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Darienne

Home Made Ice Cream (2015– )

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Posted (edited)
On 4/15/2020 at 3:42 AM, JoNorvelleWalker said:

 

Typically I pull my ice cream after no more than 15 minutes in the ICE-100.  

 

 

Why do you pull your ice cream after only 15 minutes?  I let mine go until the machine tells me it's ready (it is a Breville and plays a rune, currently the theme from The Sting).

 

Another question:  yesterday I was rooting around in my baking supplies and found a bag labeled Dextrose (corn sugar).  It had been opened and some of it used but I don't remember what for.  If I were to replace sugar with dextrose in ice cream, two questions come to mind:

 

Is it an equal substitution?

Why do you substitute?

 

I re-read the above chit-chat but it isn't clear to me.

 

Edited to add:  1 kg. Of dextrose is $3.89 Cdn. at my home brew place.


Edited by ElsieD (log)

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4 hours ago, ElsieD said:

 

 

Why do you pull your ice cream after only 15 minutes?  I let mine go until the machine tells me it's ready (it is a Breville and plays a rune, currently the theme from The Sting).

 

Another question:  yesterday I was rooting around in my baking supplies and found a bag labeled Dextrose (corn sugar).  It had been opened and some of it used but I don't remember what for.  If I were to replace sugar with dextrose in ice cream, two questions come to mind:

 

Is it an equal substitution?

Why do you substitute?

 

I re-read the above chit-chat but it isn't clear to me.

 

Edited to add:  1 kg. Of dextrose is $3.89 Cdn. at my home brew place.

 

 

I have found, at least with my current Cuisinart ICE-100, that the most important factor in controlling iciness is the time in the machine.  With this type of unit, time in the machine also affects overrun.  Of course one has to use judgment.  If the mixture looks like soup after 15 minutes, clearly something is not right.

 

Dextrose is lower molecular weight than sucrose.  It is also not as sweet..  @paulraphael has a nice writeup on his blog:

https://under-belly.org/sugars-in-ice-cream/

 

There is also a difference in flavor.  Somewhere in this thread I posted a study that showed tasters preferred ice cream with all sucrose when the ice cream was low fat.  At higher butterfat tasters preferred ice cream with some of the sucrose replaced by dextrose.

 

I use dextrose (and sometimes trehalose) to balance sweetness with freezing point depression.  Using all sucrose results in ice cream that is either too hard or too sweet.  Your choice.  But then I don't care for my ice cream as sweet as some might prefer.

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Results of this batch were excellent.  Maybe the solids were a little high due to the reduction properties of the new Falk pan.  But I wouldn't tell unless you asked.  I could easily consume the batch in one sitting.

 

After blast freezing the churned mix to -30C I warmed the Vesta freezer to -18C.  Scoopability was perfect.  Now on my second bowl.

 

 

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Have you tried using skim milk powder instead of reduction? If you get a good brand, it will be low-temperature spray-dried, so basically it will come pre-reduced, but done in a controlled process. You can then choose your cooking time and temperature based just on getting the level of protein denaturing you want. I suspect you'll find the denaturization makes a very small difference—especially in a high-fat, high-solids, high-egg formula. 

 

I'm curious to know what benefits you're seeing from the polysorbate when you've got 4 egg yolks in there. 

 

FWIW, I don't pay any attention to the different flavor profiles of the dominant sugars (sucrose, fructose, dextrose—besides relative sweetness). It's detectable, but I'd really be surprised if anyone would volunteer that they like the taste of 100% sucrose more than, say, 60/40 sucrose+dextrose, if sweetness levels are well balanced. In a food science study, people are probably being fed unflavored, very sweet ice cream, and then being told to choose. The differences are subtle, especially with something cold. Add flavors, and the differences go away.

 

The ratios of sucrose / dextrose / fructose are all over the place when you compare one kind of fruit to another. I think this is a very minor part of why the fruits taste different. When it comes to choosing sugars, I'm interested in getting the sweetness right (which I think should be lower than just about anyone else who publishes recipes) and getting the hardness right (which varies with preference and your chosen serving temperature). 


Notes from the underbelly

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1 hour ago, paulraphael said:

Have you tried using skim milk powder instead of reduction? If you get a good brand, it will be low-temperature spray-dried, so basically it will come pre-reduced, but done in a controlled process. You can then choose your cooking time and temperature based just on getting the level of protein denaturing you want. I suspect you'll find the denaturization makes a very small difference—especially in a high-fat, high-solids, high-egg formula. 

 

I'm curious to know what benefits you're seeing from the polysorbate when you've got 4 egg yolks in there. 

 

FWIW, I don't pay any attention to the different flavor profiles of the dominant sugars (sucrose, fructose, dextrose—besides relative sweetness). It's detectable, but I'd really be surprised if anyone would volunteer that they like the taste of 100% sucrose more than, say, 60/40 sucrose+dextrose, if sweetness levels are well balanced. In a food science study, people are probably being fed unflavored, very sweet ice cream, and then being told to choose. The differences are subtle, especially with something cold. Add flavors, and the differences go away.

 

The ratios of sucrose / dextrose / fructose are all over the place when you compare one kind of fruit to another. I think this is a very minor part of why the fruits taste different. When it comes to choosing sugars, I'm interested in getting the sweetness right (which I think should be lower than just about anyone else who publishes recipes) and getting the hardness right (which varies with preference and your chosen serving temperature). 

 

Yes, last month:

https://forums.egullet.org/topic/152508-home-made-ice-cream-2015–/?do=findComment&comment=2242010

 

I have a lifetime supply of polysorbate 80.

 

 

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11 minutes ago, JoNorvelleWalker said:

 

Yes, last month:

https://forums.egullet.org/topic/152508-home-made-ice-cream-2015–/?do=findComment&comment=2242010

 

I have a lifetime supply of polysorbate 80.

 

 

 

If I read that right, you used skim milk powder plus reduction. They're both ways of increasing the solids. I'm suggesting you could make life easier and have quite a bit more control of all the variables if you you used milk solids and skipped the reduction entirely.


Notes from the underbelly

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10 minutes ago, paulraphael said:

 

If I read that right, you used skim milk powder plus reduction. They're both ways of increasing the solids. I'm suggesting you could make life easier and have quite a bit more control of all the variables if you you used milk solids and skipped the reduction entirely.

 

Yes, skim milk powder plus reduction.  But not as much reduction.  Further back in the thread Ruben says he switched to adding skim milk powder to the recipe not because the result was better, which he says it is not, but because skim milk powder made the ice cream easier to make at home.

 

With regard to polysorbate 80, it could be my imagination but I think I like the ice cream melting characteristics better.  With this style ice cream I have not found other additives that I have in house beneficial.  (Unlike when making Philadelphia ice cream, which is a different story.)

 

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Hi all,

 

I'm a new member and have enjoyed reading this topic from the beginning.  I love trying new and improved ways to make ice cream and my ultimate goal is to make a home made version of Baskin Robbins chocolate peanut butter ice cream (chocolate ice cream with peanut butter ribbon).  I've nailed vanilla and still tinker with my recipe here and there. So now I've turned to chocolate peanut butter, but in many efforts haven't been able to produce anything I love yet.   If anyone's willing, I'd appreciate any suggestions for a recipe.  Here's what I have in my ice cream making arsenal right now from memory;  Whole milk 3.5%, heavy cream 18%,  eggs of course, valrhona chocolate disks in varying sweetness, valrhona cocoa powder, inulin, lecithin powser, sucrose, dextrose powder, invert sugar, xanthan, guar gum, maltodextrin powder, gelatin. I'm sure there are a few things I'm forgetting but I'm hoping I can come up with a solid recipe with them.

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On 5/21/2020 at 12:45 AM, SeanT said:

Hi all,

 

I'm a new member and have enjoyed reading this topic from the beginning.  I love trying new and improved ways to make ice cream and my ultimate goal is to make a home made version of Baskin Robbins chocolate peanut butter ice cream (chocolate ice cream with peanut butter ribbon).  I've nailed vanilla and still tinker with my recipe here and there. So now I've turned to chocolate peanut butter, but in many efforts haven't been able to produce anything I love yet.   If anyone's willing, I'd appreciate any suggestions for a recipe.  Here's what I have in my ice cream making arsenal right now from memory;  Whole milk 3.5%, heavy cream 18%,  eggs of course, valrhona chocolate disks in varying sweetness, valrhona cocoa powder, inulin, lecithin powser, sucrose, dextrose powder, invert sugar, xanthan, guar gum, maltodextrin powder, gelatin. I'm sure there are a few things I'm forgetting but I'm hoping I can come up with a solid recipe with them.

Hi!! Welcome to the discussion. Lots of passionate people here and they know their stuff....me I’m a poser hahaha. Anyways can I suggest you getting 2 books. One is the latest perfect scoop. Simply because a lot of reviews on the recipes there are good meaning it will give you good results. The second one which for someone like me is more interesting AND will aid you a lot when you want to start being adventurous and spreading your creative wings is hello my name is ice cream

 

i think having those 2 is a great combo. Be warned ice cream will drag you and keep you in its tantalizing delicious arms and you will probably end up buying a lot of things!!  Cookbooks on ice cream become hard to resist and you’ll end up buying a lot just to see what they can do and how they do it.  You’ll prolly look into the jenis books, then van Leeuwen, ample hills, salt and straw, bi rite etc etc etc.

 

youve been warned!! :)

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2 hours ago, JoNorvelleWalker said:

Don't forget an homogenizer and a blast freezer.

 

See. It’s already starting hahaha Sean will find so many things in his kitchen in the next few months

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14 hours ago, ccp900 said:

Hi!! Welcome to the discussion. Lots of passionate people here and they know their stuff....me I’m a poser hahaha. Anyways can I suggest you getting 2 books. One is the latest perfect scoop. Simply because a lot of reviews on the recipes there are good meaning it will give you good results. The second one which for someone like me is more interesting AND will aid you a lot when you want to start being adventurous and spreading your creative wings is hello my name is ice cream

 

i think having those 2 is a great combo. Be warned ice cream will drag you and keep you in its tantalizing delicious arms and you will probably end up buying a lot of things!!  Cookbooks on ice cream become hard to resist and you’ll end up buying a lot just to see what they can do and how they do it.  You’ll prolly look into the jenis books, then van Leeuwen, ample hills, salt and straw, bi rite etc etc etc.

 

youve been warned!! :)

 

I wrote a review of ice cream books, if anyone's interested. The intended audience is people who have already been dragged in deep. Hello My Name is Ice Cream is one of the top picks. 


Notes from the underbelly

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11 hours ago, paulraphael said:

 

I wrote a review of ice cream books, if anyone's interested. The intended audience is people who have already been dragged in deep. Hello My Name is Ice Cream is one of the top picks. 

Hi Paul always appreciate your posts there I’ve read your article as well hehe.  Waiting for your next one........maybe the effects of starch and starchy ingredients to your balancing....if you use for example potatoes (that doesn’t sound good) or yams and even rice

 

or maybe even a sort of short masterclass on stab/Emul. Like how to use them for very specific textural effects...for example if you want more chew then a blend of stab 1 and stab 2 would be good

 

another one is breaking down famous brands using their labels. That could be a good exercise and see if we can break down the ingredients and the numbers into a working recipe as well as explain the components


Edited by ccp900 (log)

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Thanks CCP900!  I've already read The Perfect Scoop but will add the other to my reading list.  I am definitely in deep already, though I don't have a homogenizer or blast freezer.  I appreiate Paul's expertise and insight and have enjoyed reading the information on his blog, so thank you Paul.  I have a plethora of ingreadients for ice cream making and don't know I could add much to the cabinet other than Trehalose.  As I mentioned before I enjoy tinkering with different recipes to see if I can make ice cream I already enjoy even better.  Still working on the chocolate ice cream with peanut butter and my wife ( who doesn't really like ice cream, gasp!) asked if i could make her some vanilla that came out of the freezer more like soft serve.  She has sensitive teeth and prefers her ice cream in more of a melted state when its less cold.  Challenge excepted!  Thanks everyone for the warm welcome.

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1 hour ago, SeanT said:

Thanks CCP900!  I've already read The Perfect Scoop but will add the other to my reading list.  I am definitely in deep already, though I don't have a homogenizer or blast freezer.  I appreiate Paul's expertise and insight and have enjoyed reading the information on his blog, so thank you Paul.  I have a plethora of ingreadients for ice cream making and don't know I could add much to the cabinet other than Trehalose.  As I mentioned before I enjoy tinkering with different recipes to see if I can make ice cream I already enjoy even better.  Still working on the chocolate ice cream with peanut butter and my wife ( who doesn't really like ice cream, gasp!) asked if i could make her some vanilla that came out of the freezer more like soft serve.  She has sensitive teeth and prefers her ice cream in more of a melted state when its less cold.  Challenge excepted!  Thanks everyone for the warm welcome.

You could formulate your ice cream so that it’s actually at 70% frozen state at higher temps so that your wife can enjoy it more. You might need to let the ice cream warm up before serving but at least the wife doesn’t get melted ice cream for dessert

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My copy of Rose's Ice Cream Bliss arrived today.  I ordered glucose DE 42 to give her recipes a fair shake.  I have no experience with using glucose so it should be fun.  However my cream is not ultra pasteurized so I plan to cook my mix more than she suggests.

 

@ElsieD Rose's mango recipe calls for canned mango, just so you know.  Rose feels Indian canned mango is far superior to fresh.

 

Fun times.

 

 

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1 hour ago, JoNorvelleWalker said:

My copy of Rose's Ice Cream Bliss arrived today.  I ordered glucose DE 42 to give her recipes a fair shake.  I have no experience with using glucose so it should be fun.  However my cream is not ultra pasteurized so I plan to cook my mix more than she suggests.

 

@ElsieD Rose's mango recipe calls for canned mango, just so you know.  Rose feels Indian canned mango is far superior to fresh.

 

Fun times.

 

 

That probably has a lot of sugar.  I would say the benefit would be some level of consistency since canned retail products need to taste the same generally....each can needs to be in spec.  This is hard to do using natural mangoes

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Something interesting I saw

 

https://www.gelarecipes.com/gelato-online-course

 

also another book that looks interesting as well

https://www.booksforchefs.com/en/professional-ice-cream-books/185-30-indispensable-ice-creams-jaume-turro.html

 

 

 

theres another book by 4 gelato masters but it’s in Italian.....anyone speak or read Italian here to help in translation hehehe
 

https://www.booksforchefs.com/en/professional-ice-cream-books/254-avanguardia-gelato.html

 


Edited by ccp900 (log)

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17 hours ago, JoNorvelleWalker said:

My copy of Rose's Ice Cream Bliss arrived today.  I ordered glucose DE 42 to give her recipes a fair shake.  I have no experience with using glucose so it should be fun.  However my cream is not ultra pasteurized so I plan to cook my mix more than she suggests.

 

@ElsieD Rose's mango recipe calls for canned mango, just so you know.  Rose feels Indian canned mango is far superior to fresh.

 

Fun times.

 

 

 

Interesting.   I am able to buy frozen mango puree at a Mexican store and I imagine that they would have the canned as well.  I bought frozen mango chunks at Costco and didn't care for them.  A number of the chunks were not very ripe, thus not very sweet.   I can adjust for not having 40% whipping cream but not for it not being ultra pasteurized.  I don't know if it is worth my while to get the book  given those constraints.

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2 hours ago, ElsieD said:

 

Interesting.   I am able to buy frozen mango puree at a Mexican store and I imagine that they would have the canned as well.  I bought frozen mango chunks at Costco and didn't care for them.  A number of the chunks were not very ripe, thus not very sweet.   I can adjust for not having 40% whipping cream but not for it not being ultra pasteurized.  I don't know if it is worth my while to get the book  given those constraints.

 

In particular Rose recommends the Ratna brand for mango.  She says: "Many canned brands of mango pulp taste more like peach than mango flavor."  A quick search shows Ratna is available from amazon and from Indian grocery stores.  (But not from amazon.ca.)

 

The way the recipe is written it does not require ultra pasteurized milk or cream.  Not having read much of the book yet, I doubt that anything actually requires ultra pasteurized cream.  I could be wrong but I think what Rose is saying is that you can skip heating the bulk of the cream if the cream is ultra pasteurized.

 

I'm surprised though that you can't find ultra pasteurized cream in Ottawa.  It is all but ubiquitous down here.  And from what I've read ultra pasteurized cream is difficult to avoid in Canada.

 

https://edibletoronto.ediblecommunities.com/eat/whatever-happened-pure-cream

 

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On 7/9/2020 at 2:20 AM, ccp900 said:

Hi Paul always appreciate your posts there I’ve read your article as well hehe.  Waiting for your next one........maybe the effects of starch and starchy ingredients to your balancing....if you use for example potatoes (that doesn’t sound good) or yams and even rice

 

or maybe even a sort of short masterclass on stab/Emul. Like how to use them for very specific textural effects...for example if you want more chew then a blend of stab 1 and stab 2 would be good

 

another one is breaking down famous brands using their labels. That could be a good exercise and see if we can break down the ingredients and the numbers into a working recipe as well as explain the components

 

 

Hmmm, starches? This hasn't come up. I've never made ice cream with starchy ingredients, and haven't seen anything written on the topic. Did you have something in mind?

 

Regarding stabilizers, I tried to give a sense in the stabilizer article of how the different ingredients work with each other, and their various qualities. In order to go much deeper, I'd have to do the kinds of experimental trials that I just don't have the resources to do. There are just so many variables, and they all interact. 

 

Even testing and comparing commercial blends ... that's a lot of work. And I'm not especially interested in them. It's so easy to roll your own, and then not terribly difficult to make a variation here or there to tweak your results. It's a fair amount of work, to do this—to experiment to get the results that YOU want. But a monumental amount of work to try to create a guide that tells everyone how to get what they want. 

 

I'd suggest using the standard blend on that page as a starting point. Then one variable at a time you change the proportions, or substitute ingredients. 


Notes from the underbelly

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3 hours ago, JoNorvelleWalker said:

 

In particular Rose recommends the Ratna brand for mango.  She says: "Many canned brands of mango pulp taste more like peach than mango flavor."  A quick search shows Ratna is available from amazon and from Indian grocery stores.  (But not from amazon.ca.)

 

The way the recipe is written it does not require ultra pasteurized milk or cream.  Not having read much of the book yet, I doubt that anything actually requires ultra pasteurized cream.  I could be wrong but I think what Rose is saying is that you can skip heating the bulk of the cream if the cream is ultra pasteurized.

 

I'm surprised though that you can't find ultra pasteurized cream in Ottawa.  It is all but ubiquitous down here.  And from what I've read ultra pasteurized cream is difficult to avoid in Canada.

 

https://edibletoronto.ediblecommunities.com/eat/whatever-happened-pure-cream

 

 

In general you'll get better results if you heat the cream along with everything else. This is because the fat globules in the cream need to be heated in order to bind with whatever emulsifying ingredients you're using (lecithin from egg yolk, or whatever). Even if you didn't heat the cream, why would it need to be ultrapasteurized? Any kind of pasteurized is safe enough. 

 

That Edible Toronto article is layers deep in dubious information and conjecture. I'd regard everything it says about carrageenan with healthy skepticism.. Unfortunately the author consulted with a food philosopher, not a food scientist. I'd be very interested in talking to a food philosopher about issues of ethics, free will, the nature of consciousness, or the hermeneutics of Apicius.  But when it comes to evaluating a paper written about carrageenan, you need a scientist. 

 

A food scientist might point out that the only modern scientific literature on earth that finds fault with carrageenan has been authored by Dr. Tobacman and her small team. And that Dr. Tobacman hasn't published on any other topic. And that her studies are low-quality. And that she isn't a scientist. She's seems to have it in for a particular seaweed extract that people have been thickening food with for 500 years. But anyway.

 

Personally, I prefer to not use ultrapasteurized cream, or any cream with carrageenan in it (they put it in low-temperature pasteurized cream, too, because it makes whipping easier). My reasons have nothing to do with safety or conspiracies. 

 

UHT cream has been cooked (very briefly) at a very high temperature, which is hot enough to denature the milk proteins past the point that I think is ideal for ice cream texture. When you denature the proteins to the right degree, they behave as an emulsifier, and help—a little bit—with creamy texture and stability of the ice cream's foam structure.

 

I don't want carrageenan in my cream, either—not because I don't like it, but because I want to be able to control the quantity. I put in my own carrageenan (and my own guar, and my own locust bean gum, and sometimes my own sodium carboxymethyl cellulose). If the dairy has put gums in there too, I'll never know how much, or if it's the same in this brand as that brand, this week as next week. I want a clean slate. Small quantities matter.

 

 

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Notes from the underbelly

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If it wasn't clear I have no love for ultra pasteurized dairy products.  I avoid them whenever possible.  Carrageenan (or perhaps carrageenan and glycerides) in ultra pasteurized cream is disgusting because at best the cream ends up like snot.  I have never, ever seen ultra pasteurized cream for sale without carrageenan and glycerides as additives.

 

I linked the Edible Toronto article only to demonstrate ultra pasteurized cream was readily available in Ontario, if not in Ottawa.

 

But I have nothing against carrageenan per se.  I sleep with a bag of carrageenan in my bedroom.

 

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      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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