Tag Archives: sugar work

Sugar Work Equipment

 
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Before I start showing any sugar work techniques, I want to give you an idea of what equipment I use and how I set it up. I don’t have every toy and gadget I’d like to, but what I do have is enough to play around with most of the techniques I’ve learned in the past.

Keep in mind that you don’t need all of this stuff to get started in the wonderful world of sugar! I’m planning on showing as many things as I can think of that require little or no specialized equipment besides a candy thermometer. Most of this equipment is only necessary for pulled and blown sugar. While those are sort of the main attractions of sugar work for many people, they aren’t the only thing you can do with it.


Sugar Work Equipment

Here is more or less how I’ve been setting my equipment up in this kitchen. Fortunately, I have a nice tall space in the center of our long counter where the side-by-side “vintage” oven and range used to be. (I don’t miss them at all!) Center stage is my sugar warming box. Mine is homemade by the chef I learned to do sugar from. Compare it to a commercially-produced version. Professional sugar equipment is expensive. For the most part, I recommend you make or improvise any of it that you can. Part of the fun of doing sugar or chocolate work is taking creative trips to the hardware store! I managed to find a blog post written by someone who made his own sugar warming box.

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Sugar Work (Pastry School Flashbacks)

 
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One of my goals for this year is to start practicing my neglected sugar work skills again. Last week’s cupcakes gave me the motivation to round up all of my equipment. Now that I have it located and dusted off, I’m hoping to relearn what I used to know and share the techniques here as I revisit them. In the meantime, I’ve been looking over my old notes and pictures to refresh my memory. Inspired by the post Hayley did at Hayley Bakes of her “vintage” cakes, I thought it would be fun to do something similar with my old pastry school photos, starting with the sugar stuff. (These photos were all taken with my old point and shoot digital camera, or even worse my digital video camera’s still photo function for the first few, so they look a little different from my usual!)

First, a comparison. This was the first showpiece I ever made:


Sugar Work - My First Showpiece

And this is the one I made nine months later for my graduation portfolio review and reception:


Sugar Work - Dolphin Showpiece

The sugar technique on my cupcakes last week, as cute as I think they turned out, falls slightly closer to the first showpiece than the last on my ability spectrum, so I have some ground to make up.

In my defense, that first showpiece was not designed by me in any way, shape, or form, but the execution was all me (except for the ribbons, which look pretty good but were made by the instructor). Maybe it was a good thing that I really didn’t like the design or the colors, because at the time it took my mind off of how frustrated I was that I couldn’t make the sugar do what I wanted it to.

This was back during my first quarter of pastry school. Our chef instructor for that term offered three-day showpiece workshops out of his home, and I was really excited to take the chocolate one. He was also offering a sugar work workshop. I wasn’t sure that I was that interested in it, but Chris and I decided that I shouldn’t miss the opportunity to learn the skill, so I signed up for both the sugar and chocolate classes.

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Battlestar Galactica Rainbow Cupcakes

 
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Yesterday, I posted a few pictures of the rainbow cupcakes I was making because one of them had a perfect red heart peeking out through the top layer of blue batter. Now I’ll show you why I was making Technicolor cupcakes in the first place.


Battlestar Galactica-Inspired Cupcakes Battlestar Galactica-Inspired Cupcakes

Battlestar Galactica-Inspired Cupcakes Battlestar Galactica-Inspired Cupcakes


Tonight, Battlestar Galactica‘s final episode airs. While the quality hasn’t always been consistent, the miniseries pilot and the first season of the show (running into the first few episodes of the second season) had an excellent plot arc and some of the finest writing, acting and production I’ve ever seen on the small screen. Even my least favorite episodes have had their own flashes of brilliance. I’m very sad to see it go, but I can understand wanting to end the show intentionally instead of risking being canceled or just having the creative juices fizzle out. Continue reading