cut about a 2 inch length. I was able to torch most of it out, and then I ended up hiding the area under something else I attached when decorating the tube.)

I guess after you do one, you know. I didn't know what it was supposed to look like, until Amanda showed me, then I caught on. When you score down the length of the tubing, look closely as you do it, and you will see the tube 'releasing' from the sugar, about an eighth of an inch on either side of the cut. That's exactly what you want. Then just let it sit to cool entirely -- we left ours overnight. You also don't score the entire length... just to about an inch or two from the clipped ends. You can finish cutting it away with the exacto blade when you go to remove the sugar from the tube. It comes away in one piece, so no-- you don't chop it up in sections to remove. It slips off easily. We will do just that in my next installment.
I like to cook with wine. Sometimes I even add it to the food.

#32 simdelish

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Posted 29 August 2005 - 09:57 PM

How are you/they storing your finished pieces and unused blobs of sugar overnight?


All pieces must be carefully stored with limestone, or some sort of dessicant. As I mentioned before, the AUI people went to great lengths to keep our classroom at an amazing 47 % humidity or more... It made working with, and learning, so much easier. When we finished our parts or entire pieces, they were placed on a sheet pan, with a cup of limestone also sitting on the sheetpan. Then, large black plastic trash bags were slipped over one end, carefully, and tied up tight at the other end. They were then just slipped onto the speed rack for storage until further need.

"Blobs" of ready sugar, (ready to be warmed and used) are also kept in this way. I suppose you could also keep a variety of pieces in a tightly sealed box, like a fish flat or tub, with a cup of limestone in it. I have stored my blobs in a ziplock bag in the past, with great success.

A word on the limestone: when it turns to powder, it's no longer good/useful. So, depending on the environment, your little cup may last two days, or much longer. Just change as needed. When you only need a bit, you don't even have to have a cup the right size, just create a makeshift one with a piece of foil -- a little cup or basket shape and fill with a small handful of stones.

The pieces I brought home from class on the last day, were in a box. They were unfortunately, unprotected from the elements, when I left, on a typical sweltering DC day, and then the ride home. I tried to keep the a/c blasting in my car, but the humidity took it's toll by the time I got home. ( Things had definitely already lost their shine, and a few tall wispy pieces had softened and just fell over, wilted looking.) It would have been nice had AUI put a cup of limestone in my box, and at least sealed up the box, or put it in a trashbag for the ride home. The second I got home, I did just that, and it's sitting in a corner of my extra kitchen (I built out a 'catering' or pastry kitchen in part of my garage). I haven't looked at it since I got home. That would be a useful exercise, I think, at the end of this thread. I will open it and take a picture to show you how it was stored securely, and if it lasted, and how long.

I get my limestone rocks, of course, you guessed it, from Albert Uster. It comes in a 50 pound bag, for practically pennies. You should be able, I would think, to get it locally, but I must admit I have never looked anywhere else for it.

Here's a shot with a cup of limestone in the background, on the tray.
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and here's a view of the speedracks, notice the bagged pans on the bottom right slots, and the top left.
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I like to cook with wine. Sometimes I even add it to the food.

#33 simdelish

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Posted 31 August 2005 - 07:19 PM


We talk about the variables: the type of sugar, the type of water, the type of heat, the kind of acid, the reason for glucose, the difference in temperature, how you mix, how long it cooks,... LOTS of factors can affect your end result.

We also learn all about acid, and the way it affects boiling sugar.  Depending on which recipe (cream of tartar, or tartaric acid) you use, determines when you add the acid to the mix.  Since we are making both versions, the common version gets the acid early, because it can cook longer, and in the pro version we add it later.
Once it's come to a boil, you can add color if you like.


Can you explain how the acid affects the boiling sugar? Would you also have recipes of the examples mentioned so we could make these?

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Good question Wendy. I, too, like knowing the reason ingredients behave the way they do.

Acid does two things: it delays crystalization
and it gives elasticity (makes it pliable)

Ideally, we want to achieve a sugar that shines, is stable enough for the techniques of pulling and blowing, and does not crystallize after a short period of time.

Acid can be cream of tartar, tartaric acid, vinegar, lemon juice, there's even acid in glucose. Cream of tartar lasts longer, so that's why we add it at the beginning of the cooking process. It continues to work. Tartaric acid must be added near the end of the cooking process,because it doesn't last as long. The interesting thing you need to remember when you are doubling or tripling a batch of sugar, is that the acid is also in greater quantity, and therefore will have a greater impact. You can easily end up with a "softer batch" because you have had to cook it longer, therefore breaking down the sugar more. Therefore, you want to reduce the amount of acid if you are multiplying your recipe.

I also mentioned the glucose as a factor...Glucose is an invert sugar, and has smaller sugar crystals. It can be obtained from potato, corn, wheat or even a combination of the three -- each having a different acid content. As I said before, the acid makes the sugar pliable and reduces the danger of crystallization. Too much acid makes the sugar soft, and increases its ability to absorb moisture. Glucose from potatoes seems to be the strongest, I was taught years ago. If your sugar is brittle (less elastic) and crystallizes quickly under the heat lamp, then your glucose is mmost likely corn based. Sometimes you just have to work by trial and error to find what's best for you, in your climate, with your water, your glucose, your sugar, etc. That's why it's always a good idea, too, if you travel or are in a competition... you should always do a test batch to see how soft (or not) it is.

Here are the two recipes we used:

Common ingredients:
100 g water
300 g sugar
30 g glucose
0.4 g cream of tartar

Professional recipe:
1 k sugar
400-450 g water
200 g glucose
8 drops tartaric acid (make a 1:1 solution)

Years ago, I also made the following recipe, when I couldn't get glucose.

311 g (or 11 oz) cold water
1000 g (o 2.2 #) sugar
.5 teaspoon cream of tartar

they all get cooked to either 160 or 165 degrees C

Edited by simdelish, 31 August 2005 - 07:23 PM.

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#34 chefette

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Posted 01 September 2005 - 04:38 AM

Just to add another simple recipe for sugar work sugar

1000g sugar
2T white vinegar
175g water

cook to 160 C

good recipe for pulling, blowing, casting

#35 Steve Klc

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Posted 01 September 2005 - 07:07 AM

You also don't score the entire length... just to about an inch or two from the clipped ends. You can finish cutting it away with the exacto blade when you go to remove the sugar from the tube


everyone is going to have their own methods for this, which work for them and for their shape--and that variability is ok because what's really important is developing the "feel" for it. The great value of a hands-on class with top notch instructors is just this--there's someone there to make sure you "feel" what you're supposed to feel, to say that's too warm or not warm enough, etc. With more complicated curves and rods that bend into 2D and 3D spheres, I do score the entire length and I score deeply, to within maybe 1/32 of an inch of the sugar--so I can just peel the plastic tubing apart gently with my hands. I also unpeel most rods before they get cold--the sugar is less brittle and the tubes are more flexible and don't require being warmed up with a warming gun, as they might the next day. I'd rather have a tiny x-acto knife nick where I may have pressed too deeply into the tubing (and which I can cover with decor anyway) than have a tube crack or the knife chip the surface the next day. If you do it a few times you'll find the way that works for you--and you'll see how it nicks and chips differently depending on the temperatures. Isomalt is more brittle, and you'll have to adjust depending on your work environment and what you plan to do with the unmolded piece, as well. As you do it more, you'll also understand that shapes cool differently--at different rates--which makes how (which side of the curve) and when you score the tube more difficult (and also prompts you to develop little tricks to cool them down more evenly.)

Very revealing narrative, Lee, thanks for the depth of your commitment so far.
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#36 simdelish

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Posted 01 September 2005 - 02:51 PM

Day Two:

I decide to leave at 5:50 am -an extra 15 minutes earlier this morning, so that I can work on roses. Good thing I had those extra minutes, as there were 4 different accidents on the Capital Beltway, not getting me to AUI until 7:25... oh well...
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no time to do roses, if I want to have breakfast! After sitting in the car for more than 90 minutes, I decide breakfast is more important.

As I walk into the classroom to put my notebook at my station, one or 2 classmates are already there, upfront with Chef and Brian. Brian calls out to me... "NO MORE MUESLI, Lee!!! -- We ran out!" :shock: :shock: :shock: No one else seemed to understand what the hell he was talking about.

Ha ha, very funny Brian. :hmmm: I am smarter than that.
Clearly he has stayed up too late, reading this thread, (or else he got up extra extra early)... and read how I just LUV the muesli for breakfast...it's what I crave.

Now, I just KNOW there is an ENORMOUS warehouse, just behind the classroom, where there is probably 3 tons of muesli, stacked up on pallets 50 feet into the air, just waiting for addicts like me.

"Very funny Brian. Now if you'll excuse me, I'm off to have my breakfast!" :wink:

Here's the morning's lineup
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and a close-up of the muesli. Mmmmmmm...it's PINK! looks like they added some strawberry puree to the mix today. YUMMMM :wub:
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Here we are getting our caffeine fix before class starts
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This morning Chef Rohira gathers us together, to sit and talk about design for a while. Brian and Amanda are busy in the front of the classroom doing kitchen prep for the day's work ahead.

Chef tells us that many people spend much time on the physical aspect of constructing a showpiece, or centerpiece in sugar, BUT they often DON'T spend enough time conceptualizing and thinking through the design. He talks at great length about all the factors one needs to take into consideration... theme, form, shape, size, color, the effect or 'wow factor', the uniqueness of the piece.
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It's a great exercise in thinking, understanding, discovering what you want to do... how to visualize it, how not to limit yourself and your thinking. Chef says that most people rush to the physical part of executing the sugar piece (or any piece, really, chocolate, a cake design, whatever you might be doing). He explains to us that first we must understand the emotional part, then the intellectual part, before we can justly (and wisely) proceed to the physical part. HAVE A PLAN.

We talk of elements of design, the focus, the flow or movement of a piece, and how it all has to make sense, in order to be successful. But also to think outside the box -- not to be limited or restricted by your physical capabilities. That's the one thing I really take away from here:

not to be limited or restricted by your physical capabilities

btw... thanks, Chef :wink:

Things like form, texture, color, size, realistic vs. abstract,... hell, we even start talking high school math: things like the golden ratio; and high school art class comes back to me also: ockham's razor and the rule of thirds. Color, physics, wavelength... all in all an excellent discussion, and one I think everyone benefitted from.
I like to cook with wine. Sometimes I even add it to the food.

#37 simdelish

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Posted 01 September 2005 - 03:52 PM

Handy dandy Brian is not feeling well today. :sad: The air quality isn't very good, and his allergies seem to be kicking up. He and Amanda have been busy cooking several pots of isomalt,
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so we have more red to make ribbons with,
and 'blobs' of clear, that we will be later blowing.

Chef begins class with getting yesterday's red sugar out of the tubes we poured. I have already earlier in this thread detailed that procedure of scoring, and Steve also weighed in about how no technique is the only, or right, technique. Very true.

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Chef cuts the ends, continuing the score line we made yesterday, and easily slips off the tubing (throw away, can't re-use of course). He begins to pull a few of yesterday's "parts" like the base, the rose, etc. I ask about the rough end of the finished red circular tube. Chef says if you have a not-very-good (aka ruined edge) knife, you can heat it on the torch,
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and cut the end off.
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We watch him do this, as the sugar smokes when he touches the hot knife to it.
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As Brian and Amanda help to set up the bases that were made yesterday, I ask Chef to also review the rose again for us... and he does so:
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I like to cook with wine. Sometimes I even add it to the food.

#38 simdelish

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Posted 01 September 2005 - 06:09 PM

Now we put together our second sugar piece of the class. We use the poured dark purple triangles from yesterday, along with the 'orange jellies' made by Brian and Amanda. We will attach the red curving tube to the two bases, and will then decorate!

Chef tells us we can use the pot of boiled sugar as 'glue', as well as using small bits cut from a clear blob under the lamp, kind of like a glue stick. The orange jelly will sit on top of the purple triangle, and then the red tube will be stuck on top of that.
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In order to attach anything to a smooth surface, it's wise to 'roughen the surface up' -- here you see it in the middle of the inside curve of the tube. We've just taken a hot knife again and scored it a few times.
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Chef takes a rose and glues it on, and blows it cold:
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Here's the side, or underneath view:
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I like to cook with wine. Sometimes I even add it to the food.

#39 simdelish

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Posted 01 September 2005 - 06:14 PM

After yesterday's post detailing isomalt, a little ahead of schedule, I realize I haven't mentioned the actual recipe or process for the isomalt. It's quite simple, actually: just 10:1 isomalt to water. In class, we make a batch with 1000 g of Venuance crystals, putting 100 g of water in the bottom of the pot first. Dissolve slowly over low heat, keeping the sides clean as usual. Once it comes to a boil, turn up the heat and cook until 170 degrees C.
I like to cook with wine. Sometimes I even add it to the food.

#40 simdelish

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Posted 01 September 2005 - 06:24 PM

Here's the bubble sugar we made:
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here you see Amanda pulling back the silpat from the parchment covered with bubble sugar:
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In this batch, the-lovely-Amanda flecked a bit of red coloring with the tip of her knife onto the sheetpan sprinkled with isomalt crystals.
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here's a closeup -- you can see the pattern left from the silpat:
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I like to cook with wine. Sometimes I even add it to the food.

#41 simdelish

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Posted 01 September 2005 - 07:03 PM

Next up: RIBBONS!

These are so beautiful, and Chef makes them look soooo easy, but let me tell you, they are tricky. Once you make one though, and it's a 'good one' -- ribbons become addictive. You just keep wanting to make more and more, in lots of combinations.

Ribbons begin by pulling the sugar to give it some opaqueness. We used both red and white (clear pulled until it was white). Chef pulled two lengths of white, and one red, all approximately the same size, and temp (important!). He sticks them together, side by side:
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then he adds one more length of white:
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then he pulls it once, doubles up to get 2 red stripes in the mix.

THEN, he pulls again, and adds the length back on itself one more time, now making 4 red stripes in the white ribbon:
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now, you and I might think that's enough... but lest you not believe Chef Rohira is a master at his craft.... yes, he doubles it AGAIN! :blink:
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and then he finally starts to pull/make his ribbon:
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he pulls and slides his hands ever so smoothly along the length...
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sometimes it gets VERY long...
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and he cuts it
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and cools it quickly ( to give better shine)by running it on the marble
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and with a quick turn of the wrist
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we have a gorgeous ribbon curl:
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Little tendrils can be made with the leftover... just pull a very thin strand... the red and white stripes turn pale pink when stretched to the max
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and wrapped around a rolling pin for shape
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-----

Here, Chef takes the leftover together, mostly pulled opaque red, along with clear (unpulled) red and proceeds to pull:
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to make a beautiful striated pattern. The shine is incredible!
I like to cook with wine. Sometimes I even add it to the food.

#42 simdelish

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Posted 01 September 2005 - 07:47 PM

Yesterday, Brian poured some clear sugar into a funny looking mold...
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The mold had been made from little cubes, like dice, stuck into silicone. Well, today we needed those little cubes:

When we put together our piece, we use these little cubes underneath the base, so as to make picking up/moving the piece much easier. Smart, no?

Chef adds some ribbons to his piece, and it begins to come together.
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with a bit of the bubble sugar added as well for texture
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He also adds some of the broken pieces of straw sugar around the base... but I can't find the photo of the finished piece at the moment. Trust me, though, it's great.
------------

Now, WE have to go back to our stations, and do our version. First, most of us glue the bases together, get the tube attached... so far so good.

Then comes the ribbon work. Many of us struggle. As Chef goes around the room, you can overhear each of us say..."you make it look SOOOO easy!" which of course, he does. Ed has stopped putting her trash in my bucket, and Devlin keeps coming over to my table to see how I'm doing. Drew can be heard uttering a few obscenities, well, actually he's not the only one. (And David keeps annoying Burghardt, or is it the other way around? "ok you two: we're going to have to split you up if you don't BEHAVE!) seriously, though, we are really having fun, and getting in to this whole thing. The lunch order list goes around, today will be Chinese.

But we practice and practice and come out with some pretty darn good-looking ribbons. Daniel has done this before: here's his ribbon edge
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and how his turn out... wow! Dan's look fantastic!
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We are also given a leaf mold, so I make some white leaves to tuck around my rose. I fool around with ribbons of different stripes, and although they don't match, I pick my best ones for inclusion in my piece... and here's how my 'showpiece' turns out:
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Here are close-ups of mine, for detail:
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I like to cook with wine. Sometimes I even add it to the food.

#43 simdelish

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Posted 01 September 2005 - 08:57 PM

Here's what's left of the lunch gang. We all agreed Chinese food just makes us want to take a nap...
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Here's a shot of everyone's finished pieces in the lunchroom.
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Here's another shot of mine... I thought I'd be artsy-fartsy and get the mirror image effect...
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There's usually some time to digest after lunch, return phone calls, and wander a bit, and check out some of the displays at Albert Uster -- here's a wedding cake.
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What I notice, and like best about this cake is the green flow-y part.
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Its sugar... and I'm curious as to how it's done. stay tuned, because I ask Chef about this, and he demos this for us later in the day.

Here's also a gorgeous cake done by Collette Peters... if any of you have the AUI catalog, then you will recognize it. It is photographed beautifully with a bride standing behind the cake... you get the idea...
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what surprised most of us was how small this cake actually was. On the wall behind the cake was an electrical outlet... I turned the cake so it wouldn't show up in the picture. A classmate purposely took the pic with the outlet IN the shot, just to show the relative size comparison. The cake really wasn't much more than about 18 " high. when you see it in the catalog, you think it's 3 feet!
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Back in the classroom, Chef warms up one of the leftover red tubes, under the heat lamp for a few minutes. Our classroom is fairly cool, so it really needed to get the chill off first, before it warmed enough to do this...
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Here's also another way of making bubble sugar... with crinkled up parchment.
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and a close-up:
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Both the methods shown here in this thread have been discussed elsewhere in this forum.

Next up... blowing the magical sphere...
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I like to cook with wine. Sometimes I even add it to the food.

#44 chiantiglace

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Posted 02 September 2005 - 05:39 PM

Sim, I would be very proud of that display. Looks very professional.

I must ask, how come you were the only one with a red flower and everyone else had yellow? Though i like the red better than the yellow, just thought that was odd.

also, does Rohira use Tetrafluoroethene at all to cool his "glueing", or just blowers?
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