Tuesday, April 27, 2010

The first day of cake decorating class, chiffon cake and swiss buttercream

I have been an instructor at Cabrillo College since 1989. When I accepted the position at the school that I teach at in Campbell in 2005, I gave up all my classes to a wonderful instructor that has enhanced the program with her enthusiasm and knowledge. I have missed the community feeling that I had when teaching at a local community college. I love the small classes that I teach now but the larger and more local classes are fun with folks who know each other and share experiences as well as their projects and kitchens. 
I am back for one eight week course, teaching cake decorating and just loving the excitement of the students to learn from me! On the first day, I brought in a cake, some icing and filling. I cut filled and decorated the cake you see here. For those decorating enthusiasts, I will go over what I demonstrated on the first day of class, with a few pictures to enhance the story. 

I began with cutting a 10" chiffon cake in three layers, showing the students how to correctly use the serrated knife and turntable. The next step which is optional depending on what filling you are using for your cake, is to paint a simple syrup onto each layer. Simple syrup is just that, one part sugar to one part water brought to a boil and then shut off and cooled. Flavors such as liqueur or fruit juices can be added for flavor but the plain syrup will add sweetness and moisture to your cake, preventing it from drying out.

I then flavored my buttercream with a fortified caramel that I had made by just mixing the two together with a whisk. I always flavor my icings according to taste since each cake will have it's own characteristics and this one I wanted to have a good caramel flavor to the icing to compliment the raspberry jam filling that I add. 

I know, I know, you want the recipes, right??? I will post them at the end just for YOU!
When the icing is all whipped up then I ice the cake with a smooth and even icing. As I do this I always hear moans and groans from the class since I "make it look so easy". WELL, it's my job!! Icing a cake is probably the most difficult part of cake decorating. It takes practice and messing up before it comes easy. So practice, practice, practice! This means you get to make many cakes, so what's wrong with that???

Using a hot knife when you get it to an even place will remove all those last little spatula marks to make a very smooth coating. 
Then you begin to decorate what you wish. I demonstrated several different techniques to get the class pumped up to practice. So we have here, the reverse shell, the classic shell, roses, buds, leaves and writing all in the caramel buttercream. Roses can be made with a real butter icing but you have to be quick! Butter melts at a very low temperature so hot hands are your enemy. If I am hot or the room is warm I may use a bowl of ice water to dip my hands into periodically to help. If you put your bag of butter icing in the refrigerator it will get cold and hard on the outside and stay soft in the center and then you have lumpy bumpy icing. Not a nice thing to work with so that is not recommended. 

I asked the class if anyone just had or will have their birthday very soon and Olaya said she had just had hers so I made her a cake and we all enjoyed eating it! 
Here are the recipes for the chiffon and buttercream:
Swiss Meringue Buttercream Ingredients
Makes about 4 cups

4 large egg whites
1 1/4 cups sugar
1 cup unsalted butter, (2 sticks), softened, cut into tablespoons

2 tsp. vanilla

Put egg whites and sugar into the top of a double boiler over a pan of simmering water. Whisking constantly, cook until sugar has dissolved and mixture is warm (about 160 degrees).

Pour heated egg whites into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Beat egg white mixture on high speed until it forms stiff (but not dry) peaks. Continue beating until fluffy and cooled, about 7 minutes.
Switch to the paddle attachment. With mixer on medium-low, add very soft butter two tablespoons at a time, beating well after each addition. Increase speed to medium-high; continue beating until frosting appears thick, about 3 minutes. Reduce speed to low; add flavoring and continue beating 2 minutes to eliminate air bubbles.

Be sure to wait until the meringue has cooled a bit before adding the butter. If the meringue is too hot you will have butter soup and if it is cold and the butter is too cold it will look like cottage cheese. The soup is difficult to remedy but the cottage cheese can be fixed by adding a bit of heat to the bowl and whisking until smooth and creamy.

Vanilla Chiffon

1/2 cup Granulated sugar
7 each Egg whites
1 cups Granulated sugar
1-1/2 cups All purpose flour
1 Tbls. Baking powder
4 each Egg yolks
1/2 cup safflower oil
3 oz. Water
2 Tbls. Vanilla extract

Making the chiffon cake
Place the egg whites into the bowl of an electric mixer and whip until foamy. Gradually add 1/2 cup of sugar and whip to medium-soft peak.

Combine the remaining cup of sugar with the flour and baking powder and sift together twice. Combine the egg yolks, oil, water and vanilla extract and stir into the dry ingredients one cup at a time.

Fold 1/3 of the whipped egg whites into the batter mixture then fold the result into the remaining whipped egg whites.

Butter and flour two 10" spring form pans and divide the batter evenly between the two. Bake at 400 F. for 15 to 20 minutes then check to see if the cake will pull away from the sides of the pans. Cool and remove from the cake pans.


silvanausa said...

thanks for the recipe and explanations, and cake and too beautiful and elegant grazie meravigliosa torta

chefany said...

Thank you Silvanausa!! AND OH do I love Italy!!! The food, the people, the countryside and the culture! I could retire there!