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pastrygirl

ideas for easy, large sugar sculpture

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My kitchen space is part of 3 industrial buildings full of artists' studios and we are participating in a drive-by art event this weekend.  I have a sunny patio so was thinking of making a giant pile of chocolate balloons to let melt and collapse in the sun as my 'art'.  However, it looks like it might rain and also chocolate is expensive so maybe I should switch to sugar.  Of course, I've never made a sugar sculpture, and it needs to be big enough to be interesting from 15' away.  My first idea is a house of cards with half sheet pan size sheets of sugar.  Do I need molten sugar to glue them together or can I soften the edges with a propane torch?  Will I be happier if I get isomalt instead of regular cane sugar?  And can I use gel food colors in sugar?

 

Other ideas or tips?

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Sounds like a very challenging weather situation! Does your display have to be chocolate or sugar? Does it have to be edible? I’m thinking gingerbread for edible or some sturdy non-edible constructed thing that is decorated with images of your chocolates and pastries.

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17 minutes ago, curls said:

Sounds like a very challenging weather situation! Does your display have to be chocolate or sugar? Does it have to be edible? I’m thinking gingerbread for edible or some sturdy non-edible constructed thing that is decorated with images of your chocolates and pastries.

 

No, no rules, doesn't have to be edible, I just thought it would be cool to get  a time-lapse video of something self-destructing.  Gingerbread is a good idea!  Would you believe I've never made a gingerbread house?

 

this is the event, in multiple cities:  https://www.nationalartsdrive.com/

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Posted (edited)
2 hours ago, pastrygirl said:

My first idea is a house of cards with half sheet pan size sheets of sugar.  Do I need molten sugar to glue them together or can I soften the edges with a propane torch?  Will I be happier if I get isomalt instead of regular cane sugar?  And can I use gel food colors in sugar?

 

Other ideas or tips?

The sheet pan sizes sugar sheet is actually kind of a cool idea, and you can make those up real quickly. You can adhere them with sugar, but I think given the size, I think a torch is in your favor. Isomalt and sugar definitely work differently. I have don't much isomalt at all, but do consider that you would boil to a higher temp. Isomalt is much more resistant to humidity then boiled sugar, and it does sound like humidity will be a factor, but I feel like only you can evaluate how important that will be. If it's meant to be displayed for multiple days in humid conditions, sugar may not be the best. I'm not sure how you will be coloring the pieces, like if they will all be solid colors, or some left uncolored. Uncolored isomalt will be perfectly clear, while boiled sugar will have a yellowish tinge to it. Then there's the obvious cost difference between the two mediums. Gel colors will work fine. 

 

Something that just occured to me, how are you planning on making the panels? It kind of sounds like your planning on casting them onto sheet pans. Try this ahead of time. While you can make a bunch of them quickly, I'm not sure how well they would release, even when lined with parchment. Your typical aluminum sheet pan is not very level, usually slightly bowed instead of flat. This could lead to panels that have thicker centers and thin edges. You could put more sugar into the sheet pan for a thicker panel, but even when lined with parchment or a silpat, I feel like it would be difficult to have them release from the edge of the pan without them cracking. I suppose pan release would work, but I haven't tried this. Definitely do some trials ahead of time. 

 

This sounds like a cool project, please post pics!

 

Edit: Just wanted add, thisay be a good project to use pastillage, though for large panels I think you may want a little more drying time. 


Edited by minas6907 Added thought (log)

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@minas6907 great input, thanks.  Instead of pouring caramel into sheet pans, how about an oiled ganache frame on a silpat on my marble slab?  The finished piece only needs to last for the afternoon - impermanence and all that - but I would want to make the pieces Thursday & Friday.  Maybe me struggling to make something out of sugar panels will be performance art 😆   Or I could dress up as Marie Antoinette and pass out cupcakes ...

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53 minutes ago, pastrygirl said:

@minas6907 great input, thanks.  Instead of pouring caramel into sheet pans, how about an oiled ganache frame on a silpat on my marble slab?  The finished piece only needs to last for the afternoon - impermanence and all that - but I would want to make the pieces Thursday & Friday.  Maybe me struggling to make something out of sugar panels will be performance art 😆   Or I could dress up as Marie Antoinette and pass out cupcakes ...

That should work fine, it'll be easier to unmold. If you can get away with not using oil, that would be idea (not sure if you have those silicone noodles or metal bars or anything else like that). I feel like not using oil would just be more of a guarantee when it comes to joining the pieces. I suggested pan release if you were casting on the sheet pans because you would have to actually flip the whole piece over, and they chance of breaking is pretty high. Hope it turns out well, seriously!

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I did a couple of quick experiments, about 1 kg sugar fills a ganache frame about 1/4” thick and the torch worked to glue things together. Everyone loves fire but I’ll probably need extra hands and some freeze spray. Could be fun to see what I can make with 100 lb of sugar. 
 

Should I add glucose/corn syrup or acid?  I added 10% glucose because it seemed like the right thing to do ... 

1EF4FCF2-9227-49F8-89C9-A8BE7321DB50.jpeg.159d0e1241b85c208b7e32123ebd6059.jpeg

 

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Looks cool! I just checked Notter’s recipe for casting sugar and these are his ingredients for a 1,650 gram batch:

sugar 1000 grams

water, cold 450 grams

glucose syrup 200 grams

food coloring optional

 

he heats the mix to 320 F / 160 C

 

I recommend browsing thru Notter’s  “The Art of the Confectioner” for inspiration — he has a whole chapter on sugar casting.

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@pastrygirl looking forward to seeing your artwork!

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Dang PG, why couldn't you live closer!!  I used to love the week of sugar art when I used to teach culinary school!!  It was the most frustrating fun (outside of chocolate of course).

 

I have a lot of notes and recipes, but they are at my shoppe so I can look over them tomorrow, and post them.  I definitely say use isomalt, but that price versus sugar for a 12 hour sculpture might be prohibitive.  Flame is usually best since dipping in molten sugar can cause stray strings and angel hair of sugar.  Flame will make for cleaner edges too.

 

Have you thought about a dead dough sculpture instead?  I used to have a lot of fun with that medium too, and would actually hold up a bit longer in high humidity conditions.  Sugarwork and rain/humidity are awful bedfellows as you probably well know.

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10 hours ago, pastrygirl said:

Could be fun to see what I can make with 100 lb of sugar. 

 

 

Don't forget about moving something that weighs 100lb 😂

 

Unless you're constructing on the balcony!

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11 hours ago, pastrygirl said:

Should I add glucose/corn syrup or acid?

The formula that @curls posted is what you want for casting. Don't add any acid, that only has drawbacks for cast pieces. 

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1 hour ago, keychris said:

 

 

Don't forget about moving something that weighs 100lb 😂

 

Unless you're constructing on the balcony!


it would be built outside on the patio so no need to move it, but weight is a concern, I don’t know how strong hard crack sugar is as a building material. 
 

bread or dead dough is a good idea too. I don’t have a particular design in mind yet, just want to participate and play with something new for arts sake. Sugar could definitely end up as an unholy sticky mess! 

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17 hours ago, pastrygirl said:

. Sugar could definitely end up as an unholy sticky mess! 

 

Do you like ants? 🤣

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Posted (edited)

Due to demonstrations & curfews in many cities, the organizers are postponing the Arts Drive for 2 weeks to the 20th of June, which is kind of good because it gives me time to develop ideas.  Maybe something rainbow since it'll be close to Pride.


Edited by pastrygirl (log)

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23 minutes ago, pastrygirl said:

Due to demonstrations & curfews in many cities, the organizers are postponing the Arts Drive for 2 weeks to the 20th of June, which is kind of good because it gives me time to develop ideas.  Maybe something rainbow since it'll be closet to Pride.

 

I still love the chocolate balloons. Perhaps adapted to pride colors. Although the melt might be an odd message OR balloons of all colors merging as one? 

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On 6/3/2020 at 8:28 PM, pastrygirl said:

  Maybe something rainbow since it'll be close to Pride.

 

 

This made me think of the rainbow cakes I am seeing *constantly* in (annoyingly frequent) ads from Goldbelly for Carlo's Bakery .....  we've  made a few  so I can't complain too much.  Amd last year, a place in Chicago made layered rainbow marshmallows for Pride that were pretty cool..... (clearly I am back on the marshmallow kick ;)  we made Bouchon Bakery's marshmallow eggs for Easter, they were fun but not a good retail item for this year ....

 

 

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An idea struck last night to combine the chocolate and sugar ideas and make a giant "glass" candy dish to fill with the melting chocolate balloons.  Execution and clean-up to be determined 🤣

 

Weather could still go either way, Seattle in June can be 60 or 80F.

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I just want to see photos when you build it. In-progress as well as finished, please. After seeing @RWood's T-Rex cake, the in-process of these confections is fascinating me. 

 

Not that I'm ever going to try them, you understand. I'm just intrigued.

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Don't ask. Eat it.

www.kayatthekeyboard.wordpress.com

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On 5/31/2020 at 10:49 AM, pastrygirl said:

My kitchen space is part of 3 industrial buildings full of artists' studios and we are participating in a drive-by art event this weekend.  I have a sunny patio so was thinking of making a giant pile of chocolate balloons to let melt and collapse in the sun as my 'art'.  However, it looks like it might rain and also chocolate is expensive so maybe I should switch to sugar.  Of course, I've never made a sugar sculpture, and it needs to be big enough to be interesting from 15' away.  My first idea is a house of cards with half sheet pan size sheets of sugar.  Do I need molten sugar to glue them together or can I soften the edges with a propane torch?  Will I be happier if I get isomalt instead of regular cane sugar?  And can I use gel food colors in sugar?

 

Other ideas or tips?

 

try a croquembouche.

croque009.thumb.jpg.2d7b837251099af3ba5c5c0902a7fd19.jpg

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A month later, I finally posted some scenes on Instagram 

 

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I admit that my effort was amateur in terms of sugar art - it was my first attempt after all - but I had fun and people were entertained. The sun came out and made quick work of the chocolate, yielding some cool patterns as the chocolate and colored cocoa butter melted and slid off the sugar panels. 
6DDFAA88-F613-4F60-B721-9AE9AE238D19.thumb.jpeg.7f978f439485aa288da95316abd3b097.jpeg

880038BC-41DA-4440-BC99-869A0025D4E3.thumb.jpeg.82259d1e3471c612f7aebe1f032e6a19.jpeg


the whole thing collapsed right at 4 pm when the event was done, i wasn’t sure how the sugar would hold up in the sun but it softened and weakened dramatically 

A52B0F8C-93D6-4A99-A6D0-F6CEA09EEA5E.thumb.jpeg.6d640f3749a05211048340f296b041a2.jpeg

 

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How COOL is that!  Nice job :)! 👏

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That's pretty neat!

 

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Don't ask. Eat it.

www.kayatthekeyboard.wordpress.com

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