Have you ever had a bad baking day? If you have, you’ll know that they can be as devastating as a bad hair day from hell. Most people don’t bake only for themselves. At least, I don’t. I’ve always been very aware of the people I bake for, and I firmly believe that the touchy-feely idea that people can taste the emotions you had while making the food is true. So when I have a bad baking day, it’s almost always when the product is going to someone–or many someones–I care about. On top of that, these people usually know I went to pastry school and was a pastry cook, and so should be capable of making a decent cake. All in all, bad baking days are a dogeared and food-splattered recipe for extreme embarrassment in the cookbook of my life.
This past Saturday, I was making the birthday cake for a very dear friend of mine’s birthday party. I wanted it to be spectacular, because the birthday girl is pretty darn spectacular herself. I ended up deciding to do cupcakes, and I set out to do two different flavors as soon as I woke up Saturday morning, a chocolate cupcake recipe from The Modern Baker by Nick Malgieri and a white chocolate cake recipe from Pure Chocolate by Fran Bigelow of Fran’s Chocolates. I’d had success with the devil’s food cake recipe in Malgieri’s book twice last fall, and one of my chefs at pastry school used to work for Fran Bigelow and helped with the production of the photos and drawings in the book (if I remember correctly, the hands in the drawings at the beginning of the book are hers), so I trusted both books to have good recipes. Continue reading
Last time on As the Fondant Liquefies, we made cherry-flavored fondant and dipped maraschino cherries in it, in preparation for dipping them in chocolate. Really, that’s the hardest part of the whole process.
I decided to make another batch of cherries after the ones I documented in the original post and test the theory the Geeky Gnu and I had about pulling the hot fondant from the start instead of trying to cool it with a scraper on my small piece of marble. That and I wanted to prove I could do it all by myself. It worked very well, actually. After awhile, I got into a rhythm where I was kneading it like a cat, pressing half the mass of hot sugar down on the Silpat-covered marble with one hand and then the other half with the other, stretching it as high as I could each time. The fondant seemed to turn out much better–and crystallize much faster–this way. Continue reading
As I was dipping a second round of cherries yesterday, I had three lose their stems and become “test cherries” or, in other words, the cherries I get to eat before they’re ready without feeling guilty for wasting one I could be giving to someone else, or at least eating in its final form. (Of course, I have cherries from last Wednesday that are already liquefied, but I have to do quality control on every batch, you know.)
In the interest of tracking how quickly the invertase liquefies the fondant, I decided to dissect and photograph them before taste testing each day.
After (not quite) twenty-four hours, the invertase and cherry juice have converted the fondant immediately around the cherry to liquid, but most of the fondant is still firm and attached to the chocolate coating.