Monday, October 29, 2012

Pumpkin People



Marshmallow fondant is amazing stuff.  It is easy, affordable, and fun.  You can make anything with it.  However, it can be tricky to make if you don't follow just the right steps for consistency.  I am still figuring it out, however, here is the 5 step recipe I have fine tuned so far:


Five Step Marshmallow Fondant

1 10 oz bag of mini marshmallows
2 tbsp of water
1 bag of powdered sugar
  Color (optional)


1.  Prepare a large glass or metal bowl with half a bag of powdered sugar and put it in a cleared sink (this works very well for me with the kneading process - my bowl has a sticky bottom to keep the bowl from slipping - If you don't have this put a sticky/plastic fabric between bowl and sink).  

2.  Put marshmallows and water in a glass bowl.  Microwave about 20 seconds on high, stir with a spatula, heat again 15 seconds, stir.  Repeat until marshmallow have dissolved.  Do not overheat as it can ruin the marshmallow consistency.

3.  Add your color to melted marshmallows and stir.  When thoroughly mixed pour your gewy mixture right into the center of the bowl with the powdered sugar in the sink.  

4.  With your spatula GENTLY and SLOWLY fold the sugar into the marshmallows.  As the marshmallow thickens start kneading.  Add powdered sugar when necessary.  After 10-15 minutes you should have a nice ball of Marshmallow fondant.  

5.  Coat your fondant with shortening and wrap your ball tightly in plastic wrap and in a plastic bag.  REFRIGERATE your fondant overnight.  If you do not refrigerate your fondant it will not hold it's shape when you try making things like bows and it will not be the right texture.  Bring out your fondant a few hours before you start decorating so that it is nice and soft and pliable when you want to use it.


Monday, October 22, 2012

Oh Gosh it's Ganache!

The gift box design is a real nice way to dress up a one tier cake.  The Tiffany & Co gift box here is one of the most beautiful cake boxes I have ever seen!!  It was made by Nati's Cakes.  The most noticeable part of this cake gift box is its super sharp square edges which is what gives it a very realistic look.  I just LOOOVE this look!:)

So how do they do it?  The trick is use ganache! Ganache is a chocolate 'icing' with a peanut butter texture that firms when cooled and softens when slightly warm.  Ganache is smoothed on over a cake it dries hard and very smooth (but make sure to use a bench scrapper!:)).  I like to use the following recipe from Paris Cutler's book Plant Cake - a great resource and an amazingly successful Australian cake business.  Here is her recipe!


Dark Chocolate Ganache

2 lb 10 oz bittersweet chocolate chips (I like to use Ghirardelli bittersweet chips with 60% cocoa - the high cocoa is important here I don't recall why again but it is!:))

2 1/2 cups plus 1 tbsp of whipping cream (her recipe says not to use heavy cream but I can only find heavy so that's what I use and it works just fine:))

1.  Put chocolate and cream in a microwave-proof bowl and heat for a few minutes on high.  Remove and stir.  Repeat heating until cream is fully incorporated and ganache is smooth.
2.  Let sit at room temperature overnight OR to speed up the process refrigerate uncovered for about one hour to firm.

Apply the ganache with a spatula and smooth sides and top of the cake with a bench scrapper.  If the ganache is too firm to apply heat just a bit in the microwave.  If your ganache has firmed on your cake and you want to re-smooth it heat water in a pot and use it to dip the bench scrapper to heat it (and make sure to dry it with a towel!).  Then re-smooth away!

Once your cake is covered with ganache firm by setting it overnight or firm it in the fridge for about an hour.

Next apply a thin film of shortening at the bottom edges or water to adhere the fondant to the ganache surface.  Once ready, roll out your fondant to 1/8" thickness and cover your cake. 

Happy Cake Making!
Christie

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Carving Craze


With Halloween upon us, you might be carving more than just a pumpkin!  This weekend I am planning to decorate my second fish cake for a girlfriends boys birthday party.  After baking a long rectangular cake the carving starts.  When it comes to cake carving the most important requirements include: cake density and a good cake knife.

Cake Density
I am a cake 'mix' girl and to get the right density for carving (and tier-ing) I like to add one cup of cake flour and one cup of granulated sugar to the mix along with the denoted ingredients.

Mix Ingredients
1 CakeMix
1 cup Cake Flour
+ 1 cup Granulated Sugar
The Right Density

A note about cake mixes:  as a decorator I like to focus my attention and energy on the cake decorations and not the cake itself.  Cake mixes got a bad rap back in the day when they didn't taste very good.  These days, however, they are delicious, inexpensive, quick, easy, and a life saver for cake decorators!  I do prefer to use Pillsbury over Betty Crocker though mostly because with the dough boy there is already pudding in the mix and it gives it a more moist texture.

Cake Knife
Choosing the right knife is critical to your success.  Do not use serrated steak knives since these will tear too much off your cake.  Do not use a butter knife as these have no teeth!  Stick with the professional bread/cake knife (see Cake Tools).  When I carved my first fish cake I found it was nice to have the long knife for the sides, however, the small knife worked best for the face detail area.  When carving always use gently motions with your free hand on your cake to guide the carving and preserve cake integrity.

Monday, October 15, 2012

The Engineered Cake

This was probably my biggest project to date (literally!)  This monster had a 14" square bottom, 10" middle, and 6" top.  I made this cake for the UC Davis College of Engineering 50th Anniversary Awards Gala.  And get this... I donated it!  Yes, I am trying to promote myself to build clientele and that's just what we have to do sometimes.  It was for a good cause, it was auctioned off and proceeds went to scholarships for Engineering students.

As for the decorating... this was my first time using fondant on a three tier cake and it turned out fairly well.  I am getting more and more convinced that marshmallow fondant is the way to go.  Satin Ice fondant is GREAT, don't get me wrong, but since it is manufactured in the East coast, when you tack on shipping it is just too expensive at the cake shops here on the West coast.  The Wilton fondant is not too popular with flavor, and the real homemade fondant is time consuming and tricky to make.  All this leave us... Marshmallow fondant!  Marshmallow Fondant (or MMF for short) is very inexpensive and tastes great!  However, it can be a bit tricky to mix and use correctly... however, once you get it down it works great.

THE BELOW RECIPE IS AN OLD RECIPE I USED IN THE PAST...
OUR CURRENT RECIPE IS HERE:
http://caketalkblogger.blogspot.com/2014/04/cake-coutures-marshmallow-fondant.html


Here is my MMF recipe:

1 bag of mini marshmallows (either size bag)
1 tsp of water
1 bag of powdered sugar
  Desired Color (optional)

Prepare a large bowl with half a bag of powdered sugar and put it in a cleared sink (this works very well for me with the kneading process).  Put all marshmallows in a glass bowl with the water.  Microwave approximately 60 seconds at 60 or 70% power (this is microwave dependent).  At first make sure to keep an eye on the MM.  You do not want to overheat it as it may cause difficulty in rolling.  With the marshmallows mostly soft stir them to dissolve.  At this point add your color.  When thoroughly mixed put your gewy MM mixture right into the bowl with the powdered sugar and start kneading.  Add powdered sugar when necessary.  After 10-15 minutes you should have a nice ball of MMF.  Wrap your ball tightly in plastic wrap and in a plastic bag.  But WAIT!  Do not forget this step... REFRIGERATE your MMF overnight.  If you do not refrigerate your fondant it will not hold it's shape when you try making things like bows.  Bring out your MMF a few hours before you start decorating so that it is nice and soft and pliable when you want to use it.