Thursday, January 12, 2012

The Magic of Modélisme de Chocolate or in english Modeling Chocoloate! only is it delicious to eat but so very versatile when it comes to cake decorating! During this class we learned how to work with white modeling chocolate. Now I'm sure most of you have seen the cake shows on TV where modeling chocolate is used to make figurines as cake toppers and decorations. But today we learned another application that can dramatically change the look and feel of your cake: panels! The great thing about this medium is that it's pliable, it doesn't dry up immediately and is very forgiving if you make a mistake ;-)
Just as an FYI, modeling chocolate is easy to make (chocolate plus corn syrup), so if you're working on small projects, save yourself some money and make it yourself. Make sure to wrap tightly any left over and refrigerate for later use.
So basically, paneling allows you to create exactly that, a panel to cover your masked cake. The 4 techniques that we applied were:
  • Marbling - creating patterns of different colors for that "POW" effect (yes i said pow as in batman)
  • Embossing - by using a stencil and a thin coat of buttercream you can create delicate, whimsical designs on your cake
  • 2 Dimension - this technique allows you to create designs that have 2 dimensions as well as create backgrounds (see photo, hard to explain)
  • Splash - If there was ever a better technique for a Nemo cake i don't know of it. Lots of fun and again, a medium that gives you extra time without drying out. Soooo much fun!!!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Art and Food - 2 in 1

Well it's been a while and there's so much to talk about. Unfortunately, with a full time job, school, family and friends and of course "caking" (yes, I use it as a verb, forgive me Mr. Thesaurus) time is a luxury. But i haven't forgotten my promise to share. There have been many many cakes baked, fillings whipped and  different mediums to create flowers, fruits and pretty much anything imaginable. One of my favorite things was creating a pâte à cornet (the design part of the cake) on a Jaconde sponge cake. By using a stencil you can create virtually any design, pattern or letters. A thin layer of sponge cake batter is then poured on top of your design and leveled off with an off-set spatula. After baking for a few, the end product is a delicious sponge cake that is then placed in a ring mold and filled with filling of your choice. In this case we went for several mousse flavors. We then topped off with edible flowers, what  great center piece!!! Although I wasn't crazy about eating the flowers.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Meet the versatile Royal Icing!

 Today we practiced making royal icing. Now, I've made this before, but it was actually nice to have our pastry chef show us what a runny vs medium vs stiff consistency really looks like and their different applications. So for the piping practice of swiss dots, cornelli lace, snail trails , etc we were working with a medium consistency. Nice and glossy with a soft peak, perfect for these types of decorations. It's also a cake decorator's dream because it's pretty easy to remove if you mess up!
Not to neglect fondant, we also covered a dummy cake and learned some tricks on getting nice edges and a clean trim at the bottom.
 From previous class, some of my flowers made out of molding chocolate. Still working on the right technique, better be ready for when Chef RBI visits!

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Time Flies When you're having FUN!!!'s been 3 weeks and we've covered what seems to be at least 6 months worth of training. Let's see, we learned how to bake a genoise, chocolate genoise, white cake, angel sponge cake and chocolate devil cake. We've also worked on some piping techniques for borders, icing a cake with buttercream, meringues and different kinds of buttercreams, cake stacking, basket weave technique, chocolate ganache, chocolate glaze and making flowers out of molding chocolate.....uffffff, I'm exhausted! All of this while preparing for  the SelfServe test needed for food handling, which i might not have passed! Did I mention I work a full time job?
So what are some of my big take - aways?
  1. Genoise cakes are a must know for any baker but I don't see many of them in my future ;-)
  2. Chocolate genoise...we're much better friends than plain genoise
  3. Icing a cake with real buttercream (not crusting buttercream) - practice, practice and more practice. Hot spatula is a must have!
  4. French, Italian or Swiss? The jury is still out...leaning towards swiss although italian is more stable
  5. Chocolate Ganache - I'm in love and have nothing else to say about that
  6. Flowers out of molding chocolate - I'll have to make at least 50 more to get it right!
  7. Cake Rings - A MUST HAVE and one of my favorite things I've learned to use so far
So, lots covered, lots learned, still not an expert but working on it ;-)

Peace, love and cake to all....

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Pâte à Bombe (French Buttercream)

All I can say is OMG - where have you been my entire life! Now mind you, I don't have a sweet tooth which is a good thing in this business; but this, oh, it's just PURE JOY!
Made by whisking egg yolks with a soft ball sugar mix the end result is a creamy, smooth, not overly sweet buttercream that you just want to eat with a spoon. I have to say, this could very well turn into my favorite buttercream!
So on to crumb-coating, icing and decorating our Génoise cake. Here's what I ended up with, definitely need more practice before practical exam!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

La Génoise Deuxième Partie (Part ll)

So today I went to get my masterpiece out of the refrigerator ( my génoise cake) and to my surprise it didn't look half bad! We then moved on to some torting and filling techniques. Torting cakes can be very intimidating and if you're a perfectionist it can drive you to the bottle! But for the first time I was able to get a nice level cut just by using the right tools and techniques. So lets go back to the beginning, cutting the top layer. This was done really by eyeballing.
Now after leveling the top, we measured our cakes with the goal of having 3 X 1"layers of cake. After measuring we marked our cakes where we would be torting. Then, using a long serrated knife and with elbow to the side of your body we gently scored the cake while rotating it on a cake turn table. Interestingly enough, if you keep your elbow in place it makes the scoring much easier and straighter! Again, we did this for the second mark on the cake.
After scoring the cake, we then proceeded to cut through along the scored lines and came out with some pretty leveled layers! Now keep in mind that this was a small 6" cake, so I'm assuming that it would be a little more difficult for larger cakes, yet it seemed to work beautifully. Before separating our layers, we again scored the cake vertically so that we could align the layers as we were filling the cakes.
Now, with three layers of cake in hand, we went on to use a rum flavored simple syrup on each layer. After applying simple syrup, we used buttercream to create a dam around the edge of the cake of about 1/2". If done correctly you should end up with a 4" cake.
Now, I cut the tip of my pastry bag a little to big so I ended up with a lot of buttercream on my cake...not a problem says my instructor, we can fix it! But before that, we used a light coat of apricot jam for filling and more buttercream on top. So how did we correct for the excess buttercream layer? Simple, when we put our next layer on top we pressed down hard enough to to have excess seep out and just cleaned it off with a spatula. This also helped with leveling the cake! We repeated the process with 2nd layer and topped off with third layer and some simple syrup. We then crumb coated our cake and into the fridge it went to set. Quick tip: Before crumboating the cake we inserted a skewer to help stabilized the cake, pretty useful when dealing with larger cakes. Next on the agenda: covering your cake with buttercream and some pipping. Pictures coming, don't expect anything fancy yet! ;-)

Peace, love and cake my friends!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

The Art of La Génoise

My first official day at FCI and I'm all dressed up!
So the task at hand was to bake a Génoise cake; simple ingredients, not so simple technique! This delicate batter is a wink away from deflating if not treated with a gentle hand. So I managed to create a wonderful egg and sugar mixture with a beautiful pale yellow that reminded me of Easter eggs and baby blankets. But oh how quickly something so good can go so wrong. My first mistake was trying to fold to much flour in at once, thus having to manipulate more to break up the flour. My second mistake, well really a boo-boo that could have been avoided. When adding the butter/batter combination to my egg/sugar mixture i poured right in the center vs pouring down the edges of my mixing pan. As my batter deflated so did my heart. Nothing to do except pour in my baking pan and put in the oven to avoid any further "deflation".  How did it turn out? Well, better than I anticipated but not as good as it could or should have. The top had a marked slant vs a nice round top. I guess we'll be cutting that piece off! Tomorrow we'll be torting and filling so i'll let you know what I think of the taste.

Peace, love and cake!