Friday, May 2, 2014

Help with gum paste roses

Gum paste is one of those things that you are either going to love to work with or get frustrated and give up on. Personally I like to do it in small amounts. If i had to do this on a daily basis I would probably get very bored and throw up my hands. I, fortunately, live in a area where most folks appreciate fresh flowers rather than sugar ones so my requests are few and far between. I do teach this technique so I get regular practice and I can give you some easy tips to making the process more fun and successful! 
First of all you need the proper tools. 22 gauge wire, 24 gauge wire, needle nose pliers, rose petal cutters, calyx cutter, ball tool, pad, something to hang the flowers on to dry, plastic wrap, shortening, paint brush, skewer or other fine point tool. 
You will want to make the centers of the rose and thread them onto the wire with the hook on the end and then let them dry overnight before making the rose. If you rush this process the roses will drop off the wire while drying. 
Make sure your gum paste is always covered with plastic as you work on it. Rub your table or work surface with a very very thin film of shortening. Put a small piece of gum paste into a small container of water to make the glue you will use in making the flowers. It melts, gets thick and is the perfect glue. 
Roll your gum paste out very thin. Think of the petals of roses and how thin they are, this is how thin you want them to be.
 When using the ball tool to thin the edges of the petal, be sure and keep it half on and half off the paste. The intention is to thin only the edge of the petal. Sometimes it takes quite of bit of pressure to thin it out. This all depends on the texture of the gum paste you are using. What you don't want is distinct lines where the ball tool has been.

 To get the nature curves that rose petals have use the skewer and roll the edge away so the petals have movement.
 The first petal is tightly wrapped on the very tip of the center. If you begin to low on the center you will run out of room and not have as many petal as you would like.

There are many ways to dry the flowers and I use the little white wire racks you can buy at house ware stores. They are used as an extra shelf for space saving. Just hook the wire and hang! You can also use soft styrofoam and dry them up right but I find this doesn't work well for the thinner wires.

I have dried flowers in egg cartons too but they are usually wireless flowers. 
The best way to get the petals to stand away from one another is to begin the rose get it to the first three petals and then give it time to dry. After a day or so you can begin adding more petals for the complete rose. This is why I always make them in bulk. First all the centers, then the middles, then two petals, then three, now I can go back to the first rose and begin the next layer since sometime has passed letting it dry. I usually make about 12 to 15 roses at one time. This is much more productive than making one at time. 

Keep your gum paste wrapped well with a thin layer of shortening rubbed over it and it should last a very long time! Have fun and take pictures :)

My secret for S'more cake

So it has been awhile since I wrote anything and I am determined to write TWO blogs today!! Let's see what happens here!
Recently I was asked to make a cake for some friends engagement party. I told them to go online look at my menu and pick a flavor that suits their taste. Well, of course they pick the one cake that I had made up and had not created but one other time! It has many steps to making it and although many have asked about it not many have ordered it. I suppose by revealing this idea I may have lots of other requests for it now! I really don't mind though it wasn't nearly the trouble I thought it was going to be and WHAT A HIT it was at the party!!
I don't normally print recipes since this is mostly an instructional blog. There are tons of recipes out there my goal has been to offer techniques and tools so you can be successful with whatever recipe you use. HOWEVER, this is worth posting!

The cake is called a S'more cake, yes, after the childhood campout favorite!
This is for an 8" cake three layers.
Spray all three pans with oil and line the bottoms with parchment paper. 
I begin with a simple 
Graham cracker crust:
one packet of honey grahams crushed (one square of crackers in the box is plenty!)
4 Tbl. melted butter. 

Rub the melted butter into the crumbs just as you would do for a cheesecake crust. 
Then press it into the bottom only of ONE of the 8" pans that has been prepared with parchment.
Pour the batter right onto the crust of only one pan! 

Cocoa devil’s food cake

2 cups boiling water
1 cup cocoa powder
2 ¾ cup ap flour
2 tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. salt
2 ¼ cup sugar
8 oz. unsalted butter (room temp)
4 eggs
1 Tbl. vanilla

Preheat oven to 350˚
Prepare three 8 x 2” pans with parchment and butter

Whisk the boiling water and cocoa in a heatproof bowl.
Whisk flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt in a large bowl.
Using electric mixer, beat sugar and butter in large bowl until fluffy, about one minute.
Add eggs one at a time, beating until incorporated after each addition. Beat in vanilla extract. Add flour mixture in 4 additions alternately with cocoa mixture in 3 additions, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Divide batter among prepared cake pans.

Bake cakes for about 30 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean when inserted into the center.

You can see in the photo the crust that was on the bottom, when turned out of the pan is on the top now. This cake was a two layer cake with one filling however when I make the smaller version that I have given you here, I make it three layers. Your choice! Make some cupcakes to go with if the three layer is too tall for you!
Then I fill the cake with a milk chocolate ganache. I put the crust layer on the bottom of the cake and then put two layer of ganache in between the layers.
6oz. milk chocolate chips
4 oz. heavy cream
Boil the cream and pour it over the chips, wait one minute before stirring until smooth. Leave at room temperature until the ganache has set enough to spread between the layers. 
Lastly I covered this cake with a swiss meringue (which I call the marshmallow meringue) and then used a torch to get the lovely brown accent. 
Swiss meringue:
1 egg white 
1/4 cup sugar
Place the sugar and egg white in a heat proof bowl. Place over a pan of boiling water and whisk until the mixture is hot to the touch. Put into a bowl of a stand up mixer and whip until stiff peaks form. 
Ice the cake with this and using the tip of your decorating spatula make swirls that will show nicely when you torch the meringue. 
YUMMMM love it!!