Friday, January 15, 2010

Laissez les bons temps rouler!

Margaret and I continued to work on our competition cake which must be completed by Tuesday night. The cake will feature a mardi gras theme with bold colors and lots of gold luster dust to give the gold-colored parts a metallic look. It will be created with a cake made into a spherical shape which will be draped with white fondant and partially dusted with the luster dust. We will then adhere molded fondant fleur de lis along the sides. The mask and twisty ribbons will be created out of pastillage (sugar that hardens into a ceramic-like piece).

Today we made the masks/ribbons and finished forming our sphere cake. It took quite a bit of time to mold the pastillage pieces because in just a few minutes it starts to dry and crack like play-doh that has been left out too long. That means you have to work with it very quickly to avoid the cracking problems. Since we've never worked with pastillage before, it takes several tries to really get a rhythm going. However, we did finally end up with several workable pieces after many attempts. On Monday we will begin to paint them with colored cocoa butter based on our preliminary sketch.

Next, we baked a very dense pound cake to create our spherical base. You want a dense cake recipe like pound cake or sponge cake because it will be sturdy and keep it's form better than non-high ratio cakes. High ratio cakes contain a higher percentage of sugar compared to the other ingredients in the recipe. We baked our cake in a metal mixing bowl in order to get hemisphere shape. Then we inserted two more layers to make it less elliptical. We will round off the top with fondant to complete the sphere. Finally, we "glued" the layers together by spreading royal icing between the three center sections. Royal icing hardens to almost a jawbreaker-like consistency, so it should hold the layers in place and prevent sliding and shifting.

On Monday, we will cover the entire cake in royal icing and then cover the entire thing in a large blanket of fondant. At that point, we can start decorating and coloring the details. After that, we can begin forming the pastillage beads that will be draped about the cake. I bought a silicone bead maker that makes a strand of about 7 beads at once. That will make that process go much faster than rolling each one by hand, but it will still take some time. Because the pastillage hardens quickly, we have to place the bead strands in the final position as we make them. We will "glue" the strands together with royal icing and then air brush and luster dust the final product.

There is a lot of work to be done but we are making fast progress considering neither of us has done this before. I'll try to keep you posted on our progress next week — assuming we aren't in class all day scrambling to get it done. Wish us luck!

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