by Dodgy Steve
Lessons from a baker...
|I was a baker for 10 or so years, so I have somewhat of a more in-depth knowledge when it comes to baking than most. On top of that, my father is (or rather was a head chef and my brother is a soux chef (second-in-charge). So yeah, I have a little experience when it comes to food!
So what would you like to hear about?
I answered a Facebook question today, so I could probably talk about that as it is fresh in my mind. So here goes…..
Today, class, we are going to talk about icing a cake with white icing.
The first step to having a professional looking cake is preparation. You will never spend too much time on this if you are doing it at home. If you do it for a living, your boss may have a different opinion!
Couple of things you need to pay special attention to:
1. When you are lining the cake tin with greaseproof/baking paper, make sure you have no creases in the paper. If you have a crease in the paper, you will end up with a crease in the cake and have to fill it with icing before putting a final layer on it.
2. Make sure your cake is stone cold! Not warm, not luke warm… Cold. The colder the better.
3. Make sure the area and utensils you are icing with are clean! White icing will pick up anything you have on your bench and I do mean anything!
4. Good quality ingredients. If you use cheap rubbish, you will produce a cheap finish.
5. Have a good supply of an icing sugar and cornflour (cornstarch) mix - 50%/50% is good.
Look at your cake with a critical eye. If there is a small divot or crease, it will show at the end. So if you have one, get a small amount of the white icing and fill it so it is level with the cake wall, making a smooth cake wall to ice against.
Okay, so once you have a prepared cake then you need to brush some sugar syrup on the cake. You can either buy or make this. It’s not hard to make but I am lazy so I buy it.
Once you have done all of this, then you need to start with the icing. Give it a good knead to start with to equalise the temperature. If the icing is too firm after a 3-4 minute knead, then add some glucose. If it’s too soft then add a little icing sugar to firm up. Seriously, it takes a bit of experience to be able “feel” this just by touch, so don’t worry if you have to mess around with it a little before you get it right. You should be able to make a ball about the size of a softball and not have it stick to your fingers or crack around the outside.
Start to roll it out now. You will need a good amount of the icing sugar/cornflour mix on the bottom to allow it to move on the surface you are rolling on. Use a smooth roller! If your roller has a dent or crack or is rough, it will show at the end. I use a stainless steel one. Roll the icing out smoothly, working from the centre out to the edge. Try to keep it the same thickness all over. If the icing starts to stick to the surface you are rolling on, then simply add more of the sugar/flour mixture to allow free movement.
Once you have it to the dimensions that you need (you should be aiming to have 3-4cm (um…. 2 inches for the Americans) extra for trimming. Brush all the sugar/flour from the top with a soft brush.
Now you need to move quickly on this next step because if you don’t it will stick together and you will have to start again! To pick the icing up off the bench and lay it over the cake, I use my rolling pin and roll the icing around the pin, brushing the flour/sugar mix off the bottom as I roll it up (if you leave dry stuff on the bottom of the icing, the icing won’t stick to the cake). I then move it over the cake and lay it over the cake by unrolling it off the pin.
Then push the icing into the cake gently with your hands until you have got an even covering against the cake. Use a couple of cake smoother thingymagigs to smooth the sides and top of the cake.
Trim and finish.
Clear as mud!