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Everything posted by bkeith

  1. You can add acrylic paint and make it any color you want. The major difference between joint compound/spackle and PermaIce is that PermaIce is washable. Joint compound will dissolve out it gets wet - especially if you scrub it (if you don't intend on washing your display cakes when they get dusty, then joint compound is the easier to find and cheaper alternative). I've used joint compound for prop cakes for the theatre, and it works great. I could never get it the right consistency for piping roses, though. Resorted to royal icing for those. I believe the acid in the meringue powder helps keep the royal icing whiter longer. Adding a bit of cream of tartar or lemon juice to your fresh egg whites would probably have the same whitening effect (just speculating here -- haven't experimented).
  2. I'm no help on the machine. I've got a Sinsation that I break out once in a while (like last night -- after tempering chocolate for several hours in class, I got home to finish a cake and felt like letting the machine do the work for a change. To get a nice thin coating of cocoa butter in molds, I use another cotton ball. That seems to get a thin enough coating to avoid pooling. Not sure about the molds with designs in them though. I'm afraid cocoa butter will just pool in them, regardless of how you apply it. To get some opacity in the colored cocoa butter, add a touch of white chocolate. Then it'll show up against dark couverture. For lusters, I apply clear cocoa butter, let it set, then a layer of luster separately (I use an airbrush, but a soft paintbrush works too). Mmmm. Frozen spit. Think I'll pass on my mid-morning snack.
  3. I bought a 1-pound (I think) container of yeast at the warehouse store, and then decided to go low-carb a few months later. This was in 1999. I've still got some of that yeast in a quart jar in the freezer, and in fact used some on Sunday to make a batch of dinner rolls. They say it can't be frozen for more than a year, but obviously it's hardier than that. I find I have to use more than the recipe calls for and/or expect a slower rise. But as long as I proof it with a pinch of sugar before incorporating it into my recipe, it works fine. You indicate a brick of yeast. Was it fresh or dried? I've never worked with fresh yeast, and don't know whether it can be frozen or not.
  4. My guess is that it probably won't make a difference. The only potential gotcha is that if there's no other acidity in the recipe, your baking soda won't have anything to react with. Potential issues: a) wasted baking soda, b) denser brownies, and c) a slight soapy taste. In my mind, a & b are no biggie. And c probably isn't either, given the quantity of soda. But if you're concerned, substitute 1 tsp baking powder for the 1/4 tsp baking soda to get approximately the same effect. FWIW, Dutch-process cocoa is all I use.
  5. I make up 4 sampler cakes - vanilla, lemon, coconut, and chocolate (my most popular cake flavors). Each one gets torted and filled with 3 different fillings - I grab whatever's in the freezer, so I wind up doing mostly the same ones over and over since they're the popular ones, and I generally have them on hand. Ice the top with my standard buttercream and cover with a bit of rolled fondant. I then cut them into "standard" slices (the same size slice as they should expect to serve their guests). Arrange 1 slice from each cake on a cardboard round (the four fit nicely on a 10" round), wrap, and stick them in the freezer. Each tasting appointment gets a sampler plate. They're welcome to devour it here, or take the leftovers home in case mom or fiance can't make it to the tasting. I provide a sheet mapping out what all the different flavors are, and include a list of other cakes and fillings they might consider that aren't represented on the sampler. This gives them a good selection of my most popular stuff to choose from, but generally also gives them confidence that any of the other flavors on the sheet will also be of high quality, so I don't have to make a lot of special flavors for the tasting -- they just trust me. I also get to dispel the "all fondant tastes nasty" myth because they have proof to the contrary right in front of them. The frozen sampler plates will last up to a couple months in the freezer, but I generally like to toss them after one month just because.
  6. My vote is for Sugar. I didn't know what I thought of it at first, but I like the option of adding "and spice" later if need be. Plus, I think it would be marvelous to be able to answer the phone "Good morning, Sugar".
  7. I've done the same sort of thing as Annie's talking about (mine was for a Scotch bottle, not a wine bottle). Covered with fondant, which was a bitch. You say you don't have to deliver. Is the customer picking it up? Odd shapes like this are a pain to transport. When you do a normal tiered cake it's heavier on the bottom than the top, and things just naturally want to stay in place. When all the cakes are the same size, the center of gravity is higher, and it'll want to tip. To ensure they get it there in one piece, you may want to make sure the board is fairly large (big footprint gives more stability). And if you really want to make sure things stay put, attach a vertical support to the board (long dowel with a screw coming up through the board into the dowel), wrap it with contact paper and build your bottle around it. If the dowel is the right length, it can serve as the foundation for your bottle's neck as well. You'll need holes in your cardboards and cake layers, and just slide them onto the dowel to keep things aligned even during rough transport.
  8. Actually, I bet Deborah is talking about the KA pasta roller attachment, not the extruder. I've used one belonging to someone else, and it works great. I've got a standard pasta roller with the motor attachment, and I use it all the time. If I didn't already own that, I'd probably invest in the KA attachment, mostly because of noise. My KA motor is pretty quiet, especially on low speed. The pasta machine motor attachment sure makes its presence known, though. If I'm doing just a couple flowers, I don't bother getting it out and just roll by hand. But if I've got a bunch to do, it's very handy indeed. One note to make use/cleaning easier. Lay a couple wooden skewers down and place your gum paste between them. Give a quick roll to flatten the paste to the width of the skewers before sending it through the pasta machine. If you start with a piece that thin, it's much less likely to deposit bits on the underside of the rollers, so you end up cleaning it much less often to remove the dried bits that tear up your paste.
  9. Yeah, you see people referring to that study a lot. What you rarely see is people referring to the followup study which revealed that the testing methodology was flawed. The aluminum wasn't in the brain tissue that they were examining. It was in the dye they used to prepare the samples. Looks like further studies have implicated certain aluminum compounds with potential neurological damage similar to Alzheimers, but nothing's conclusive. At this point, there is no convincing evidence that exposure to aluminum contributes to Alzheimer's Disease. http://www.ehso.com/ehshome/alzheimers.htm
  10. 2:1 chocolate to nuts sounds like an awful lot of chocolate. Not that there's anything wrong with that.... ;) I do a variety of nuts with a thin caramel shell, coated in chocolate and finished with powdered sugar. I can handle 2-3 pounds of nuts at a time, and when I add the chocolate I do it in small batches. Too much chocolate at once, and the whole mass just clumps together. So I add a ladleful at a time, then walk away for a while until that bit of chocolate has coated the nuts and set up. Adding more chocolate too soon also makes things clump, so you have to be patient. All told, I probably add chocolate 9 or 10 times to make sure everything is coated well. So it takes a while, but you're not tied to the machine -- you can get other things done at the same time. Cool room helps - that'll make the chocolate set faster so you can add more. If I've got multiple batches to do, I just unload the first batch, remove the coating pan from the mixer, shake out any loose stuff, and reattach. No need to disassemble, scrape down the sides, or anything. Any chocolate stuck to the sides of the pan is going to pretty much stay put when you add a new batch of nuts. The two halves do get glued together by the chocolate, so when you're ready to do cleanup, you have to hit it with some heat (I just shoot it with hot water) to get the two pieces to release. As far as frequent and lengthy use -- the pan shouldn't care at all. It's just a big piece of metal. It's your mixer's motor that'll take a beating. You're running on low speed for probably 30-45 minutes at a time. A good KA ought to be able to handle that for a while, but all day every day is going to wear on it. Hope that helps.
  11. I've got the one Beryl sells. Got it from Jacques Torres and paid less than $500, but I don't know if he's still selling them or what the current cost is. It works well, but you have to be a little careful taking it apart and putting it together. The edges are sharp enough to cut fingers. I've taken to handling it with a towel.
  12. Here's what I've been using (His proportions, my words): 1 lb semisweet chocolate 2/3 cup light corn syrup Melt chocolate gently in microwave (1/2 power, 30 second bursts, stir each time). Warm corn syrup (15-20 seconds on high). Use a rubber spatula to gently stir corn syrup into chocolate, making sure to scrape the sides of the bowl so all the chocolate is mixed. Scrape the modeling chocolate onto a cookie sheet lined with plastic wrap. Spread it to an even thickness of about 1/4 - 1/3 inch. Cover with another piece of plastic wrap. Let set at room temperature at least overnight, but preferably 24 hours. For white or milk chocolate, reduce the corn syrup to 1/2 cup. Be VERY careful with white chocolate. Stirring too much will "break" the mix -- fold only until the mixture is uniform. And you're right, it is pretty soft. And that's a problem for me. I've got pretty warm hands, so I have to be very careful when I work with it. I'd love to use a batch that's not quite so temperamental. Yours sounds like the ticket. Edited to add: Now that I look back at it, I guess the proportions aren't all that different. 1/2 cup : 1 lb turns into 3 cups when scaled up to 6 lbs chocolate. So just a little more than yours (I had the 2/3 cup for dark chocolate in mind when I wrote my first post - with your recipe that would scale up to 3 1/3 cups for 5 lbs chocolate). I'll still try your way, though.
  13. Thanks for the recipe, Annie. Interesting -- I've been using a recipe from Nick Malgieri that calls for a fair amount more corn syrup. And I have to be careful and just fold it together. Following your instructions to stir hard and fast would almost certainly break the mix and leave a puddle of cocoa butter on top. I'll have to try yours - if it's less fussy I'm sure I'll be a convert. Do you ever do dark modeling chocolate? If so, does the amount of corn syrup differ?
  14. Not quite. Boosh is right (think of pursing your lips just slightly as you say it). The "de" is more like "duh", but clipped; "day" would be the Spanish pronunciation. The vowel sound is somewhere between the "uh" in "duh" and the "ir" in "dirt". If you say it quickly, you can even almost ignore the vowel and think "Buche d'Noel". "Noel" is like in the Christmas carol "The First Noel". 2 syllables (No-el, stressing the second syllable slightly). Wow -- it's a lot easier to say than to explain. Or, you could just call it a Yule log.
  15. I freeze and thaw ganache all the time, and it works great. I will say, though, that the majority of ganache I use is either for truffles or cake fillings. I don't often use ganache glazes, so there may be an issue there. Typically, after a ganache thaws, I have to warm and re-emulsify it, and that could introduce air bubbles which would make a coating ganache tough to work with.
  16. My favorite way to eat Nutella is with a banana in one hand and a spoon in the other. Alternate until the banana is gone. Keep eating until the spoon is gone too. edited to add: Oh! Just had a thought. Combining threads, wouldn't a fried Nutella pie be faboo? Either Nutella alone or with berries, nuts, bananas, whatever added. Eat 'em right out of the fryer with a big dollop of whipped cream or ice cream.
  17. Hey, I remember those! I used them a long time ago, and if I remember right, I think I was told that they were cocoa butter flakes......true? ← Not quite. Paramount crystals is to confectioner's coating what cocoa butter is to couverture. It's just flakes of hydrogenated or fractionated palm kernel oil or some such. The same form of fat that's in confectioner's coating so you can thin it. I'm not sure what would happen if you added it to couverture. I'd guess that you'd get a similar result to paraffin -- "cheater" tempering.
  18. Well, tempered couverture would be my first choice. If you don't want to deal with tempering, then confectioner's coating. If you want a slightly softer coating than straight chocolate, maybe use the method above, but substitue a teaspoon or two of vegetable oil for the paraffin.
  19. Exactly right. It's an old trick for working with chocolate without having to learn how to temper. Fairly common among recipes aimed at the home cook from 50 years or more ago. And since more people made jelly at home in those days, they usually had an open box of paraffin tucked away in the cupboard somewhere. Right again. Especially since the chocolate in question was almost always what was available at the supermarket -- Netsle chips or Bakers squares.
  20. A technicality, I think. French buttercream is indeed a yolk-based buttercream. The yolks are cooked with hot sugar syrup, then butter is added. But I think that according to the Official Pastry Chef Lexicon (what, you don't have a copy?), the terms Italian buttercream and Swiss buttercream don't exist. There are however what are called an Italian meringue buttercream and Swiss meringue buttercream (bc made from Italian meringue and Swiss meringue, respectively). Italian meringue is whipped whites cooked with a hot sugar syrup. Swiss meringue is whites and sugar warmed together, then whipped. Buttercream is made from either by adding softened butter. AFAIK, anyway. As far as German buttercream, I've heard the term, but I don't know if it's an official designation or not. I make a similar thing to what you describe (I use an eggy custard instead of a pure pastry cream, then whip butter in). I call it a custard buttercream, knowing full well I could invoke the wrath of the Pastry Product Naming Council any day now.
  21. I haven't seen that particular picture, but I've got a friend who did something that matches your description a few years back. She used white modeling chocolate and a rose petal gum paste cutter. Rolled the chocolate, cut a squintillion rose petals, veined each on a silicone petal veiner, dusted a soft pink blush of color on each, and applied them one by one as the icing on the cake. Took forever. Looked amazing.
  22. Are you sure it's butane? The torch I've got (from Home Depot) uses propane. I'm assuming it burns clean -- it's the same stuff used for gas grills. If there's residue on my creme brulees or my steaks, I haven't tasted it.
  23. The cake and the slice on that website looks a lot like something my mom made when I was a kid. Recipe came from one of her co-workers; not sure where before that. It was called "Sock it to me" cake -- guess which decade I grew up in! Basic cake mix (Duncan Hines Golden Butter Cake if I recall correctly) with sour cream subbed for part of the liquid. Make a streusel topping (brown sugar, cinnamon, chopped pecans). Pour about 2/3 of the batter into a prepared tube pan, sprinkle on half the streusel. Pour the rest of the batter in (as I recall, it was thick, so you had to spread gently to avoid disturbing the streusel), and sprinkle with the remaining streusel. Bake, cool, and glaze with what I think I remember was a thin powdered sugar + milk glaze. I could probably come close to recreating it now, but I imagine I'd use a good scratch recipe instead of the DH mix.
  24. One tip I haven't seen mentioned yet has to do with the eggs. Don't remember where I heard this, but it makes sense. What causes a cheesecake to firm up (and crack if overbaked) is the egg proteins. And the more you work those proteins, the more readily they're going to want to shrink if overbaked. So make sure to combine all your other ingredients thoroughly, then add the eggs last with the mixer on low. Mix only until the eggs are incorporated, then get the mix into the pan. I do that, and have never had a cheesecake crack. As for the other stuff: I bake in a standard cake pan in a water bath. Remove when still jiggly to the counter, cover with a paper towel, and cool completely. Invert (chill first if you're really worried about causing a disaster, but I rarely bother). And of course, voodoo tiki dance.
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