By Camille Sedayao
ICC Student, Cake Techniques & Design
The Spring 2014 Cake Techniques & Design class is on its last leg of the three-month program. As part of the class, I can say that I am truly astounded by the progress that each of my classmates have achieved. We all came into this program from different backgrounds and varied experiences with cake decorating. However, the immersion method has allowed us to cultivate our individual skills, as well as learn to work with each other. Here is a look into what we’ve been baking up so far.
At the start of the program, we were immediately introduced to the basics of baking. We learned a wide array of tasty cakes and buttercreams to add to our repertoire, such as a genoise and pate-a-bombe buttercream. Piping and fondant techniques were also introduced as we became tasked with building and decorating fun two-tiered cakes, such as the gift box cake. Personally, I hadn’t had much experience covering cakes in fondant, especially square cakes, but with the chef instructor’s guidance, I was able to do so.
Into Unit 3, we began building our sugar flower skills. This is the time when our kitchen turned into a garden. The class spent a week learning how to make all sorts of flowers that could be used for special occasion cakes and wedding cakes. One of those days we visited by the world renowned Ron Ben-Israel, who taught us his method for beautiful, realistic looking sugar roses! Once we were finished, our vibrant floral arrangements were displayed at the window of the school’s restaurant, L’Ecole.
As my class moved into the final unit, we were assigned to work in pairs to create carved whimsical cakes that include elements taught in previous units, such as pastillage and modeling. We were encouraged to show our individual creativity and as a team, bring our ideas together in a cohesive manner. Other advantages with working in teams are the opportunity to learn techniques from each other, and gain experience with brainstorming and completing a project with another person, just as one might in the real world. It is evident in the picture that our class has come a long way from the plainly iced genoise!
Our latest project was the Russian Doll Cake, which consisted of carving a delicious pound cake in the shape of a matryoshka doll and decorating it in a traditional or non-traditional way. This individual project was a major challenge in design and technical skill, and the humid weather was not much help. However, we ended the day with great results and a variety of colorful characters!
When it comes to this cake class and chef instructor, there is much to be proud of and even more of which to look forward. Everyday we are gaining the necessary skills and the self-confidence to test our limits and create something new, and as always, delicious!
If you would like to attempt your own carved cake, or you just enjoy a slice of pound cake, here is the recipe:
Pound Cake, One-Step
For One ½ Sheet Pan
– 282 g all-purpose flour
– 388 g granulated sugar
– 1 t grated orange/lemon peel
– ½ t salt
– ½ t baking soda
– 220 g sour cream
– 227 g butter, softened
– 1 t vanilla extract
– 3 eggs
Heat oven to 325°F.
1. Generously grease with butter and lightly flour pan.
2. In large bowl, blend all cake ingredients at low speed until moistened.
3. Beat 3 minutes at medium speed.
4. Pour batter into prepared pan.
5. Bake for 55-60 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes our clean.
6. Cool to lukewarm. Invert onto cooling rack.