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Everything posted by bkeith

  1. Sorry, I wasn't clear. I was comparing to Neil's method in regards to not having to coat the bottoms as a separate step. For reducing feet, I was actually thinking about your spearing the centers with the fork. That just seemed to me like it would necessitate dragging the cookie a bit on the parchment, making feet. Completely understood. And in fact, when I have to work in larger quantities, I toss delicacy (and my dipping fork) to the wind, put on a glove, and go for the old-fashioned hand-dipper's method -- think "Lucy gets a job in the chocolate factory", only BEFORE the chocolate fight. With some practice, you can actually do that without getting chocolate on every surface in the kitchen. And working with your hands like that is a lot faster than waiting for chocolate to drip back into the bowl.
  2. Variation on a theme: Temper your chocolate (or use coating if you prefer). Drop a cookie in, use a fork (dipping fork or just a regular dinner fork) to push it into the chocolate until only the top is visible, then get the fork under the cookie and flip it in the chocolate. Get the fork under it again, lift, shake, scrape the bottom on the side of the bowl, and set onto parchment. This avoids the extra step of coating the bottom before dipping, and I find it makes for less "feet". It takes my students a couple practice tries to get the release right, but it's fairly easy to wiggle the cookie off of the fork without dragging it at all, so there's little need to trim anything later. The chocolate will build up on the tines of the fork, so once in a while, you'll want to wipe/scrape it off.
  3. How sweet! Thank you! Nice to meet you too. I'm not sure I qualify as a top-notch cake celebrity, but it's nice to be a familiar name. As far as the full-time job thing goes, I'm in the same boat. It helps to be able to get by on very little sleep.
  4. I'll be interested to hear Annie's tricks of the trade for smooth icing if she's willing to share. What I've found that works best for me is to mix the icing with the whip attachment on the lowest speed the mixer has for a good long time. I never switch to the paddle -- just use the whip for beating up the eggs (high speed) as well as adding the butter (medium speed). After all the butter is in, beat on medium a couple more minutes to ensure it's all well mixed, then switch to low and let it run for 10 minutes or so. Instead of incorporating air, this seems to either disperse it or at least distribute it so well that you don't get bubbles, but rather a wonderfully creamy mix. I do the same when reconsituting frozen icing (I make big batches and just freeze the excess between icing sessions). Thaw the icing most of the way, then using the whip, start to mix upa bowlful (it'll look like hell). Take a smaller amount (maybe 1/5 the quantity in the bowl) and nuke it until it's pretty well melted and liquidy (I nuked it too long once -- ick -- sweet scrambled eggs). Pour into the mixer and mix on medium until the icing reconstitutes. Then switch to low. Works like a charm.
  5. Sure does, thanks. Since I couldn't see any outlines on the letters, I wondered whether you'd maybe freehanded or used a paintbrush. But I guess when you outline with the same color you're filling with, the line disappears (unlike with royal where the line remains distinct unless you muck with it). I first heard of this technique years ago, after seeing a demonstration of frozen buttercream transfer. After the demo, someone said, "that's just like chocolate enameling, just with buttercream". That triggered a lightbulb moment for me, and I went home to play. Here was my result. I thought of it as a multimedia study in irises: The irises on the board are gum paste, the inset ones on the sides are counted cross stitch in royal icing, and the top is a chocolate replica of one of Van Gogh's "Irises" paintings. I'm not sure why I don't do more if it. I guess I work so much with royal icing that my first thought in replicating images is runouts. But doing it in chocolate would be much faster, and tastier on the finished project. I think you've just prodded me to start using this technique more. Thanks much!
  6. Hey chefpeon, Love the cakes! Question for you. It would appear that the martini glass, clipart fellow, and messages on these cakes are white chocolate? I know how the glass and man are done (I'm pretty sure - like a reverse runout, yes?), but would you mind sharing your technique for getting the fonts right on the messages? Thanks.
  7. Sounds like it would work. I tend to think of her style more in terms of period than location. i.e. Baroque (but that's not right either -- too much color) instead of Venetian. But anything really ornate with scrolls and grape clusters I think will have enough of an "otherness" to it that you should be able to get away with it. I love the idea of bringing elements of the design into all the other desserts too. Very classy.
  8. I'm with you -- nothing really springs to mind except making a big gondola. Depending on how much space you've got to work with, it might be fun to dress the sweet table. Decorate the table with canals and gondolas (chocolate? fondant? pulled sugar?). Throw in a bridge or two. Then place the desserts where the buildings ought to be.
  9. Thanks much -- it keeps me busy. For the circle pattern, I used the top (rounded edge, not cutting edge) of a round cutter -- one of the set from Ateco. Dipped it in thinned food color, then touched it on the cake like a rubber stamp. I think if I had to do it again, instead of thinning paste color, I'd start with a liquid color and add powdered color to it to get more of an acrylic paint consistency. The thin, watercolory stuff worked pretty well, but I had dip into the color for each stamp, and had to re-stamp several circles because the color just didn't stick well to the metal. I've used the pre-printed frosting sheets from time to time -- usually when someone convinces me to do a child's birthday cake and just has to have Barney or Pooh or some other copyrighted character. I've had someone print up a photograph onto a sheet from time to time as well, but never bought the equipment myself because it just never seemed cost-effective for as much as I'd use it. I think with all the fun directions brides are willing to go with wedding cakes these days, I could have a lot of fun with one of the machines that prints directly onto the cakes, but they're a little spendy for my budget. I'll have to ask Santa for one.
  10. No need to be sorry -- I'm still the new kid. Here's my cake website, seriously in need of an update: BCakes by BKeith I've got some new photos to put up but never seem to find the time to do regular updates. I've also gotten bad about not photographing everything I do. I really need to get past that. I have a few really cool orders coming up -- so with luck I'll have a bunch of new photos and the inspiration to get them online.
  11. Gosh, thanks. Yeah, that's me. I'd worked may way through pretty much all of the commercial fondants out there. I was never completely satisfied with any of them, and invariably whenever I got used to a brand, they'd change their formulation and screw it all up. So I started making my own -- that gave me the freedom to get the texture and flavor the way I wanted them. And since it was a lot cheaper to make than to buy (even wholesale), I started using it in my classes. Then after trying commercial brands, students were asking if they could buy a little fondant off me because they liked mine better. So I started packaging and selling it. So far the orders have been few enough that I and my 20-quart Hobart can keep up with them while still allowing me to do other stuff. I think if someone got wind and inquired about buying a pallet, I'd pass out. Kinda the same story for the gum paste mix. I used a scratch recipe for my own work, but taught with CK mix because it's less intimidating for beginner students. For the advanced students, I used to share my recipe and use my gp, and they all liked the texture and workability much better. So I converted the recipe to a dry mix, and now that's all I use -- much easier than the original recipe.
  12. Hey all, Been lurking for a while, but posting for the first time. I'm a cake person too -- I prefer the term "sugar artist" to "cake decorator" Wendy - I use fondant on everything, and everything I do has to be refrigerated. As for the condensation, if the cakes will be sitting out for a while, it eventually takes care of itself. On really humid days, I can avoid most condensation worries by placing the cake in a box and sealing it before sticking it in the fridge. Leave it in the box for a while after it comes out, and any condensation will form on the box, not the cake.
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