Thank you for following this cake project! ~Rose
The royal icing recipe I use contains only two ingredients: icing sugar and egg whites.
Quantities are adjusted slightly according to use – generally anything from “stiff peak” for borders, to “soft peak” for string work. I always add whites to sugar, never the other way around. In most cases, only a drop or two of whites is required to adjust the icing. I prefer mixing by hand in small quantities, which allows me to develop a sense for the correct consistency.
Proper consistency is key.
When airbrushing fondant-covered cakes, go one to two shades lighter than the desired result. The colour will continue to darken and develop overnight as the surface of the fondant dries.
To prevent uneven blotches, always dust off an excess icing sugar or cornstarch, and ensure any residual grease or buttercream is wiped off the surface of the fondant.
Also keep in mind, as colour is only sitting ontop of the surface of the fondant, it may be difficult to hide repairs.
Fruit cake unfortunately has a bad reputation.
Now good fruit cake is something worth experiencing.
Quality fruit cake is made using quality dried fruits, a simple butter pound cake batter, and once baked, thoroughly soaked in alcohol (for example, 1/2 to 1 cup of alcohol for an 8″ cake). It is then wrapped tightly, and allowed to age for a minimum of 2 weeks, thus allowing the alcohol to penetrate into the dried fruits and flavours to mellow and mature. In this particular case, whiskey was used, but rum and bourban are widely used. I heard a story once from a pastry chef, who said the best fruit cake he ever consumed was vacuum sealed and allowed to age for five years.
Fruit cake is best served with a layer of almond marzipan and, of course, a cup of tea.
For this particular cake, instead of marzipan, a layer of whipped ganache was used as a base layer. Rice cereal treats were used for select tiers.
The use of fruit cake in traditional cake decorating has the benefit of keeping at room temperature, and a firm stability that easily supports royal icing piping.
Modelling chocolate is a wonderful versatile medium. It is made from a combination of chocolate and corn syrup or glucose, and has a similar texture to Tootsie Roll candies.
Unlike gumpaste, it does not dry out quickly because it is fat-based. It is also very firm, which makes it ideal for sculpting figures or thicker pieces.
Often in photographs of cakes, it may be difficult to distinguish if a piece is made from fondant, gum paste, or modelling chocolate, as they all may appear very similar in appearance once dry.
When modelling chocolate is made with dark chocolate, it also has the amazing aroma of cocoa.
My tips on working with modelling chocolate include:
For more information on how to make modelling chocolate, I suggest the modelling chocolate recipe on Craftsy.
For any other colour other than dark modelling chocolate, I prefer to use candy coating melts (“chocolate” where the cocoa butter has been replaced with palm oils) for less greasy results. Depending on the viscosity of the glucose and quality of the chocolate, I will sometimes add a few teaspoons of water to the recipe to improve consistency.
For more information on pulled sugar ribbon techniques and recipes, see my previous post here.
Humidity is a concern when working with sugar, because sugar is hygroscopic – meaning that sugar molecules are attracted to water. Sugar should never be stored in the cooler because of this, unless a softening effect is desired (for example, to keep brown sugar soft).
In humid environments, finished sugar pieces will soften, lose shape, and become dull. The addition of acid to aid in elasticity also softens and dulls sugar.
These pieces were carefully stored at room temperature in an air-tight bucket with packets of silica gel.
The hummingbird was painted using and a combination of a paintbrush and airbrush, with edible food colouring:For inspiration, I suggest checking out the magnificent work by Stéphane Klein, I consider him a leader in the world among sugar artistry. You can see his amazing work on his website, or on his Facebook page, Stéphane KLEIN Connexion. (Disclaimer: Some images NSFW)