Archive for July 2009

Great Minds…

I’m not going to lie I thought I was a real one of a kind when I did this cake.  PICT0404

After the Japanese Bridge it seems obvious to go after Starry Starry Night. Now before I render Degas’ Ballerinas, and really go for the trifecta, I think I should point out someone elses work.

This is a cupcake Cake by Karen Tack and Alan Richardson from their book Hello Cupcake.  I totally hate cupcake cakes…just not my thing.  Cupcake cakes and Barbie Cakes are where I draw the line, but in this scenario I’m willing to make an exception.   Their ideas and book are excellent, especially if you can get me to enjoy a cupcake cake.


Add a comment July 31, 2009

Royal Icing…How to make it

Its way harder than you think, and chances are the first time you make royal icing you will screw it up.  Royal Icing needs to be coaxed, coddled, and finessed.  Its like dealing with a high maintenance girlfriend the first time you make it. But once you get it right, you will always (for the most part) be successful in the future.  

A few things to know:

Royal icing is highly suseptable to grease.  Don’t let any greasy-anything near it.  In fact I suggest making royal in metal, and glass bowls only.  Plastic is a difficult surface to remove oils from (chemically oil and plastic are very similiar–therefore they bond together, and are difficult to separate). 

There are alot of ways to make royal icing all of them include beating the mixture for a decent amount of time (7-12 minutes).  Egg whites which are present in every royal icing reciepe, are interesting for their ability to bond with air particles and increase their volume. And though its totally possible to over mix both egg whites and just about anything else you bake (except for gluten free cake–more on this later) you must adequatey beat this egg white-containing mixture in order for it to arrive at the proper consistency.  DSCN0312

Here are some royal icing recipes. All work.  You may like some better than others.  Some could potentially break your beaters…DSCN0309          


Royal Icing The Old-fashioned way:

2 egg whites*

1 TBSP lemon juice

3 cups of powdered sugar

Combine lemon juice and egg whites and mix using egg beaters or counter top mixer.  Egg whites should have some foam present but still be liquidy.

Add sugar and continue beating.  The frosting will first look like the paste that weird kid in kindergarten ate.  Continue mixing and you will notice the frosting is ready when it appears dry and crisp. 

*Egg whites can be appear in various forms.  Straight from the chicken, or you can used Egg Beater’s egg white which are flash pasturized (pasturized without cooking) which kills any chance of salmonela.

*Dried egg whites (available in the baking aisle) also work well.  The powder should be reconstituted with water according to the directions on the canister (usually 2 tbsps).  Once combined with water egg whites should be strained of all lumps–and believe me there are always lumps.

Royal Icing can also be made with Meringue PowderWilton is the only company I know offers this product, and it is available in craft stores and online.  Meringue Powder is a combination of dried egg whites, cream of tartar and a few other stablizing ingredients.  Merignue powder isn’t as smelly as dried egg whites and can also be used as an egg replacer in many recipes.

Royal Icing:

4 cups confectioner’s sugar

3 TBSP Meringue Powder

1/2 cup water

Combine sugar and meringue powder in mixing bowl with a hand mixer or counter top mixer.  Slowly add water.  I recommend beginning with 1/3 cup water and increase by 2 Tbsp if needed.  For a stiff consistency refrain from adding more that 1/2 cup (8 tbsp), unless your hand mixer is really struggling.  Wilton also recommends adding Meringue powder to butter cream frosting.  A great list of frosting reciepes from Swiss Meringue to Chocolate Buttercream is included inside the canister.

Also heres’s a big tip: Should you not want to have you counter tops, shelves and various kitchen spaces covered with a thin but noticeable layer of confectioner’s sugar and be using a super-awesome- fantastic Kitchenaid Mixer then try this:  DSCN0310










 Hide your pretty kitchenaid underneath a damp dish towel.  All those sugar particles with remain at bay, even if it makes your mixer look a little sad. DSCN0311

2 comments July 31, 2009

First Impressions

I like Claude Monet’s work.  Now I realize there aren’t alot of people who would really adamately state that they “HATE impressionism”.  Just about anyone can recognize that protrait of Sunflowers Van Gogh did, or the Japanese bridge Monet studied .  Unfornately I think impressionism is often regarded like music thats labeled “easy listening.” Its non-confrentational, pleasant… boring.

Japanese Bridge

I find like Monet inspiring because in truth he was kind of a renegade.  He invented his own style of painting which he continued to develope for the rest of his life.  He studied particular scenes countless times. ( He painted the Japanese bridge at Giverny over 50 times.)    He continued to paint even after he could no longer see certain shades of purple and blue.   He  repainted many of his previous masterpieces even when he was loosing his vision. I am inspired by people who continue to this way.  I’m inspired by those who seek reinvention and improvment and have the persistance and drive to explore, and inquire.

As for this cake I encourage anyone with some food coloring, frosting and piping gel to go for it.  First of all its an impressionist painting so completely accuracy isn’t necessary.  The sheen of piping gel also helps to give the image a luminous layered quality. Painter's Palette I filled parchment bags with various shades of frosting as well as just mixed piping gel right on the table with color.  A thin metal spatuala is a great tool to manipulate the color just as you would on a canvas.

Add a comment July 29, 2009

Royal Icing and its many uses…Flowers

These are some photos from the first cake I made using royal icing flowers.  These flowers are part of the Wilton Method curriculum in Course II.

Royal Icing Flowers Royal Icing Flowers

Royal Icing is fabulous to work with.  Ornate, detailed flowers, borders, and figures can be piped in a multitude of colors.  Royal icing dries to the touch within a few minutes, and is completley hard withing a few hours, depending on icing consistency.   Decorations can be made far in advance (a few months) and stored for later use.  I’ve kept containers full of pansies, daffodils, and daisies that have gotten be out of a decorator’s bind from time to time. 

Pansies, Primroses, and Violets

I like bright, if not loud, colors when it comes to cakes–of course this varies depending on the project.  When storing royal flowers always be sure to keep away from bright lights, be it sunlight or florescent bulbs as most food dyes can fade.

Royal Icing Flowers

Add a comment July 29, 2009

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The Cake Eccentric

Sugar, Frosting, and Fondant: an artistic exploration of Cake and other Sweets