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I have a question for Steve Klc.  Once a cake is covered with rolled fondant, can it then be refrigerated, or will it become sticky and absorb odors?  And can you give any recommendations on how to cover, decorate and safely deliver a six tier wedding cake?

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Hi pastryjen--yes, you can technically put a rolled fondant covered cake tier back in the fridge.  Cover it with plastic wrap, when you remove it from the fridge, allow it to thaw to room temp with the plastic wrap on--whatever moisture condenses will condense on the plastic.  This is more of an issue in humid environments at certain times of the year.  But your instincts are right about rolled fondant--it contains sugar and any sugar product wouldn't do well in the fridge uncovered.  (For non-bakers and home decorators--rolled fondant is a type of malleable, soft cake covering or "icing" that is rolled out thinly like pie dough, draped over a cake and smoothed out to leave a very refined, elegant surface.)  

Another way to approach this question is to ask why do you want to put the cake back in the fridge in the first place?  You could design a cake and filling that doesn't need to be in the fridge--or design it in such a way that your decoration can be removeable and placed on later rather than requiring hours and days of piping on the actual cake.  Choose ganaches, buttercreams, gelees, even acidic curds can sit out a long time.  Depending on your level of skill, it usually isn't a problem covering your cake tiers with rolled fondant on the morning of the event.  The day before, make sure all tiers are built and closed with buttercream and let them sit overnight in the fridge.  There have been times when I've covered cakes the last thing the night before and left them out it in a cool or air conditioned room.  Personally, I'd avoid messing with the fridge unless you absolutely have to for food safety reasons--like if you have a "creme brulee" type filling in the cake.  In that case it needs to stay in the fridge until the last possible moment.

Delivery is the more serious issue. It's sustained high-stress--as stressful as working on any line during crunch time. It's one of little things pros never teach or talk about or put in their books--because, well, then anyone could do it, right? There's no substitute for experience in developing confidence and this is one of the best reasons for hiring a large cake specialist. Are you worried about how to deliver--i.e. drive a 6-tier cake?  It shouldn't be any different than a smaller 3-tiered cake--it just is heavier and you'd need help--i.e. extra bodies and hands--if you try to deliver it in one piece, whole.  Either that, or you design a cake which can be assembled on site--meaning bring the 6 individual tiers covered in rf and then build it with dowel rods there, including piping your royal icing shell or bead borders there, put the decor on there, etc.

Obviously, transporting something like this is even more complicated in warm/hot weather.

Another option is to design a separated tier cake where each tier is on its own base--with dowel rods extending an inch above each tier--and then stacked on site. In this case it's pretty easy to put each tier in its own insulated box even with a little gel pack if necessary.

Give me some more specifics about what you've committed to do for your client, how far you have to drive, if the reception is in or outdoors and what else you're concerned about specifically and I'll talk you through it so you don't take an unnecessary risk. Is some of this beyond your level--do you need me to go over how to roll out fondant?  Have you done it before?

Steve Klc

Pastry chef-Restaurant Consultant

Oyamel : Zaytinya : Cafe Atlantico : Jaleo

chef@pastryarts.com

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  • 1 year later...

I had to make this cake way ahead of time (I really did!), and I won't need it for another 11 days. I have frozen decorated fondant cakes before, with good results, but this cake is my masterpiece...I'm the one who double-posted about rolled fondant figures...instead of making these ahead, and attaching them last-minute to the 3-layer, marzipan-and-fondant-covered cake, I decided (for my son's 21st birthday) to make the four members of his band as having had too much champagne - they are sprawled all over the top of the "bed" decorated cake with bottles strewn about. The figures, being fondant, are fused to the cake surface and are now part of it. It looks just as I hoped it would - no, better! - and I am loathe to ruin it by freezing. (I used commercial Wilton fondant.)

I know if I had a fruitcake I would be ok to leave it out, but it is a 3-layer buttercake...(no perishable fillings) I know I can't refrigerate it- it will sweat and go gummy. What do you think? Do I plastic-wrap and foil-wrap it, freeze it and hope for the best? I know marzipan and the icing will provide a sort of "seal" for a cake, but for how long? I don't want it to go mouldy!

This is such a showcase cake that I doubt it will be eaten anyway. If I have to choose between leaving it out somewhere cool and freezing/losing quality, I choose the first.

Sorry to sound so ignorant, but I am desperate not to ruin it. (Added dilemma - it weighs a ton and has to go on an 8-hr journey..if I do freeze, how long to thaw before I box it for transporting? or do I take it frozen?)

Doesn't anybody besides me ever have to complete a showcase cake way ahead of time?

If anyone can help me, I would be so thankful.

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so you're telling us that you have one mega big freezer with lots of available space - we will all be right over with things to freeze. :laugh::laugh::laugh:

You should be able to freeze your cake. Personally I would not have decorated it first, but... Wrap it up as tightly as you can in plastic or a box if it will fit in your freezer. Remove it and keep it sealed. Sounds like the drive should do it allowing it to come to room temp before unsealing or unwrapping.

I would not underestimate the desire of people to dig in and eat up this cake regardless of its showcasability. cake is cake after all.

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Thanks so much!

I will wait till fondant is completely dried and then wrap it up...and I don't have a huge empty freezer, but I do have two of them so that helps :smile:

I wouldn't ordinarily decorate a cake first either, but in this case, the "decorations," the Barbie and Ken-sized, anatomically correct caricaturized four figures, are part and parcel of the cake now. One of the reasons I planned ahead and did it was because I was afraid it wouldn't work out as I wanted it to..it was pretty ambitious for me...and I didn't want to be furiously baking/decorating another birthday cake the day before the trip.

Anyway, I appreciate the advice.

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Hi there!

In my experience, you can freeze fondant covered cakes. It's the thawing that poses the challenge. You have to thaw it in the refridgerator about 2 days ahead. If you go from freezer to countertop, you'll have a skating rink and you'll have to wait another couple of days for it to dry out on its own.

Hope this helps. :smile:

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Thanks for the tip. I am a little confused though about defrosting in the fridge...I have read (and always done this) that refrigeration of fondant icing will cause too much condensation, even if the cake is still wrapped well, and goes very gummy. Whether this is true when it is going from frozen to thawed is another question. I have always read (and again, done this) that the best way to thaw is at cool room temperature with original wrapping still in place, to pick up any condensation.

Would be interested to hear anyone else's comments.

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If refrigeration would cause too much condensation, then what would freezing do? :wink: When I thaw in the fridge, I take the wrapping off,. I think thawing in the fridge allows the temperature to rise more gradually as opposed to going from frozen to room temperature, which would definitely cause the cake to break a sweat! :biggrin:

But then again..others will likely have different ideas. :smile:

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  • 7 months later...

I notice that this section is for Pastry & Baking. Does it cover Cake-Decorating? If not, can you pls move this to the appropriate section? Thank you.

My question is - sometimes I notice some sagging on a fondant-covered cake on the next day. I usually decorate the day before required. Is it due to the cake settling? Is there any way of avoiding this? TIA!

TPcal!

Food Pix (plus others)

Please take pictures of all the food you get to try (and if you can, the food at the next tables)............................Dejah

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Hi TP......

:laugh: hee hee.....I figure if I'm an expert on ANYTHING in this life, it's a fondant covered

cake.....I must have done MILLIONS of them....truly.

BUT.....after posting for just a few weeks in this wonderful forum, I have found out how little

I DO know. I'm humbled, but grateful to have found such a wonderful bunch of pros to nosh

with!

I'm lucky where I live in the Pacific Northwest of the USA.....I don't have to deal with humidity or heat. It's nice and cool pretty much all the time here, except for a couple days/weeks in July and August (which is of course, peak wedding season). So I have experienced a few heat related problems, but never as severe as other parts of the world. When it comes to heat and humidity combined I always appreciate the advice of other bakers who deal with it on a daily basis. I'm sure I use a lot of decorating techniques that work great up here but would be complete failures in a different climate. Yes, I'm very fortunate!

I worked with a wonderful pastry chef who moved here from Virginia. She told me that using fondant there was a completely different thing, and on hot humid days she said it had a tendency to kind of "melt off". I don't know EXACTLY what she meant by that, but perhaps that melting off gave the fondant a "sagging" effect. Just guessing.

Questions:

I assume you cover a cold cake with the fondant, decorate it, then put it back in refrigeration

when you are done. Do you notice this sagging the next day, after it's been in refrigeration

all night?

Or do you not refrigerate it after you decorate it to avoid sweating problems? I would imagine

with the heat you have down there that not refrigerating it is sort of not an option.

What kind of fillings do you use in your cakes, and are you generous with the fillings, or do you just spread a thin layer between each layer? fiftydollars asked a good question about whether it

was the fondant that was sagging, or if it was the cake itself. You know that if your cake was a bit taller going in and shorter coming out, then you have a settling problem. Even if it's a couple millimeters.

I personally have never had any sagging problems due to refrigeration, but then, like I say,

I work in an easy climate. The only thing I hate about refrigerating a fondant covered cake

is the sweating, but I really have no choice....I have to refrigerate my cakes.

When I teach newbies how to cover cakes in fondant, I have noticed they tend to roll out their

fondant kind of on the thick side. They would get all frustrated that the fondant would start to sag and tear on the sides before they were able to finish smoothing it out. When I asked why they rolled it so thick, they'd tell me that the thicker fondant looked smoother on the cake, which is true, but the weight of the fondant pulled itself down and created a lot more problems than not.

It's key to roll out the fondant to just the right thickness.....thick enough so that it doesn't show minor bumps and flaws on the cake, and thin enough so that it doesn't stretch itself out before you've smoothed and adhered it to the sides. Fondant that's too thick and heavy WILL pull itself down even after you've had a chance to adhere it in some cases. My ideal fondant thickness is approximately just under a quarter inch or 5 millimeters.

Also the type of fondant you are using could be the cause. I have noticed major behavior differences in varying brands. And I don't know whether you are buying commercially made fondant there in Malaysia and if it's a brand similar or the same as US brands, or if you're making your fondant yourself. There are so many variables!

These are my thoughts.....hmmm....not sure if I've helped or confused you more!

:wacko: Annie

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You people are so lucky you don't have to deal with this heat and humidity problem! Currently, it's 102 degF outside!

I normally freeze my cakes for better handling (for sculpting). After 2 hours out, I fill it with 4 mm thick buttercream (usually SMBC). Then I smear as thinly as I can a crumb-coat or rather a coat to use as adhesive. Press the cake down a little. I then let the cake settle down for another hour. While I'm covering the cake with 5 mm of fondant, the cake is still cold with beads of condensation. Everything looks fine until the next day I see the fondant sagging. Round layer cakes (3" high) don't seem to have that problem, but cakes which are shaped and higher than 3" like this one sagged so badly that the sides are not straight anymore. I had to take the pic from this angle to avoid the sag showing, but, hey, that wasn't such a bad idea coz the cake doesn't look too bad from this angle. :biggrin:

i6782.jpg

BTW, I make my own fondant using The Cake Bible's recipe, but I had to reduce the glucose syrup slightly and add 1/2 tablespoon gelatin. I found the original recipe's elasticity just wasn't enough. Our stores don't sell fondant or gumpaste or tylose powder or CMC or....you get the drift.

Edited by TP(M'sia) (log)

TPcal!

Food Pix (plus others)

Please take pictures of all the food you get to try (and if you can, the food at the next tables)............................Dejah

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It's key to roll out the fondant to just the right thickness.....thick enough so that it doesn't show minor bumps and flaws on the cake, and thin enough so that it doesn't stretch itself out before you've smoothed and adhered it to the sides. Fondant that's too thick and heavy WILL pull itself down even after you've had a chance to adhere it in some cases. My ideal fondant thickness is approximately just under a quarter inch or 5 millimeters.

Also the type of fondant you are using could be the cause. I have noticed major behavior differences in varying brands. And I don't know whether you are buying commercially made fondant there in Malaysia and if it's a brand similar or the same as US brands, or if you're making your fondant yourself. There are so many variables!

I agree strongly with Annies points. It's important to be thin because the weight of the fondant pulls itself downward. I also have noticed considerable differences in brands of fondant. Since your making yours you may need to do more adjustin in your recipe.

You wrote you only do a thin pre-coat of frosting under the fondant. I don't use a thick coating but I definately use more buttercream than a pre-coat. I think if your frosting is too thin, then your fondant might not be ahearing as well as it should to the sides of the cake-so that would allow gravity to drag it down like your experiencing.

I've dealt with horrible condensation problems with refriderated cakes, but I've never had my fondant sage because of the humity....it can sort of melt-but thats different.

I can understand not wanting to pay the expense of shipping purchased fondant, but it's so wondeful to have conviently ready at hand all the time. You can buy all the special ingredients you need over the internet from several very good sources, do you need leads?

Do you have a website, I'm really enjoying looking at your cakes, I'd love to see more?

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Ok ...a question for all you fondant users :) .......

I've done fondant cakes before and they LOOK beautiful .........but I've found they mostly don't TASTE very good.

Anyone have any tips or secrets they would care to share for better tasting fondant? Any suggestions for a good ready-made brand or a recipe?

Thanks!

--Jan

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I make my own, because I developed a formula, which I am happy with, have used it for years, it is consistent and I can flavor it with any complementing flavor of the cake, I am covering it with. I make it in 16-20# batches (better texture control). Sometimes I mix it with marzipan for an almond fondant and white chocolate plastique for white chocolate flavor. This you can roll pretty thin.

That said, some commercial brands taste better than others..however fondant is a personal taste thing...either you like it or you don't! Great decorating medium though! Very little middle ground here..

Satin Ice is one of the more popular brands, Wiltons - Yuk! but to each its own! Cal Java has a great white Chocolate & white chocolate raspberry one. Pettinice, there has been mixed reviews about this one lately but some people swear by it.

Albert Uster carries one that is Masa Tacino so does Patis France, which is similar to the British commercial sugarpaste Regalice. Then there is ChocoPan..a bit pricey but very flavorful and can be rolled very thin too, a bit soft to work with.

Rolling it thin really helps with the sagging. Fondant can be very heavy

Wendy, have you tried using a fan on it after you have pulled it out of the refrigerator? That helps sometimes

Yes..it is great to have some at hand...so I keep some extra in the freezer!

HTH

Edited by crc (log)
Portia
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I've been thinking about your sagging problem a lot today.

I really can't say for SURE what could be causing it, because that has never happened to

me.....well, it has, but my fondant would sag right away because I rolled it too thick or whatever.

I've never covered a cake and then had the fondant sag hours later.

My fondant always stays put.

I'm INCLINED to think that your recipe produces a very soft fondant.....am I right?

This could explain the sagging, especially with heat and humidity.

I've always used commercially made fondant, because I go through SO MUCH of it. I don't have the time to make it myself. Pettinice is what I usually use and it's pretty good. You gotta work really fast with it though because it's starts to "crust up" pretty quickly.

A lot of people don't like to work with a fondant that is that unforgiving. People who don't do fondant a lot, like to feel they have enough time from roll-out to covering. In my case, I've done

so many and do it so fast that working with unforgiving fondant is sort of a non-issue.

So, in conclusion, my best rootin' tootin' troubleshootin' guess is that it's your recipe, and maybe you should try tweaking it a bit more, and see if it makes a difference.

So there is no bakery supplier in Malaysia that stocks ready-made fondant? :huh:

Cheers! :laugh: Annie

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I've been thinking about your sagging problem a lot today.

:wacko: LOL! That's not a pretty thought!

Thanks, everyone, for your help. Yes, I think the problem lies with my fondant, and sometimes the thickness. I usually just estimate the amount of glucose syrup to add...it's so yucky to handle...so I think on days when I add too much, it makes the fondant heavier and wetter...so much so that the wetness cannot be treated by adding more confectioner's sugar. Will try to be a good girl and measure properly next time.

Fondant is not available in our shops, mainly becoz, fondant cakes are not "seen" here. Everywhere I bring my cakes, it seems like it's the 1st time anyone has seen them. And, yes, you either love it ir hate it, so I tell people to feel free to peel it off if they don't care for the extreme sweetness. I don't think my fondant tastes too bad...as I flavor it according to the flavor of the cake. Oh, that brings me to another don't-have. Can't find clear vanilla here too. One day, I'll bite the bullet and get these stuff online, but, fondant, I think not, since it's so heavy and will really add to the shipping costs. I've tried marshmallow fondant, but don't really find much difference to the fondant I make.

Edited by TP(M'sia) (log)

TPcal!

Food Pix (plus others)

Please take pictures of all the food you get to try (and if you can, the food at the next tables)............................Dejah

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Thanks, Annie! I didn't know that. I've a LOT to learn. :rolleyes: Do you mean to say, vanilla powder can be added to fondant? And, is vanillin powder the same as vanilla powder? TIA.

Edited by TP(M'sia) (log)

TPcal!

Food Pix (plus others)

Please take pictures of all the food you get to try (and if you can, the food at the next tables)............................Dejah

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Artificial vanillin simulates 1 flavor component out of over 250 different flavor components found in natural vanilla. It is a by product of the wood industry or is produced from petro-chemicals.

No, vanillin powder and vanilla powder are not the same. When you see the word "vanillin" as a primary ingredient in your vanilla product, that's a pretty good indicator that it's artificial in nature.

No reason you couldn't use vanilla powder in fondant!

:laugh: Annie

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  • 4 months later...
I have a question for Steve Klc.  Once a cake is covered with rolled fondant, can it then be refrigerated, or will it become sticky and absorb odors?  And can you give any recommendations on how to cover, decorate and safely deliver a six tier wedding cake?

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Pastry Jen:

More thoughts on rolled fondant covered cakes.

You may like to know that you can freeze crumb-coated rolled fondant covered cakes with non perishable fillings. Cakes should be boxed then inserted into plastic bags, frozen and when needed defrosted overnight. Do not pipe or add side or top decorations until the cake is restored to room temperature. If you have a busy bakery and need to bake early in the week it frees one's time for the decorative aspects when the pressure is on for weekend weddings.

Best,

Kerry Vincent

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  • 2 months later...

Wow am I glad I decided to come to this site when I did.

I am an enthusiastic if not necessarily skilled home cake baker. I would say my skill is more in picking recipes I can manage. I have pretty good home tools, including a Kitchen-Aid stand mixer (the light of my life, really) but not a lot of specialized stuff.

In a moment of weakness and shocking ambition, I offered to bake my best friend's wedding cake. We have decided on a recipe which seems eminently doable for the small (20-person) party (Rose Levy Beranbaum chocolate truffle cake: chocolate, eggs, and butter) due to the small number of ingredients, and fairly simple prep. I have gotten three or four good wedding cake books (including Dede Wilson's) and have come up with a plan to cover it with fondant and modelled ivy leaves (one 10-in. tier with one 6-in tier on top, not separated with columns, something like Rose Levy Berenbaum's Art Deco Cake, if anyone is familiar with that, and we're making it big for the number of people so we can all have seconds)...so basically pretty simple as my decorating skills, in particular, are not anything to write home about. It will be served with a raspberry coulis and Chantilly and some IQF raspberries if I can find 'em.

Historically, I have beginner's luck in all manner of cooking, so I am relying on that to see me through. The second wedding cake I attempt to make will probably be a disaster, but I expect the first to turn out OK. That's why I'm not making a practice one (that, and the cost of good chocolate).

The wedding is January 22, in Whistler. I live in Vancouver, and the cake will have to be transported up there in a car; I am already collecting boxes. My major concern at the moment is timing: it seems as though this particular cake can easily wait four or five days to be served, and it probably will have to as I am also maid of honour and have other things I need to do, but can anyone offer tips as far as how long I can expect it to take me to put fondant on, whether I should roll or use the other kind (I think not as I think cool temps are important to this cake, I don't want to have it melt all over my counter--is that a valid worry?) and is store-bought fondant really OK, especially if you have no confidence in being able to make it!!! and is it OK to store it assembled like that, refrigerated, for a few days and then stick on the leaves on the day?

I plan to bake on the 18th, assemble and put fondant on the 19th, have the 20th in case of emergencies, and then it will be brought up to the site on the 21st.

I would be really grateful for any tips anyone could provide.

Thanks in advance :smile:

Deborah

Edited by *Deborah* (log)

Agenda-free since 1966.

Foodblog: Power, Convection and Lies

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      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,
       
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