Student Diary: Advanced Pastry Arts, Day 10
Yes, how do you like my free-formed "oyster" shell?
Putting the project together was a lot of fun, especially once my one of my class pals figured out that wearing regular dish gloves reduced the heat transferred from the 310-degree sugar to our hands was reduced to almost zero. Want to try making your own? All you need is a sturdy pot, a candy thermometer, 5 pounds of sugar, 1 quart of water, and 1 pound of corn syrup. Combine the sugar and water in the pot and bring it to a boil, washing down the sides of the pot. Pour in the corn syrup, but don't sitr. When the mixture reaches 240 degrees, add whatever water-based coloring you like. Be careful not to overcook your sugar--if you do, it will take on an amber or brown color no matter what colors you added, although we did have a couple of happy accidents ... Anyway. When the sugar reaches 310, remove the pot from heat and shock it in cold water--NOT ice water. Watch out for steam! Then you can pour, pull, or blow as desired. We also used a lot of isomalt, which isn't as finicky about temperature, but is really spendy and not very tasty.
The base, starfish, oyster shell, pearl, and seaweed are examples of poured sugar. The base and starfish were poured into sugar shaped into the forms we wanted our sculptures to keep. The shell was poured into silicon muffin top sheets and then hand-formed. The pearl was poured into a spherical mold. The seaweed was poured into a pastry bag and piped into the shapes. I had some pulled kelp shapes, but they didn't survive the trip home. You can see a short nubbin of it to the far right. The coral was formed by pouring the sugar mixture into a 200 hotel pan (similar to a bread loaf pan) filled with ice cubes.