Thursday, March 10, 2011

Gateau Traditional Aux Fruits, Royal Icing, Pastillage, Rock Sugar

"Grumpy" Chef Keith

It's mise en place day for tomorrow's decorated fruitcake, into which goes an array of sugar tools from royal icing to rock sugar, all made from scratch. Before we commence, however, we first have to make and bake our fruitcake.

So dense is this cake it requires up to 3 hours of baking time. Mine was such an overdose of liquor that it sat pretty in the oven for 3.5 hours before the skewer came out clean.

Creaming Butter, Brown Sugar, Apricot Jam, Golden Syrup, Molasses
Adding Eggs, Sifted Flour, Bicarbonate Of Soda, Ground Allspice, Mace, Almond

Stirring In Slivered & Flaked Almonds
Macerated Fruits & Chopped Dried Dates

Fruited Batter Pre & Post Baking

The smell of brandy from Chef's cake was so strong that I was starting to wonder how mine would turn out: surely you can't have too much booze in fruitcake? (In my delusional opinion, moderation is so overrated.)

The cake smelled like Christmas morning, what with the booze, fruits and molasses baking away. Much as I used to loath it as a kid, making fruitcake for the first time had my curiosity piqued and I actually want to try a (tiny) piece now.

Pastillage: Making A Well With Icing Sugar
Pouring Hydrated Gelatine Powder & White Vinegar Into Middle Of Well

Kneading Till Smooth & Pliable (From The Gelatine)

Pastillage is a modeling dough perfect for white wedding cakes or can be colored to choice. Pliable enough to make intricate flowers and figurines with, it can dry up quickly and become hard and fragile, but handled with care and kept in the right (read moisture-free) condition, sometimes with a coat of lacquer or varnish, the sugar in the pastillage showpiece will preserve it till the end of time.

Royal Icing: Icing Sugar & Egg White, Mixed Till Stiff Peak

One of the most versatile icings around, royal icing can be drizzled onto cakes and biscuits, piped into intricate flower pieces and used to "glue" decorative pieces onto cakes. Like pastillage, it dries and hardens over time, so keep moisture out and they'll keep forever.

Erupting Rock Sugar: Caster Sugar, Water & Royal Icing

Boil sugar syrup to 136'C, remove from heat, add a tablespoon or so of royal icing and quickly stir! A chemistry-set reaction will take place almost immediately - the mix will start "erupting" like volcanic lava (don't know why, if anybody does, please kindly enlighten me). The lava will set and can be broken off as needed.

Precious Pink Gemstone

The basics done, we now move on to make the decorative pieces for our cake.

Stenciling & Air Brushing Decorative Pastillage

Purple Roman Columns

Chef Keith's Flower Blog

Chef Keith Demonstrating Pastillage Lily

Some complicated-looking things can be so simple to make it surprises you. Chef Keith showed us how to make a lily with little more than a small knob of colored pastillage and a homemade embossing-board. A nimble hand and a quick twist later, a flower blooms. 

Chef Keith's Airbrush Circa 1988

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