Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Experiment 3, Part 2 - cake decorating

We've finally reached the last installment from my baking extravaganza of a week off work - cake decorating. After a fair bit of thought, I decided that I'd make cupcakes rather than a single cake - more possibilities for decorating techniques that way!

I may have gotten a wee bit carried away with the amount of cupcakes I made...

I decided that I'd try doing half of them with butter cream frosting, and half with dark chocolate ganache. I started with the butter cream frosting. Which contained strawberry flavouring and a good chunk of pink food colouring... But which was delicious, I might add!

I started out with the basics - an oddly grape shaped blackcurrant flavoured candy. Not particularly imaginative, but the raspberry candies I was planning on trying just made it look like a boob... And I just couldn't bring myself to leave it like that!

Next up, I tried making a marshmallow flower. Technically, I should have used an M&M or Smartie in the middle instead of a the white chocolate chip. But I forgot to buy them... It didn't turn out too badly, but I really don't think six petals works very well!

Then it was onto decorating with white chocolate chips. Again, not particularly imaginative, but I think it works.

Here we have some chocolate shavings, done with a vegetable peeler:

Then I figured I'd try the marshmallow technique again, this time with FIVE petals. It worked much better.

Here we have another basic one - some desiccated coconut.

Something slightly more original - some slices of Milky Way...

Then I broke out the piping bag. I started with the star tip. I did the stars around the edge and then decided it looked a bit bland. So I did the one in the middle. And then realised it was off-centre. Oh well...

A smiley face. I don't really know why. Probably I was running low on ideas by this point...

This was meant to be a heart. I think I still need to work on my piping skills...

Then it was onto the writing tip - this one was for Sara.

This was pretty much the most disastrous of the lot - although it looked better as time went on, weirdly. I have a set of stencils designed for use on coffee or cookies or whatever. I'm sure they're much easier to use if you have a small shaker of the cafe or coffee shop sort. But I only had a teaspoon, so it was somewhat thicker than it should have been... For the record, they're meant to be hearts...

This one started out okay, but then the tip clogged. And then I ran out of icing in the piping bag and had to refill it. So it wound up looking a little messy. But if things hadn't gone wrong, I think it would have been okay.

This one was for me. This tip really wasn't ideal for writing with in hindsight...

This was my favourite. It got piping overload. I think it looks like either a hedgehog or Dennis the Menace from the Beano. And I can tell you now, it was delicious... ;)

Mmmm, icing overload... I think an entire batch of these would be pretty cool. Although you'd need to make about three times more icing than usual!!

Then I decided to make some chocolate curls. The process is fairly simple - melt some dark chocolate, and spread it onto a flat surface. Ideally, it should be a marble slab. But I don't have one so I used the bottom of my square cake tin on the basis that it's not a non-stick tin - nothing worse than Teflon in your chocolate curls!! Then stick the tin in the freezer for 30 seconds or so, or however long it takes for the chocolate to mostly set.

I used a melon baller to make the chocolate curls. It worked pretty damned well, I have to say!

And that brings us to the end of the butter cream frosted cupcakes:

Then it was onto the chocolate ganache!

I started with the basics again - white chocolate chips.

The raspberry candy worked better on the ganache than on the butter cream...

This one got chocolate curl overload. And it, too, was delicious. I took most of the cupcakes to work with me, and everyone was too scared to eat this one, so I wound up with it...

Some nice slices of after dinner mint.

Some white chocolate shavings, again with the veggie peeler.

Some granulated peanuts.

Some random marshmallow decoration...

By this point, I was starting to run out of ideas, so dug through the freezer and found some frozen berries. After thawing some of the raspberries out, they made quite a nice decoration, I think!

Then I tried piping with white chocolate. This was much trickier than piping frosting. I didn't want to let the chocolate cool too much in case it decided to set into a solid blob in the piping bag. These were meant to be stars. As you can see, that didn't turn out so well... But I think it still worked okay. Just not as expected!

I was really running low on ideas by this time, and resorted to a dusting of icing sugar.

Another white chocolate piping disaster. I'd left the piping bag sitting for another couple of minutes in the hopes that it would get slightly more solid. It really didn't...

This one just got the one chocolate curl.

More playing with frozen berries - sliced strawberries this time. If I'd been more organised, I would have cut up another couple of strawberries and overlapped them somehow.

More unfortunate white chocolate piping...

I was *really* scraping the bottom of the barrel for ideas by the time I pulled out the hundreds and thousands!!

Then I tried slicing the after dinner mints in a different way.

And finally, I tried topping off some piped white chocolate (again, rather unsuccessful) with a chocolate curl. This one turned out better than the others with white chocolate piping, that's for sure!

And that's the lot - thirty four cupcakes, all decorated differently!

I'm already looking forward to an excuse to make a full sized cake to try out some of the techniques on the large scale!!

And that's the end of my week of baking experimentation - three experiments, three success stories!
K xx :)

1 comment:

  1. You're probably better off making a white chocolate ganache (chop choc finely, bring a little cream to the boil, tip it over chocolate, stand for about a minute and then stir until smooth), and then letting it cool (set, maybe?) and whipping it, THEN piping it. The texture is more like buttercream and much more user-friendly.

    ~* Ness (at work, can't log into Google)

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