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Sugar Work Lesson 1: Casting Sugar

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Sugar Work:  Cast Sugar Bowl

Once you start working with sugar, all the rules change. Take today’s project, for example. In the normal practice of food photography, the components of the composition fall into two categories: food and food props. If this photo were a normal food photo, the apples would be the stars, and the bowl would be the prop, albeit a colorful and flashy one. But once I point out that I made the bowl by hand, and not out of glass, but sugar, suddenly the world goes topsy turvy. The dish is the star, and the apples demoted to mere props.

It goes beyond that, though. The hours in which you play with sugar belong to another world, a sunnier, warmer place, a place where magic walks the earth and comes to cook at your side. Colors are brighter. Pots bubble and boil with a constant snap and pop, like thick, syrupy soda on some serious steroids. Things come into real, three-dimensional being, springing as much from an inner wellspring of imagination as from the hot, malleable sugar in your hands.

My goal is to make this brand of magic a little more accessible to the common foodie. To that end, I’m starting off with the easiest techniques that take the least amount of specialized, expensive equipment. The other main advantage of this approach is that I need to relearn how to do it all, so it’s probably best if we don’t all jump in the deep end together just yet. Stick with me and we’ll get to pulled sugar and blown sugar, but don’t worry: just because we’re starting with basics doesn’t mean things are going to be boring.

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