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Saturday, March 28, 2015

Culinary School - Session 91: Advanced Sugar Techniques - Rock Sugar, Bubble Sugar, Net Sugar and Ice Sugar

Culinary School: Session 91 (03.27.15)

Advanced Sugar Techniques - Rock Sugar, Bubble Sugar, Net Sugar and Ice Sugar

I've got a sweet tooth...

Here's an undeniable truth about Culinary School: every time you are introduced to a new medium, you will be asked to make a rose out of it. Chocolate roses, Sugar Paste roses, Marzipan roses... you would think the world wanted nothing more than edible floral arrangements.

Today: a Pulled Sugar rose. Admittedly, they do look cool. Yet, I would really prefer a good Plated Dessert. Nevertheless, this is Advanced Sugar Techniques -- it's all about "edible" decorations which, while you wouldn't want to eat one in its entirety, at least it wouldn't kill you if you did.

This session focused on four additional Advanced Sugar Techniques: Rock Sugar, Bubble Sugar, Net Sugar and Ice Sugar. Not intended to be used for structural purposes, these techniques are most useful in creating different textures to enhance other pieces made using the Poured Sugar and Pulled Sugar techniques.

Pulled Sugar Rose

If you've got some free time on your hands...

Unlike working with Chocolate, which requires a lot of time for tempering and clean-up, Sugar is relatively quick and clean. Making a batch of Pulled Sugar takes no more than 15 minutes. As a result, I had a little extra time on my hands.

Rather than stand around twiddling my thumbs, I tried my hand at some non-rose Pulled Sugar work: A Calla Lily, an Alien Figurine and a Mardi Gras Mask. It was useful "playtime" - any additional practice before making the next showpiece is time well spent.

Pulled Sugar Calla Lily

Pulled Sugar Alien Figurine

Pulled Sugar Mardis Gras Mask

- Ingredients Running Tally -

Ingredients used to date (03.27.15):
  • Flour: 24,535g
  • Eggs: 16,000g (320x)
  • Sugar: 28,300g
  • Butter: 16,020g
  • Milk/Cream: 16,845g
  • Chocolate: 9,000g (since 01.12.15)

    - The Techniques -


    Rock Sugar


    Not to be confused with Rock Candy, Rock Sugar is a porous substance made to look like a piece of jagged rock. There are two possible techniques: Royal Icing Rock Sugar and Baking Soda Rock Sugar.

    Royal Icing Rock Sugar involves adding a couple of spoonfuls of Royal Icing to a pot of Sugar raised to ~300 degrees Fahrenheit. The water content from the icing evaporates quickly in the intense heat creating small air pockets, while the protein in the Egg Whites cook, setting the mixture. The final "rock" has a texture similar to pumice.

    The Baking Soda method uses Vinegar and Baking Soda in place of Royal Icing. The reaction is significantly more dramatic (although it will vary based on the proportion of ingredients used), and the resulting product is an extremely porous substance that has a netted, moon-like appearance.

    Bowl of Rock Sugar

    Rock Sugar


    Bubble Sugar


    Bubble Sugar is an application of Poured Sugar. Rather than mold distinct pieces with the hot mixture, the Sugar is poured over a piece of parchment paper that has been wiped with alcohol. As the Poured Sugar slides down the parchment paper, the alcohol evaporates and small bubbles are formed in the surface.

    Purple Bubble Sugar


    Net Sugar


    Net Sugar is similar to Bubble Sugar in appearance in that it is a sheet of semi-porous colored Sugar. However, Net Sugar is made using Isomalt, an expensive sugar substitute that has many features that make it perfect for Sugar work. The Isomalt is spread in a thin layer between two Silpats and baked until it melts into a net-like structure. The Isomalt can also be colored with different dyes, making it possible to achieve multi-colored effects.


    Ice Sugar


    The Ice Sugar technique is identical to one used earlier with Chocolate. Poured Sugar is used to fill a container of ice cubes. The Sugar quickly sets and the ice melts. The resulting product is a coral-like piece which, when made with colored Sugar, has an impressive glass-like shine. 

    Next - Session 92: Advanced Sugar Techniques - Blown Sugar

    Previous - Session 90: Advanced Sugar Techniques - Pulled Sugar

    Take a look at the full syllabus

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