How to Temper Chocolate

How To Temper Chocolate

Does your Chocolate have a BAD TEMPER!???

Well, let’s put it back in it’s place! Show it who’s BOSS!

In the video below I will show you How to Temper Chocolate and explain why we do it in the first place.

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Russian Ball Tips and Ruffle Tips Review

Russian Ball Tips & Ruffle Tips

Russian Ball Tips & Ruffle Tips

Here we are once again the Russian Decorating Tip craze is not stopping, it is only getting better!

I have tried my hand at the Russian Ball Tips & Ruffle Tips and I love them!

I made a quick video tutorial for you to share my experiences using these tips for the first time

Now let’s not forget the most important part to having success with your Russian Piping Tips.

BUTTERCREAM! You must be using a stiff consistency Buttercream Recipe which just happens to be my American Style Buttercream.

It is absolutely perfect for these tips and I know you will love the taste too!

I feel it is a cross between the Swiss Buttercream in silky smooth taste and a decorators icing in stability.

(Here is the video for the buttercream and the recipe is below)

In the video for the tips demonstration I used some vanilla cake cupcakes  and strawberry cupcakes too, just to show you how the piping techniques would look and you can pretty much use any cupcake recipe you like for your masterpieces!

The Raffaello Coconut Ruffle Cake is another project you can attempt with your new Ruffle Tips not to mention those cute little mini doll cuppies too!

Flowers and ruffles and mounds of buttercream is what we got going on here today at Gretchen’s Bakery so be sure to get your tips ordered and have some fun!

russian-ball-tips-reviewrussian-ball-tips-reviewrussian-ball-tips-review

5.0 from 1 reviews
Buttercream Recipe
 
Serves: 6 cups
Ingredients
  • Unsalted Butter 1½ Cups (3 sticks) (336g)
  • Hi Ratio Solid Vegetable Shortening 1½ Cups (336g)
  • Confectioners Sugar (Domino Brand 10X Sugar) 6 cups 720g)
  • Heavy Cream 6 Tablespoons (90ml)
  • Vanilla Extract 2 teaspoons
  • Butter Extract 1 teaspoon
  • Salt ¼ teaspoon
Instructions
  1. Combine the butter and shortening in the Kitchen Aid (or stand mixer) bowl with the paddle attachment
  2. Whip on medium to high speed for about 3 minutes.
  3. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl to make sure it is evenly mixed and add the salt. Mix well.
  4. Stop mixer and add the sifted confectioners sugar all at once.
  5. Mix on low speed until incorporated , scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl and then mix on high speed for 3 minutes.
  6. Scrape the bowl again and then while mixing on low speed slowly drizzle in the heavy cream.
  7. Increase speed to high and whip for another 5 minutes
  8. Add the flavor extracts and then you are done!
  9. The icing will gain volume almost to the top of a 6qt Kitchen Aid bowl and get very white. (*If you are using a hand beater, the volume will not get as high since the hand beaters cannot incorporate air as efficiently as the Kitchen Aid or stand mixers)
 

 

 

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How to Make a Wedding Cake

Full tutorial for how to make a wedding cake

This is probably my 3rd time showing you all how to build a wedding cake in my 5+ year career on youtube!

Practice makes perfect don’t you know!

I am happy to do it, since each time I do I feel that I am providing more valuable information based on the questions I get regularly on this topic.

You may want to check out the original Gretchen’s Bakery How to Make a 3- Tiered Cake post & video as well as this one, since too much information is never a bad thing! Especially when you are approaching the task of building a wedding cake for the first time!

I also have some information on a separate blog post for How to Cover Cakes in Fondant since that is a whole other topic that I did not address here, however many people are using fondant for tiered cakes so that post is a wealth of information as well!

For today we are going to make a simple yet elegant and classically decorated wedding cake just to cover the basics of building the cake so it is sturdy and will hold up for hours during your reception event!

Once you have a sturdy base foundation~ you are free to decorate to your wildest imagination if you think my design here is too conservative for you!

All the rules are the same no matter what cake recipe you use and whether you decorate with fondant or buttercream!

If you are using fondant, the only thing that is different is: instead of the final icing of buttercream, you cover the crumb coated cakes directly with fondant.

That’s it. You will proceed exactly the same way as shown in the video, with the doweling technique and even the buttercream glue between the layers!

For those who do like my design, you will see just how easy it is to do it with 1 pastry bag and 2 tips (all found in my Gretchen’s Bakery Essentials Cake Decorating Kit)

*Take $2 off your order NOW by entering coupon code: WEDDING in the apply coupon area at checkout at GRETCHENSBAKERYSTORE.COM

In addition to those few things a Cake Turn Stand is helpful and if you get the Ateco brand that I use, it will last you a lifetime! I have had mine since I was in high school! (and believe me that was a lifetime ago!)

You will need wooden dowels, cardboard circles to the same diameter of your cake pans and an offset spatula and/*optional bench scraper for icing your cake.

The fondant flowers from Fondant Flowers.Com is seriously the way to go for those of us who are not super skilled in making fondant flowers; or if you just don’t have the time! (ME!)

You can get affordable sprays of beautiful flowers to make any cake look like a masterpiece!

Fondant FlowersFondant FlowersFondant Flowers

Of course you have to plan out your cake recipes and icing and fillings as I explained in the video, but for the same exact cake as I made you will need recipes as follows:

The Golden Cake Layers

5.0 from 11 reviews
Golden Vanilla Cake
 
The following recipe is already calculated to yield 2-7" + 2-5" layers
For the 2-10" layers mix the recipe 1 more time
Author:
Ingredients
  • Unsalted Butter 18 Tablespoons (260g)
  • Cream Cheese 1 + ⅓ cups (340g)
  • Granulated Sugar 3 cup (600g)
  • All Purpose Flour 3 cup (375g)
  • Baking Powder 5 teaspoons (24g)
  • Salt 1 teaspoon
  • Eggs large 8 (400g)
  • Egg Yolks 4 (72g)
  • Vanilla Extract 4 teaspoons (20ml)
Instructions
  1. Cream the butter and cream cheese together slowly to incorporate evenly.
  2. Add the sugar gradually while mixing on low until it is all combined well, do not whip on high speed or incorporate a lot of air.
  3. Combine the eggs, yolks and vanilla and then add one at time to the creaming mixture. Be sure to mix well, before adding in the other egg and scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl often.
  4. Add the sifted flour and baking powder all at once and mix until smooth
  5. Pour batter into prepared greasedpans filling just under half way full and bake in preheated 350°F oven immediately for approximately 35 minutes or UNTIL ITS DONE when a toothpick inserted into the center comes out with moist crumbs
Chocolate Cake Layers
5.0 from 11 reviews
Chocolate Buttermilk Cake
 
CLICK HERE FOR FULL RECIPE & VIDEO TUTORIAL FOR THIS CAKE
This recipe below will make 2-7" cake layers + 2-5" cake layers
You will mix the recipe 1½X again to make the 2- 10" layers
Author:
Ingredients
  • Semi Sweet Baking Chocolate 113g (¾ cup) 4 ounces
  • Natural Cocoa Powder ¼ cup (23g)
  • HOT water ½ cup (120ml)
  • Unsalted Butter *very soft 12 tablespoons (169g)
  • Whole Eggs 5 large (250g)
  • Granulated Sugar 1 cup (200g)
  • Vanilla Extract 1 Tablespoon
  • Buttermilk 1 cup (237ml)
  • All Purpose Flour ¾ cup (98g)
  • Cake Flour 1 cup (120g)
  • Baking Soda 7 g (1½ teaspoons)
  • Salt 3g (½ teaspoon)
Instructions
  1. Over a double boiler combine add the eggs and sugar and mix well to dissolve the sugar and also heat the eggs to about 115°F
  2. Once the sugar feels dissolved and the eggs are very warm (not hot) place bowl on the Kitchen Aid mixer with the whip attachment and whip on medium to high speed until ribbon stage. Approximately 5 minutes.
  3. In the meantime while the eggs are whipping you can sift together the flour, baking soda and the salt and set that aside.
  4. In another bowl add the cocoa powder to the hot water and vanilla and whisk it smooth.
  5. Add the melted chocolate and very soft butter to the cocoa mixture, whisk smooth (it should look like ganache)
  6. At this point your eggs should be ready, and you will add the entire melted chocolate/cocoa powder mixture to the whipped egg mixture, and mix until it is all uniform, just about 30 seconds more on high speed.
  7. Next we begin alternating the dry ingredients with the buttermilk, beginning with the dry ingredients and ending with the dry. (DRY-LIQUID-DRY-LIQUID-DRY)
  8. Mixing just until incorporated and stop to scrape the sides of your bowl from time to time too.
  9. Pour batter just below half full into greased pans
  10. Bake at 350° F UNTIL ITS DONE
BUTTERCREAM
5.0 from 11 reviews
Buttercream
 
I am using Swiss Buttercream for my cake CLICK HERE FOR THE FULL TUTORIAL FOR HOW TO MIX- I have always used Swiss Buttercream for all my weddings, but you can of course use whatever recipe you prefer if it is Italian or American style.
I made the recipe 3X and added 1 cup of raspberry puree to 1X recipe for the filling
Author:
Ingredients
  • Fresh Large Egg Whites 180g (6 Large)
  • Granulated Sugar 300g (1 + ½ cups)
  • Confectioners Sugar 240g (2cups) *Domino brand is recommended 10X sugar
  • Solid Vegetable Shortening 170g (3/4 cup)
  • I prefer to use SWEETEX, it is a High Ratio vegetable shortening
  • Unsalted Butter 454g (2 cups)
  • Vanilla Extract Or Vanilla Paste 1 Tablespoon
  • Salt pinch
Instructions
  1. Over a double boiler, in a large metal bowl whisk together the granulated sugar and the egg whites stirring constantly until the mixture reaches approximately 115 degrees F and the sugar grains have dissolved and are not longer gritty to the touch.
  2. Pour this mixture into the metal bowl of the stand mixer with the WHISK attachment and whip on high speed until it is thick, glossy and white in color. The peaks should be as firm as firm can be.
  3. In the meantime you can sift your confectioners sugar, and once you have achieved STIFF peaks meringue, add the confectioners sugar all at once with the mixer on very low speed to avoid having a snow shower of sugar all over your kitchen!
  4. Once all of the sugar has been incorporated you can turn the mixer speed to med-high until it is all nicely mixed in.
  5. Be sure your butter and shortening are at room temperature and they are the same consistency. Add it in about 2-3 additions, but FAST Additions.
  6. Add vanilla extract
  7. Switch to the paddle attachment and blend on low speed until smooth
The following charts are all useful tools in helping you determine what size cakes you need and then how to cut them!

Oh yeah and don’t forget to check out the video for How to Cut a Wedding Cake too!

        Circular Wedding Cake Cutting Guide

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Almond Paste Recipe

almond-paste-recipe

Yay! Finally I got the Almond Paste Recipe done!

I really should have done this one sooner since for the past month I have been sharing tons of recipes that all call for ALMOND PASTE!

I learned pretty quickly that not all of you can get it as easily as the rest of us, or the price tag can be a real turn off.

Believe me this ingredient is not cheap! Especially when you are getting into recipes that need 1 and 2lbs of it!

So now, thanks to Chef Tom (a fellow Gretchenator who passed this recipe along to me) we can all get to making the Italian Rainbow Cookies, Italian Bakery Style Butter Spritz Cookies, Apple Raspberry Frangipane Tart and why not make Petit Fours the Classic way with real deal Frangipane Cake!

In the video I show you how to blanch the almonds first, but if you want to save on time you can by them already blanched (this step took me about a half an hour to skin 1 lb!)

You do need a food processor to pull this off though, since it is important to get the almonds to a paste and the only way I can see that happening is with a food processor.

And unless you have a VitaMix , I can’t see a regular blender doing this trick.

Note that although this recipe is interchangeable in recipes that call for almond paste, this homemade version is going to look much different.

This recipe will resemble mashed potatoes more than it will resemble a store-bought almond paste.

Not to mention since we do not have the heavy duty rollers that crush and grind the almonds to a paste as in the factory style manufacturing process, ours will be a bit grainy as well.

This is why I suggest in the video to puree the paste in smaller batches to get it as smooth as possible without burning out your motor!

Often times in recipes that call for almond paste, the author will suggest to soften the store bought almond paste with a bit of egg white.  This is not necessary here since our homemade version is going to be super soft already.

Ok let’s get going with this recipe so you can start making tons of other treats!

Oh yeah and PS- The main difference between Marzipan and Almond Paste is the ratio of almond meal to sugar. Marzipan has a higher ratio of sugar and it has other ingredients as well.

It also depends on the country – in the U.S. they are different but in places like the UK, they are pretty much the same.

almond-paste-recipe

Almond Paste Recipe
 
Prep time
Total time
 
*You can use almond meal/flour interchangeably with the blanched almonds here
Author:
Serves: 2lbs
Ingredients
  • *Blanched Almonds 1lb (454g)
  • Confectioner's Sugar 1lb (454g)
  • Pasteurized Egg Whites 3 (90g)
  • Almond Extract 2 teaspoons (10ml)
Instructions
  1. Place the blanched almonds into the food processor and grind to medium meal
  2. Add half of the confectioners sugar and grind some more (I only did it in halves so that I wouldn't stress my machine)
  3. Add the rest of the confectioners sugar and you will soon have a very fine meal
  4. Add the egg whites and the almond extract and continue to process until you have a paste.
Notes
Store almond paste in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 weeks.
 

 

 

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How to Write on Cakes ~ Basic tips for beginners

how_to_write_on_cakes

How to write on cakes is probably one of the most NOT asked questions!

If that makes any sense!?

What I mean is that many people have trouble with it, but most won’t really dig in or ask why they are having trouble!

I think it is because this is where a lot of frustration occurs, and perhaps even embarrassment if the final inscription on the cake is not what you had envisioned.

But there are ways to overcome sub-par cake inscriptions!

Just watch the video below for the tips and tricks to see exactly where you may be going wrong.

First of all WHAT you are using to write with will make all the difference in the world.

Buttercream? Chocolate? Royal Icing?

Well, they all have their place. Let me explain.

A little backstory first: (You know me and my stories!) I was a born and bred chocolate writer.

My experience both in the Culinary Institute as a student, and then one of my first and most influential jobs after school commissioned chocolate to write on cakes.

I wish I had some pictures from those days (and yes I say “those days” as if it was an ancient time long ago, but in terms of technology~ IT WAS!)

Sadly I don’t have any pictures of my work from those days……….oh wait…let me break out the scanner and get some old polaroids from 1997!

old pics

So as you can see the delicate fine lines of chocolate is (in my opinion) superior to any other writing medium.

But……. dun dun duhhhhhhhhhh………………………..

When I arrived as the new owner of a 45 year old bakery in NJ way back in 2005, I tried to incorporate the delicate fine lines of chocolate inscriptions on cakes~ I was met by my unhappy customers with:”Why is it black?” “It’s a girl, why is it written in chocolate?”

So…..major sigh…….I was forced to adapt to writing on cakes with buttercream.

But as with anything, people have personal preferences and it is up to you to decide what works for you and what you are most comfortable with.

Buttercream was definitely a learning curve from me, and while I was able to do scroll work in buttercream for wedding cakes and such, I just never really got comfortable with writing on cakes with buttercream as I though it was inferior and well, just not what I was great at…. CLICK HERE FOR MORE

Anywho…. about Royal Icing:

I would not recommend writing on cakes with royal icing unless the cake is covered with fondant.

Royal Icing is an icing that must dry to be at it’s best, and if you are putting it onto a cake that has an icing like buttercream or worse yet, Whipped Cream or even Cream Cheese Icing!

Gaaaah! This = disaster!

Royal Icing will melt when placed upon another recipe like those since they are so high in moisture content they will surely disintegrate the Royal.

If you make plagues though, little tags made out of gumpaste or fondant– royal icing will be great!

Very fine detailed lines with royal icing for sure!

So you see, you have to be mindful of what you are working with to make sure you can maximize the potential of each and every medium!

*Cover photo courtesy of Alissa Jayne ~ my star cake decorator when I owned my bakery!

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