Friday, February 10, 2012

Cake Boss as Education?

Most everyone in America has at one time or another heard of the Cake Boss. My question to you is, is it just entertainment or is it educational? Think about it, really hard.
I asked myself this a while back and my decision is it can be both. The other day I sat down and watched a whole season, notebook in hand, and filled about ten page with everything from recipes, tricks of the trade, and ideas. I used to criticize reality TV, but some of these shows have another side to them, you just have to take a look closer.

So then I asked myself, what have I learned? SOOO MUCH!!! I have learned little tricks, such as how to make realistic looking water on a cake (piping gel, who would have thought) and ice cubes or coral (isomalt). I’ve also learned new ideas for fondant, cake bases and stabilization, chocolate and so much more. My cakes have become more sophisticated, my recipe base has grown, and I’ve become more versatile in my creations.

Next steps: I plan to continue to learn and grow with the help of so many avenues out there. Through culinary programs, watching bakery shows on TV, reading books, subscribing to trade magazines (such as American Cake Decorator), and joining associations (The Retail Bakers of America). Learning is a never-ending process, and the more you absorb the better your skill sets become. So my advice to every self-taught baker out there: Continue learning. Subscribe to blogs, take advantage of the technology out there and never stop learning. Your skills and creativity are important to what you do, and the world of baking is ever changing. As always, happy baking!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Spun Sugar

I had this brilliant idea for a cupcake garnish, and it meant experimenting with Spun sugar. Now mind you, I've never done this before...It sounds quite simple, messy, but simple. Well, the making it part was simple. The getting it into small shiny strands...not so much! I definitely made a mess, not as bad as I would have thought, and I ended up with a lot more chunks of sugar (what looked like rock candy) then I did strands. All in all, I think I can still pull off a pretty nice looking garnish. Would I do it again, probably. I have learned though that when working with spun sugar you have to work fast, and have a ready supply of pan handles available to drape the sugar over.

But for those who like to creatively get messy in the kitchen, try it out. Here's what you do:

Spray pan handles with cooking spray and place plastic or newspaper under the lid handles on the floor. Ready a large bowl full of ice water (ice water bath).

Mix together 1/2 cup water, 1/2 cup light corn syrup, and 2 cups sugar in a medium saucepan. Over medium high heat, stir until sugar dissolves. Cover the pan and boil 2-3 minutes. Uncover, stirring occasionally, allow to boil until temperature reaches 310 degrees Fahrenheit on a candy thermometer. Remove from heat and dip bottom of pan in the water bath and then allow to sit for about a minute to thicken. With a fork that has been sprayed with cooking spray stir the mixture and then flick the fork over the pan handles and allow to drip over. Let cool and your done! Spun sugar!

As always, Happy Baking!