Sunday, December 30, 2012

Congratulations L and E!

This cake did not come without its own challenges. The wedding couple wanted a red velvet and cream cheese ensemble but as every baker knows, cream cheese does not hold its shape. The challenges were compounded by how the hotel did not have refrigeration space due to the aftermath of holiday baking. Hence some modifications were made. The cake had to be denser and the cream cheese sloshed with a liberal amount of Cointreau to prevent spoiling. The frosting had to be applied extremely thinly and the cake, covered with a layer of made-from-scratch fondant, of which the amount used took a total of 12 hours of kneading. In total it weighed a hefty 25kg, not 15 as the bride and groom had ordered. My heart stopped many times as the vehicle chosen was the wrong vehicle - the back seat was set on too steep an incline and that caused the heavy cake to slide. When I arrived I inevitably split my pants while getting out of the car - oh boy large gaping hole at the back and I had to carry out frantic repair works to the cracks and the broken royal icing flood outs, in the open ballroom as there was no adjacent dressing room with my torn pants flapping away. Life's funny that way. Fluttering butterflies, fluttering pants. Get it?

The enchantment of royal icing

These came to fruition after two days of piping and eight days of modular drying. The template's Peggy Porschen's and the royal icing's Alton Brown's.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Friday, December 21, 2012

The use of the right ingredients is underated. That, and the perfect fondant recipe.

The quelm I have with store-bought, commercial fondant is that it tastes plasticky and awful. In humid Singapore, that quality is made worse by the fact that the commercial fondant tends to crack and melt into a gloop, as evident from the numerous heartaches I have had. Hence, I started on a quest many years back to find a recipe that would somewhat withstand the heat and the humidity of Singapore and also taste good.

I began this journey literally from scratch and when I first started, went the glucose dripping into icing sugar route, however that took too much time to come to frution, so I searched for alternatives and started making marshmallow fondant - not without its own nail-biting moments.

With marshmallow fondant, it was always a hit-or-miss affair - the texture would turn out clunky, there would be lumps in the thingy, the texture would be too soft - it was a date, many dates with Chance. (Although I can't say I am all that lucky with love even.)

So after many misadventures, I had an epiphany and a breakthrough today - The use of the right ingredients is underrated. For years I had been using Sun Lik's icing sugar, because I thought (well, okay, okay... I did take it for granted) that given the hefty price tag, it would be pure, unadulterated confectioner's sugar. However, I thought wrongly. It was in fact mixed with cornstarch. Now, as you know cornstarch does funky things when it comes in contact with moisture and in Singapore, it is mostly 90% humidity. The other brands that I have tried, SIS and Redman also contain cornstarch and it is in fact this cornstarch that causes the most problems - glunky texture, lumps and fondant not holding its shape. Then I recently (I have no idea which hole I have been hiding under all this time) discovered Sunflower Icing Powder. The difference? It is pure cane sugar without any cornstarch added. The test of the pudding is this: Sift it. It takes about half an hour to sift about 500g of icing sugar with cornstarch. It feels tacky and it is lumpy too. Here's the *jang jang* moment: When I sifted Sunflower Icing Sugar, it took merely 5seconds to sift all 500g. If you cannot find Sunflower Icing Sugar where you are, then find a brand that does pure confectioner's sugar.

The other ingredient - the marshmallows. I made the mistake of using Corniche marshmallows  and the fondant did not turn out too great, however, when I switched to Hello Mello Marshmallows, the difference was crucial.

As you can see, the texture's awful even when the marshmallows are still in their packet. The right kind of marshmallow is firm and springy to the touch. Compare the above with the brand of marshmallows that saved my life:
It really is the minute details that make a difference. The reason I have posted the pictures up is to allow you to find a similar brand, if you do not have Hello Mello where you are, with a similar texture to save you the heartache, as I have experienced of trial and error.
Here's the recipe if you feel like making your own fondant or if you are a stickler for taste and quality like me:

Baker Brian's Perfect Fondant (yields 3kg; time needed: approximately an hour)
2kg       Sunflower brand icing powder (or pure confectioner's sugar)
1.2kg    Hello Mello marshmallows
224g     Good quality French butter
1pinch  Fleur de Sel
120g     Additional Sunflower brand icing powder
  1. Sift 2kg of icing sugar. Set aside.
  2. Melt marshmallows on High in the microwave oven for 2 minutes at intervals of 30 seconds. Take the marshmallows out from the microwave oven and stir at every interval.
  3. Fold melted marshmallows into sifted icing sugar. Fold until a sticky douch forms and the sugar is roughly incorporated.
  4. Melt 224g of butter in the microwave for a minute at intervals of 30 seconds.
  5. Pour melted butter into icing-marshmallow mixture.
  6. Continue folding until sugar dough pulls away from the mixing vessel.
  7. Dust 120g of the remaining icing sugar into the mix. At this point the sugar dough should be warm to the touch.
  8. Add 1 pinch of Fleur de Sel
  9. Knead the sugar dough by hand for 10 - 15 minutes.
  10. The fondant is ready when it cuts cleanly.
  11. Store in an airtight container and let it settle.
  12. After the sugar dough has rested for a day or two, dust icing sugar on the counter and knead the cooled sugar dough again for 10 - 20 minutes. It is at this point that you should add the colouring that you desire. Any other point and the texture of the fondant goes wonky.
  13. Let it settle in the airtight container again for at least a day before using it.
  14. It is recommended you make the fondant at least two weeks before using it, to give it enough time to settle.
  15. The fondant will keep in a cool and dry place for about a month.
Sunflower Icing Powder
Hello Mello Marshmallows

Sifted Sunflower Icing Sugar

Fondant After First Kneading

Saturday, November 24, 2012

A Potato disguised as a Sir with a Moustache cake

Valrhona chocolate cake with cookies and cream frosting - the Oreos were from Japan and covered in made-from-scratch fondant.

Happy 21st birthday dear Sister!

Thursday, November 22, 2012

The cake caddy that could.

I love this Wilton cake caddy that allows me to carry goodies around in a convenient and stable way.

Valrhona Manjari cupcakes in tiny dessert cups.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Caramel Fleur de Sel

After an hour of stirring, a goldeny brown salted caramel that would go extremely well with vanilla ice cream or tequila shots.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Red Velvet and the secret all good bakers know

Made red velvet as a taster for a wedding cake.

Now the secret to a red velvet that has depth, character and intensity is this: a sprinkling of good cocoa. In this case Valrhona.


Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Congratulations Ageless Theatre and Theatre Cell

Ageless Theatre and Theatre Cell had a showing of (When I'm) Sixty Four. A play about transits and the happenings of the bus. A good friend (LT) who was the director of the piece, suggested that I could help them with the cake. Well, admittedly, I was supposed to have made a cake in the shape of a bus, but I thought it might be more fun if I modelled the cake on one of the characters in the script - an old woman carrying a bomb up the bus.

This was a perilous enterprise of architecture. You can't see them, but there are candy rods holding up the entire old woman. Well, I am proud to say that no wires were used this time and the entire cake was edible, with the exception of the toothpicks I used to mimic the hairpins in her hair. I had immense fun making this cake and by the grace of God, the weather was cool and not humid at all. The bomb was a black jawbreaker I found in a candy store :) and the fondant, made from scratch. I finally found a way to make rice krispee structures and those I used to build the head. All in all, an ambitious, but very enjoyable project.

a simple old-fashioned chocolate cake and some piratey yo ho ho

Things have been insanely busy these days - in the midst of adjustment to a new job, graduation (again), weddings and an entire slew of events. Amidst these things there was baking to be done.

This is a simple old-fashioned chocolate cake with a hidden surprise - I put pop rocks in the Valrhona Jivara Lactee ganache. :)
If baking is to be done then only the best ingredients are to be used. Always.

These cupcakes were done at a crazy time - the weekend of a friend's wedding and amidst intense rehearsals for a production I was involved with.

Chocolate cupcakes being slathered lavishly with Valrhona Jivara Lactee

Finally the pirates awaiting to head one by one onto the plank. Wedding day. Finished these at 4:30am. Marzipan faces, Fruit roll bandana and licourice cut into eye patches and kawaii anime eyes.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

of poppy seeds and yuzu

Poppy Seed and Yuzu Cake for a lazy morning. A definite keeper and full of winsome yum!

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Cake Theatrical Productions' fifth anniversary (November 2010)

This is a belated post, but, this was a cake done for Cake Theatrical Productions' splendid, fabulous fifth anniversary two years ago. With thanks to a good friend, N. S. who ordered it  and who provided the photograph. :)