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Darienne

Home Made Ice Cream (2015– )

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8 hours ago, JoNorvelleWalker said:

I wish I liked chocolate ice cream.

 

 

Ha. I know people who wish they didn't. Maybe you can work something out.

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Notes from the underbelly

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1 hour ago, mgaretz said:

I wish there was a non-dairy (or lactose-free) alternative to the nonfat dried milk.

 

You could probably leave it out of these recipes entirely. There's already such a high level of solids form the chocolate and cocoa. The textural difference should be small.

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Notes from the underbelly

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On 9/26/2018 at 10:33 AM, mgaretz said:

I wish there was a non-dairy (or lactose-free) alternative to the nonfat dried milk.

 

I'm new to ice cream making (and first post here!), but might whey protein and casein protein powders work for you?  They may not technically be non-dairy but protein powders labelled as "isolate" I assume are virtually lactose-free.  My casein powder has 0.5g sugar per 30g and 0g/25g for the whey powder per labels.

 

On this note, paulraphael I've read your blog which is spectacular and maybe you can help.  As implied I've been using unflavored casein and whey isolate powders instead of nonfat dry milk to bring my NFMS content into the 9-10.5% range, cooked sous vide to 167F.  What I'm questioning is the ratio of casein:whey for best texture.  I typically use around 70-80% casein to 20-30% whey to mimic the composition of milk, but wondering if more whey would be better.  I understand whey denatures better than casein under heat, just not sure what the textural trade-offs are between "too much" casein on one end and "too much" whey on the other, if that question makes sense.

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4 hours ago, LWB said:

As implied I've been using unflavored casein and whey isolate powders instead of nonfat dry milk to bring my NFMS content into the 9-10.5% range, cooked sous vide to 167F.  What I'm questioning is the ratio of casein:whey for best texture.  I typically use around 70-80% casein to 20-30% whey to mimic the composition of milk, but wondering if more whey would be better.  I understand whey denatures better than casein under heat, just not sure what the textural trade-offs are between "too much" casein on one end and "too much" whey on the other, if that question makes sense.

 

These are great questions, and they're way beyond any research I've even skimmed. My personal experience is with plain old skim milk powder. I've written a bit about the functional differences between casein and whey, but when it comes to what the specific effects of monkeying with the ratios, or of denaturing whey proteins to one degree or another, most of this knowledge is probably locked up in the commercial labs at companies like Haagen Dazs and General Foods. 

 

One person you might try contacting is Dr. Cesar Vega, who's one of the world experts on ice cream science. He's on Twitter at @CesarVega76


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On 9/27/2018 at 5:51 PM, paulraphael said:

 

These are great questions, and they're way beyond any research I've even skimmed. My personal experience is with plain old skim milk powder. I've written a bit about the functional differences between casein and whey, but when it comes to what the specific effects of monkeying with the ratios, or of denaturing whey proteins to one degree or another, most of this knowledge is probably locked up in the commercial labs at companies like Haagen Dazs and General Foods. 

 

One person you might try contacting is Dr. Cesar Vega, who's one of the world experts on ice cream science. He's on Twitter at @CesarVega76

 

Thanks Paul, I'll keep experimenting and maybe reach out to Dr. Vega and get his thoughts.  I expect the differences to be subtle but the science behind it is still interesting.

 

Another question if you don't mind - I'm having problems generating overrun (using an ICE-70).  Do you have some ideas on inducing more overrun via ingredients or technique?  My recipes are low-fat (6-7% fat, ~10% NFMS, 36-39% TS) and I also use lecithin, LBG and guar in appropriate 0.20-0.30% amounts with otherwise great results.  I recently bought some mono- and diglycerides to experiment with as I read they help with aeration, but my last two batches with them seem to prove the opposite.  I can't rule out other factors but they feel more dense with faster meltdown.  I have tried pre-whipping the base and folding in one meringue'd egg white but have not noticed appreciable differences.  I'd rather add a special ingredient or tweak my technique than add more fat or TS, if possible.  TIA

 

 

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6 hours ago, LWB said:

Another question if you don't mind - I'm having problems generating overrun (using an ICE-70).  Do you have some ideas on inducing more overrun via ingredients or technique?  My recipes are low-fat (6-7% fat, ~10% NFMS, 36-39% TS) and I also use lecithin, LBG and guar in appropriate 0.20-0.30% amounts with otherwise great results.  I recently bought some mono- and diglycerides to experiment with as I read they help with aeration, but my last two batches with them seem to prove the opposite.  I can't rule out other factors but they feel more dense with faster meltdown.  I have tried pre-whipping the base and folding in one meringue'd egg white but have not noticed appreciable differences.  I'd rather add a special ingredient or tweak my technique than add more fat or TS, if possible.  TIA

 

 

 

My first question is if you're thoroughly chilling the base before spinning it. This makes a huge difference. Consider that much of what you're doing is making whipped cream in the ice cream maker; the milk fat needs to be partially crystallized. 8 hours below 38°F usually does it. Although 6–7% fat is pretty low and probably adds to the challenge.

 

If this doesn't get you anywhere, you could try skipping the lecithin and glycerides and using polysorbate-80 at 0.02% to 0.04%. I haven't used this stuff, but its reputation as emulsifier is that it's especially effective at improving foam structure. A jar of this would last close to a lifetime.

 

Does the ICE-70 tend to produce dense ice cream? If it's a slow spinning machine that favors low overrun, and you're going for a very low fat recipe, this could be challenging.


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Thanks again - I always cook my bases at night and churn the next evening, so they're chilled for at least overnight and most of the next day.  I'll look into polysorbate-80.

 

The ICE-70 spins at 62 rpm according to Ruben's review which I assume is not unordinary.  More likely my base is the main culprit - I've been very pleased with my texture results overall, but more overrun will be an improvement.

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Hey, I live in Brazil where science food is very much behind you guys, and government hinders imports doubling price with taxes so It's kinda hard to get little ammounts of stabilizers; yet I mannaged to paulraphael carragen forms. Anyway, I live in the southest state and we are large milk producers, here they make zero lactose fatfull powdered milk using lactase and using MVR process(low temp), beeing in this underdeveloped country and having it, I can't accept that you can't find zero lac powdered in your country. 

My question would be exactly about the milk MVR process( I really don't know who to ask); do you think it makes the proteins denatured? Could I make cheese using this kind of milk (the cheeseses that UHT does not work)?

Anyways, from my experiences, I like to put my custard base in a big 1.5L glass heat in microwave to at least 50ºC then sous vide for 1 hour at 80ºC, because I don't like the to see leftovers in bags and to simplify the mixing mess process, using a hand mixer before/after and after fridge in the same pot.

I love experimentating dulce de leche sous vide using sweet condensed milk (i make mine using milk powder and half usual sugar)few hours(8 for normal milk?) at 80-82º in pot/plastic bag. And I tried doing it with zero lac milk powder. it's incredible that as the lactose is already broken in galactose+dextrose when you cook, in half the time, like 4 hours, you already have dulce de leche, I don't understand much about maillard  reaction anyways, even though i'm a physician as maillard

 

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@JoaoBertinatti was your question specifically about lactose free ice cream?  If so I am afraid I have nothing to contribute.  But I have recently tasted some excellent commercially made ice cream that does not use gums nor stabilizers:

 

https://forums.egullet.org/topic/72119-americas-favorite-ice-cream-guess/?do=findComment&comment=2175368

 

I have tried MVR milk for ice cream as reported earlier in this thread; however I went back to concentrating the milk for the ice cream base while pasteurizing.  In the US or at least in this part of the US, MVR milk (as I understand the term) with reduced lactose is available in grocery stores.

 

Thankfully I am blessed with good ice cream genetics and lactose is not an issue for me.

 

 

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On 10/3/2018 at 12:56 AM, LWB said:

Thanks again - I always cook my bases at night and churn the next evening, so they're chilled for at least overnight and most of the next day.  I'll look into polysorbate-80.

 

The ICE-70 spins at 62 rpm according to Ruben's review which I assume is not unordinary.  More likely my base is the main culprit - I've been very pleased with my texture results overall, but more overrun will be an improvement.

 

your machine might just not be strong enough to whip in more air. Commercial batch freezers have beaters that go more than twice faster and continous freezers have air pumps.  You just have to accept what our lowly home machines can do. 

 

You can pre-whip the base if you want just like making a whipped cream after chilling the base as much as you can try using an immersion blender to get some air in there - or maybe a kitchen aid style mixer and then when youre happy transfer to the cuisinart.  Note though that your base is going to get warmer during this time.

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On 9/26/2018 at 11:33 PM, mgaretz said:

I wish there was a non-dairy (or lactose-free) alternative to the nonfat dried milk.

 

if youre not after the proteins, maybe you can use maltodextrin and/or inulin

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Does anyone have any information around how many grams of water the different stabilizers can absorb per gram of the gum?

 

I tried googling but cant seem to get any leads

 

Thanks

 

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On 11/8/2018 at 11:05 AM, ccp900 said:

 

your machine might just not be strong enough to whip in more air. Commercial batch freezers have beaters that go more than twice faster and continous freezers have air pumps.  You just have to accept what our lowly home machines can do. 

 

You can pre-whip the base if you want just like making a whipped cream after chilling the base as much as you can try using an immersion blender to get some air in there - or maybe a kitchen aid style mixer and then when youre happy transfer to the cuisinart.  Note though that your base is going to get warmer during this time.

 

Yeah I've accepted that the home machine will never achieve commercial overrun, however I am pretty certain from observation that my batches have literally 0% overrun, which suggests something in my base is preventing aeration.  1000g of churned base does not even fill up two pint boxes.  Pre-whipping and polysorbate-80 has made no difference either.  I am thinking the chemistry of the stabilizer (LBG, guar, lambda @ 4:2:1 ratio & 0.20-0.30% of base mass) or protein blends is gelling or doing something funky.  I will try reducing both and increasing fat to see if that does anything.

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And here all these years I have been trying to reduce my overrun.  Seriously, with your Cuisinart you should be getting plenty of overrun.  More than enough.  If you whip your mix before churning that likely would reduce your overrun (though not the amount of air in the finished ice cream).  I once had a KitchenAid (as I remember) that allowed for overrun adjustment by means of a horizontal churning chamber.  My current Cuisinart ICE-100 allows some overrun adjustment by the choice of two different paddles, one for more overrun, the other for less.

 

If you would, measure your overrun and report back.

 

https://www.uoguelph.ca/foodscience/book-page/developing-overrun-table-use-when-manufacturing-ice-cream

 

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@LWB would you mind posting your formula? It would help us to know what exactly you're using and in what amounts. No need to post the procedure, just the ingredients and their measure. I also use the Cuisinart ICE-100 for small batches at home and it works fine. (my only regret is that it won't hold more)

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On 11/19/2018 at 4:51 AM, LWB said:

 

Yeah I've accepted that the home machine will never achieve commercial overrun, however I am pretty certain from observation that my batches have literally 0% overrun, which suggests something in my base is preventing aeration.  1000g of churned base does not even fill up two pint boxes.  Pre-whipping and polysorbate-80 has made no difference either.  I am thinking the chemistry of the stabilizer (LBG, guar, lambda @ 4:2:1 ratio & 0.20-0.30% of base mass) or protein blends is gelling or doing something funky.  I will try reducing both and increasing fat to see if that does anything.

im no expert so take my suggestions with a grain of salt hehe.  Here are my ramblings

 

1) Protein helps with aeration - it helps in incorporating air but isnt great in holding them (which fat should help as well as stabilizers and emulsifiers) - make sure you have enough milk proteins casein and whey.  take note of lactose levels though it could lead to sandiness

2) Having a mix that is too viscous pre churn will lead to smaller ice crystals BUT will hinder air incorporation - check that you arent adding too much elements that lead to increased viscosity namely stabilizers as well as thick syrups like invert sugar and glucose syrups

3) having too much solids will also hinder air incorporation as it leads to increased viscosity

 

i think you can expect overrun in the 8-12% region - just by eyeballing it - i havent really measured - i have an ICE-100

 

 

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Hi guys. Short question

 

If cocoa powder breaks down above 90C for full flavor to be released and break down the powder and you want to make a custard based ice cream.  How would you go about pasteurizing it without curdling the eggs? (using a pasteurizer)

 

I cant think of any way so the choices seem to be

1) Pasteurize at 85C and just live with it (or 75C / 65C whatever your pasteurization method is)

2) Totally skip the eggs (which i actually like with chocolate bases) and go Philly

3) Use melted chocolate instead of powder (i am not a fan of this as the chocolate flavor is enhanced greatly by the cocoa)

4) You can technically say bring it up to 90C then back down to a safer temp and mix in tempered yolks but i think thats too much work and i dont think thats possible with the automated pasteurizers

 

AHA i just thought of 1 more

 

5) make a separate chocolate paste and add it to the base before churning

 

 


Edited by ccp900 (log)

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On 11/14/2018 at 5:59 AM, ccp900 said:

Does anyone have any information around how many grams of water the different stabilizers can absorb per gram of the gum?

 

I tried googling but cant seem to get any leads

 

Thanks

 

 

There won't be data on that because it's not how stabilizers work. They form a loose (or tight) network in suspension in the water, which slows the motion of water molecules past one another. They increase the viscosity and change other rheological properties of the water, but don't technically absorb it. 

 

So there's no absolute formula. You have figure out the concentration of gums based on empirical observation ... your own or someone else's. It gets a bit complicated with blends, because all gums are synergistic to one degree or another. Using two gums will have a stronger effect than an equal amount of either one. And sometimes the synergy will radically change the behavior (by creating a gel, for example). 

 

I always suggest starting with stabilizer formulas that have already been tested (which it looks like you're doing). You can tweak to get the specific textures and other qualities you're looking for. 

 

 


Edited by paulraphael (log)
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Notes from the underbelly

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On 11/18/2018 at 8:34 PM, Lisa Shock said:

@LWB would you mind posting your formula? It would help us to know what exactly you're using and in what amounts.

 

This. Your machine should be giving you some overrun unless there's something really funky with the basic formula. I doubt this has to do with process or with stabilizers. 

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Sorry for taking a while to respond guys, I appreciate all your help!  It's great to get so granular here.

 

@Lisa Shock @paulraphael Here is the latest base I've been using.  All my bases are variations of the following with some tweaks for flavorings, the %s of ingredients are roughly the same.

100g - Heavy Cream

300g - 2% Milk

20g - Whey and casein protein powders (50/50 ratio, 10g each)

10g - Flavorings (sometimes a little molasses, vanilla/other extracts, cinnamon, or other flavor powders, etc.)

80g - Sugar blend (40g sugar, 20g stevia/erythritol blend, 15g polydextrose, 5g vegetable glycerin)

17g - 1 egg yolk (optional, I often go egg-less and haven't noticed any difference in texture)

2g - Salt

1g - Stabilizer blend (4:2:1 ratio of LBG, guar, lambda carrageenan).  (~0.20% of the base by weight.)

0.20g - Polysorbate-80 (0.04% of the base by weight.)

This produces a mix of 8-9% fat / 9-10% NFMS / 18-19% other solids (incl. 16% sugars) / 36-37% total solids.  All %s within the recommendations I've seen.  Wet and dry are mixed separately, blended, sous vide cooked at 167F for 1 hour, re-blended and aged in the 37F fridge for typically ~24 hrs (overnight then churned next evening).  I'm certain this produces 0% overrun because measured volume before and after churning is the same (in fact less after due to some losses from transferring containers).  I know my bases are lower fat, but I should get something here.  On the plus side, I have the flavors and freezing point suppression right where I want them, and I don't taste any ice crystals, so that's great! 😆

 

@ccp900 Your comments are helpful, thank you.  Some of my random observations on aeration and viscosity.  After first blending the base there is typically good aeration - sometimes I have difficulty submerging the bag in the sous vide because of this.  After the mix cooks, it is slightly more viscous and blends into a beautiful-looking emulsion but with zero aeration.  After the cooling/aging it gains more viscosity, but is still pourable.  The difference in aeration pre- and post-cooking is what made me think the LBG is the culprit, since the cooking activates it.  I am starting to think the protein denaturing and its effects on viscosity has a large impact as well.  Going forward I will try reducing the stabilizers and proteins to lower viscosity and see what effects that has.  It might gain some iciness but if it gives me more overrun I'll be super happy.

 

 

 


Edited by LWB (log)

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On 12/7/2018 at 3:00 AM, paulraphael said:

 

This. Your machine should be giving you some overrun unless there's something really funky with the basic formula. I doubt this has to do with process or with stabilizers. 

Thanks Paul!!

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On 12/13/2018 at 3:14 AM, LWB said:

Sorry for taking a while to respond guys, I appreciate all your help!  It's great to get so granular here.

 

@Lisa Shock @paulraphael Here is the latest base I've been using.  All my bases are variations of the following with some tweaks for flavorings, the %s of ingredients are roughly the same.

100g - Heavy Cream

300g - 2% Milk

20g - Whey and casein protein powders (50/50 ratio, 10g each)

10g - Flavorings (sometimes a little molasses, vanilla/other extracts, cinnamon, or other flavor powders, etc.)

80g - Sugar blend (40g sugar, 20g stevia/erythritol blend, 15g polydextrose, 5g vegetable glycerin)

17g - 1 egg yolk (optional, I often go egg-less and haven't noticed any difference in texture)

2g - Salt

1g - Stabilizer blend (4:2:1 ratio of LBG, guar, lambda carrageenan).  (~0.20% of the base by weight.)

0.20g - Polysorbate-80 (0.04% of the base by weight.)

This produces a mix of 8-9% fat / 9-10% NFMS / 18-19% other solids (incl. 16% sugars) / 36-37% total solids.  All %s within the recommendations I've seen.  Wet and dry are mixed separately, blended, sous vide cooked at 167F for 1 hour, re-blended and aged in the 37F fridge for typically ~24 hrs (overnight then churned next evening).  I'm certain this produces 0% overrun because measured volume before and after churning is the same (in fact less after due to some losses from transferring containers).  I know my bases are lower fat, but I should get something here.  On the plus side, I have the flavors and freezing point suppression right where I want them, and I don't taste any ice crystals, so that's great! 😆

 

@ccp900 Your comments are helpful, thank you.  Some of my random observations on aeration and viscosity.  After first blending the base there is typically good aeration - sometimes I have difficulty submerging the bag in the sous vide because of this.  After the mix cooks, it is slightly more viscous and blends into a beautiful-looking emulsion but with zero aeration.  After the cooling/aging it gains more viscosity, but is still pourable.  The difference in aeration pre- and post-cooking is what made me think the LBG is the culprit, since the cooking activates it.  I am starting to think the protein denaturing and its effects on viscosity has a large impact as well.  Going forward I will try reducing the stabilizers and proteins to lower viscosity and see what effects that has.  It might gain some iciness but if it gives me more overrun I'll be super happy.

 

 

 

 

 

For commercial blends of Stablizers/Emulsifiers - isnt it usually around 2g Stabilizer to 3g Emulsifier? maybe you can up the polysorbate 80?  How about adding mono and di-glycerides?

 

That being said, my old formulation i only used tapioca starch at 5% and no real emulsifiers and still managed to get some overrun.  I now use a commercial blend so i get better results.

 

As an experiment, can you try and remove the stabilizer blend and use just tapioca starch at 3-5%?  Add some milk to the tapioca starch to make a slurry then add the slurry to the base after you cook it and before chilling in the ice bath.

 

maybe you have a bad batch on your stab/emul?

 

 

 

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I'm just looking quickly at your formula and don't see anything obviously wrong. Just a couple of quick observations ...

 

- You're down below 8% milk fat. This isn't crazy; it's within the range of a lot of Italian gelato. But it's low, and it's the fat that makes the foam structure.

- There's a whole lot of complication going on with your blends of sweetening ingredients, including things like polydextrose and glycerin, which I don't know anything about.

There's a possibility that something in there is interfering with foam structure, either by preventing the the emulsifiers from de-emulsifying the fat globules, or by interfering with the partial coalescence, or by who-knows-what.

-I didn't do the math, but total solids looks low. The recipe would benefit from a bunch of nonfat milk powder. This would let you reduce or get rid of the protein powder, because milk powder is full of whey and casein. 

 

I really doubt the problem is with the stabilizers or emulsifiers. That part of the formula looks completely standard and should work fine. 

 

My suggestion would be to make a batch of really basic ice cream. 50/50 cream and whole milk, around 4% egg yolk, enough milk powder to bring total solids to 40%, and ordinary sugars ... try something like 8% sucrose, 3% dextrose. Cook it 75–80°C for 30 to 60 minutes. Flavor it with something that won't mess with the structure. Vanilla, or matcha powder, or herbs. 

 

If this won't whip up, then the problem's with your machine. If it whips up fine, then you'll need to figure out which of those variables is causing the problem. I'd start by testing the fats and solids levels. And if those aren't the problem, then start trying out the other ingredients. 

 

 

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Notes from the underbelly

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Happy new year everyone, hope y'all are well.

 

I greatly appreciate all the comments to my overrun issue.  Recently made a breakthrough and am pretty sure I figured out the problem: too much protein.

 

Being a protein junky, it didn't occur to me that mixing at double the standard protein content of ice cream (8-9% vs 4%) would be a problem, provided I compensated for freezing point suppression.  After re-reading some of Ruben's and your blog posts, the research suggests that proteins bind to fat, and excessive protein (especially whey) over-stabilizes the emulsion, preventing partial coalescence and therefore overrun.

 

Curious, I did a trial run with my usual routine but at 10% fat / 4% protein / 23% other solids and viola, overrun achieved.  I didn't measure it, but 900g of starting base produced over a liter of churned product and the taste/texture has been awesome even many days later.  I'll continue to experiment, but am very happy to report the improvement.  Thanks to all for the input.

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      making the flowers, out of gumpaste making modeling chocolate and kneading in all the colors I would need making the umbrella out of gumpaste baking the cakes making the buttercream making simple syrup kneading all the fondant colors I'd need buying chocolate cookies and liquor cutting and covering my bottom board dying bamboo skewers green with vinegar and food color I did a little each day. I had to fit that in between my regular job and family-care duties.
       
      On Saturday, the day before the shower, and one of the days I'm off from my regular job, I went into the kitchen to build the cake. I'd had a nutritious breakfast of Oreo Mint Creams thanks to my stepson who'd been eating them the night before as he was watching TV. Gulped down a little coffee, and packed up all my equipment in the back of my truck. Only 4 minutes to the kitchen......man, I don't miss commuting!!!
       
      The night before, I had filled and stacked the cakes, so they would be ready for me to carve, first thing. The top cake is a lemon cake with raspberry buttercream, and the bottom cake is chocolate cake with mocha-toffee buttercream. All the cake layers are soaked with simple syrup; the lemon was soaked with lemon syrup and the chocolate, soaked with Kahlua syrup. I prefer to use buttercream as a filling in sculpted cakes....it sets up firm and makes carving a cinch. Mousses and jams and curds don't set up enough and are also very slippy-slidy. When you are carving out a cake, you don't want your layers sliding around on you. Here is my top cake.....I baked off two 8 inch rounds and 1 10 inch round. Cut them all in half and filled. Ready to carve!

      Here is the rough cut:

      I just used my long serrated knife to get a general pot shape. Now for the fine tuning:

      Lookin' like a flowerpot! Mmmmmm......look at all those cake scraps on the table. Yep, a few went in my mouth (quality control you know) but the rest went into the garbage......Next it's time to put a layer of buttercream on there, for extra smoothy goodness:

      I snapped the pic with one hand as I was holding the pastry bag in the other. Not easy. I like to use the giant pastry bag with the giant tip for applying icing....makes for less work later.

      Ok, here's a pic for folks that wanted to see that "paint masker thingy" in action. Tried to snap a pic myself, but just couldn't muster up the co-ordination. Luckily, Amber, the front deli counter girl, took a pic for me. I hadn't meant for her to include ME in the pic (Gawd!) but I wanted more of a close up of Mr. Smoothing Tool. Oh well, you take what you can get. See that I have my sketch on the reach-in behind me....along with all my other wacky magnets. Hey, I like to decorate my workspace.....Notice I hold the "pint masker thingy" by the bottom when I am smoothing the sides. If I don't, and hold it by the handle, it tends to kind of bend. I hold it by the handle when I go across the top. See how nice and smooth?:

      Now it's really starting to look like a flowerpot. But wait! It's upside down! Why is that, you ask? Because it's easier to carve and ice that way, and most importantly, much easier to apply the fondant. Into the walk-in it goes, to firm up. Now for the second pot:

      This is going to be the bottom flowerpot. It's going to be larger, and a slightly different shape than the top flowerpot. I baked off 2 10 inch rounds and 1 8 inch round for this one. I only ended up using half the 8 inch round, as you can see. I have the saran wrap underneath the cake and on top of the board, so it will be easier to flip over later. Here it is all carved out.....mmm....more cake scraps.....into the garbage they go.....

      Below, here it is, with a layer of buttercream. I didn't use the "paint masker thingy" on this one because of the curvature of the cake. I just piped the icing on and then smoothed it out with my offset spatula as best I could. After I refrigerate it, I will do the final smoothing.

      So now I'm waiting for my pots to set up. Time to do some other stuff, like:

      "Cuiz" my chocolate cookies to make the "dirt" for my pots. And......

      start dusting my flowers and leaves with luster dust to add a little depth and realism to them. For this project I just made "whimsical flowers" in that they really aren't any particular flower....they're just cartoonish and colorful. Well, the roses are, well, roses.....gotta have a few roses. In the background there, you can see sort of how I did the gumpaste umbrella. I happened to have a dessert cup at home that was well suited for it. I filled out the top with gumpaste and added "ribs" with gumpaste, then put some saran on the top of that and put a gumpaste disk on it. I then cut out the rounded parts between the ribs.....and voila....umbrella! This was the first thing I made because I wanted it to have the maximum amount of drying time. Now if I were really smart, I would have made not one, but two or even three umbrellas because stuff always breaks. Always. No matter how careful you are. Especially in a commercial kitchen.....not only do you have to worry about yourself but everyone else too. I make more flowers than I need because I always manage to break quite a few. But, as it was, I only made one umbrella since I was so cocky and sure of myself. Turns out I was lucky......this time! Ok, time to roll out some terra cotta colored fondant!

      Dust the table liberally with cornstarch and roll away. I've done this so much I can just eyeball how much fondant I'll need to cover a certain sized cake. When rolling out fondant, waste no time from the time you're done rolling til you get it on the cake, because it starts drying out right away. Drying out means yukky little cracks, and me no likey little cracks! So I race to walk-in, retrieve cake, and cover it quickly.

      Then I take my trusty little pizza wheel and cut the excess away. This excess will get kneaded back into the remainder of my fondant so that I'll have enough to cover the other pot. So I take the rounded pot out of the walk-in, and, after washing my hands like a surgeon, I use the warmth of my hands to smooth the buttercream out so I have a perfect surface on which to cover with fondant. I tried using latex gloves for doing smoothing, but they are too much of a barrier to my body warmth. I need that warmth to lightly soften the buttercream for the proper smoothing. And here we have a nice smooth surface for the fondant:

      Into the reach-in it goes to set up while I roll out my fondant.......and here it is covered, with the excess trimmed away. Notice that I trimmed off my plastic wrap quite a bit before I covered it. Otherwise I would have gotten into a wrestling match with it and the fondant.

      So back into the walk-in they go to stay firm while I take me a little breaky:

      This is the view out the back door of the kitchen. We look over the Kai-Tai Lagoon and the Olympic Mountains. Unfortunately you can't see the Olympics in this picture because it's cloudy. But man, on a clear day......it's outstanding. Off to the right, beyond the trellis thing, is a large garden full of culinary things....a la Chez Panisse. We've got rosemary, bay, basil, fennel, oregano, chervil,onions, squashes (in the fall), thyme, decorative flowers, arugula, and more. Whenever we need herbs....just go out back. We get most of our produce from local farmers who come to our back door. One of the things I LOVE about Tinytown. It really beats the in-city large mass produce vendors. As I look out the back door, I sip on a latte that I made myself from our aging and undependable espresso machine. Luckily, today, I managed to pull a pretty good shot. Ok, break time over! Back to work! My next step is to turn my pots over. I will turn the larger pot over first. I slip my offset spatula underneath the saran wrap and lift the cake off, and set it aside on the table. An important thing to note: If I'd used a mousse, curd, or jam filling, I wouldn't have been able to do this so easily. With a refrigerated buttercream filling, the cake doesn't flex at all as I lift it. I managed to nick a little of my polyfoil covering with my spat when I went to lift the cake. Nuts. Oh well, I'll cover that with a flower later. I melt some white chocolate and smear some in the center of my board. I need to anchor the bottom pot so it doesn't slip around.

      I flip the bottom pot over, place it on top of my melted white chocolate, make sure it's centered, and peel the saran wrap off.

      My next step is to mark where I'm going to place my top pot, then insert straws within that area to support the weight of it. I decided to place the top pot slightly off center, and traced a circle with my paring knife to mark it. For most cake supports I use straws. They're easy to cut to fit, cheap, and they work. The only time I use wooden dowels is when there is an UNGODLY amount of weight or a weird center of gravity involved. I used to use regular heavy duty bar straws, until I discovered.......bubble tea straws! They are super heavy duty and very large.....they have to be for people to suck up that lovely bubble tea. I don't really think that fad is going to catch on here much in the states, but as long as I can get the straws I'm happy. I get them from an asian novelty wholesaler in Seattle. I think it's Viet-Wah, but can't remember for sure.

      Anyway, I insert the straw, mark it with my thumb where it's flush with the top of the cake, then pull the straw out and cut it. I use that straw as a measure to cut the rest of my straws. In this case I will use 5. One in the center and four around.

      Now I'm all ready to place the top pot on......oh, wait, except for a swirl of buttercream on top of the straws to anchor it a bit. Next, I use my melted white chocolate to adhere an appropriately sized round cardboard on the bottom of my top pot.

      Once that's set, I flip over the top pot, and place it on my bottom pot.

      Voila! Now, I really have to make sure that the top pot won't slide around, so I stick a few bamboo skewers down through the middle and through the cardboard til it hits the bottom board. I use the side of my needlenose pliers to pound the skewer down through. Now starts my very favorite part of this whole thing.....details! I figured that using my silicone lace impression molds will make great detailing on the pots. Here's the one I'm going to use to detail the bottom pot:

      I dust the inside of the mold with cornstarch........then roll out a quick piece of fondant, and roughly press it in:

      Then I place the top piece of the silicone impression on top, and roll it like crazy with a rolling pin. With the top part of the impression still in place, I pull off as much of the excess as I can.

      Then I remove the top piece, and pull all the ragged edges back in......

      Then I brush a little water on the back of the piece, and adhere it to the pot. I keep making them until the pattern has gone all the way 'round.

      I use a different lace mold to make a pattern on the top pot. Now it's time to do the rims. When I did the lace impressions around the pots, I used fondant, because I needed the stretchability of it to conform easily to the shape of the pot. A little stretchiness in this case is good. But when it's time to do the rims, I don't want ANY stretching going on whatsoever.....I want uniformly thick and perfectly straight strips, so for this I'm going to use modeling chocolate, which of course has been colored the same color as the fondant. See the neato embossing on my strip? I found that little embossing wheel at Seattle Pottery Supply, believe it or not, and it was cheap too. The embossers are interchangeable and it came with about 10 different patterns! I rolled out my strip, then embossed the pattern twice (one next to the other) then used my pizza wheel to cut nice straight even edges. I made two top strips and two bottom strips....the bottom strips are just plain.

      And here are the pots with all their details.....

      These guys are going into the walk-in for a while while I work on the other details. Gotta make the baby! First I start with a styrofoam core. The reason for this is for stability and less weight. There was a time in my career when I thought I shouldn't use ANYTHING that wasn't edible, but talk about making life hard. I've made things out of solid modeling chocolate, but they were very heavy and hard to support. Then over the years, I realized that people really don't eat the decorations anyway (except for a few overzealous kids), so I decided to reduce my chocolate expenses and weight by using styrofoam to bulk things out more and more. I pat out a disk of flesh colored modeling chocolate, and place my styrofoam ball in the middle.

      Then I bring the edges up around the ball and squeeze the chocolate together so that no seams show. I stick a couple of skewers in it so that I can hold it in one hand and model it with the other. Then I manipulate it in my surgeon-scrubbed hands to model the face, add a little nose, eyes, mouth, ears, hair and of course, a dimple. The baby head needs to go somewhere while I work on other stuff.....oh, here's a good place.....right in the edge of my equipment box.

      I've been so good about taking pictures at nearly every step! But here's where I fail you.......when I get "in the zone"......meaning that I'm so intent on my little details....I sort of forget about the camera! Here's what I did in between this picture and the next two:
      *made the baby's shoulders and neck and arms out of modeling chocolate
      *sprinkled my cookie dirt inside the pots
      *dusted the centers of my flowers with luster and color, made the calyx's (sp?) and mounted *them on my green skewers
      *rolled modeling chocolate onto a skewer to form the umbrella stem
      *made the bottom banner and wrote on it
      *made the baby's flower bonnet
      I modeled the baby's neck and shoulders, then stuck that right on the top pot. Then I cut the skewers that are coming out of his head to the right length and pushed it down through the neck and shoulders.

      I placed the arms and formed the hands. I stuck my umbrella stem through the arm and down into the cake so there would be adequate support......but darn, I wasn't watching carefully, and the skewer came out of the side of the pot because my angle was a bit off. Oh well, I'll cover that up with a leaf. At least you can see where the umbrella stem is on the skewer. On top of the umbrella stem is a little half dome of modeling chocolate, to support the gumpaste umbrella. I dab a bit of melted white chocolate on that, and stick the umbrella on top. Now all I have to do is place my flowers, mount the banner, and put his little bonnet on.

      And here we have the finished product. It's sort of hard to read the banner....it says, "May Showers Bring Adorable Flowers". One thing I always seem to to do.....I'll shoot the picture of my finished cake and I'm always tired.....so I'm too lazy to find a good backdrop. Then I curse myself later when there's that yukky kitcheny background. God, in one picture I took, my cake had a dirty mop bucket behind it! All I can say is, thank god for Photoshop......I can always "fix" it later.
      It took me 8 hours to put this together and that's not counting all the prep I did the whole week prior. I don't think a whole lot of people realize the time that goes into this stuff.....and it's also why you don't see it very often.
      Anyway, the girl that's getting the baby shower has NO IDEA this is coming. Surprising her is going to be the best part!
      Fast forward to the next day. My boss's wife and I are bringing the box inside the house, then removing the cake from the box. Kids are dancing around us....."is that a CAKE? Is that a CAKE?" People gather round, and the girl who's getting the shower sees it and starts crying. She gives me a big hug and says "I don't know how to thank you!" I told her she just did.
      The shower went on, presents were opened, food was eaten, champagne was sipped.......and then.....it was time......the part that the kids almost couldn't wait for.....time to eat cake! Which of course, means, time to cut cake. And guess who gets to do it. Yep. Me. I don't have to cut my own cakes very often, and that's a good thing. Usually I'm nowhere in the vicinity when my cakes are cut and consumed.....I have only the memory of a photograph and my labor. This time I also do the deconstructing.....and I gotta say it was bittersweet. Especially since knowing it took me 8 hours to build it and only 15 minutes to take it apart. May I say.......wah? Yes. Wah. Luckily I'd had a couple glasses of Mumm's so my "pain" was numbed a bit.......
      Hope you all have enjoyed this bit of cake sculpting. Now back to our regular programming.......
    • By Nn, M.D.
      I'm very excited to share with you all a recipe that I developed for a double crust apple pie.  I had been inspired a few weeks ago to come up with a series of 3-ingredient recipes that would focus on technique and flavor but still be simple enough for the unseasoned chef.  I decided to make an apple pie as a challenge to myself--never having made one before--and as a way to show those who might find pastry intimidating how easy and adaptable it can be.
       
      Basic Shortcrust Pastry
      Ingredients:
      - 300g flour
      - 227g salted butter, cold
      - 2 lemons, zested with juice reserved
       
      1. Cut butter into small chunks.  Beat butter, zest of the 2 lemons, and flour together with an electric mixer OR combine with pastry blender OR rub together with fingers OR blitz in a food processor until it resembles sand.
      2. Add just enough water to bring the mix together into a dough (about 20g for me).  You'll know your pastry is ready when you can press it together and it stays in one piece.
      3. Divide dough in two and wrap tightly with plastic.  Refrigerate for at least 2 hours, or overnight.
      4. When ready to use, roll out each portion to 13 inches in diameter. (I do this between two sheets of parchment paper.  Don't worry too much if the parchment sticks to the pastry. I periodically placed mine in the freezer to help keep everything cold, and the butter will separate from the parchment when frozen.)
      5. Take 1 portion of rolled dough and place it in a 9-inch tart tin with a removable bottom.  Gently press into the sides to ensure even coverage.  Place in the freezer for 30 minutes.  Freeze the other portion of dough in-between the parchment pieces.
       
      Apple Filling (and Assembly)
      - 1 kg apples (I used about 7 apples for this recipe.)
      - 220g dark brown sugar, divided
      - 1 egg, separated
       
      Making the apple butter: 
      1. Cut and core 500g of your apples, but do not peel.  Add cut apples, juice of the one lemon, about 100g or so of water, and 170g of sugar to a large saucepan.
      2. Bring to a boil over high heat, reduce to a simmer and cover.  Let the apples cook for 20-30 minutes or until tender.
      3. Remove from heat and blend until smooth.
      4. Return puree to saucepan and simmer uncovered over low heat, stirring occasionally, for an hour.  Color should deepen and the mixture should thicken slightly, but do not allow it to scorch.
      5. Remove from heat and refrigerate until cool.
       
      Apple filling:
      1. Peel, quarter, and core the remaining 500g of apples. Slice on a mandolin to about 1/8th inch thickness. Place sliced apples in a large bowl of cold water while slicing remaining apples.
      2. Once apples are sliced, drain water and add the juice from the remaining lemon, as well as the remaining 50g of sugar, over the apples. Stir to coat.
       
         
       
      Assembly:
      1. Remove pie base from the freezer.  Dock with a fork and brush on egg white.  Place back in the freezer and allow to set for for about 5-10 minutes.
      2. Pour the entire recipe of apple butter into the pie base and even out with an offset spatula.
      3. Arrange apple slices over the apple butter.
      4. Remove remaining pie dough from the freezer and cut designs in while still cold. Transfer to the surface of the pie and seal overhanging edges.  Trim excess dough.
      5. Brush top pastry with egg yolk (beaten with any remaining egg white) and bake in a 365˚F oven for 60-70 minutes.  Crust should be shiny and golden brown.
      6. Remove from oven and allow to cool completely before removing from tin.
       
      Some notes:
      The reason for using salted butter is I think the flavor incorporates a little better into the mix than if I were to use unsalted butter and added salt.  That being said, you could do that instead, though your recipe would then have 7 ingredients The addition of apple butter here takes the place of the normal apple pie filling, which is usually thickened with cornstarch and is typically quite sweet.  By using the apple butter, I push the flavor of apple forward beyond what you would find in a typically apple pie.  Also, the apple butter acts as a glue of sorts so that my slices are always clean, so no need to resort to adding thickeners or extra sweeteners. I'm always looking for a way around blind baking, and using an egg white seal has worked out very well for me. The egg white creates a water-tight layer between the crust and the filling, so no matter how wet my filling is, the crust will always bake crispy and won't get soggy for as long as the pie is around. Feel free to change this up as you see fit.  Obviously you can spices to this (I recommend cinnamon, clove, and cardamom) but the beauty of this pie is that it's really not necessary.  Although at first blush it may seem one-noted, the harmony between the flaky, almost savory crust and the bright and refreshing filling is one that doesn't need any help, in my honest opinion.  

       
      So there you have it! My 6-ingredient apple pie, sure to become a go-to for me, and hopefully for you as well!
       
    • By ResearchBunny
      Posted 6 hours ago Dear EGulleters,
      ResearchBunny here. I've just found you today. I've been lolling in bed with a bad cold, lost voice, wads of tissues, pillows, bedding around me. I spent all of yesterday binge-watching Season 2 of Zumbo's Just Desserts on Netflix from beginning to grand finale. I have been a hardcore devotee of Rose Levy Beranbaum since the beginning of my baking passion -- after learning that she wrote her master's thesis comparing the textural differences in cake crumb when using bleached versus unbleached flour. I sit up and pay attention to that level of serious and precision! While Beranbaum did study for a short while at a French pastry school, she hasn't taken on the challenge of writing recipes for entremets style cakes. That is, multi-layer desserts with cake, mousse, gelatin, nougatine or dacquoise layers all embedded in one form embellished with ice cream, granita, chocolate, coulis. After watching hours of the Zumbo contest, I became curious about the experience of designing these cakes. Some of the offered desserts struck me as far too busy, others were delightful combinations. I was surprised that a few contestants were eliminated when their offerings were considered too simple or, too sophisticated. So I'd like to hear from you about your suggestions for learning more about how to make entremets. And also, what you think about the show. And/or Zumbo.
      Many thanks.
      RB
      ps. The show sparked a fantasy entremet for my cold. Consider a fluffy matzo ball exterior, with interior layers of carrot, celery, a chicken mince, and a gelatin of dilled chicken broth at its heart!
    • By TexasMBA02
      After batting about .500 with my previous approach to macarons, I came across Pierre Herme's base recipe online.  After two flawless batches of macarons, I've been re-energized to continue to work at mastering them.  Specifically, I want to try more of his recipes.  My conundrum is that he has, as far as I can tell, two macaron cookbooks and I don't know which one I should get.  I can't tell if one is just an updated version of the other or a reissue or what the differences really are.  I was hoping somebody had some insight.  I have searched online and haven't seen both books referenced in the same context or contrasted at all.
       
      This one appears to be older.

       
      And this one appears to be the newer of the two.

       
      Any insight would be helpful.
       
      Thanks,
       
    • By pastrygirl
      Anyone have a favorite recipe for chocolate cake using semisweet chocolate?  My usual chocolate cake recipe uses cocoa, but I have some samples of chocolate I want to use up for a workplace party.  Yes, I could make brownies or ganache frosting, or chocolate mousse or chocolate chunk cookies, just feeling like cake this weekend ...
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