February 3, 2017
Today was SUPER COOL!! Linkie Marais came back to her old university, The W, and demonstrated about cake decorating skills. She is so talented! She makes buttercream roses so effortlessly, scroll work, fondant swags, and more. I really hope that I can be at least half as talented as she is!
So Allie C. and I arrived in class early at 7:30 am to help Linkie make the buttercream for our class. Since most of the class had never decorated a cake before, let alone touched a pipping bag before, she decided to tweak her original buttercream frosting recipe to make a mostly shortening buttercream. She explained that it won’t break down as easily as buttercream. Here is the recipe for her “mostly shortening buttercream.”
- 1 lb butter, softened
- 4 cups shortening plus a little bit
- 6 lbs sifted powdered sugar
- 3/4 cup water
- TT vanilla extract
- Cream the butter, scrape down the sides of the bowl.
- Add shortening and cream together with the butter, scrape down the bowl.
- Add powdered sugar, water, and vanilla, then mix on low until incorporated.
- Mix on high until well combined.
This was a huge batch of buttercream (well shortingcream) frosting. We made it in the big commercial sized stand mixer. My new favorite piece of equipment! Linkie showed us how to make this recipe once, and Allie and I made it an additional four times to create enough buttercream for Linkie’s two cakes, Allie’s, mine, and our ten other classmates. We ended up having to make another batch half way thorough class! We went through A LOT of powdered sugar!
Linkie started off by showing us how to level, stack, fill, and frost a two layer cake. She then showed us how to attach the coupler for ease of changing tips to a piping bag, how to fill the bag, and how to burp the bag. For her first cake she showed us a few different boarders with different tips that she could change out easily due to the coupler! She then demonstrated scroll-work, lace, basket-weaving, and some awesome buttercream roses.
She also showed us some techniques to help if and when one of our cakes gets messed up.
Linkie then leveled, stacked, filled, and iced another two layer cake that she then decorated with fondant. She showed us how thin that fondant should be rolled and explained that she uses corn starch to roll out the fondant as appose to powder sugar. Linkie told us that when she judges cake competitions that she judges on the thicken of the fondant as well as their piping skills. As she was rolling out the Wilton fondant, which was the kind of fondant that Chef Mary Helen got from Walmart, she told us about how she dislikes Wilton fondant. She suggested a few alternatives: Albert Uster Imports, Masa Americana, and Satin Ice.
Next up, making fondant decorations. she demonstrated a fondant bow and explained what Tylose Powder is. It is a powder you can add the fondant to help it which stiffens quickly without having to let it dry over hours or night. I had never heard of Tylose Powder, but it seemed pretty cool. Linkie said it was a little expensive but helpful. She said if we don’t have Tylose Powder that we could sculpt the fondant and use tissue paper of tin foil so that it holds it shape while it dries. She made a beautiful bow that stiffened up with in minutes.
She then showed us how make marble fondant. It was pretty simple actually, you take white fondant and add a little food color to it, fold it in but don’t incorporate it in all the way, then roll it out. She then showed us some drapes and flowers. She then pulled out her luster dust and painted it on the cake. She mixed the luster dust with pure lemon extract to make it a paintable consistency.
After she finished her demos, we got decorate our own cakes. I leveled, staked, filled, and frosted my two layer cake. I then tried my hand at basket weave design. I had never stacked or piped a cake before. It was not as hard as I thought it would be. It was not that hard to do the basket weave, but my lines were not that straight in the beginning but got better as I practiced. I then tried making the buttercream roses that Linkie demoed. I think I made like 60 roses but only like 10 made it on my cake. Linkie made it look so easy, but trust me its not as easy as she made it look. The few that did make it on the cake I was pretty impressed with. I added a few rosettes to the top to fill in the top and give it texture. Allie showed me how to pipe the rosettes!
Linkie came by gave me a few tips about my cake and told me that I was doing a really good job, especially it being my first time! All in all, today was the BEST day so far in advanced backing.
We got to take home our cakes, but I didn’t really know what to do with it. I took it back to my dorm room and then decided that I would take it to my ServSafe class tomorrow to feed it to the class.
I am supper excited for the rest of the semester in advanced baking!