My First Attempt on Sugar Craft

My First Attempt on Sugar Craft

Television is very deceptive. They always make it look so easy when it comes to sugar paste. While my own embarrassing cake drama stays better on my own private cake journal (yes, it’s geeky to keep one where I keep track of my budget for baking and supply sources), I’ve decided to share my first attempt here anyway in one post instead of two.

After two to three months of poring over endless books from the public library, shopping for beginner’s tools, as well as surfing Youtube for clues, I got inspired to bake… until my oven broke down.

So, my Apple Cake batter was all ready! My oven strangely was cold to the touch when trying to preheat for 350F for 20 minutes. My boyfriend even went through all the trouble picking the nicest crab-apples from our tree!

Our organic Apple Harvest; peeled and cut for the cake. It was peeled, cut, cored and shredded for the cupcakes

This is what lush rainfall does to an apple tree! It’s rarely this red and sweet.

Luckily enough, I was able to use an alternate oven not too far away from our tree.

This Apple Cake recipe can be interchangeable with rhubarb. It is found in the collection of recipes that holds the paprika goulash. The recipe is so easy that I have memorized its ingredients and step-by-step processes.

Apple Cake baked in a 6 x 3 inch tin and apple cupcakes

I made a double batch of the following recipe, but have noted its original measurements. Please note that the original recipe takes 45 minutes to bake in a 13x9x3 tin. However, it will take 15 to 20 minutes for cupcakes; it will require longer time for different tins. The 6 x 3 inch cake tin required 1 hour and 45 minutes. Side note: you don’t want to open the oven too often or your cake will collapse.

APPLE CAKE
Prior to starting, set aside 1 cup of milk and add 1 tbsp of white vinegar to make buttermilk. Let sit for 5 minutes before starting.

Cream the following:
1 cup of butter
3/4 cup to 1 cup of sugar (taste your apple for tartness prior to adding sugar)

– Take care not to over-beat as this will affect your cake. Also, you are not trying to churn butter into buttermilk.

– Add 1 egg and 1 tsp vanilla. Beat.

In a separate bowl, sift:
2 cups of flour
1 tsp of baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
Optional: I adapted the original recipe and added approx more than 1 tsp of nutmeg

Alternately add sifted flour contents and buttermilk to batter. My favourite way to do it is to use 1/3 cup and scoop two portions of flour & stir; one portion of buttermilk & stir.

Pour batter accordingly, leaving enough room for the cake to rise. (This was my mistake as you can see with the 6 x 3 inch cake tin. I left 1/3 of room for cupcakes. Nonetheless, if your cake overflow, you can always cut the extra off with a bread knife! This makes for delicious crumbs to go with vanilla ice cream.) It is equally important to knock your tin in a circular motion, so that air bubbles are removed.

If you are using a cake tin, you want to grease the parchment paper carefully with butter on BOTH sides. It is very important to take your time and make sure your tins are properly lined. It will save you a lot of headache.

The cake right out of the lined tin:

Apple Cake, after leveling the cake

Apply a thin layer of frosting; in this recipe, I chose cream cheese frosting to complement the flavours of apple:

There are a few reasons why you want to apply a thin layer of frosting:
– Many people, including myself find that fondant is super ferociously sweet; people who tried my cake, including myself, left the fondant on the plate. The thin layer of cream cheese frosting was enough to accompany the cake
– It will allow the fondant to stick/hold better

While many resources suggested that I use a professional KitchenAid, I do not simply have the budget nor space to have one right now. I would love to own one, but for now, I can get by using my bare hands and my butt muscles.

Making your own fondant is very, very messy. I found the Roll-N-Cut Mat from Wilton’s to be fairly useful. The sales clerk at Wilton’s suggested seasoning it wth Crisco. I mostly just dusted the mat with sifted icing sugar as I go along.

Make sure you work very quickly as the fondant dries up quick! My fondant cracked a bit as it was dry.

Here is a recipe for making your own fondant, adapted from “Fondant Modeling for Cake Decorators” by Helen Penmant; I find that you won’t actually use up all the icing sugar, so sift your icing sugar and add accordingly. Some of the ingredients can be found either at Bulk Barn, Wilton’s Wholesale Distributors, or Cake Mischief (an online store).

INGREDIENTS FOR ROLLED FONDANT
– 1 packet of gelatin (Knox)
– 1/4 cup cold water
– 1 tbsp glycerine
– 1/2 cup liquid glucose
– 6 to 7 cups of icing sugar, SIFTED in a big bowl

  1. Sprinkle gelatin over the cold water in a bowl and let it soak until it is spongy.
  2. Stand the bowl over boiled water and stir until the gelatin dissolves.
  3. Stir in the glycerine and glucose. Add any flavourings if you’d like (optional)
  4. In the big bowl of sifted icing sugar, make a well in the centre.
  5. Slowly pour the liquid in and constantly stir with a wooden spoon. Mix well.
  6. Pour the fondant onto a work surface that has been well dusted with confectioner’s sugar and knead until smooth.
  7. Refrigerate for about an hour before using in a sealed container or a zip tight bag.

Note: if using liquid food colouring, you would need extra dusting sugar.

Beginner’s notes: My rolled fondant was super dry and hard before I put it in the fridge; my sleepless brain was busy troubleshooting in my dreams. So, at 6 am this morning, I gave my dreamt actions a shot: I used a pastry brush and lightly added water. It got sticky upon contact with water; added a bit more dusting sugar and kept rolling… and I was able to achieve this result:

Sky blue (Ameri-Colour) was used; I was able to get a marbled effect after much rolling and adding a few drops of colour in sequence. If you do not have a fondant smoother, using your strong hand guided by your weak hand would work too.

At anytime we are not using our rolled fondant, be sure to cover it in cling-wrap. Here’s a tip that I have to keep for myself for cracked fondant: you can sort of fix it with just water once your fondant is dressed on your cake. Also, my plan was to cover my imperfections with decorations.

At this point, I was having fun adding two other different colours to my rolled fondant: teal and bright pink. I used a ribbon roller tool, a molding tool and a carnation cutter. To glue the pieces, I created my own edible glue:

1/2 tsp gum tragacanth (or stabilizer)
3 tbsp boiled water

  1. Sprinkle the gum powder over the warm water and mix.
  2. Leave until the powder is absorbed, then mix again. The mixture should be clear. The glue will be smooth, without lumps, and have a soft consistency. If the glue thickens or is too thick for your needs, add a little more boiled water.

So, the final verdict? I might have to rule out rolled fondant as icing for a cake. The dentist would not approve.

If you have got any tips and tricks to show on sugar paste, especially with gum paste, kindly please drop me a line!