Friday, April 30, 2010

How To Make Fondant Icing


how-to-make-fondant
Image courtesy of The Wedding Chicks

Have you ever sat admiring the beautiful cakes that the team of Charm City Cakes create for their beautiful events!! And I bet you have spent more than a few minutes admiring the beautiful wedding cakes that you see these days, with exquisite flowers and pearly designs adorning the smooth and shiny base. Much of this magic is created using Fondant Icing. Sounds familiar? Yesterday I posted a recipe for Cherry Blossom Chocolate Cupcakes on Fun and Food Cafe, and I got several responses from readers, admiring the cupcakes and also the power of Fondant Icing! Some of you also requested a post on how to Make fondant at home. Whether you are a baker who knows how to work with fondant, or are a novice who wants to dabble at making fondant icing yourself, just so you can decorate your cakes and cupcakes, here's a tutorial that will serve as a set of guidelines whenever you want to work with Fondant Icing.

What is Fondant Icing
Fondant Icing is an alternative to butter-based Royal Icing, and is used to decorate cakes and petit-fours. It includes gelatin (or agar-agar in vegetarian recipes) and food-grade glycerin, which keep the sugar pliable and creates a dough-like consistency, that makes it easy to roll out, then use to cover the cakes, rather than slathering it on like regular frosting. It can also be made using powdered sugar and melted marshmallows. It is definitely not as tasty and creamy as Royal Icing, but rolled fondant can be used to cover the cake, giving it a smooth appearance, and also to make more decorations sticking to the base.

How To Make Fondant Icing
Here is a basic recipe that I learnt during my Wilton Cake Decorating classes. it is fairly simple, and I'm sure a novice baker should be able to follow instructions and recreate the recipe.

Ingredients
1 tbsp unflavored gelatin
1/4 cup cold water
1 tsp almond extract
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1 tbsp glycerin
4 cups powdered sugar (confectioner's sugar)
oil or cornstarch

Method
Add the gelatin to a saucepan of water. Sprinkle the gelatin over the water, and allow it to sit for 5 minutes to let it bloom. Simmer the gelatin under low heat, and stir until dissolved completely in the water. Be sure to use a low flame so as not to boil the water, as this can create lumps in the fondant icing; cover the gelatin and keep warm.

Pour the confectioners' sugar into a mixing bowl. Create a medium sized well in the center of the sugar. Add the glycerin and light corn syrup, and do not stir the mixture. Pour the warm gelatin into the well, and then stir the mixture until well blended.

Continue stirring until the mixture becomes stiff. Be sure to stir in one single direction only - switching directions can cause air bubbles to be trapped in the final fondant. Grease your palms with some oil or cornstarch and knead the dough until all of the sugar mixes completely into the fondant.

Now sprinkle cornstarch on a flat surface and knead the fondant on that surface. The cornstarch will prevent the fondant from sticking. Continue the kneading process until the fondant becomes smooth and shiny. Add a few drops of water if the fondant is dry or starts to crack.

Next step is to roll the fondant. For best results, roll the fondant into a ball, wrap it with a plastic wrap, and wait for at least 30 minutes until you roll the fondant out to place it on your cake. You can even refrigerate your wrapped fondant for some more time so that its easier to work with it when decorating your cake.

Adding Color to Fondant
Decorating cakes is not much fun unless you add some color to the end product, right? When you want to color your fondant icing, the best time to do this is when you have rolled the icing into a ball, but not refrigerated it. Get your fondant on your counter and smash it out a bit. Using a toothpick dipped in food coloring gel, add a small glob of the Wilton color on the white fondant. You can also take a golf ball size of fondant and use that to smear the food coloring around on the fondant. Put the ball in the middle, fold the fondant over it and knead the big gob of fondant until all of the color is evenly mixed in. You might need to add a bit of shortening to your hands and counter to keep the fondant from sticking. If it is still too pale, use the same procedure to add in more color. Remember that it is easier to add color than take it out. Start with small amounts of color and add more as you need to.

How To Decorate with Fondant Icing
You should always refrigerate your fondant icing before using it to decorate your cakes. This makes it easier to form shapes with the icing. Remove your icing from the fridge, sprinkle some cornstarch on your countertop, then roll out your fondant on it using medium-pressure and long strokes on a rolling pin. Roll it out till it is 1/4th inch thick, and slightly bigger than the size of your cake that needs to be covered.

Fondant as a Base
To cover a cake, flip over the rolled fondant and stick it gently on the cake, covering all sides evenly. Cut off any extra fondant using cooking scissors and trim the edges. Remember to flip your rolled fondant - the side facing the counter-top is shinier, and this should be on the top of the covered cake.

Fondant Decorations Over Fondant Base
To make small decorations, use the rolled fondant technique, then use different shaped cutters to make your own designs. You can even form 3-D sculptures using your hands and some oil or cornstarch to make shapes. In order to stick the fondant decorations over a fondant base, take a paint-brush - dip it in water and apply it to the smaller decorations. Then gently press it onto the fondant base and hold on for a few seconds so it sticks to the base. Remember to not use too much water as this can cause the color of the icing to tint and mix with one another - just a drop should work just fine!

how-to-make-fondantI bet you know more about Fondant Icing now that you've read this tutorial! So are you ready to try your hand at Fondant decorations? Then start with these really simple Cherry Blossom Cupcakes - perfect for upcoming Mother's Day celebrations!

Happy Baking! And do come back and share your experience with us!


Ice Cream ~ Petite Creation

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Birthday Bash Contest

Only 6 days left for you to email me photos of your favorite mini birthday cake or dollhouse scene that you created...all the food items shown in the photo has to be created by you. Deadline, May 1st! Entries will be featured from May 2nd to May 6th, and the winner will be chosen by readers of this blog. So email me the photos at smehreen@gmail.com

Ice Cream ~ Toni Ellison


For more minis by Toni Ellison, visit:
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Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Mint and peas pulao


Ingredients

1 cup basmati rice
1 cup green peas
1 medium potato cubed
2 tsp oil
1 medium bunch of mint leaves
2 green chillies
1/2 tsp ginger paste
Salt to taste
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
2 tbsp grated coconut
Paste from one onion
2 cloves
1 bay leaf
2 cardamoms

Soak rice for 1/2 hour. Heat little oil, add the mint leaves and fry for 3 to 4 minutes. Grind it along with coconut, ginger and green chillies.

Heat the rest of the oil, add cloves, bayleaf and cardamom. Add turmeric, potato cubes, peas and masala paste. cook for 2-3 minutes and add salt. Add the soaked rice after draining the water and mix well for 2-3 minutes. Add 1 1/2 cups of water, transfer to a vessel and pressure cook it. Garnish with roasted cashews.

Serve with raita of your choice.

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Monday, April 19, 2010

Besan paratha


Ingredients

1 cup gram flour
1 cup wheat flour
Salt to taste
1 finely chopped onion
Bit of asafoetida
1/2 tsp red chilli powder (or 1 finely chopped green chilli)
Finely chopped coriander leaves
Oil to cook

Mix all ingredients except oil with little water to make a soft dough. Keep aside for 10-15 minutes. Make balls of it and roll into parathas by dusting little wheat flour.

Cook on a hot tava with little oil till brown spots appear on both sides. Serve hot with pickles and curd
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Amy Sherman? Who's she?

Amy Sherman
Photo credit:Julie Michelle

I recently had the chance to participate in a cool photography/portraiture project called I live here SF. As part of the project, I got to tell my "San Francisco story" which is pretty food-focused as you might imagine. I hope you will check it out! Thanks to the ├╝ber talented photographer Julie Michelle for including me.

Thanks to BizyMoms and That's so Yummy for featuring me in interviews. Also check out the Fast Recipes Feature: Cooking with Amy.

The rest of this week I'll be at the International Association of Culinary Professionals annual conference in Portland, Oregon, so I may not be posting again until I return. I'm sure I'll have lots to report when I do.

Hope you have a great week!

Amy

Croissant ~ Tiny Delights by Ana

... with jam & butter ...


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Sunday, April 18, 2010

Red chickpea salad


Ingredients

2 cups red chickpeas (soaked overnight and pressure cooked till soft)
2 medium boiled and cubed potatoes
Salt to taste
1 onion chopped
1 tomato chopped
1/2 tsp chaat masala powder
1/4 tsp cumin seeds powder
1/2 tsp lemon extract
Finely chopped coriander leaves

Mix all the ingredients together well and serve.
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Peanut Butter & Jelly Sandwich ~ Allie Lakin


For more minis by Allie Lakin, visit:
Blog: http://minieatsalpal.blogspot.com
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Saturday, April 17, 2010

Peanut Butter & Jelly Sandwich ~ Stephanie Kilgast


Keerai dosa


A very simple and healthy breakfast variety with usual dosa batter

Cook any greens after cleaning until soft and add salt, asafoetida, crushed cumin seeds, grated coconut and mix well. Add this to the usual dosa batter and make dosas.

An easy way to incorporate healthy ingredients in daily food.
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Friday, April 16, 2010

Pillsbury Bake-Off & Baking from Scratch

The Pillsbury Bake-Off represents the American Dream--it doesn't matter who you are, or where you come from, create a great recipe and you could win a million dollars. It's a celebration of creativity and excellence, or at least it should be.

If you were to look at past winning entries from the early years of the Pillsbury Bake-Off, you'd find they were baked from scratch using homegrown ingredients. Now with an emphasis on ease of use, and a proliferation of processed food, the finalists and "winning" recipes almost always use a premade mix or refrigerated dough such as biscuit dough, French bread dough, pizza dough, or pie crust. In some cases, because those processed foods have been discontinued, you can't even duplicate the winning recipes from years past.

Does creativity come out of a can or a box? I suppose it's possible. But my experience tasting some of the dishes at the 44th Pillsbury Bake-Off was disappointing. The savory dishes were too salty, the sweet dishes too sweet. Great taste was too often stifled by artificial tasting products and a lack of balance in flavors and textures. Even classic recipes like galettes and pizzas were hampered by the the processed products they included.

According to the rules, contestants must use one primary and one secondary ingredient. In the primary category nine products were refrigerated doughs, there was one brownie mix and last but not least, good old Pillsbury flour. Very few bakers made it to the finals, baking the old fashioned way, from scratch, with flour as their primary ingredients (I counted only five out of the 100 finalists). I'd like to salute three of them that did:

Denise Hopper
Denise Hopper<br />
Deluxe Triple Chocolate Cookies
Denise told me she uses Pillsbury products, but that "nothing tastes as good as homemade." She bakes 16-18 types of cookies at Christmas for her friends and neighbors and has been making this cookie for 10 years. It was inspired by her son who ate peanut butter and nutella sandwiches for lunch and had hot cocoa before bed. It combines all his favorites--peanut butter, hot cocoa mix, hazelnut spread with cocoa (nutella) and chocolate chips. A bit of oatmeal adds texture. This was her first time entering the contest.

Cara Sapida
Cara Sapida
Chocolate Peanut Butter Layered Cupcakes
Cara said, in her family they only use real butter and cream, nothing lowfat. She was trying to make a chocolate cupcake with a peanut butter filling but failed. But the peanut butter reminded her of a family recipe for peanut butter fudge so she tweaked the recipe, layering the peanut butter filling and chocolate dough and studding it with peanut butter and chocolate chips. This was also her first time entering the contest. She told me she Google'd "Pittsburgh baking competition" and the Pillsbury Bake-Off came up so she entered it.

Michelle Gauer
Michelle Gauer
Double Chocolate Orange Scones
Back in November, Michelle, a cooking contest enthusiast, started her blog, Best of the Best Recipes, where she shares her own recipes and tests out others. She was inspired by coffee shops where she is often dismayed in finding scones too dry. First she tried making a white chocolate strawberry scone and while it was good, her love of chocolate and orange led to a rich scone that made the cut. She used whipping cream and orange marmalade to create a rich and moist texture.

I'm sorry to say none of these contestants won the contest. I really liked Denise's cookies a lot. I would definitely make them. Cara's cupcakes were good, but perhaps too rich and decadent. Just a nibble was enough for me. Michelle's scones were really more like brownies than scones, but they were pretty tasty. I hope in the future the Pillsbury Bake-Off will encourage more contestants to bake from scratch. Maybe they could consider adding a "baking form scratch" category? After all, it's the Pillsbury heritage, and what their contest used to be all about.

Fruit Scones & Orange Marmalade ~ Emmaflam & Miniman


Rava vadai


An instant crispy vada variety for a quick snack and sudden guests

Ingredients

1 cup roasted rava/sooji
1 cup rice flour
1 green chilli cut finely
Salt to taste
Finely cut coriander leaves
1/2 cup sour curd
Oil to fry

Mix all the ingredients except oil and keep aside for 10 minutes. Add little water if required. The mixture should be thick but not like dough.

Heat oil. Wet palms and pat small balls of the mixture flat to make vadas. Drop them slowly in hot oil and repeat for 2-3 more vadas depending on the capacity of the vessel. Fry in medium flame till golden brown on both sides.

Remove on a tissue paper to drain excess oil. Serve hot with chutney and sambar.
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Thursday, April 15, 2010

Mont Blanc ~ Pei Li


Tutorial: Cheesecake ~ Christel Jensen


This tutorial have been an online workshop at cdhm, and you’ll find many tutorials on the member pages. Hope you will try it. It is great fun, and there are many filling possibilities if you don't want to use canes. You can make cherries or blueberries instead.

Materials you will need:

  • Polymer clay (I have used Fimo soft, but use whatever clay you are comfortable with)
  • Translucent
  • Beige
  • White
  • Yellow
  • Green
  • Red
  • Gloss varnish
  • Brush for varnish
  • Pigments or chalk in color ochre and burnt umber
  • Brush for pigments
  • Long cutting blade
  • Black tiny sand from railroad shop
  • Sandpaper medium coarse
  • Kemper rose cutter set. Using the smallest
  • Fruit canes ready made. Banana, strawberry and kiwi.
  • TLS
  • Pasta machine
  • Lid with small striped pattern. Top of glue bottle or Amorall.
  • Cocktail sticks
  • Talcum powder or cornstarch
  • Oven
  • Oven thermometer
  • Paper (parchment)
  • Tile or other work surface
  • Optional cake stand and plate


We will start to make the crust for the cheesecake. You might put on the oven so it is ready to go.

Mix 35%white, 35% translucent, 25% beige and 5% warm yellow.
Put it trough pasta machine several times or kneed by hand. Last pass should be on nr 5 setting on pasta machine.
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Cut out a round shape with the smallest rose cutter.

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Take a new piece of the mixed clay about 7 cm long also pressed trough a pasta machine on nr 5 setting.
Cut it to shape so it will fit around a lid with small striped pattern. (I am using the top of a Amorall spray bottle or similar).
Dust the lid with talcum powder or cornstarch.
DSC_0713
Press the clay strip firmly on to the lid to make good marks in the clay. Release and lay on flat surface. DSC_0716
With your long cutting blade cut it long enough to go around the circle. DSC_0732
Cut it about 5mm high. DSC_0733
Make a slant cut on one side. DSC_0735
Make wholes in the round shape with a cocktail stick. DSC_0738
Take TLS on a cocktail stick and lay it all around the circle. DSC_0745
Press the clay strip carefully onto the circle using the cocktail stick as guide. DSC_0757
When you meet the ends, cut the excess off making a slant cut in the opposite direction to the first. DSC_0767
Try to get a neat seam. DSC_0770
It’s not very important because this is where you will cut off your cake piece later. DSC_0777
Take your pigment brush and dust the pie shell with ochre first. If you want it to have some more brown spots, brush a bit with burnt umber as well. DSC_0782
Take some clay and make tiny crumbles that you bake along with the pie shell. This makes it so much more realistic at the end. Bake the pie shell and crumbs for 15 minutes on recommended temperature for the clay you are using.
While this bakes we will make the filling and top decoration. Make sure your hands are clean.

Take a small piece of white clay and the same amount translucent. A 50/50 mix. You also need a tiny bit of warm yellow clay. Make sure it is tiny or it will overpower the mix. This is to simulate the egg yolk that’s in the cheese mix.

Mix this well and put it aside.

DSC_0788
Cut the canes for the top or gather them if already cut. You will need about 15 kiwis, 10 strawberries and 6 bananas. This will vary all on how you will lay it the on pie. Cut a bit more for extra safety. DSC_0796
Take the crust out of the oven and let it cool slightly. Make a ball of the cheese mix and press it into the pie shell. Make it almost full, but leaving a bit so there will be space for the fruits. DSC_0802
Brush some TLS on top of the cheese mix so the cane slices will stick. DSC_0810

Take a cocktail stick and dip it in TLS. Not too much, just a little. This will act as a tweaser or an extra hand of some sort. It will grip onto the cane slices.

Start with the kiwis and lay it in an overlapping pattern all around the cake. Last kiwi slice you will tuck under the first to make it look pretty and perfect.

DSC_0816
Use the cocktail stick and put on a bit of TLS on the lower end of the kiwis. This will make the strawberries stick more easily. This is a bit tedious. DSC_0824
Lay the strawberries in an overlapping pattern. DSC_0829
Put on a bit of TLS on the lower end of the strawberries. DSC_0838
Last circle is the bananas. DSC_0847
We will make a whole strawberry to put on top of the pie. Mix about 90% translucent with 10% red clay.
Make a ball and shape it into a cone by rolling it in the palms of your hand. Lightly coat medium coarse sandpaper with black railroad sand. Roll/press the strawberry into the sandpaper. It might loose its shape, if so form it back to a cone. The sands simulate the little seeds on the strawberry.
DSC_0852
Take a cocktail stick and press it into the top of the strawberry. Mix a tiny bit of translucent and green. Make two snakes. DSC_0870
Lay them crosswise DSC_0875

Press them into the hole in the berry.

Carefully put it in on top of you fruits with a little TLS underneath.

DSC_0885
I put a piece of parchment paper on top and bake it for about another 15 minutes. The reason I put the paper on top is that I think the canes will discolor less. This doesn’t have to be like this in your oven. Experiment!
Cut the pie where you made the ends meet when making the crust. DSC_0891

Varnish the fruits with gloss varnish.

If you want to make the inside crust a bit browner, take some ochre pigment with a bit of the varnish and dab it on with a cocktail stick.

DSC_0904

Display on plate and cake stand and if you want to, you can glue on the little crumbs for the extra touch of realism.






Published with permission from Christel Jensen. For more minis by Christel Jensen, visit:
Blog: http://christeljensen.blogspot.com
Etsy: http://www.etsy.com/shop/ChristelJensen
CDHM: http://www.cdhm.org/user/christel