Monday, July 3, 2006

Sugar Warming Box

You have no idea how long I've been waiting to do this. Back in school, in our pastry class, we got to spend a couple of days playing with sugar art. There are a few things you can do with sugar. There's poured, or cast sugar. That's where you make a mold of some sort, pour in hot sugar and let it cool. This is really good for things like creating support for a sugar piece. There's also spun sugar, which is really good for making things like cotton candy. Really! And of course, there's pulled sugar. This is a little bit more advanced. You pour hot sugar onto a Silpat or oiled marble surface, add color, and fold it on top of itself until it cools enough to pick up and start pulling. Okay, so you can't pick it up for long, unless you have chef hands like me. Of course, the longer you pull sugar, the more heat callouses you get. You can also use sugar gloves, if you want to make the investment.

Speaking of investment, that's what pulled sugar requires. This is the biggest reason why I haven't pulled sugar until now. I should have done it in school, but I spent those couple of days pouring sugar, and I never spent any time with the sugar warming box. After the class was over, I would occassionally buy some of the equipment I would need as I could find, and afford it. I bought a marble slab pretty early on, and spent some time looking for a good automatic torch, which I never found. I even picked up a couple of sheets of Silpat.

Unfortunately, I never got around to buying a sugar warming box. One reason might be because they're kind of expensive. Look at the link I just gave you. $429? Good gravy! And it's really not much more than a 3-sided plexiglas box with a wooden roof and a heat lamp dangling down. So I decided to build one. Step one: I can't build the heat lamp myself, so I found one online, along with a fixture, for pretty cheap. So far, I'm only about $20 poorer. I went down to the local hardware store and picked up a sheet of plexiglas for about $36. It was 24"x48", so I had them cut it into three 16"x24" segments (had I been thinking, I would have gone with one 18"x24 segment and two 15"x24" segments). I also picked up some hinges and a 36"x12" pre-fab laminated shelf.

When I got home, I hinged the segments together into a tri-fold (I recommend you put the 18" segment in the middle if you do this). I put the board on top and drilled a 1 1/2" hold in the middle of it. I put this on top of our stone-top table, with a sull-size Silpat in the middle. I suspended the heat lamp from the board, with the bottom of the lamp about a foot from the Silpat. I plugged it in and I was good to go.

Now, I'm not going to go into sugar pulling right now, because it's probably a little too long of a process to describe in a blog post. I'll put up a sugar work area on my site in the next few days. But I did finally get to pull my first sugar rose. And my second one too! And I still have a day of my holiday weekend left to practice pulling more sugar. I'm excited!

3 comments:

  1. Scott and I are obsessed with all the sugar art on the food network. We couldn't stop watching the sugar even if we wanted to.

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  2. I am pulling together the materials to make my own box, do you have any ideas on what I could use for a bottom? I have no stone-top anything, just a tiny marble slab for chocolate stuff. Would a laminated piece of wood work? (with a slipat of course)

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