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chefette

DEMO: Intro to Pastillage

69 posts in this topic

Back to the "I could never" thought.

I was just thinking that "I don't want to" is the best reason not to. As you may be starting to see - there is some prep involved. Now, there certainly doesn't have to be this much involved in planning and as you know - a lot of this pre-decision stuff just sort of automatically goes clicking around in your head anyway.

What I am trying to show is some of the facilitators and planning that can really make pastillage work for you. In my baby shower cake with the covered wagon you can see how that single element totally 'made' the cake and really it hardly took any time at all. I did take the time to cut out pieces of cardboard to test the size and ensure fit, but it was pretty simple cutting the pieces. I used a wood grain roller to texturize the pastillage. Painting and assembling went pretty easily, too. I did make 3 complete wagons just to make sure that some delivery disaster didn't leave me without my most important decor. Afterward, I stored that stupid spare wagon for months because it was so darn cute but it isn't exactly your run of the mill decoration in high demand so I recently threw it out.

One of the great things about pastillage is its simple durability. As long as you don't break it and keep it clean it is always there for you. All those spare extra pieces or rejects can be used later. I always cut out rounds, and demi-circles, cut out circles with holes in the center and keep them on hand. Nickel and dime size flat circles or even thicker aspirin-sized circes are the best. You can almost always use them. Mold off a couple of solid demispheres and keep those handy, too, as legs.

I have swirly tendrils, demi spheres, circles, plans, ribbon loops, curved planks, flat planks, butterfly wings, random shapes, chunks that I have microwaved so they look sort of like coral. Another good item to just keep around are placques - flat rectangular pieces. I prefer gumpaste because it is lighter and nicer, but pastillage is good too - if you need a quick special cake you just grab a bag of royal and pipe a message - embellish with some piping or add a flower and voila!

Just keep your spares and unused pieces safe in a box someplace.

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Working with pastillage (rolling, cutting, forming, drying)

Almost forgot the tools

French rolling pin or a clean length of PVC pipe for large pieces. I like a small roller for small pieces.

Xacto knife with a fresh blade

A scalpel is nice if you can get one

Sharp paring knife

Depending on what you are doing – you might want other tools and texturizers (limitless really)

Cutters

Everything you use should be very clean

glass of cold water - to clean knives and to add to pastillage if needed

It is also handy to have a dusting pouch. I made a little bag out of cheesecloth that I fill with cornstarch to dust with while working.

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You need to give yourself lead time when working with pastillage since the drying takes about 12 hours – sometimes more depending on humidity, thickness of the dough, and moisture content (the more water you introduce in making it – the more has to dry away).

Don’t roll out too much pastillage since it will form a skin and start surface drying immediately – this will result in wrinkling when you cut it and especially if you are planning to form it, so start off with the least you can possibly get away with and don’t plan on doing too many pieces at once until you get comfortable and know how much time you can have. This is actually a really nice recipe and will last qite a while without suffering from cutting wrinkles but will still wrinkle when curved. I tried getting a picture - but its just very hard to capture.

I cut off a chunk and knead it up (yes – every time) then roll out. If you are working with the pastillage the second day or after thawing frozen pastillage it will take several minutes for it to respond to the kneading and soften up.

It is important to roll the pastillage out consistently/evenly (minimize hills and valleys – and try to roll out all pieces to the same thickness/thinness. I have to admit – I really never go to any particular lengths to ensure this – just go by feel – and run my hand over the surface to test for smooth evenness. When it matters though - you can use guides.

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You can use a sheeter to roll out the pastillage – but it needs to be cleaned really well of any loitering flour. This is especially handy for very large pieces. Most sheeters have a textured surface on the pads that will be transferred to the pastillage. Using a large white sheet of posterboard slide under the rolled pastillage then slide the pastillage off onto your work surface. A quick roll with the French pin should smooth it right out.

For large or intricate pieces that require detailed cutting you may encounter problems with skin forming. If you have a large freezer with some space you can slip the sheet of rolled pastillage into the freezer for a few minutes. If you are working in a professioal kitchen with a proof box that is also a good place to pop the pastillage for a moment or two to moisten. Here you are trying to encourage condensation for once. This will allow you to extend your working time. I prefer to use a clothes steamer.

Make your cuts smooth and clean. As with cutting puff pastry – the knife blade should be straight up and down so that the vertical edge of the cut is straight and not angled. You will thank me later when you are trying to attach pieces. If you use cutters, try to find ones that have nice tight seams or are seamless. These usually cost more but they are worth it.

Following cutting it is time to place the pieces for shaping or drying flat. You may need to go back into the freeze or puff with a bit of steam. Keep in mind that the bottom surface is also drying the entire time you are working. You also want to avoid creating a wet slimy surface – you are looking for fresh dewiness – not rainstorm slick. If you have spent a while cutting you may want to hit the pastillage with a little steam before shaping.

When forming, especially forms that are deep (like a nose on a face mold) or like an egg – you can loosely form the pastillage piece over the exterior of the mold first to obtain the basic shape

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Then place it in the cornstarch-DUSTED interior

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Gently, gently work it in to fit using a ball of pastillage, a ball tool, or whatever makes the most sense. This will usually make the pastillage a bit larger so you will need to trim the excess.

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Leave the formed pastillage in the mold for about 15 minutes or more – depending on the depth and thinness of the pastillage – you might want to let the pastillage sit for much longer in the mold. Another reason to give yourself multiple formers.

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Here are my cut bi-plane pieces

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Flat pastillage should be very flat – as perfectly flat as possible – which requires that it dry on a perfectly flat surface and dry as evenly as possible. I like styrofoam panels for drying. Even on the Styrofoam you need to flip your pieces periodically or they will tend to warp. When flipping – especially large pieces be very careful and employ a piece of poster board if necessary or even a second panel laid over the first then invert. During the drying process the pastillage is very delicate and vulnerable to breakage. Resist the temptation to pick up and test out how a piece will look because more often than not the piece will bend or most likely break. You will see how the moisture retreats from the edges toward the center. When you flip it you will typically see the moisture.

Next - sanding and assembly. If you have a question about making or shaping something - please ask. I have a lot of pastillage on hand...

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Chefette, thanks again! I am eating this up. I'm so glad you're being so thorough in your explanations. I think the frame you built for the airplane body is a work of art in itself.

I have a question on somthing basic... on the first recipe for pastillage, where it calls for 10 grams (I think it was) of gelatin, I assume this means gelatin sheets? And how do you "bloom" the sheets? Do you just soak them well and drain off the excess water? Where do you find gelatin sheets... does a typical grocery store carry them?

You mentioned that you microwaved pastillage to make coral-type pieces. If you're not too tired of pastillage by the end of your demo, would you mind posting a picture of that, as well as a short explanation of your method (initial shapes, microwave time and the like)? I am doing a seashell wedding cake in August and would love to see what pastillage coral looks like.

Thanks in advance :biggrin:

edited to say... I just noticed chiantiglace showed how to handle gelatin sheets in his stabilized whipped cream demo. So my question is revised to, how long do you soak your sheets for pastillage?


Edited by JacqueOH (log)

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JacqueOH

Yes - I do mean 10g of gelatin sheets - typically 5 sheets. Fill a container - large bowl or plastic box with cold water. Drop in the gelatin sheets - I prefer to add them one at a time since they tend to clump together and do not hydrate as well if you put them in all together. For the pastillage - I recommend that you put the gelatin in to soak when you start measuring the other ingredients so that it has planty of time to soak up water.

For many recipes you want to remove excess water - and this would be accomplished by squeezing the gelatin or placing it in a sieve. In this case I recommend that you just pick up the gelatine carefully out of the water - not scooping extra water - but not squeezing either. It may seem a bit sloppy but that little bit of water with it will be nice in the final pastillage.

You can purchase a box of gelatin sheets from a pastry supplier - such as Albert Uster Imports - who will ship to anyone in the country. It is 500 sheets and they may last you a lifetime depending on what you do - but once you have them they last forever and you will find yourself using them more than you might expect, they're much more precise and more efficient for general pastry work than trying to use powdered gelatin. They also make nice windows for gingerbread houses.

Cake decorating stores frequently carry small packets of sheets that you can purchase. But if you cannot locate the sheets - the powdered gelatin also worked just fine. The batch I made yesterday was too wet at the time - because I was uncertain how much water I should include with the gelatine to equal my hydrated sheets. I did knead in a bit if extra powdered sugar (10X) but after sitting overnight it is a very nice consistency. I'll try to microwave some pastillage for you as well.

In the meantime - here is an undersea-themed wedding cake Steve and I did last summer for a pair of scuba-diving lovebirds getting married. All of the decor is pastillage, except for the goldfish which were in gum paste:

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and a simple, quick pastillage seashell-blown sugar pearl combination from a recent cake:

gallery_414_1386_43178.jpg

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10X is Confectionary Sugar, Powdered sugar, or Icing Sugar

the 10X refers to the fineness...

I was real glad to see the '10x' because that's how I always write it.

... I did make 3 wagons just to make sure that some delivery disaster didn't leave me without my most important decor.  I stored that stupid spare wagon for months because it was so darn cute but it isn't exactly your run of the mill decoration in high demand so I recently threw it out. 

Sure fire way to get a request for a chuck wagon!! :laugh:

Pretty pretty pretty 'under the sea' cake!!!

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I also am very curious about microwaving pieces. VERY INTERESTING!

Also it nice to see another take on underwater cakes............(one day we need to do a thread on Steve and your portfolios, I bet it's stunning.) I love how clean and elegant all your work is........it's really inspiring!

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I wanted to add another method of shaping pastillage that does not require any equipment or forms to shape and dry. Instead of using the horizontal (top and bottom) surfaces of the pastillage think about the vertical edges. If you lay the pastillage on its side you are able to curl it and achieve many intricate and exciting shapes.

Here is one example:

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This is how we created the curly pieces for the mermaid outline on the previous undersea cake.

This will work fairly well on even a fairly large piece - you need to experiment and be prepared to add some support for larger pieces.

Another trick is making curlyques. This works best on lighter strips but can be done with larger heavier pieces - it just depends on the pastillage's ability to support itself - so test it out with thickness and width:

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I also really like wisps and tendrils. The way that I do it is roll out a sheet of pastillage fairly thin, trim it so it has clean edges and then cut it into 3 equal strips.

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you sandwich these strips then cut long thin strips - I generally do a wedge with a wider end that trails to a point. Pick the threesome up by the wedge end (you can pinch this lightly if you want them to stay together, then sort of flip, spin, twist, loop to get amusing effects. Ewald Notter was the first person I saw do something like this. I usually make a bunch of these because its easy and the tendrils come in handy for all sorts of things.

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Oooh oooh the triple tendrils are way cool!!!

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After your pastillage has completely dried - and you should allow 12-24 hours for drying - depending on thickness of the pastillage, size of the pieces, and ambient humidity this could take more or less time. A fan can help, so too placing pieces under a lamp.

But still there is more dangerous work ahead – where bad things happen and why you need to seriously overproduce. SANDING. For smaller finer pieces I like an emery board, but squares of medium or fine sandpaper are the norm.

You have to have some saintly wonderful patience for sanding and some very gentle hands. Personally this is hell for me and I don’t have what it takes – so I try really hard to make my pieces as nice as they can possibly be so that I do not have to do too much sanding. Steve is a really first rate sander.

And just so you know – nothing ever breaks until you are almost done sanding. Always at the last minute when you are pretty much ready to say finis – crack – it is one of the worst sounds and feelings in the world. (Surpassed only by an entire showpiece collapsing.) This is especially bad in situations where you are competing in another city and are allowed to bring your dried pastillage pieces with you or when you're doing a cake on the road for an important client. There you'll be with your carefully cut and toted pieces doing some sanding and snap, crackle or pop. Always make more than you could possibly imagine needing – especially for exhibitions and competitions. And always save your leftover pieces. You never know when you'll need them.

Finally we get to assembling your pastillage. Since most people use pastillage for its architectural, structural properties some assembly will be required--and all of that should have gone into how you designed your piece to begin with. Now, real purists will swear by royal icing as the best glue – and certainly royal is good because it is edible and also because it can mask small flaws or gaps – but don’t count on this – its like thinking you can just take crappy pictures and make them all perfect using Photoshop – its doesn’t really work out all that well and it is very time consuming – better to do it right in the first place.

You can gently melt some pastillage and use that as glue. It melts in about 10-15 seconds in the microwave. I do not like using the melted pastillage - It does dry fast, and that is both good and bad. Good that it will stick to your pieces fast - but bad that it dries up in the container again. Another alternative is to add some additional water and make a wetter pastillage but then you are back to the royal icing issues. (You really have to respect the cake decorators who do all that amazing string work with royal. I don't know how they manage.)

You can also use molten sugar or isomalt – but that isn’t really ideal for gluing together pieces and is more for attaching pastillage and sugar together or securing the base – especially on sugar. If for some reason you were using pastillage in conjunction with chocolate you could use chocolate as glue, but we don't mix chocolate and sugar often, if at all, on a cake or showpiece.

The key in gluing is to be as unobtrusive and invisible as is humanly possible. Since pastillage is not normally eaten - you can often use real glue for securing the elements of 3D constructs. However most modern competitions in which one must assemble their work in front of the judges strictly forbid the use of glue so if you are submitting your work to competitive judging it is best not to use glue since you may lose points or even be disqualified.

For fun display work I prefer real glues – especially glues that set up right away – I like using a glue gun. Some people use other glues. Sometimes gluing is tricky because the pastillage is basically dried powdered sugar and you may encounter problems sometimes with the glue just not adhering, especially if you've sanded your pieces--be sure to brush or wipe the sugar dust off. Once again the need for patience and steady hands.

Here are some pictures of my biplane going together:

In this first picture you can see how I secured the struts to the wings. Since the struts are actually weight bearing and important to the structural integrity of the plane they needed to be securely attached so as you see here - I added small semi circles of pastillage on either side to make a safer and stronger attachment:

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In the background you can also see that I have secured the plane base to the fuselage. For this I did melt some pastillage and seal the seams really well, let it dry and sanded it all down - practically seamless.

In this picture you see that the wheel struts are secured with the wheels. Since I was planning on my planes being airborne in my display I didn't put much thought into the wheels - but until you are ready to put it on the stand at the exhibit - guess what - it needs the frigging wheels! The ones I made really were not sturdy enough so I had to be very careful about protecting them. If I do something like this again I will come up with a more sturdy wheel solutution:

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The tail sections are also attached and were quite troublesome. I had to adjust the tail design by breaking them in half (the pastillage is much thicker than the cardboard and the easiest way to accommodate the fuselage neatly was to break the tails cleanly and not try to make the notch bigger. Always important to remain flexible and try to come up with the cleanest solution to the inevitable problems.

The lower wing was very simple and just attached to the base of the fuselage.

In these next two pictures you see the completed plane.

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Note that the top wing is very very thin. In something judged this might be perceived as a flaw since it is not the same width as the lower wing, but for one thing I was not competing, and the reason that I did make the top wing super thin was to reduce its weight. I wanted to minimize stress on the wing struts and the lower wing. Normally, you'd want to roll out your pastillage for pieces like this to the same thickness--using metal guide rods makes this fairly easy.

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The windshields worked out great I thought - I actually used gumpaste for those. They were formed in the same former as the fuselage at the locations where they needed to be fit.

The engine lugs were also made with gumpaste. They were my biggest creative problem and should in theory have been easy. I tried several ways to do the lugs realistically but wasn't happy with most of them and they were quite time consuming since I needed 9 or 10 for each plane. In the end I decided to go interpretive and just made these little gumpaste cones using the tip of a wide paintbrush as a guide.

The propeller attachment/nosecone was also an interesting challenge. I came up with a simple slotted foldover. When designing pieces that will be pierced by other pieces or that will pass through a slot in another piece it's imperative to ensure that the slots are big enough and that the pieces that need to fit inside or through them. It's easy to forget this when you are working with a paper model.

And here is a plane up on the display stand so I can see how it looks and works:

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One minute later. Oops!

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Fortunately it wasn't the end of the world. I brought three planes to the San Diego Airport successfully and managed to install two of them on their posts (I had designed for one or two planes not knowing exactly how much interior space I would have inside the display case). In the end I had half of a case--sharing space with a Margaret Braun sugar sculpture--instead of a third so I could have made a larger piece.

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I was terrified that the showpiece would meet the same crash and burn fate as the test--and as a biplane might in a real dogfight--but apparently they both survived the 3 months in the case and even made it back to the shelter of the Sugar Museum's home storage.

Next - coloring and packing for transport.

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Way too absolutely freakin' cool--I LOVE this thread. The planes are beyond cool <hands up in the air> just way too cool. Love the windshield. The final design is so airborn--it has so much movement. Insert clapping hands smilie face--Oh oh the tendrils coming out as a contrail--over the top!!!!

On a parallel plane type note--pun intended--I did a bi-plane in royal--it was in one of the wilton encyclopedia's a million years ago--my landing gear was, well, it ruled--I was quite proud of that--I made a fluffy fluffy cloudy cake to set my masterpiece on and the fluffy fluffy cloud ate the landing gear--sunk right down like a weight--hahahayeahnotfunny hahahaha!! :laugh:

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Chefett, I am just in awe!! This thread is unbelievable, I am learning so much from you. Thanks for taking the time and effort to do this!!

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I wish I could convey how much I appreciate your time, talent and sharing ... to simply say 'thank you' just isn't enough....

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I LOVE your honesty and showing us what happened to your test airplane! It's so good to know that happens to others and I'm not alone................

Learning these behind the scenes details are priceless! This has more and better info. then anything I've seen to date in a book........HAT'S OFF!!

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I have to say, this almost feels like arts and craft demo rather than pastry, haha. Crazy its somewhat food form.


Dean Anthony Anderson

"If all you have to eat is an egg, you had better know how to cook it properly" ~ Herve This

Pastry Chef: One If By Land Two If By Sea

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Right, but you also raise a good point: arts and crafts and trades have influenced food--and how we work--for hundreds of years, just open any cookbook from the Middle Ages forward and look at the pieces montees on display, and you'll start to get a sense of what we're missing in these modern times. We've always had to make our own tools and solve our own problems ingeniously and we've often borrowed from other trades and disciplines to do so. Food has always masqueraded as sculpture and art and entertainment. The school of influence just varies from decade to decade and generation to generation. Not too long ago the best pastry chefs in France also had to be well-rounded, they were schooled in all areas, had to do sugar and chocolate and pastillage and become competent in all facets of patisserie, etc, before they could, you know, "be" a pastry chef. They could knock out literal realistic pastillage pieces easily, so could pastry cooks in London. We're more relaxed now, we're less educated and less trained, most working pastry cooks and chefs, including some famous ones, can't do much worthwhile in any of these artistic mediums if asked because it's just not required anymore. But not required and not relevant aren't necessarily the same things--there will always be a market for really artistic work--the challenge for the pastry chef or wedding cake artist with skills is tapping into that % of their potential market who will appreciate what they're capable of doing--ask them to push themselves--and compensate them more as an artist than as a blue collar wage slave.

This particular plane project is really model building, but with an edible medium and the rules and skills which are defined by that medium. One could also choose to stetch those rules. The principles and thought process you take away can be applied to very organic or even avant garde forms more appropriate for a traditional or modern wedding cake. what this says to me, more than anything else, is that there are many ways to appreciate pastry--and pastry chefs--this is just one narrow example that doesn't happen to involve actual taste or flavor. It does stretch people's sense of sugar. Me, personally, I don't know that I'd ever have the patience to do something so literal and exact as a real plane--I'd take the easy way out and opt for something "deconstructed" or wavy, organic and curvilinear representative of a plane in flight--why do you think all those French guys starting doing pastillage and very tall showpieces in those abstract shapes 10 years ago? because it was harder? No, they did it because it was easier and the style was more forgiving. When you go literal--there's very little margin for error. A figurative Taj Mahal, an idea of the Taj Mahal, is much easier and more simplistic to pull off than a literal Taj--but both would be artistic attempts which should be appreciated for their own merits.

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Here's something I did in pastillage a REALLY LONG time ago, it was a groom's cake to bring together the two families meeting for the first time: the Indian side of the groom's family and the Chinese side of the bride's family--but the key to its success (for me) was that I could pull the pretend-Taj off in one night, a hour or two cutting shapes the night before, actually (then some sloppy assembly I cringe revisiting now but that the clients still loved.) I had a big wedding cake to do for them as well. Colleen and I developed this model together, and she drew and cut all the templates for this Taj--and get this, she had never even heard of pastillage at the time--this was before she packed up and moved to NYC to go to FCI.


Steve Klc

Pastry chef-Restaurant Consultant

Oyamel : Zaytinya : Cafe Atlantico : Jaleo

chef@pastryarts.com

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Wow, this looks like fun!

Chefette, you mentioned using modeling clay or plaster as one of the ways to create molds/forms for the pastillage--I was just looking for a way to do that very thing.

I noticed from the historicfood.com link that I could carve these molds out of wood, but.... :wink:

I want to create a relief mold of an existing object. Have you done this sort of thing before? Is plaster food-safe? Do you know what sorts of modeling clay is food-safe?

Thanks for all the time and energy you have put into this. It is very much appreciated!

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I put the reply in your question thread so it would be together - but I can address your question here as well.

The modeling clay I would use for pastillage would be more for a showpiece where I kew the pastillage would not be in any danger of being consumed. I have created 3D sculptural effects using the modeling clay - let them air dry and then dusted them all over with corn starch before draping pastillage over them. I don't have the brand of clay I use handy - but next time I am at a craft store I will look it up. I don't think it would qualify as food safe. You CAN use it to create a form that you then make a food safe silicon mold from.

Check Albert Uster Imports - Chef's fluid or Beryl's http://beryls.safeshopper.com/130/cat130.htm?463

Two places I am aware of that have food safe silicon for mold making. The Uster product is quite pricey last time I used it - maybe $50.


Edited by chefette (log)

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Well Steve you are right. But I wouldn't say were too much more relaxed these days. Theres is ten times the knowledge to learn these days than then. In the past 50 years fusion of cultures has blown up and we a blending at an alarming rate. Quite honestly I think its extremely challenging for the average culinary enthusiast to keep up. I read everything I can get my hands on and experiment with any idea that dashes into my brain. But yet you guys here still show me more doors to enter. I have one question. Will it ever end?

No it won't. So i'd say, not just to contradict you but to share another opinion, that we are infact less relaxed and more focused on being different than traditionally skilled in its artistry. I garuntee you chefette wouldnt be making pastillage PLANES in the 18th century.


Dean Anthony Anderson

"If all you have to eat is an egg, you had better know how to cook it properly" ~ Herve This

Pastry Chef: One If By Land Two If By Sea

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Chefette, I am lovin' this thread!!! :wub: Thanks so much for taking the time to share!!!! It has given me so many ideas already!!!!


Diva

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Theres is ten times the knowledge to learn these days than then. In the past 50 years fusion of cultures has blown up and we a blending at an alarming rate. Quite honestly I think its extremely challenging for the average culinary enthusiast to keep up.

Now that would be the subject of a really good thread if you want to start one, I wonder if most pastry chefs would agree...

that we are infact less relaxed and more focused on being different than traditionally skilled in its artistry. I garuntee you chefette wouldnt be making pastillage PLANES in the 18th century.

Well, in terms of pastillage, if planes had been invented back then, the pastry cooks and confectioners to a royal house somewhere probably would have been asked. The royals would have been the only ones able to afford a plane, and the in-house teams would have produced them in pastillage for some dinner party they were having, that's guaranteed: they would have wanted to show their latest and greatest off. Look at the links, look in some of the books with graphics from these eras, that's what this was about--showing off: you'll see table pieces in sugar with biblical, Greek, Roman, mythological or historical focus and also modern ones with whatever currently was in vogue, made in sugar--and the pastry cooks and master confectioners at the time, say from the mid-18th C forward, had to make all their molds to pull this off, especially the wooden-carved ones for the smaller table displays, the baskets, the gifts, the tazze to present the petits fours, etc. They carved, sculpted, assembled, reproduced what they needed. This is what the job entailed for the elite in the profession working in the major metropolitan centers and for seats of power and it was "model-building" just with different models. This was the fashion of the time for those working in foodservice, and when royalty toured their realm or entertained at court, and threw lavish parties, they had to show off and this was how they did it, how they reinforced their place at the top of the autocratic pecking order. When a Queen wanted something no one had ever seen before, the same display in ice, say, instead of pastillage, the teams of pastry cooks had to turn to the in-house metallurgists to fashion molds so they could freeze all the component parts down in the snow cellars, snow that was carted in from thousands of miles away, then assemble it all quickly and reveal it to the guests. There's a very decadent description of one of these ice displays for a banquet in Elizabeth David's book "Harvest of the Cold Months," where an entire banquet scene, table, chairs and all the fixtures was presented outdoors in ice--encasing all sorts of little fruits for the guests to marvel at on a hot day in the Summer.

The forms may be different but the model-building process, and the stress of assembly and transport, and the desire to impress guests is the same--and throughout history the pastry cook/confectioner has had to get the job done for themselves, this was pre-Industrial Revolution and pre-mechanical manufacture--to this day much of this still is: yes, there's a Chocolates a la carte so pastry cook/confectioners everywhere can buy what they need rather than mold it themselves, but there's a sameness about Chocolates a la carte, and a sameness that pervades the work of pastry chefs who use a company like that. What this thread ultimately speaks to is that even today we'll make our own molds or buy some tool or device from another craft and do it ourselves in order to be more artistic and more individual--need to make a box with a lid out of chocolate to serve your chocolate truffles in? Well, thanks to the Industrial Revolution we can 1) readily buy chocolate you can temper and create with and 2) buy a cheap plastic box to use as a mold and mold it right off in one shot--pour in, pour out, pop out. However, if you don't have the right size or shape plastic box, you're back to pen and paper and X-acto knife, making templates so you can assemble your model. Only the dates have changed, the process remains the same.

Of course, back then chefette wouldn't have been making any of these things in pastillage anyway because she's a she, and these guilds and professions were all male.


Steve Klc

Pastry chef-Restaurant Consultant

Oyamel : Zaytinya : Cafe Atlantico : Jaleo

chef@pastryarts.com

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Not one but TWO!!! airplanes! I have to show my son1 this...but maybe I shouldn't after what I told him was *not* possible when I made him an Airbus 380 cake for his birthday!!

I'm really impressed that you took the trouble to make it as accurate as possible.

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I intend to show you some basic painting and coloring approaches before we bring this demo to a close. I don't actually have time right now - but I promise - soon!

Meanwhile here are a couple pictures of pastillage pieces from a birthday cake I just did yesterday that show some painting techniques. It was a lighthearted, colorful and 'fun' project so no Michelangelo art here.

Here is a fun TV set - I have painted the screen - originally I painted the "J TV" on the screen - but didn't feel that it stood out enough so i piped it on in royal and painted that. I love this little TV - it is actually 3D but I didn't take a picture from an angle that shows that. It is one thing that I really really wanted to do on this cake but there were more important items so I literally did it when we were packing up and on our way out the door - so no backup. It worked out pretty well. If it were a more important component overall or I had had more time to fuss with it I would have made some improvements.

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Here is a Department of Defense Seal in pastillage that I have painted using petal dusts with water. It isn't show quality but was perfectly appropriate for a fun birthday cake commemorating the achievements of the recipient's life. You can see the back corner of the TV behind the seal on the right.

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It is an example of painting - I like very fine watercolor brushes. The color abosorbs almost immediately into the pastillage so you don't really get the chance to finesse it at all. I think that the working with wet royal and dusts gives you more of a painting opportunity.

And lastly - here is an easy pastillage hat. The brim and bowl of the hat are pastillage - I molded the bowl of the hat in a chocolate dome mold and the brim I shaped on the posterboard former. After shaping the dome - I slid it out of the mold and let it dry on the shaped brim to minimize problems fitting them together.

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the ribbon is gumpaste. I kneaded some black petal dust into the gumpaste which ended up basically charcoal. I finished it by giving it a quick brush with the black powder and water to darken it up.

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I don't do all that much pastillage painting actually - so I don't have any special tools. I like the dusting powders for painting because we have a lot of them lying around to dust gum paste flowers. I just put a little in a small dish - dribble in a few drops of water and then use. It dries really fast so you always need to moisten your brush. It's a lot like watercolor.

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It's a good idea to have separate brushes for different colors. They don't just wash out of the brush with water so if you can't afford mixing - use dedicated brushes.

When you paint - the water will sort of melt the top of the pastillage and you can use this to your advantage if you make a mistake - add more clear water on a brush and you can basically erase - but it affects the surface - so don't plan on doing a lot of that if you want a nice surface.

A lot of the coloring I do is just dusting on a little color or coloring a whole piece. Applying a little steam will really intensify the color - but will also expose flaws.

Here is something I just did to show how you can do a fairly detailed painting.

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And here I tried something that I had not actually ever done before. I piped the face in royal then painted by coloring and pushing the royal around while wet. I think it actually has some potential. I know that a lot of people out there actually do some really amazing and intricate painting sort of like this - only lots better. You can see that it has a completely different effect. I think it's worth working on. This didn't turn out really well - but I think it's interesting.

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Kneading color into the pastillage dough is a good way to achieve consistent color on large pieces or many pieces the same. Here I used dusting powder - but you can also use liquid paste.

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I sandwiched the blue pastillage between two pieces of white then rolled out. This will give me a subtle strip of color along the edges of my pastillage. depending on what you are doing - this can be a cool, subtle effect adding depth and complexity without crossing color lines that might draw negative attention from judges in a competition or detract from the beauty of your piece.

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You can also knead it up together to get a marbled effect as you might do with rolled fondant:

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So - depending on the time, the project, and your artistic capabilities - you can do almost anything with pastillage and color.

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