Saturday, August 19, 2006

Practice Cake

I have a cake project that I'm working on. If you want a hint, head on over to the PLUG website and see if you can figure it out. This one is just for practice.

Have you ever tasted rolled fondant? That's the stuff that all the fancy cake decorators use to make cakes look smooth and seamless. Try though you might, you will probably never achieve that level of smoothness with any kind of frosting. Fondant is kind of like play-dough, it can be shaped, it can be rolled out, it can be smoothed into a beautiful cake covering to make any bride weep. The problem? It tastes disgusting. People peel it off, like an orange rind or a banana peel, before eating the rest of the cake. Bakers all know it. A lot of customers know it. And everybody just kind of accepts it. I refuse to accept it. I have no intention of serving food that I know will taste bad. It's an insult to the person eating, it's an insult to the food, and it's an embarassment to the cook.

I have heard rumors of alternative cake coverings. One of these that I am planning to try in the near future is called marshmallow fondant, which is something you can easily find a recipe for in Google. There's also marzipan, which I won't get into here. Another alternative is called molding or modelling chocolate. Now, there are lots of sources online for a recipe for this. Almost every single recipe I found said the same thing: melt 10 oz of chocolate (never chocolate chips) and then stir in 1/3 cup of corn syrup, and be sure that you get that whole 1/3 cup in there. When it turns into a ball of clay-like goodness, turn it out onto wax paper, mash it into a 7-inch square, and let it sit for a couple of hours before using.

I used chocolate chips. I did this because the chips in question were Guittard, and there is no better chocolate made in America, at least not at this point in time. And yes, it worked fine. I did discover a couple of things. First, make sure you do in fact get that whole 1/3 cup in there, or your hands will be greasy and you will be unhappy. Also, time is important. After three hours (not two), my molding chocolate was even easier to work with, and it just got better by the minute. At only two hours, yeah you guessed it, my hands were greasy. I made two flavors: dark and white chocolate. One page noted that with milk and white chocolate, one should go easy on the corn syrup, and they appeared to be right.

As for a replacement for fondant, here's the word: it's pretty close. I've discovered that it's not nearly as elastic, and so not nearly as forgiving. I was able to successfully mold my dark chocolate over a dome, but I suspect that a standard cylindrical cake might be a little more difficult. I also was sure to use tapioca starch (I can never find my corn starch for some reason) to roll out the chocolate, to keep it from sticking to the table. Unfortunately, this makes for a messy-looking cake, especially since the starch doesn't all brush off very easily. But I was able to remove it by brushing it with a little oil (actually, cooking spray). After a couple of hours, the chocolate seemed to have soaked up the oil and looked pretty nice. The best part? It tastes good. I used high-quality chocolate, and I ended up with a high-quality cake covering, if a little sweet (from the corn syrup).

When you look at the photo, you'll see two different colors. The dome was done as described. The eyes were made from white molding chocolate and then dark, neither of which were brushed with oil. How did I get the eyes to stick to the dome? I used corn syrup as glue.

1 comment:

  1. Your practice head looks good. Your 3D cake is going to turn out great. I have to agree with you on the fondant issue. It taste's awful! I have used the marshmallow fondant MANY times and prefer it's taste 100 times more! I still have people peel it off of the cake sometimes because it's a texture issue. (I guess some people don't like to "chew" their frosting). I've never tried the molding chocolate, but have seen the recipe quite often on some cake sites I go to. Does it have the same texture as fondant (chewy)? I'll be looking forward to seeing your finished 3D penguin in a future post!

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