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Everything posted by bkeith

  1. bkeith

    Rock candy

    Do you think it would work to make regular rock candy and then smoke it? That'd get around the heat and acid inverting the sugar syrup. I just don't have a guess as to how well the smoke would penetrate the candy.
  2. I saw some petits fours several years ago that were wrapped in marzipan and had a transfer on them. I didn't see the process, but I was told the marzipan was painted with melted cocoa butter, then placed onto the transfer sheet. When the cocoa butter set, it took the transfer design. Maybe you could do something similar with caramels? Pour them out and let them cool. Then paint on a thin layer of melted cocoa butter and lay a transfer sheet on top (maybe flip the caramel over first so you're working with a nice flat surface. Worth a try, anyway.
  3. Heh. Sometimes you just want to say "Thanks, I really appreciate it, but I just don't have enough time for you to help me."
  4. Well said. In my case, wax paper has always been a no-no nightmare, and parchment has always been a dream. The parchment I use is treated (I believe with silicone) and royal icing NEVER sticks to it. I would personally never use acetate for royal, although I use it a lot for run-in chocolate work....acetate is great for that. I have never tried using any type of shortening to rub on the surface of something I was going to pipe royal icing onto, because I was afraid the shortening would prevent the piece from drying properly. Never tried it, so I can't say whether that's true or not. I only advise based on personal experience, and I know that acetate and royal, for me, is too risky. I tried it once, thinking that since I had such great results with the chocolate, the same would be true with royal....not so in my case. Even though I carefully ran a thin offset spatula under the fully dried piece, I ended up with a lot of breakage, and I was really careful. I don't wish to spend a lot of time piping out a piece and then worrying about lifting it from the surface later...with my schedule, I don't have time to re-do much of anything. I use acetate for royal pieces all the time. I wipe a thinthinthin layer of shortening onto the acetate, then pipe, runout, etc. No problem, and the tiny amount of shortening doesn't prevent the royal from setting at all. You can get a spatula under the pieces to release them. For large or fidgety pieces, you can place them under a warming lamp or into a slow oven to melt the shortening a bit, and the pieces will slide off with no problem. Related story -- I did a runout collars demo in Vegas a few years back -- had to get my stuff from my hotel room to the conference center across the street, and as I left the hotel it started raining. To keep the raindrops off my pretty runout pieces, I held the board upside down. By the time I got across the street, the Vegas heat had softened the shortening enough that I'd lost 3 of my 4 collar pieces. Had to do a little tap dancing at the demo. I've even gotten a little crazy with. For this cake I lined a flower former with acetate, smeared on a little shortening, then brush-embroidered each petal onto the acetate. When dry, I carefully lifted each super-thin, lacy petal off the acetate and assembled them into the water lily. Pain in the butt, but a really cool effect.
  5. I do this occasionally, and it's delicious. The rhubarb gets quite soft, though, and the pieces don't hold their shape well. The whole lot kinds mooshes up like chunky applesauce, and there's enough liquid released that crispy caramelization isn't going to happen. I use it as a side dish (goes great with a pork roast).
  6. I put a few new treats in my holiday goodie baskets this year. Blueberry-ginger cookies and blackcurrant marshmallows were big hits. My personal favorite flavor-wise were the coconut-caramel truffles. Best looking goodies were the oreos. Took some regular Oreos, dipped in white chocolate flavored with peppermint oil, then hand painted with wreaths, jingle bells, poinsettias, and candy canes. Quite attractive if I say so myself. But did I think to get a picture before they were all grabbed up? Of course not.
  7. It looks like a basketweave tip on steroids. Flat opening, smooth on one side and serrated on the other. About 2 inches wide. It was designed originally to ice the sides of cakes done in those character pans, but it works great for getting the icing onto the sides of most any cake. Wilton #789, I believe.
  8. bkeith

    CMC / Tylose

    I found it at chefrubber.com: http://chefrubber.com/Shopping/shopdisplay...ucts.asp?page=2
  9. That's the stuff I use for fake cakes (usually props for the theatre). I haven't had any problem with it relaxing when I pipe, but I'm usually only doing shell borders and things. If you're looking for a mound of it to stand up fairly tall, you may need to pipe it in stages. I say that based on experience working with it to patch holes in walls and celings -- bigger holes need several small applications with drying time between. Too much at a time makes it slump.
  10. Wacky indeed! Royal icing also dries hard. In its dried form, it'd stand up to compression, but I don't think anyone would enjoy eating it as cupcake icing. I don't have a great alternative, though. I'd consider something with chocolate, though. Maybe add a little oil to keep it from setting too hard, and a little water to give it stiffness for piping. I'd think that any cupcake that edible would be soft enough and heavy enough that a fishing line knot would slip right through it as soon as it had to support its own weight. Fishing line would be strong enough, but I'd think you'd need something else in there to prevent the cupcake from sliding off. Something akin to a washer of some sort. Maybe some of that foam-insulation-in-a-can you can get at home improvement stores? Place cupcake liner in a cupcake pan, squirt in some foam, and let it rise just like a cupcake would in the oven. It'd probably take a few tries to get the right amount of foam in the liner to rise the correct amount. Dunno if that's any cheaper than the dummies though. Chocolate might come to the rescue again -- Melt chocolate, and dump in a bunch of rice krispies to keep it light and cut down on cost. Then fill your cupcake liners with that mixture. It's essentially joint compound with some sort of polymer added to make it waterproof when it dries. Very lightweight and very sturdy. If you're not worried about water, joint compound is a lot cheaper.
  11. Thanks for posting the links. I was bummed to have to miss it this year, but there just wasn't time to put an entry together. Next year's theme is exciting, though. I'm going to have to start early to make sure I can get it done!
  12. Sugarella beat me to the main point of my response, and I see you already know that as long as it's supported properly, most any cake will work fine as a stacked wedding cake. So find a recipe you and your friend like and go for it. I personally prefer a butter cake, and that's the bulk of what I offer my customers. It's just a texture thing. I know lots and lots of folks who swear by genoise for wedding cakes, but I don't care that much for it. IMHO, genoise is fine as a base for thick layers of other stuff (mousses and creams and whatnot) and is perfect for a rolled cake, but it's not so great as the primary element. I did want to say, though, that I loved this: That sounded to me like the first paragraph of a very funny story written after the fact (and after the cleanup). I hope for your sake, that your adventure isn't anything like the scenario my crazy brain came up with.
  13. I was not implying to stick the chocolate in your armpit, but to secure it with your elbow against your hip. If the chocolate is still half in its wrapper, there is nothing to worry about. The prcess is so quick, that melting is not a factor. Believe me, this is a very efficient way to chop chocolate with the most uniform pieces. Smashing it with a rolling pin will produce an uneven product. If you are tempering, size does matter. ← I second this method. I first learned it here when chefpeon discussed it. Works like a charm. And in addition to the wrapper on the chocolate, there's usually at least one layer of clothing between me and the chocolate.
  14. I do my best to underestimate servings on these, assuming whoever's cutting will make a mess of it even with a guide to cutting. Essentially, for each tier, I figure the number of servings of the middle-sized cake, 6" high, then multiply by 85% for a fudge factor and to compensate for the chunk of cake that's taken out. So for the 8-9-10 tier, I figure the servings for a 6" high 9" round cake (1.5 times the number of servings for a 4" high 9" round cake), and multiply by .85. As a cutting suggestion, I tell folks to make a horizontal cut all the way across, starting at the low edge of the slanted top. Cut up the weird slanty piece into roughly serving-sized chunks. Then cut what remains as a normal tier.
  15. Second that. Not only easy to use, but more intense colors than I've found with any of the pastes. Red and black are far easier to achieve with Americolor than any others I've tried. Nice range of colors too.
  16. I think one of the biggest reasons people are cautious about giving advice on doubling recipes for baked goods is the tradition of volumetric measurements in the US. A cup of flour can contain anywhere from 4 to 6 ounces of flour. That sort of variability can cause big variations in the final product when even a single batch of a recipe is made. When you start multiplying, the margin of error can become quite large. A cake that calls for 2 cups of flour might wind up with anywhere from 8 to 12 ounces of flour. Triple that recipe, and your batter might contain anwhere from 24 to 36 ounces. That's a huge difference. Once I converted all my recipes to weight-based measurements, I've had no problems at all scaling things up or down to suit my needs. I regularly do an 8x batch of cake batter (because that's the biggest batch I can fit in my mixer), and the cakes come out just like they do from a single batch.
  17. Hi cakesuite, thanks much. I loved your cake too (that's why I have a photo of it). I just tried to edit my post to add your name to the link to your cake, but for some reason the edit button isn't appearing. Weird. Thanks for identifying it.
  18. You might also consider adding white powdered color to your cocoa butter. That'll add the opacity and might also help with the consistency. Depending on how much you add (white and/or other powder colors), you may be able to get closer to a sour cream consistency without having to try to get there via temperature alone.
  19. Thanks -- I understand. I'm not the cheapest decorator in town (but not the most expensive by a long shot). As I read back through the thread, I realize my answer doesn't really help you much. The person building the cake needs to put the parchment circle on before the next tier goes on. If there's not a barrier of some sort there, then the person cutting the cake is pretty much out of luck. I don't know of any real technique to lifting the circle without taking icing with you unless the designer built some protection in for you in the first place.
  20. Please forgive the quality of the photos. I most ran around the floor taking snapshots of things I liked and/or wanted to borrow ideas from. So I don't have everything, and we're not talking archival-quality photos here. But you can at least get an idea of the type of work at the show. Where I remember it, I've attached a name and result. If anyone can help with details, I'll happily update as they come in. Bronwen Weber (TX), grand prize Lori Cossou (OK?), 1st prize Diane Simmons (MN), 2nd prize Rebecca Suterby, 3rd prize (I don't remember which cake is hers, but I'm guessing it's one of the anonymous ones below) Glenda Galvez (TX), 4th prize & honorable mention B. Keith Ryder (VA), 6th prize My inspiration piece if anyone cares (white, lacy bridal gowns started to bore me after looking through hundreds of them). I think I remember that 5th and 7th prizes went to Cheri Elder and Kim Payne, but I don't recall which went to which. Cheri Elder (MO) Kim Payne (OK?) Diane Gibbs (MD), gold certificate Janette Pfertner (TX), gold certificate Janette Pohlman (MO), bronze(?) certificate Michaelle Stidham (MI), gold(?) certificate Linda Shonk (IN), sponsor, cake for display only Mark Seaman (IL), gold certificate, gold certificate (I'm pretty sure this was his). Artist unknown (I want to say Ruth Rickey, but I can't be sure) Artist unknown Artist unknown Artist unknown Artist unknown Artist unknown Artist unknown Artist unknown Artist unknown That's a quick peek anyway. I didn't do a count, but I believe there were around 50 wedding cakes in that part of the show. The traditional show had over 500 entries from what I heard, and some marvelous work there.
  21. Parchment paper. I don't worry about it for fondant-covered cakes. But for stacking on buttercream, I always place a parchment circle on the cake surface where the next cake will sit. I've seen suggestions for using a layer crushed nuts, coconut, graham cracker crumbs, etc. But none of those appeals to me because of the added flavor/allergy possibility. The parchment paper peels off, leaving the icing behind.
  22. I was there. I've got a bunch of photos, but haven't had a chance to tinker with them and get them online yet. Some really spectacular work in both the wedding cake competition and the in regular show. From all accounts, the wedding cake competition was much stiffer this year than in the past. There were a bunch of photos posted somewhere, but it was one of these sites where you can purchase prints, and a bit of an issue arose over who was profiting from selling photos of other people's creative work. So those photos came down. Grand prize in the wedding cake competition went to Bronwyn Weber. Best of Show in the regular competition went to Lori Cossou.
  23. What was the condition of your butter? If it was at room temp, I'd have let the meringue whip until it was all the way to room temp as well. If the meringue was still barely warm, it would have melted the butter as it went in instead of making an emulsion. The only time I'll add butter to a warm meringue is if the butter still has a chill on it -- that way they kinda balance each other out. When I make caramel buttercream, I make a caramel sauce (caramelized sugar plus hot cream) and I make a regular buttercream, then add the cooled sauce to the buttercream after the butter is in.
  24. I dunno, sounds like a possible fashion statement. Maybe it'll catch on. Thanks for the explanation.
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