Student Diary: Advanced Pastry Arts, Day 13
Can I actually build it? Well, I dunno. No. I dunno. Maybe. No. If I had more time to play with the sugar, maybe, but there's a lot to do. Last week, we masked the cakes we'd baked the previous week, made rolled fondant (not nearly as painful as when we had to make it in Classical Desserts), and covered our cakes. I hate to say it, but ... the Wilton stuff is better. Bought stuff is better, with all its funky additives that keep it flexible and soft. Handmade stuff was prone to drying out quickly and cracking (at least, the stuff we made in CD and this class was) while covering our cakes, especially my base cake, which was a monster.
Masking went well, but afterward, I took my team's prep dishes to the wash station to wash them. When I came back, my two cakes were gone, and one of my teammates told me that our third teammate had taken our cakes to the cooler to store them. Next thing I know, I look up and see him carrying a full sheet pan with two chewed-up cakes on it. At first, I thought he was joking. This was, after all, the same guy who'd sent me an e-mail advising me to study for the quiz when there was no quiz--we'd taken it last week, and I'd forgotten. He wasn't joking, though--that really was a handprint in my large base cake, complete with deeply sunk finger holes, and my small top cake really was somehow upside down on its cake board. It turns out the top cake had taken a total header, falling on the floor, frosted side down. Coincidentally, I'd made my team members wipe a dab of frosting on their cake boards to make sure their cakes wouldn't slid around while frosting. Unfortunately, a dab of frosting can't help a cake defy gravity. More accurately, I needed a dab on the bottom of the cakeboard to stick it to the sheet pan. Anyway, my teammate did a bang-up job remasking the large cake, paying special attention to fill the finger holes, and I found an extra cake in the walk-in to mask.
I spent a lot of time tonight doing some sugar work. Tips: you can remelt cooled sugar in an oven set to 300 and rework it if you don't have a heat lamp; digital thermometers with alarms are really handy; you can scrub cooled dribbles of sugar off your flat top stove; silicone mats work just as well as the more expensive silpats when working with sugar; you really don't need a lot of food coloring to dye sugar; rubber gloves are awesome, though try to find a pair without grippy texturing ... unless you want to make imprints on dragonfly wings; attach wings as soon as possible to cake assembly, or they'll snap off, the brittle bastards.
Tomorrow after work, I'll be cutting pillars, making royal icing, dying piping gel, coloring/rolling/cutting/shaping fondant, trying to see if I can paint fondant (high-alcohol extract and powdered food dye), making a clear sugar dome (time willing--I already have a black one), making fondant walls to go around my cake pillars, making fondant lilies. If I get through half that list, I'll be very happy. I'll have to separate what I have to do tomorrow from what I might be able to do just before class starts if I can get into the kitchen early (read: if I can sneak past Chef B's French Cuisine Class and find some counter place--hopefully they won't be doing their final; when I took the class, we made an awesome five-course meal, and it was consuming ... in a completely awesome way).