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Home Made Ice Cream (2015– )


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HI,

I'm trying to learn about how to make an ice cream from books and websites but sometimes I'm feeling overwhelmed so I decided I will try to ask you. What is your desired relative sweetness? I was making vanilla ice cream from "Hello, my name is ice cream" and I found them super sweet. When David Lebovitz is using 150 g sucrose, here we have 150 g sucrose and 50 g glucose. How I could change it? I'm afraid that if I will use less sugar, the texture wouldn't be the same. Do you have any suggestions? Maybe add some skimmed milk instead of some part of sugar? Or add more dextrose instead? 

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While both recipes turn out fairly sweet ice creams, Dana’s recipe has twice as much whole milk as David’s, and 25% less cream than his.  As well as 1 less egg yolk, so the compensation is the glucose, I think.

Edited by weinoo (log)

Mitch Weinstein aka "weinoo"

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3 hours ago, coffeinca said:

HI,

I'm trying to learn about how to make an ice cream from books and websites but sometimes I'm feeling overwhelmed so I decided I will try to ask you. What is your desired relative sweetness? I was making vanilla ice cream from "Hello, my name is ice cream" and I found them super sweet. When David Lebovitz is using 150 g sucrose, here we have 150 g sucrose and 50 g glucose. How I could change it? I'm afraid that if I will use less sugar, the texture wouldn't be the same. Do you have any suggestions? Maybe add some skimmed milk instead of some part of sugar? Or add more dextrose instead? 

Hi my pod is around 11 percent to 12 percent.  You can do some things to control that. A. You can use more dextrose than sucrose since dextrose is 70% as sweet as sucrose Or B. Reduce overall sugar and add vegetable glycerine.  There is another method but it may not be good for kids as well as overall texture of ice cream and that is to use a little alcohol like vodka etc

 

if you do use glycerine, pls be mindful that your overall solids might be low you might want to add some skim milk powder or use fiber to bulk up. You can also increase fat if you want to but just try and not go over 20%

 

you can also just accept that you’ll have a harder than usual ice cream that you can leave on the counter for 5 mins before scooping. This isn’t a bad thing as it also allows your ice cream to resist melting longer

Edited by ccp900 (log)
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16 hours ago, coffeinca said:

HI,

I'm trying to learn about how to make an ice cream from books and websites but sometimes I'm feeling overwhelmed so I decided I will try to ask you. What is your desired relative sweetness? I was making vanilla ice cream from "Hello, my name is ice cream" and I found them super sweet. When David Lebovitz is using 150 g sucrose, here we have 150 g sucrose and 50 g glucose. How I could change it? I'm afraid that if I will use less sugar, the texture wouldn't be the same. Do you have any suggestions? Maybe add some skimmed milk instead of some part of sugar? Or add more dextrose instead? 

 

Welcome to my personal broken-record gripe. I think most ice cream is too sweet. I've got a plenty big sweet tooth, but start complaining when sweetness levels reach a point that they mute other flavors. In a review of ice cream books I recently wrote, Cree's book got top marks but I still complained about sweetness levels. 

 

Same goes for Lebovitz and just about everyone else. 

 

The way to estimate sweetness is to look at the sucrose equivalence. A sucrose equivalence of 15% means it tastes as sweet as 15% table sugar. Alternative sugars like dextrose and fructosse are more or less sweet, so you need to do a bit of math with them. A gram of dextrose is about as sweet as 1.4 gram sucrose. A gram of fructose is about as sweet as 0.5% sucrose. A gram of honey is about as sweet as 0.75g sucrose.

 

Most commercial and professional recipes are around 15% sucrose equivalence (If you're an ice cream techie or an Italian, you can call this a POD of 150—Potere Dolcificante). Many home recipes are sweeter. 

 

I usually prefer a level around 12%, or POD 120. If there are very bitter or sour flavors in the ice cream, you may have to increase this to compensate. I think of ingredients like cocoa powder as having a negative POD. 

 

To your question, adding skim milk powder in place of some of the sucrose is a good start, and you can do this without doing any math, to a point. The lactose in skim milk powder has the same freezing point depression as table sugar, but a very small fraction of the sweetness. It will also promote a smoother, denser texture. 

 

If you go too far, the texture might get denser and chewier than you like. And if you're not using any stabilizers, you could get a sandy texture from lactose crystalizing (coming out of solution). 

 

In that recipe, by glucose, does she mean glucose syrup? This always drives me nuts, because the names aren't standardized. And the contents of glucose syrup aren't standardized either. I'd be inclined to ditch the glucose syrup and just use dextrose, but to make this work predictably you'd have to do a bunch of math. 

 

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14 hours ago, weinoo said:

While both recipes turn out fairly sweet ice creams, Dana’s recipe has twice as much whole milk as David’s, and 25% less cream than his.  As well as 1 less egg yolk, so the compensation is the glucose, I think.

 

 

There are ways to make great lower-fat ice creams without making them sweeter. I don't know why she's pushing the sugar so hard.

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@paulraphael how much of this do you think is subjective? For example, I used to have maybe a can or two of soda in any given week, but as I grew older for whatever reason it lost it's appeal and now I rarely drink any soda at all. BUT, when I do happen to have the odd Coke, it now tastes almost unbearably sweet to me having not had it on my palate for a long period of time. I wonder if our diets in general skew sweet, there is sugar in everything it seems any more, and the ice cream and dessert recipes of our time reflect that. While I have never been a fan of sickly sweet anything, I have not found much of say Lebovitz's ice cream to be too bad, and I wonder if we are able to tolerate different levels depending on what kind of sweetness is included in our normal eating patterns.

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For the life of me i can’t remember the temperature where eggy taste starts and if you want to minimize sulfur you keep your pasteurization below that temp

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11 minutes ago, ccp900 said:

For the life of me i can’t remember the temperature where eggy taste starts and if you want to minimize sulfur you keep your pasteurization below that temp

 

I feel like it's 80, but don't quote me on this I am not an expert by any means.

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1 hour ago, Yiannos said:

@paulraphael how much of this do you think is subjective? For example, I used to have maybe a can or two of soda in any given week, but as I grew older for whatever reason it lost it's appeal and now I rarely drink any soda at all. BUT, when I do happen to have the odd Coke, it now tastes almost unbearably sweet to me having not had it on my palate for a long period of time. I wonder if our diets in general skew sweet, there is sugar in everything it seems any more, and the ice cream and dessert recipes of our time reflect that. While I have never been a fan of sickly sweet anything, I have not found much of say Lebovitz's ice cream to be too bad, and I wonder if we are able to tolerate different levels depending on what kind of sweetness is included in our normal eating patterns.

 

Considering that we're probably being addicted to this (both sugar AND salt) stuff from the time we start getting fed, not a bad theory.

 

Question for @paulraphael - if  one were to reduce the Cree recipe by, let's say 1/4 cup of sugar, how much glucose syrup (or in my case, corn syrup) would it take to keep the ice cream at the same "texture level" if that is even a term? Or, inlieu of sweetness, would something else make up for it - something like nonfat milk powder, or a gum?

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Mitch Weinstein aka "weinoo"

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2 minutes ago, weinoo said:

 

Considering that we're probably being addicted to this (both sugar AND salt) stuff from the time we start getting fed, not a bad theory.

 

Question for @paulraphael - if  one were to reduce the Cree recipe by, let's say 1/4 cup of sugar, how much glucose syrup (or in my case, corn syrup) would it take to keep the ice cream at the same "texture level" if that is even a term? Or, inlieu of sweetness, would something else make up for it - something like nonfat milk powder, or a gum?

I’m not Paul but I hope it’s ok to chime in

 

vegetable glycerine is safe and can be added here because it has a 3.7 Freezing point depression factor so it is double dextrose but it is not sweet if I am not mistaken.  This is the same thing that is added to cakes and cookies to keep them moist 

 

or you can use ethanol or liquor which has a factor of 7.4

 

on your question about removing sugar.

 

need to do some math. Here are the facts. Sugar is 1gram is 1 point sweetness and 1 point anti freeze. Dextrose is 1 gram equals 0.7 sweetness and 1.9 antifreeze.  So if you remove 40g of sugar that’s -40 points sweetness and -40 points antifreeze.  If you add 21 grams of dextrose you then get +14.7 points of sweetness and +39.9 points of antifreeze. So you get the same scoopabiity but you reduced sweetness by 25 points

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1 hour ago, ccp900 said:

I’m not Paul but I hope it’s ok to chime in

 

vegetable glycerine is safe and can be added here because it has a 3.7 Freezing point depression factor so it is double dextrose but it is not sweet if I am not mistaken.  This is the same thing that is added to cakes and cookies to keep them moist 

 

or you can use ethanol or liquor which has a factor of 7.4

 

on your question about removing sugar.

 

need to do some math. Here are the facts. Sugar is 1gram is 1 point sweetness and 1 point anti freeze. Dextrose is 1 gram equals 0.7 sweetness and 1.9 antifreeze.  So if you remove 40g of sugar that’s -40 points sweetness and -40 points antifreeze.  If you add 21 grams of dextrose you then get +14.7 points of sweetness and +39.9 points of antifreeze. So you get the same scoopabiity but you reduced sweetness by 25 points

 

Of course it's ok, but now I have to go to back to school for math. And I don't think I have dextrose - do I?

Mitch Weinstein aka "weinoo"

Tasty Travails - My Blog

My eGullet FoodBog - A Tale of Two Boroughs

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2 hours ago, ccp900 said:

For the life of me i can’t remember the temperature where eggy taste starts and if you want to minimize sulfur you keep your pasteurization below that temp

 

I think it's more complicated than just a temperature. The concentration of egg yolk and the time at temperature seem to be factors. I haven't experimented with this at all because I use little or no egg yolk, and fairly low temps.

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3 hours ago, Yiannos said:

@paulraphael how much of this do you think is subjective? For example, I used to have maybe a can or two of soda in any given week, but as I grew older for whatever reason it lost it's appeal and now I rarely drink any soda at all. BUT, when I do happen to have the odd Coke, it now tastes almost unbearably sweet to me having not had it on my palate for a long period of time. I wonder if our diets in general skew sweet, there is sugar in everything it seems any more, and the ice cream and dessert recipes of our time reflect that. While I have never been a fan of sickly sweet anything, I have not found much of say Lebovitz's ice cream to be too bad, and I wonder if we are able to tolerate different levels depending on what kind of sweetness is included in our normal eating patterns.

 

I'm sure some of it's subjective. 

 

For me part of the complaint is "this is too sweet!" which is surely subjective. The other part is that I find other flavors getting masked. I think this is a phenomenon more akin to how the right amount of salt makes other flavors pop into focus. Too little salt leaves those flavors feeling flat. I think something similar goes on with sugar in desserts (but in this case with too much), especially with more complex or delicate flavors. 

Edited by paulraphael (log)
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Thank you all for you answers 💛 so I can add more dextrose instead od sucrose. I think that what I will do. Will reduce amount of sugars as well and add around 9 g of skimmed milk powder. But what with pac then ? What is your desired pac number? I have my freezer in around -19 C . If I will make those changes and have less sugars, my relative sweetness would be around 13 and pac 24.5. Is it ok? The more I know, the more chaos I have in my head. 😱

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4 hours ago, paulraphael said:

 

I think it's more complicated than just a temperature. The concentration of egg yolk and the time at temperature seem to be factors. I haven't experimented with this at all because I use little or no egg yolk, and fairly low temps.

Ahhh..thanks Paul. Makes sense on length of time since the thing that creates the sulfur taste is the denaturation of proteins and the longer you cook the more proteins denature.  

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5 hours ago, weinoo said:

 

Of course it's ok, but now I have to go to back to school for math. And I don't think I have dextrose - do I?

Ahh. This is really where having the right ingredients pays in dividends. You really can’t do anything about the scoopability unless you have the right tools

 

a. Dextrose

b. Glycerine

c. Alcohol


there would be others but those 3 are the big hitters in managing scoopability while holding sweetness at bay

 

milk powder isn’t a big helper here. Skim milk powder basically is a bulking agent as well as a good source of protein and lactose. And lactose is more a water controlling agent. It does have sweetness and pac but that is a secondary function more of a bonus trait versus primary function

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Lactose is one of the most useful, in the form of the skim milk powder (which is really a wonder ingredient). It's 50% lactose by weight. This sugar has the same freezing point depression as sucrose, at about 16% the sweetness. 

 

Atomized glucose can also be useful, although it's not consistent from one brand to the next. It's mostly a naturally occurring blend of dextrose and maltodextrin (and other dextrins). I use it in sorbets, to boost solids without greatly increasing sweetness. 

 

In sorbets, trehalose can take the place of lactose. The properties are very similar, but you can only use it in small quantities.

 

Lots of numbers in the chart on this page. Thanks to your reminder I will add glycerin / glycerol. 

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2 hours ago, paulraphael said:

Lactose is one of the most useful, in the form of the skim milk powder (which is really a wonder ingredient). It's 50% lactose by weight. This sugar has the same freezing point depression as sucrose, at about 16% the sweetness. 

 

Atomized glucose can also be useful, although it's not consistent from one brand to the next. It's mostly a naturally occurring blend of dextrose and maltodextrin (and other dextrins). I use it in sorbets, to boost solids without greatly increasing sweetness. 

 

In sorbets, trehalose can take the place of lactose. The properties are very similar, but you can only use it in small quantities.

 

Lots of numbers in the chart on this page. Thanks to your reminder I will add glycerin / glycerol. 

Paul, how about allulose?  Do you also want to include that in the revised table?

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You guys...

 

I'm already dealing with milk powder, cornstarch, tapioca starch, corn syrup (sorta glucose?), cream cheese non-UHT milk and cream...just tell me how I can make those work better than Dana and Jeni do!

 

By better, I just mean a little less sweet by cutting the table sugar. I really like the ice creams I'm making for texture, mouth feel, etc. I'm not looking to add too much else - okay, I'll get some dextrose (and I think I have xanthum gum).

Edited by weinoo (log)

Mitch Weinstein aka "weinoo"

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You should consider the background by the authors too. People like Dana Cree have most of their experience in restaurants. Making ice-cream in a fine dining restaurant is a totally different thing than the other settings. Your ice-creams are not meant to be stand-alone, they are meant as part of plated dessert, so they need to be in balance with the rest. Most of the times the ice-cream is the sweetest component in the dish, the other components are there to contrast it (bitter, acidic, so on). A really sweet ice-cream can be "wrong" as stand-alone but "correct" as part of a plated dessert. Similar considerations for the texture: when you work in a fine dining restaurant you use a Pacojet, not an ice-cream machine, and you pacotize just before service (or to order if you are lucky). With a Pacojet you are always going to get a silky smooth texture, no problems of iciness and so on... unless you totally screw the recipe balance, but you don't reach fine dining levels if you make those simple errors.
These are factors to remember when discussing recipes by people with a background in restaurants.

 

 

 

Teo

 

Teo

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7 minutes ago, teonzo said:

These are factors to remember when discussing recipes by people with a background in restaurants.

 

But theoretically, they're writing these books for home cooks, and adjusting recipes accordingly.

 

I mean, they're no sweeter than Lebovitz's (who of course was also a fine dining dessert chef).

Mitch Weinstein aka "weinoo"

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Yup, but once you get used to a type of setting, then it's really hard to adapt to a new setting. This goes back to the discussion about sweetness perception: it's pretty subjective and depends on a person's background. Someone who grew in Turkey will have a much different sweetness perception than someone who grew in China. I notice this with my (non professional) friends: when eating ice-cream with them my comments are really different than theirs, it's almost impossible for me to get out of the restaurant pastry chef shoes.

 

 

 

Teo

 

Teo

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47 minutes ago, teonzo said:

Yup, but once you get used to a type of setting, then it's really hard to adapt to a new setting. This goes back to the discussion about sweetness perception: it's pretty subjective and depends on a person's background. Someone who grew in Turkey will have a much different sweetness perception than someone who grew in China. I notice this with my (non professional) friends: when eating ice-cream with them my comments are really different than theirs, it's almost impossible for me to get out of the restaurant pastry chef shoes.

 

 

 

Teo

 

Good point teo

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1 hour ago, weinoo said:

You guys...

 

I'm already dealing with milk powder, cornstarch, tapioca starch, corn syrup (sorta glucose?), cream cheese non-UHT milk and cream...just tell me how I can make those work better than Dana and Jeni do!

 

By better, I just mean a little less sweet by cutting the table sugar. I really like the ice creams I'm making for texture, mouth feel, etc. I'm not looking to add too much else - okay, I'll get some dextrose (and I think I have xanthum gum).

 

Hi weinoo.  If you ask me personally these are the only components that are required to make good ice cream that you can tweak based on your preference.  Milk, cream, sugar, salt, dextrose, skim milk powder.  From there you can then add your flavors.

 

so if you get a basic Dana cree recipe. Which is usually 15% sugar and 5% glucose.  Let’s say that’s 150g sucrose and 50 g glucose.  You can remove 75g sugar so you remove 75 points sweetness and 75 points antifreeze. Replace that with 39 grams of dextrose which will give you 27 points of sweetness and 74 points of antifreeze.  Your net sweetness is now 48 points and pac is 149. Scoopability is almost the same but your sweetness is lowered.

 

then add 40g of skim milk powder which will make up for the lost solids.  This 40g of skim milk powder would be roughly 22g of lactose which gives you additional 22 points of antifreeze and 4 points of sweetness. 
 

I would like to correct myself in an earlier post. Skim milk powder can be a big help I agree with Paul the only problem is that you can only tweak skim milk powder to a certain point or you might end up with gritty ice cream.  Hence why I don’t go to skim milk powder as my initial lever when controlling sweetness.  I always go to the sucrose dextrose ratio for that and if I can’t fix it there then out comes glycerine and inulin but to tell you the truth I’ve never had a problem just with sucrose and dextrose. 
 

 

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      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,
       
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