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bkeith

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  1. bkeith

    Bubble sugar

    I wear a thin cotton glove liner under the latex gloves. Helps with the heat problem and the friction problem. I agree - the heat isn't nearly as much a problem as the friction. But the heat can still get uncomfortable after a while, especially working with Isomalt. Without the liner, I have to take breaks from it regularly as the sweat builds up inside the glove and acts as a conductor. With the liner, I can work for hours with no problem. The only time I've gotten a blister from pulled sugar was when I wasn't thinking. Tried to shortcut the warming process by heating a chunk of sugar in the microwave. 10 second bursts, then check. Didn't realize the turntable in the micro was off its track, so one spot was getting all the microwaves. Would've been too smart to have a glove on when I went in the third time to check the sugar. My thumb went right into molten sugar. Did you know that when you burn your thumb that your reflex is to clench your fist? Neither did I. So now I had molten sugar on my thumb AND my palm. Had to get that taken care of, stop the cooking of my hand, and still slip on a glove and pull a few roses. Ouch.
  2. bkeith

    Bubble sugar

    Perfect! Thanks for the photos, Neil. I'm working on a cake design for an upcoming competition, and wanted to include bubble sugar. I thought I'd have to do a little playing with the various methods suggested to figure out which look I'd want to use, but you've already done the work for me. 'Preciate that.
  3. Where on earth can you buy a 100-serving wedding cake for $100?
  4. Wendy beat me to it. That's pretty much the recipe I give my intro students who'd rather bake from a mix. The only difference is that I suggest melted butter instead of oil and whole milk instead of water. I just baked one of these the other day for a class I just started and had some spare buttermilk. Used that, and it added a nice flavor accent. Also, make sure you're mixing enough. If your cake is super crumbly, you might not have developed the structure enough. Start your mixer on low to bring the ingredients together, then mix on medium speed 60-90 seconds (for a single mix, longer for multiples) until the batter looks pretty smooth -- a few lumps are ok, but the batter should be mostly smooth and creamy looking. Interesting. I usually cool the cake in the pan 15 minutes or so, turn out onto a rack and finish cooling to room temp, then wrap and refrigerate before torting. Never tried chilling the cake in the pan. But the upshot is cold cake handles much better than room temp cake. If you're using the serrated knife/turntable method. Let the turntable do the work. Hold the knife level right at the edge of the cake (and hold it still -- no sawing!). Start turning the turntable so that the knife cuts into the cake. As you make a full revolution, let the knife start moving toward the center of the cake, but still no sawing. Let the turntable provide the motion. Once you make it to the center, you're done. This makes for a much cleaner cut than trying to saw through a cake and winding up with a roller-coaster surface to try to fill and put back together. Another hint I like to give is that cardboard circles work fine, but those extremely thin, very crappy cookie sheets that Wilton sells work better. I wouldn't bake cookes on them for love nor money. But they're really thin and sturdy enough to lift a cake layer. I find they slide between the layers much more easily than a cardboard does.
  5. Back when I was just a beginner decorator, I made a birthday cake for my niece and iced it with a Swiss meringue buttercream. One of the comments I overheard at the party was "This icing is so good! It's like Cool Whip!" I took it in the spirit in which it was intended.
  6. Wow. You ARE talented. So why does the thought of a little hand surgery bother you?
  7. Ditto. As long as you're measuring carefully, you should be able to scale recipes up or down with little or no problem. I've got a set of spreadsheets that I use for this stuff. One has calculations for how much batter will be used for different pan sizes, and shows a recipe multiplier (1 recipe = the right amount for 2 8"x2" round layers). The other spreadsheets are my recipes. There's a spot for the multiplier - plug it in, and you get the weights for scaling a recipe to the size needed for your particular application. So for a wedding cake that's 6"-10"-14" round, you need .6+1.6+3.1 = 5.3 times your base recipe (OK, I'm not THAT anal -- I'd round to 5.25). Quintuple, hextuple, heptuple, octuple. I can't go any higher, because my mixer's not big enough.
  8. If you didn't return the mixture to the pan and heat it to thicken (as you would for pudding, custard, or pastry cream) after adding the egg yolks, then it'll be too thin. When it thaws, you may find yourself with a mess. No real need to do the ice bath thing -- I was just hurrying the process. But cooking to thicken, then cooling again before assembling your cake would be a good idea.
  9. [GEEK MODE] Actually it's not the acid -- you can set up lemon juice very nicely with gelatin. It's enzymes that turn your gelatin into goop. And enzymes are denatured by heating. That's why canned pineapple works in Jello salads, but fresh pineapple doesn't. So if you want to do a Charlotte, you could heat the puree - not sure how hot, but I should think a simmer would be fine - hold it there a few minutes, then cool. Should work fine with gelatin after that. [/GEEK]
  10. Hey Annie, Got your PM, but wanted to reply publicly. I wasn't offended in the least -- I hope I didn't sound that way in my reply. I tend to rather flippant all the time (ALL the time -- probably to the point of being annoying), and smilies don't always capture the emotion correctly. So thanks for the very amusing yet completely unnecessary apology.
  11. That'll teach me to just grab the recipe and run instead of reading all the followups first. I did grease/flour the pans, so I'm sure that's why mine felt free to relax after baking. I think the meringue was ok -- it incorporated pretty easily and didn't look too stiff or dry. Pretty much the same consistency I'd use for a meringue pie. Thanks for the insight and confirmation. ----8/30/04 Just a quick edit to say the cake was a HUGE success. Dramatic to look at both before and after cutting, and fabulous to eat. Every bite had a slightly different combination of things going on. Definitely a keeper.
  12. I get my purees and transfer sheets from (www.auiswiss.com).Albert Uster. I think you can get the purees in single (1 litre) quantities, but I'm not sure with transfer sheets -- they might only sell boxes of 50. That's what I typically buy, and then repackage by the sheet for students and customers. I've got a number of designs I'm willing to part with, but I don't have them online currently. PM me if you're interested. Beryl's also sells by the sheet online. Some cake and candy supply places will carry them, as will most any shop catering to pastry professionals. As for use, for collaring a cake, I'll cut strips the height of or slightly taller than the cake, lay the strip down on parchment, spread a thin coat of tempered chocolate, and attach it to the side of the cake. Let it set, then peel the plastic off, leaving the design on the chocolate. For an 8-9" cake, it'll take two strips, so you have to be a little careful when joining them.
  13. Ah, but then you're smarter than I am. Sad, but true -- whenever I approach a project, somehow my instinct is always to come up with the method that involves the most work. That's one of the reasons I think well on my feet -- lots of experience altering my stupid "master plan" in order to get the job done without killing myself. Through the years I've gotten better at reformulating before I actually start the project. But I'm afraid I'll never be the type who immediatley sees the very best way to do something unless I've already lived through that particular pain. Cool idea. That sounds a lot easier that fighting with fondant. Question, though: after rolling and cutting, you'd have a very square edge on the modeling chocolate strips -- more like shingles than pleats. Would you just go with it like that, or try to soften or round that edge a bit to give the pleated look? That's another of my issues. I tend to be too much of a stickler for duplicating things exactly instead of letting an artistic impression do the work. [HOMER] Stoopid math background. D'oh! [/HOMER]
  14. No need for apologies. The reason I mentioned that I wasn't familiar with the term cremeux, was that I assumed that a PC probably would know to return the mix to the pot. I just added my experience for the other uninitiated folks so they wouldn't have to backtrack like I did. Great idea. I'll probably do the same in the future. In retrospect, the cake layers I made are probably too thick, which cause the problem at the end with getting it all to fit correctly in the ring. Even though I cut the tops off, I'm sure I had much less leftover cake than you have when making it in a sheet, so my cake layers are going to fairly thick. Had I split one of the rounds and just reserved the other one, I'm sure it would have been a little easier to assemble. I thought about that too. I think my mistake was relying too much on a piping bag. I used a bag to make sure I got the cream in the tight spots around the sides, but should have just squirted out a blob and spread it thin with a spatula for the horizontal parts. Instead, I just filled in by piping. So I'm sure my cream layers are much thicker than yours. Next time I'll be a little smarter on the assembly. And I think I have to go get some raspberries. It dawned on me that since I wasn't able to do the chocolate spray, I'll have a 1/2" ring of exposed Bavarian cream surrounding the gelee. I think I'll place the berries there to prevent it forming a skin. Thanks again for the recipe and all the tips, Fred. I'm really looking forward to tucking into this thing tonight.
  15. I've got an informal dinner party to go to tomorrow, and decided to put this cake together for it. All my friends just assume I'll bring dessert to everything, so I generally use the opportunity to try something new. A couple of notes on the experience: . For those thinking they'll need a whole day to do this. I started about 2:15, made all the components, assembled the cake, and stuck it in the freezer. Dishes are done, and it's now 4:55. It goes together more quickly than you'd think. I've got a birthday party tonight, and when I get back, I'll unmold and add the gelee (no Wagner sprayer yet, but it's on its way). I'll probably do a white chocolate/transfer sheet collar tomorrow to dress it up a bit. . As I started to make the gelee, I opened the freezer to find no mango puree! So my gelee is half passionfruit half raspberry. Should still be fine, but not quite the original. I also didn't have any oranges to zest for the bavaroise, so I substituted a little tangerine oil I had on hand. Again, not the original, but should be fine. . There was a lot more cake than I expected. Based on the comments in the recipe, I was assuming a single 8"x2" round pan would hold it all. Nope. At the last minute I had to prep a second pan to take all the batter, and both were filled about 2/3 full. By the time the cakes finished puffing up in the oven, both pans were completely full. They settled quite a bit on cooling, but it did surprise me. . The amount of bavaroise was awfully tight. I wound up with not quite enough, so I had to smoosh the cake a bit to make sure the bottom was level. Hope I didn't disturb the innards too much, but then again this particular group would love it no matter how it looked. . The cremeux was probably the biggest surprise (and also not a term I was familiar with). I followed the directions above, but when I went to assemble the cake, the mixture was cool, but still very liquid. I dumped it back into the pan and brought it to just under a boil, chilled in an ice water bath, and got a pastry cream consistency. I'll amend my copy of the recipe to temper the caramel mix into the yolks, return to the pan, cook to to thicken (nappé is the term for that, right?), strain, and cool, as for other pastry creams. Except for that, it was pretty easy and straightforward to put together. It's definitely got components I'll use in other ways, and I'm guessing based on having taken a little taste of each element as I was putting them together, I'm really going to like the finished product and want to use it again.
  16. I just did a similar cake recently, and it was a bear -- the only real difference was the direction of the pleats - my pleats faced up, like a cummerbund. I used fondant for the pleating (and I'm pretty sure that's fondant in the photo you referenced). It's created a strip at a time -- each strip is rolled thin, cut to a uniform width, and folded to give that finished edge. The hard part was getting the strip of fondant onto the cake and keeping it at an even level while keeping the finished edge looking finished. The fondant wanted to stretch and tear and be generally obstinate. If I had it to to again, I'd make the strips and create the pleats on the table -- laying one strip atop the next all the way up, probably on a sheet of plastic or parchment, then, once the whole set of pleats is ready, attach to the cake. I think that would make a much cleaner finished product. I also refrigerate all my cakes (and everything I do is covered with fondant). They can get a little dewey, especially this time of year with all the humidity, but they will dry off as they sit at the reception. If you're really worried about it, get a box large enough to hold your cake and refrigerate the cake boxed -- the condensation will form on the box, not on the cake. That's a bit tougher if you're like me and stack your cakes fully before delivering, but it can be done. As for fresh vs. sugar flowers. I much prefer to use completely edible adornments on my cakes, but right now, fresh flowers are THE thing in this area. A few years ago, pretty much everything I did had gum paste flowers on it. Now, practically every bride asks for fresh. On the cake you're looking at, it appears they've stuck the flower stems into the sides of the cake. Risky business in my book. If you're going to do that, use drinking straws. Tape the end of each flower stem to seal it, then poke a length of drinking straw into the cake, longer than the stem. Stick a little wad of fondant to mask the hole and give the stem something to hold on to. Then stick the stem into the straw. This way, the flower has almost no chance of contaminating the cake. For sprays place on a horizontal cake surface, I put down a piece of parchment or plastic to prevent contact between the flowers and the cake. Hope that helps.
  17. Interesting, I use Callebaut all the time, and I've never had a ganache break (now that I've said that, it'll happen today I'm sure). Wait -- edit that a bit: The only time I've ever had a broken ganache is on reheating. From what I can tell, this is fairly typical. when reheating leftover ganache, it'll typically break. The solution is exactly backwards from what you'd think. Heat a small amount of cream to boiling (a couple tablespoons will be enough). Gradually add a bit of reheated (broken) ganache at a time to the hot cream and whisk to rebuild the emulsion. Continue whisking broken ganache into the newly formed emulsion until it's all in. You don't need a lot of cream -- just get the emulsion started, and the rest will follow.
  18. Yeah, I've asked them before about that, but so far they're not interested. Just got back from ICES Convention. Meant to talk to them while I was there, but I was so swamped that I didn't get much of a chance to run through the exhibitor floor.
  19. A couple of tips for deep colors: . Use Americolor colors. After using pretty much every brand out there, I'm convinced theirs are the best on the market, bar none. I get red and black faster with their colors faster than I've ever been able to with any other brand. . If you have a fair amount of a deep color to make, make a batch of icing using diluted gel paste (1:1 with water) or airbrush color in place of the water in your recipe. That way you get a deep color without diluting your icing to the point of that it's not usable. . Make deep colors a day or two in advance. As it sits, the icing darkens. So make up a batch that's a couple shades lighter than you're aiming for, then let it sit. Hope that helps.
  20. Actually, you'd be surprised. You can actually roll the gum paste quite thin and still wire it. The trick is to use a very thin wire, coat the end of it with a very thin layer of gum paste - about the length of the petal, lay it into a double-sided veiner, lay the petal on top, followed by the other half of the veiner, and press. This both veins the petals and attaches the wire without having to insert it the traditional way. There's a school of folks who follow this practice religously, wiring each and every petal of every flower (try making a Gerbera daisy with 50+ petals!). It's called the "soft method" or the "Franklin method". Here's a site with some examples of flowers done that way. I use and teach a modified version of that method. Some flowers I'll wire each petal. Some I'll use a combination of traditional method and soft method. For a blown-open rose, I'll build it traditionally for the first several rows of petals, but wire the outer row so that they have some extra support as they don't have much to hold on with otherwise. In addition to making the petals stronger all the way to the tip (no more petals broken in half just at the end of the wire), the support lent by the wire lets you assemble your flowers while the gum paste is still damp and pliable, making for a better fit. And making the whole process a little quicker. I don't miss the days when I had to let trays of petals dry overnight on whatever I could come up with as formers. Edited to add: P.S. Thanks for the Fibonacci reference. I'm a math geek from way back and have been telling folks for years about Fibonacci and flowers. Mostly I got a lot of weird looks. Since The DaVinci Code, however, people seem more willing to believe me.
  21. Ditto what Steve said. Modeling chocolate directly on the cake, gp flowers on wires stuck into the modeling chocolate branch, brush everything with tempered chocolate to make it match. That's exactly what I was thinking as I read through the thread, but he got to it first (and said it much more eloquently than I could).
  22. If you don't want to work with confectionery coating (the disks you mention), you're going to need to temper the chocolate. Here's one description of the process. More can be found with a Google search. Make sure to get couverture to work with. The chocolate chips you get in the grocery store will just frustrate you. I like Callebaut -- it's decent quality, easy to work with, and fairly readily available. The link above is to Scharffen Berger chocolates. I've personally not used their product, but I always hear very good reports from those who have. If tempering seems daunting, you might reconsider conf. coating. I don't advocate it for every purpose by any means, but it's far easier to work with, and there are actually some brands that taste pretty decent. Guittard is pretty good.
  23. Great cakes, Sharon! Beautiful work. I may have overlooked it, but I didn't see any indication of where you're located.
  24. It's called SugarVeil. I have some, but haven't used it yet. I've seen it, but haven't played with it. I'm not entirely sure I like the look of the finished product, which is probably why I haven't made time to experiment. Maybe after the ICES Convention is done I'll get some play time back.
  25. That's exactly what I was about to suggest. Let the royal icing harden completely, then aim a blow dryer at the bowl to melt the shortening. Should make it much easier to remove. Also, use fresh egg whites (not meringue powder or powdered egg whites) and hand-stir the icing. Using a mixer makes it easier, certainly, and makes a fluffier royal icing. But that fluff is air which means less strength and more brittleness. A hand-stirred, fresh-egg white royal icing is stronger than cement. Egg white in bowl. Squirt of lemon juice to help denature the proteins. Using a fork, stir in powdered sugar a bit (1/2 cup?) at a time until it's all incorporated. Stop adding sugar when you get to a really good piping consistency that will hold its shape without relaxing into undefined blobs.
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