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Tuesday, October 18, 2011

The Perfect Recipe for Extension Work

Extension work, sometimes referred to as string work, in cake decorating is a delicate process that takes practice, time, and patience to perfect. Regardless of the effort the results are beautiful and it reminds me of floating lace!

Many decorators shy away from extension work as their past attempts have failed. We find the most common cause of failed extension work is not the decorator's talent, but the icing recipe. You need a strong, yet flexible, royal icing to work with and you'll find this makes the process much easier (oh, and a steady hand helps too!!).
We've found the following recipe to work perfectly every time:

Royal Icing for Extension Work:

- 8 oz. sifted confectioners sugar
- 1 egg white
- 1/3 tsp gum arabic (adds strength to the royal icing)
- 1/4 tsp glycerin (adds 'stretch' to the royal icing)

- Break up the egg white by using the paddle attachment for you mixer. Mix in med-low speed for approximately one minute.
- Add the confectioners sugar and continue to mix on low speed for 6 - 8 minutes. You don't want to 'whip' the icing as this will add air bubbles that will cause your extension work to break.
- Check the consistency of your icing to see how soft it is. A general rule is the smaller the tip you will be using, the softer the icing should be. If needed add 1/4 tsp. of water until you reach the consistency you want to pipe with.
- Add the gum arabic and glycerin to the icing and mix for 2 more minutes on low speed.

The yield for the above recipe is only about 1/2 cup of royal icing, but very little icing is needed for this technique.

Monday, October 3, 2011

The Seasons are Changing - Fall Wedding Cake

At the bakery its time to put away the yellows, light blues, and other pastel colors to make space for the autumn line-up. Besides the fact that it was 45 degrees F when I got up this morning, I also know it is Fall based on the food color stains on my hands - burnt oranges and browns.

I love the color scheme on the following cake for a Fall wedding as the dark and light browns, cream, and orange work together so nicely. We used patchwork cutters for the applique on the cake tiers and the three calla lilies on the cake board are made from gumpaste.

Hope you enjoy this one!

Sunday, October 2, 2011

A 'Simple' Wedding Cake

Sometimes the simplest looking cakes can be the most difficult to make. Its so much easier to put random dots all over a cake than to calculate the exact distance for swags on a heart-shaped cake and make sure the swags are placed perfectly! Remember when your high school math teacher said "you'll use this math again"? Well, he/she was right as we often find ourselves thinking back to our math classes (or calling my husband or 17 year-old niece) to help us out with design placement.

We made the following heart-shaped wedding cake for a wonderful couple who were having a small reception with 45 guests. Although the design may look clean and 'simple' these types of cakes are often the most challenging to work on but we find the end result quite appealing.