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school bus cake - first time with fondant too
Posted: 16 June 2008 01:40 PM   [ Ignore ]
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Over the last week I made a cake for my daughter’s closest friend’s 2 year old birthday party. I did 4 9” rounds of genoise riche, trimmed and filled with lemon curd flavored IMBC. I had some lemon curd left so I used it for a thin crumb coat over the top of the cake, then frosted the whole thing with the lemon mousseline. Probably wouldn’t do that again thought since it made the top very slippery. For the fondant I used half a recipe of the marshmallow fondant described here: http://whatscookingamerica.net/PegW/Fondant.htm

I kneaded up the fondant white, then later kneaded in Americolor gels. The black took a while to knead in enough color to make it an even black, and the fondant seemed much more fragile and prone to tearing after mixing in the color. The white behaved beautifully. Overall I’d say my experience was pretty good with this fondant, my first. It certainly makes nicer looking decorations than my awful piping and frosting technique would have! I don’t really care for it to eat, but some people said it tasted good when the cake was served. Cake probably ended up with somewhat too much frosting on it between a thick filling and frosting with the buttercream, then several layers of fondant. It was good though, and the birthday boy seemed to like it.

I did have some difficulties. First was a carton of suspect eggs, bought from the corner store. After making up two batches sequentially of the genoise and a full recipe of mousseline, my wife smelled the egg shells and thought they smelled really bad. They did smell kind of funny, so given that we were going to serve this at a kid’s party and she is pregnant too we decided to trash the lot and start over with new eggs.

Second difficulty was in making the genoise. I seem to end up with chunks of unincorporated flour in settled to the bottom of the cake, which I can see when I trim it. Also it doesn’t end up as thick as it is supposed to be, and near the top the size of the bubbles in the cake get to be quite large. Also it has kind of a not very smooth texture in your mouth. I had the same exact problem when I made biscuit de savoie last month. I’m sifting the flour onto the egg foam in maybe 4 batches, but it still seems to clump up. I’m folding it in with either a big rubber spatula or a slotted plastic one. I guess I’m not folding enough… Any tips?

Putting on the syrup is also a relatively new thing for me, and I didn’t feel great about my results with a silicone basting brush. What ended up working well for me was to pour out a measured amount of syrup on a big plate, then invert a cake layer onto the syrup and kind of pat it down so it can absorb the syrup on the plate. Like letting standing water soak into a sponge.

Also putting the fondant on the wheels of the bus seemed impossible to do without lots of folds near the bottom where there was too much material after draping a rolled out round over the piece of cake. I’m also into sewing, and this seems exactly like putting a piece of flat fabric onto a 3D shape; you will need to have seams and darts to make it fit. But people seem to be able to put fondant on 3D shapes without getting creases. Hmmm.

A while back I wrote about my challenges getting IMBC to come together without a huge amount of beating and plenty of curdling and worrying. I’m happy to report that this time all three batches that I made (one of which got thrown out) came together fine and without curdling at all. I think I’m just getting more practice with pouring the syrup in while manipulating the speed control on the kitchenaide, judging butter temp, etc. I did get curdling when I rebeat the lemon BC later before putting in on the cake. I probably didn’t let it warm up enough out of the fridge. It did eventually recover, but it took a lot of beating, and splashed a lot of liquid out of the KA.

Anyway, this cake was great fun to make and serve! The cat in the back window was my wife’s idea.

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Posted: 16 June 2008 02:40 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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That is an awesome cake!  What gourmands these kids will be!  I would not think that kids would eat lemon….of course I’ve never tried serving it to any… I always just assumed.  They like lemonade so I guess I will have to broaden their cake horizons.

I love the cat in the back!  Nice job!

By the way, I would have done the same thing about the eggs, though knowing me I would have knawed on the “bad batch” while baking the new batch!

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Posted: 16 June 2008 03:05 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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Very creative!  I’m sorry about your problems coloring the fondant black.  I read recently that it’s easier to tint fondant black if you start off with chocolate fondant instead of white fondant.  I think your technique for soaking the genoise is very intriguing.  Check the blog for tips on eliminating those little flour blobs.  Rose suggests a particular balloon whisk for the job (and I think she mentions that you can actually put your hands down in the bottom of the bowl and smash up the lumps with your fingers).  Hector has great tips on the subject.

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Posted: 16 June 2008 08:01 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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Well done! It’s a lovely cake and I agree black fondant can be a pain but you got the colour very even and deep.
I too used Peggys MMF recipe (with Aussie brand modifications as we can’t get any of the brands she specifies!)  she is such a lovely lady and very helpful too.  We lucky to have people like Peggy and Rose out there.

Oh… and CakeMom: it’s hard to believe but many of the little ones around here seem to LOVE lemon and lime. My 2 year old and his little friend ASK for limes at fruit-time in the morning and just sit there sucking cut sections!!! I love limes but I doubt I could suck on one like they do!!! smile

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Posted: 16 June 2008 08:52 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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What a lovelly truck, I love the bold yellow and black colors, just like my kitchen!  Lemon on genoise is a nice flavor.

THANK YOU for your generous report.  I am so proud of you for mastering IMBC.  Now regarding flour pebbles that sink on the bottom of the genoise, it is a very common and perhaps CONSTANT characteristic when making genoise.

First, I want to point out that when I make Biscuit de Savoie, I never find pebbles.  You shouldn’t since first you let the flour soak in a little when sifting the flour over the beaten yolks and let to rest while beating the whites.  Second, you add 1/3 of the whites to the yolk/flour mix and fold until incorporated.  There is literally no error in getting high volumes neither, since you still have 2/3 of the whites that you last add with care after the flour has already been taken care of.

With Genoise, since you whip the eggs whole, when you fold in the flour you start loosing volume, it is unavoidable.  TCB indicates to use adequate warming to achieve good egg beating volume.  Really, for the most possible volume on genoise, you must start with the most possible egg beating volume.  Egg beating volume is achieved with warming the eggs, or better yet with placing a constant source of heat under your mixer bowl and for the entire duration of the beating.  I do this with my kitchenaid water jacket, and I keep adding hot water to keep the water very warm.

As Patrincia points, to put your hands down in the bottom of the bowl.  Indeed, it is how it is done in large scale in bakeries.  I see it every Saturday and Sunday for the past 2 months since I started my internship at this high end euro-japanese bakery.. it is genoise and biscuit heaven…. I always think of you guys when I see the chef folding in the flour of the 30 quart hobart mixer.  The chef holds a rounded semi-flexible plastic bench scraper and as he sifts in the flour onto his beaten eggs, he folds with his hand, each stroke scraping the bottom of the bowl.  His hand goes elbow deep on this 30 quart mixer bowl.  At the end, he dives in again and hunts/smashes for the flour pebbles with his fingers (shall I say whole hand!).  His genoise bakes with zero pebbles.

At home, I don’t sink in my hand on my little 6 quart mixer bowl.  Instead I use my large whisk (described on the paragraph below), I still get flour pebbles but not so many anymore (mostly on the moist chocolate genoise that I get the pebbles), so I just pick these pebbles off while trimming the bottom crust.

Lastly, I implore, that unless you make perfect motion of the perfect folding, both for Biscuit de Savoie or for Genoise, investing on the JB Prince Matfer huge balloon whisk is such a gold tool that helps INMENSELLY on folding for these types of cakes, and in fact all other cakes calling for folding with a spatula.  I have hundreds of other kitchen gadgets, all are the best of the best (I give away gadgets that I find useless or have upgraded), the JB Prince Matfer whisk sits on its own drawer space and it is a tool I use so much.  It is like the perfect big brother whisk to complete your whisk collection (everyone has a small and a medium whisk already…)

Keep up the good work.

P.S.  a logo cake I made, wished was done with fondant!

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Posted: 18 June 2008 05:51 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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just want to quickly report, that I’ve just whipped one recipe of Moist Chocolate Genoise, zero flour pebbles and maximum volume. 

I made sure the eggs whipped to triple volume, indeed whipped much longer than recipe indicates, to a point that volume no longer was increasing.  When folding flour and chocolate, the volume remains triple, but actually it is less egg volume since part of the volume is now replaced with the flour and the chocolate.

using the JB prince giant balloon whisk.

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Posted: 18 June 2008 09:12 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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Great logo cake Hector - do I see hundreds of little stars?  How did you transfer the logo design to the cake?

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Posted: 18 June 2008 11:12 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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Great school bus cake!  My daughter loves lemon curd, and anything made with it, she would have flipped over this. 

I think the genoise riche is perfect to pair with lemon curd because the flavor of clarified butter really comes through and reminds me of a lemon bar!  Also, it doesn’t need much syrup, so there isn’t the issue of using alcohol for the kids, just a little lemon zest/juice. 

As for making the genoise, I beat the eggs 10-12 minutes with my Sunbeam Mixmaster, there is a certain resistance or density that you can feel the eggs develop when they are ready.  I’ve never ever had a problem with volume with those beating times, and I make genoise almost exclusively. 

When folding, I use the balloon whisk, but I also do one pass with the spatula to scrape the heavy stuff up off the bottom of the bowl.  I also tap the whisk against my hand periodically to make sure all the batter drains out of the center.  And you are sifting the flour directly onto the batter, right?  I am always alarmed at the loss of volume I see when folding, but I continue just to the point that everything seems well blended.  And I’m always surprised when it turns out to have great volume!

Yesterday I made a genoise au chocolat, which I prefer to the moist chocolate genoise because it has less sugar (24% by weight, versus 26% for the moist choc).  It had exactly three tiny flour balls that I trimmed along with the crust.  I am going to syrup it with Grand Marnier and fill and frost it with white Mousseline flavored with the maxiumum amount of Grand Marnier. 

Congratulations on mastering mousseline!  I had a similar experience to yours the first time I made it, I think the real issue is the butter and meringue need to be the same temperature and the pieces of butter really need to be only tablespoon size, as the directions state.  Once the mixture comes to a uniform temperature, it usually comes together well. 

Thanks for sharing!
Julie

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Posted: 18 June 2008 11:41 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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Hector, that cake is fantastic! I can only hope to be half as accomplished and prolific as you one day.

Thanks for the helpful suggestions everyone.

I actually ordered the Matfer balloon whisk yesterday, so between that and more practice hopefully my genoise will improve. For this cake I ended up making two consecutive double recipes of the genoise riche on two occasions (had to throw the first batch out remember), and on both days the second in my series was much flatter than the first. Must have been a temperature thing I guess; the buerre noisette was cooler for the second one and the eggs might have been warmer. Weird.

It wouldn’t have occurred to me that kids wouldn’t like lemon flavor; fortunately most of them seemed to like the cake. My daughter actually likes to suck on juiced lemon halves (like I had when making the lemon curd), though my wife tells me not to give them to her because they are bad for her teeth.

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Posted: 18 June 2008 11:51 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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Julie, thanks for the compliments. Wow 10 minutes, that is a lot of beating. I’ve just been doing the 5 from the recipe; I’ll have to try letting it run longer. With a double batch, my kitchenaid bowl was near to overflowing with egg foam after 5 minutes beating. At least for one of my batches, the foam seemed to get deflated badly when I combined the 1c of it with the buerre. Maybe that foam hadn’t been beat enough. Mostly though I still had plenty of volume going into the pans, but it ended up not being very tall after baking and cooling. Probably getting the flour folded in better will help the structure be more sturdy and help the finished volume.

For the buttercream, I started beating the butter beforehand, transferring to another bowl (I only have one kithenaid bowl), then monitoring the temp with the thermometer. I can adjust the temp by spelling it in the refrigerator. I think I have had the best results when it is 65-70F when added to the meringue. One other refinement that makes it easier is that I got a smallish scoop with the clearing lever from OXO, so I can easily scoop lumps of butter up and click them into the running mixer bowl. Though with a double batch I got a fair amount of splashing out of the bowl. Maybe I should spring for the splash guard. Especially if it curdles and gets all liquidy, things get messy until it comes back together.

-Holly

Julie - 18 June 2008 02:12 PM

Great school bus cake!  My daughter loves lemon curd, and anything made with it, she would have flipped over this. 

As for making the genoise, I beat the eggs 10-12 minutes with my Sunbeam Mixmaster, there is a certain resistance or density that you can feel the eggs develop when they are ready.  I’ve never ever had a problem with volume with those beating times, and I make genoise almost exclusively. 

Congratulations on mastering mousseline!  I had a similar experience to yours the first time I made it, I think the real issue is the butter and meringue need to be the same temperature and the pieces of butter really need to be only tablespoon size, as the directions state.  Once the mixture comes to a uniform temperature, it usually comes together well. 

Thanks for sharing!
Julie

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Posted: 18 June 2008 12:10 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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Holly,

My long mixing times are for the sunbeam, which doesn’t have planetary action and isn’t as powerful as the kitchen aid.  I’m not sure they can be tranferred directly to other equipment.  Basically, once the eggs reach full triple volume, where they are no longer increasing, they still need a little time more to achieve the density/resistance thing.  I notice this when drawing a spatula though them, they are still quite soft when they first reach full volume, but after a little more (only a minute or two) beating it is firmer, less soft when I draw the spatula through them.

Best of luck with the genoise, they are by far my favorite cakes in TCB!
Julie

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Posted: 18 June 2008 12:14 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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Oops, I forgot to mention the other thing, if the volume is good going into the oven, could it be that your oven is too cool?  The buerre does deflate the eggs a lot, but it should still be possible to get the specified height if you don’t go overboard on folding.

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Posted: 18 June 2008 01:15 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]
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Holly Gates - 18 June 2008 02:51 PM

For the buttercream, I started beating the butter beforehand, transferring to another bowl (I only have one kithenaid bowl), then monitoring the temp with the thermometer. I can adjust the temp by spelling it in the refrigerator. I think I have had the best results when it is 65-70F when added to the meringue. One other refinement that makes it easier is that I got a smallish scoop with the clearing lever from OXO, so I can easily scoop lumps of butter up and click them into the running mixer bowl. Though with a double batch I got a fair amount of splashing out of the bowl. Maybe I should spring for the splash guard. Especially if it curdles and gets all liquidy, things get messy until it comes back together.  -Holly

Hi Holly.  One of the best investments I’ve made is purchasing a 2nd KA mixing bowl and whisk attachment - I can’t tell you how many times I’ve used them both during the same project (and now that I have 2 mixers, I have 4 bowls and whisks). 

I like your idea of using a portion scoop to add the butter to the buttercream.  I must confess that I’ve successfully added butter to the buttercream straight from the softened stick form (not beating it first) without fail.  I don’t get any splashing, even when multiplying the recipe, and I never use the splash guard, so maybe you are adding your butter too quickly.  I make sure the meringue is completely cooled first, then I make sure each addition of butter is well incorporated before I add the next.

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Posted: 18 June 2008 09:39 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]
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Very creative cake Holly. I love the shade of yellow.

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Posted: 18 June 2008 11:17 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]
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Congratulations—that cake is quite an accomplishment and it sounds like you worked hard on it. You go guy!

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Posted: 19 June 2008 07:22 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]
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Holly Gates!!!  glad you decided on the matfer whisk.  I’ve just torted my perfectly 2” tall moist chocolate genoise cakes and texture looks wonderful, and no flour pebbles.  I baked 1 recipe into 3 pans size 7, 5 and 3 inches x2 tall, with some extra batter for miniature madelaines.  I did my volume computations, a 9” pan is just the same volume as one of each 7, 5 and 3 inches pans.  Since the recipe calls for two 9” pans that yield to only 1.25” tall cakes, I was able to get the 2” by filling up to .25” from the rim.  In the oven, the cake rose to much taller than the pan, but held well!

http://www.hectorwong.com/roselevy/TripleChocolateCake7-5-3-inch.html

I think that one more saying on avoiding flour pebbles and maximum folding efficiency for volume retention is that your folding apparatus needs to be tailored to the shape of your bowl.  Julie mentions scraping the heavy bottom; I see my bakery chef use his arms and a rounded flexible bench scraper; I see how perfectly the matfer whisk hugs the bowl plus the tines are semi-flexible; and there is this video below explaining how the skimmer holes are there to create surface tension!

http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-2136428742172128025&hl=en

Pre-assembled cake, frozen and vacuum packed, and I hope everyone agrees that Triple Chocolate Cake tastes better after 3 months!!!  Filling was a generous 3/4” of ganache, I made a 2x recipe of ganache.  Had enough ganache left to fill one little piping bag that has also been sealed and frozen, I am loving these disposable piping bags which comes from Germany and are much thicker and less slippery than the ones you find locally (Thermohauser, http://www.pastryitems.com).  The chocolate praline sheets will be placed on location because I am working on a simple design to best take advantage of these sheets of the 3 tier format.

Carrot cake on its way, same 7-5-3-inch format.  The heavenly TCB all butter recipe with whole wheat flour, honey, etc.

Byt the way, the madelaines are such great way to make ‘cupcakes’ from extra batter whenever you bake special sizes that you always end up with too much cake.  Madelaines tastes great frozen!

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