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Sunday, April 12, 2015

Culinary School - Sessions 95 & 96: Mystery Cake Project


Culinary School: Sessions 95 & 96 (04.10.15)

Mystery Cake Project



Bakers, grab you rolling pins....

... and your Fondant extruder... your ball tools... your texture mats... lots of plastic gloves... maybe some royal icing...

You get the idea.

When it comes to cake decorating, it's all about the tools and techniques. I don't care how creative you are, without the right set of devices and do-dads (along with some helpful insights from those more experienced) the process would be a misery.

Two sessions were dedicated to hands-on practice, primarily working with Rolled Fondant, a sugar and gelatin mixture that rolls out like a pliable dough. The dough can be dyed with gel paste coloring to match an almost limitless palette (just don't try black... you'll never get beyond some shade of grey). Given these properties, Fondant has become the ubiquitous covering of choice for more decorative cakes. 

As for edibility... technically you can eat it. It certainly tastes and smells better than Pastillage. And yet, I would wager that nine out of ten wedding guests will peal away this layer when they approach a piece of cake. The tenth guest is your drunk uncle who doesn't realize what he's eating.

Soccer Themed Birthday Cake



Yes, but how does it taste?

Cake Decorator Confession: Underneath these bright colored cakes lies... a slab of styrofoam! Sorry to disappoint. But when design and decoration become the focus, the delicious cake is often forgotten. 

That's fine in the culinary classroom. However, the sad truth is you've probably seen many "amazing" wedding cakes that had similarly disappointing interiors -- a banquet staff serving slices from a real cake hidden from view while the guests marvel at a Fondant enrobed "dummy".

But practice is practice. The more opportunities there are to roll out massive slabs of Fondant, meticulously keeping the surface free of tears, finger prints and debris, the better those real cakes will look. 

On the first day of our techniques review, after a litany of demos, there were a few minutes remaining to literally play with our food. 30 minutes of goofing around unintentionally resulted in this "Frozen" themed design.

9 Inch Cake Dummy

Covering a Cake Dummy in Fondant

Applying Fondant Diamonds to the Cake

Applying Fondant Decoration Detail to the Cake

Practice Fondant Decorated Cake



- Ingredients Running Tally -




Ingredients used to date (04.10.15):
  • Flour: 24,535g
  • Eggs: 16,000g (320x)
  • Sugar: 34,100g
  • Butter: 16,065g
  • Milk/Cream: 16,845g
  • Chocolate: 9,000g (since 01.12.15)



    - The Project -



    Item:

    The Mystery Cake Project: Soccer Themed Birthday Cake



    Description:

    The Mystery Cake Project is really just a warm-up before the main event: the four day Wedding Cake Project.

    Each student is randomly assigned a theme with certain mock-customer parameters and has three hours to complete a cake. Here was my draw:

    Theme: Birthday
    Primarily Colors: Green / Yellow
    Inscription: "Happy 10th Birthday!!"
    Specific Request(s): This is for a male child who loves soccer. Please include a single soccer reference.

    The base Fondant coating was light green (unless you buy commercially pre-colored Fondant, all dyed Fondant takes on a pastel hue). Circling the base of the cake was a hand-cut band of darker green Fondant "grass".

    First lesson learned: the powdered sugar used to keep Fondant from sticking while rolling is hard to dust away from colored Fondant. It may be fine for a white Fondant coating, but you need to use a light hand when using color. 

    Second lesson for the day: when gluing pieces of Fondant together, as with the light green base and the dark green grass, the glue (either water or a mixture of water and Carboxymethyl Cellulose, a cellulose gum that can also be used to stiffen Fondant) will leave streak marks when it dries.

    To cover the inevitable connecting point in the grass band, I hand painted a soccer ball plaque. The geometric pattern of white hexagons and black pentagons was surprisingly challenging to paint by hand.

    The top of the cake was layered with a bright yellow soccer field with a molded soccer ball placed in the lower left corner. The soccer ball was circled with grass-green Fondant squeezed through an Extruder (think of the old Play-Doh Fun Factory).

    Mission accomplished. I got my hands dirty with Fondant, and ten-year-old soccer-loving male got his green and yellow soccer cake. Let's do this Wedding Cake thing!

    Rolling Green Fondant

    Applying a Grass Fondant Band

    Extruding Fondant Grass

    Front View of Soccer Themed Birthday Cake

    Soccer Themed Birthday Cake

     

    Next - Session 97: Wedding Cake Day 1


    Previous - Session 94: Sugar Showpiece (cont.)


    Take a look at the full syllabus




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