Tag: pastry brush

How to cover a cake in sugarpaste, and make it really smooth!

Last week I made this really big (and really heavy) wedding cake. I have been asked a few times now how I cover cakes with sugarpaste and get it looking so smooth, so,  I took some snaps as I went. My poor camera is now covered in icing sugar! I started with each cake covered in marzipan. It gives a really smooth base coat. (To cover a cake in marzipan you do the same proceedure as with the icing-  you just use jam or buttercream to attach it, not alchohol) I found out whilst making this cake that if you buy a 5kg box of sugarpaste you get 1kg free. It’s so much cheaper to buy in bulk! I buy from here by the way. Just look at the size of that sugarpaste! It’s massive and really heavy. I break off big chunks and knead them until soft and pliable, then add the next chunk of sugarpaste, till I have enough to cover the whole cake. I use spacers when rolling to make sure that the icing is level throughout. This was a 12″ Madeira cake so the sugarpaste needed to be rolled out to a really big circle. In order for the sugarpaste to stick to the marzipan you need to make it damp. For this use either cooled boiled water or brandy. You can guess which one I used! Well, it was a wedding cake! Use a damp pastry brush and cover the whole cake especially around the base.

 

If you are sugarpasting directly onto a cake  (ie with no marzipan) add a thin layer of buttercream to the top and side of the cake for the sugarpaste to stick to. The smoother you can get teh buttercream the better the sugarpaste will look.  Carefully lift the rolled  out sugarpaste over the cake. Support it from underneath as much as you can as it will stretch very easily- making it very thin in some areas. Use a cake smoother to gently force any trapped air bubbles out and smooth the top layer of the cake. I have this pink spirit leveller just for using with cakes. It’s an essential tool when stacking cakes, as if you get the bottom two tiers wonky it will throw the whole cake off. Most of the time you can keep using the smoother to get the level as good as perfect. Keep smoothing in a circular action and checking the flatness till it’s good. Once the top is nice and flat gently use the palm of your hand to smooth down the sides. Avoid creases at the bottom by holding the lower piece of sugarpaste out away from the cake while you smooth it gently towards the bottom with your other hand. (It’s impossible to take a photo of this action when you are home alone on a Tuesday afternoon!) Hope it makes sence. Once the whole cake is covered use the palm of your hand to smooth the edges of the icing securely onto the cake. There is always some excess to cut off. I use a pizza wheel to cut away the extra sugarpaste. Don’t lean the cutter in towards the bottom of the cake. Keep it at a right angle and leave about 2mm sticking out. Use a flat smoother to tuck in the excess 2mm of sugarpaste all the way around the cake.  Use the inside part of your palm- between your thumb and first finger, and smooth the top corner until it’s really soft and there are no bumps. The last action is to finish off with a cake smoother all over the top and around the sides till it’s perfectly smooth.

enjoy!

Best for baking – JosephJoseph Baking gift set

Roll up! Roll up!

JosephJoseph baking kit 

I love JosephJoseph,and it’s not just because they have beautiful blue eyes! JosephJoseph are twins and I have met them a couple of times at press launches. They have such a passion for design that it’s infectious. Every one of their products is a “Why didn’t someone think of that before?” item.   I’ve been a fan of their clever products for a good few years now – probably because I studied Product Design at Uni and think they are great!

This baking set is really cool.  It was sent to me to test and I have to say I am impressed! It consists of an Adjustable rolling-pin, Elevate pastry brush, Elevate small spatula and a kitchen timer. The whole set is so usable whether for baking or cooking and I think it’s really great value at around £40 from Josephjoseph.com – considering what you get.

Here’s why…..

Adjustable rolling pin,

JosephJoseph Adjustable rolling pin rolling pin

This rolling pin was brought out a few years ago and I thought it was brilliant then, but it had a JospehJoseph logo on the centre which was recessed and left its mark on whatever you were rolling out. Now if you’re making cookies then it doesn’t matter, but I wanted to use it for icing which needed to be perfectly flat so it was just frustrating. So I gave my green one to my mum. She loves it! The newer version is completely flat ( no indented logo) so I can now roll out sugarpaste, dough and marzipan to my heart’s content!

Adjustable discs on the rolling pin

The main reason that this is such an amazing piece of baking kit is the way you can remove the discs at the ends to select the depth of thickness of what you are rolling out from 2mm, 6mm, 10mm. These sizes cover most of my needs! I also like having the measures on the pin so when you need to roll out icing to cover a cake or dough to fill a pie dish, you can see how much more you need to roll out.

You can pop the discs in the dishwasher but as with all wooden rolling pins you should just wipe them with a damp cloth. If you get it soaked the water gets in and can crack.

Elevate pastry brush,

JosephJoseph elevate pastry brush

I always use a silicone pastry brush when I am greasing a cake tin. They’re great for getting into every nook and cranny and are sooooo easy to clean. They also dry quicker than the old hairy bristle types.
This design has a really nifty handle which keeps the bristles lifted off the worktop surface when you put it down. It’s also larger than most brushes, which is great for glazing. It’s heat resistant up to 340°C, so you can even use it to baste a turkey. You can also pop it in the dishwasher.

Elevate small spatula

JosephJoseph elevate spatula

The spatula has the same type of  handle as the pastry brush (as the name would suggest!)  The spatula part is nice and soft so you can really scrape out all the cake mix from a bowl. I’m a big fan of silicone. It really is the easiest material to use and clean when baking.
It’s heat resistant to 340°C which means you can use it for cooking too. Once you’ve made scrambled or fried eggs with one of these you’ll never look back!

Kitchen timer

JosephJoseph kitchen timer

I never used to use kitchen timers that much, I just set the clock timer on the oven, but there have been a number of times when I have needed to set two timers to run at different times, say for different batches of cookies. Since receiving this kit I’ve used the timer non-stop. I don’t know how I lived without it before. I must say that I have also been giving my girls a “10 minute tidy timer” and as it’s pink (!!!!!) they actually love it!

So to sum up, I think each of the items in this set are great on their own, but as a set they are a brilliant bit of baking kit which I know I will be using for years to come!

Baking Gift Set

What do you think?

Why I don’t love shortbread (Part two)

Shortbread is a sticky subject!

So, yesterday I made shortbread biscuits. The reason I made them was to test that they would work as individual biscuits. I have had some shortbread nightmares recently when trying to do one big tray/mould bake.

My friend Astrid emailed me :
“ I’ve been trying to perfect my shortbread technique and it’s not going too badly (I find the rubbing technique works much better than creaming for me) but I wanted to use a mould I bought in a cook shop in Scotland and it’s not working: the dough sticks to the mould (it’s ceramic) and twice now I’ve had to scrape it off with a spatula, which defeats the object of having a patterned mould in the first place! Is there a different recipe I can use or a way of doing it so this doesn’t happen?”

So I set about finding a recipe that I thought would work best in a ceramic mould (I also treated myself to a cute Scottish Shortbread mould from Lakeland- thistles and all!) And used the shortbread recipe from yesterday which is here.

Round one

Grease the mould well

I used ‘Cake release’ which is a great non stick product (that I use with a lot of success with cakes) and applied it to the ceramic mould with a pastry brush so I could get into all the nooks and crannies.

Press the shortbread dough into the mould

To make the dough I used the rubbing method that Astrid used, popped it in the fridge for an hour then pressed it into mould.

The full mould

and baked it in the oven until it was a light golden brown colour.

Baked to perfection

But it didn’t work!  It got well and truly stuck. Even scraping won't get it out!

Round two

So, I tried again!
This time I blended the ingredients in the food mixer, creaming the butter and the sugar together before I added the dry ingredients. I chilled the dough overnight, greased the mould with butter and dusted it with plain flour, removing any excess.Butter and flour the mould
Then I rolled out the dough and pressed it into the mould lightly and baked it. Guess what? It got stuck again. It did taste good though – I tried to remove the shortbread  with a spatula and little pieces popped out. Don’t worry, none went to waste. It still won't come out!
 

Round three

Okay, so by now I was getting pretty annoyed. Why is it sticking? What am I doing wrong? I searched on Google and I messaged every Twitter foodie I could find. No one came up with any better ideas than the ones I had already tried. So I thought I’d go straight to the experts in baking equipment. I spoke to Lakeland direct!  Their advice was….

“Use a slightly lower heat and cook a little longer, to prevent sticking. The dough needs to be firmly pressed into the mould. It should be a toasty light brown when cooked. Be sure to let the shortbread cool in the pan before trying to remove.”

Well I decided I would give it one final shot using all their advice. And here’s the result!

I buttered the mould (or should I say caked it in butter?)

Rolled out the shortbread, placed it in the mould and pressed it into place. Baked it, left it to cool, placed it back in the fridge for an hour or so and….

 Grrrrrr!!

it STILL got stuck!!!!

So, I’m stumped! Do you have a clever trick for getting shortbread out of a ceramic mould? What’s the knack! If you can shed any light/ experience/ help,  we (Astrid and I) would love to hear your tips! Please post a comment below.

Many thanks,

Emma

Enjoy!

 

 

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