Culinary School Here I Come (48) Beginning Baking Week 5, Icings, Cake Making & Decorating and Pau Hana

Here in Hawaii, pau hana means the end of the work day and by Thursday it was pau hana until the start of the fall semester. Baking class was totally amazing but we were all ready for it to be over. Our last week focused on icings and cakes so I’m just going to dive into the subject.

Cakes can be divided into 2 categories; high fat and low fat. High fat cakes include; whole eggs or yolks, butter or other shortenings and  sugar. These cakes are blended in either the creaming method or the 2 stage method. Low fat cakes primarily use whipped egg whites and flour is then folded into the whipped whites. This is a nutshell explanation. The cake you see up above is an Angel Food cake. It is under the low fat category. The Angel Food cake is unusual because; 1. It is baked in a tube pan and 2. You don’t use any pan release. You need the batter to climb up the pan and stick. That is what give the cake its height. It’s not easy removing them but that’s just how it goes.

We also made a Chocolate Molten Lava Cake. Sorry I was too late getting to this pic. Someone already took a sample. This cake is slightly under baked to create the molten center. It’s really yummy with raspberry sauce!

We can’t talk about cakes without mentioning the Cheesecake. We made a Vanilla & Chocolate Marble Cheesecake. This one is with an Oreo Crumb crust. We also made some with a Pate Sablee crust.

We discussed the various types of meringues; French (simple), Swiss & Italian. French is used primarily as an additive in batters to add air. Swiss is used as meringues for pies, where more firmness is needed. Italian meringue is the most stable of the meringues. It is used as the base for butter creams. Egg whites are whipped until soft peaks are formed, some sugar is added and whipped until firmer peaks are formed and the mixture doesn’t feel gritty. In the meantime, water and sugar is boiled to 240 degrees. A low tech way to determine that you are at the right temperature is to dip the end of a slotted spoon into the syrup and blow. If you get a bubble, it’s time.

The sugar syrup is ready! The hot syrup gets streamed into the whipping egg whites until fully incorporated. That is Italian meringue.

Italian Butter Cream is made by using this meringue (once it has come to room temperature) and whipping into it cubed butter. Once all the butter in whipped into it, you must add some shortening.

This wouldn’t be my first choice, however, you need the shortening for stability or else you will be spreading a pretty flat butter cream.

So now that we have our cake, we have our fillings and we have our icing, we can now decorate.

I was shocked to discover that my favorite part of the cake, the sugar crust on the top, is the first thing to go. It must be peeled off because it can “dirty” the frosting. Aw nuts!

The outer edges of the cake needs to get trimmed off. It is usually dryer on the edges anyway.

For this particular cake, were were cutting it into 3 layers so you’d score each layer first then cut all the way around and through.

After all the cuts are made, it’s time to spread the filling. We used a Chocolate Mousse.

To ensure moistness, sprinkle some simple syrup on each cake layer before spreading the filling.

After all 3 layers are in place, it’s time for the crumb coat. A crumb coat is a thin layer of frosting that encases all the crumbs.

It is important that you chill the cake at this point so the frosting firms up and seals all crumbs in. You don’t want crumbs running through your final coat.

After spreading the butter cream around and removing excess, a bench scraper was used to get a flat top and side surfaces.  I would have been okay stopping here. I think it looks really cool.

Someone should has shouted, “Step away from the pastry bag.” It’s a little overdone but not bad for my first attempt at decorating a cake.

I must admit I really enjoyed this baking class. I really learned a lot of information that I was not familiar with.  I am definitely moving on to advanced baking. With all this said, it’s time for me to take a break and really concentrate on honing my baking skills as well as some molecular gastronomy experiments.


About tinfoilduck

I had this wacky idea to go to culinary school, while maintaining another full time career. I will be blogging about the program and how it affects me as I try to manage my daily life and how I try to keep everything together.
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