In case you were not able to attend the live webcasts, here are the cliff notes from two of my favorite presentations: cake decorating trends and the gelati 101 presentation. The pictures were from the downloadable slides from the show. Here is the link to see the presentations while they are still available and all the presentations contain slides downloadable in .pdf format to review later. Registration is free.
Fall, Winter & Spring Wedding Cakes Presentation
The first one here is the 'Fall and Winter Wedding Cake Decorating' that was presented by Cheryl Sherman who owns Ambrosia Bakery from Baton Rouge, LA. She gave an excellent presentation and offered great tips. All decorators can appreciate her work and her advice. Loved the pictures too!
Here are my 'hand written' notes from that webcast and ideas that I've elaborated from her suggestions, as well as new notes.
- To pipe highlights on cakes: put the colors inside the bag so the colors will be on the outside of the pipings.
- Make your own fondant pearls instead of using jaw-breaker or very hard non-parels. They will taste better and be easier to eat for the guest.
- Use white chocolate to attach fondant bows to cakes, especially large bows. White chocolate sets up faster than royal icing, and actually gets hard while buttercream remains soft.
- Bring out the pasta machine or use a sheeter for all the fondant rolling out. Not only will you end up with a more consistent product, but the fondant will be much thinner as well. I know from experience that a sheeter saves much valuable time as well.
- When you make your flowers, make them all white and ahead of time. Then, when it is time for the cake you are able to airbrush or paint the exact colors the bride wants for her cake. Spray at the last minute the amount and variety you'll need. This goes the same for those who purchase flowers - buy white so that you are able to airbrush the exact colors later. The colors will be more subtle as well.
- Use a double wrap for ribbon to make it more realistic.
- For an 'antiquing' look (this was actually a new technique for me) airbrush over all the piping work in a pearl color. The look is just a slightly darker overspray with a tinge of pearl. Looked great on her example. I can't wait to try it.
- She said seasonal cakes were popular and can be done for those not wanting color. Do this by using the same design but with no color (fall leaves in monochromatic colors of ivory and white, Christmas shapes done in ivory instead of bright green and red, etc.)
- Something else she did that was new to me: A question was asked about keeping fondant cakes from sweating, and she told everyone what she does. She fondants the cake the day before. To hold a cake at room temp without a lot of sweating, she finds a box as big as the cake and opens it up, places the cake in there then closes it. Open it up when it is time for service or finishing up. She says it is surprising how well the cake holds up. I've never tried this, but I'll try anything on tough, humid days.
- Q&A (from a guest and her answer): How much does she charge per serving? She does this: look at the size first. Then see what's applied to it. Then take into account the ingredients, design, etc. Where she is is geographically, she says the cakes end up being 2.50 to 8.00 a slice (LA state). Be honest with customers - if it can't be done it just can't be done. (But I know it is hard for some brides to understand sometimes all drawing, planning, rolling, piping, delivering is really hard work sometimes and worthy of the price being charged.)
- When doing colors for cakes, look at the seasons. Spring - muted colors, Summer - bright, Fall - earth tones & gold sprays, Winter - white, reds.
- What are her suggestions for fillings? fresh fillings during winter time is best. Air conditioned halls is fine to hold the cake for a few hours.
- Measure everything - Don't guess.
- Q&A: How does she get her cakes so white? (again- rephrasing a question from a guest and the answer she gave - great q&a's for learning) She uses a shortening base buttercream, made with water and sugar mix. I'm sure she may use other ingredients, but a point is she doesn't use Italian or French buttercream for her cakes. She uses a shortening bases which I'm guessing is mixed very well and is a great recipe. Her cakes look awesome.
- Q&A: Fondant cakes in humid environments? See above no. 9. for answer.
- Q&A: How to travel with cakes? She uses what she calls 'travel rods' for stacked cakes where she pushes a large dowel sharpened at the end through all layers of the cake straight to the bottom then removes them at service once the cake is delivered. I'm not sure how this would work with plastic cake plates so I'm guessing she uses cardboard in between her tiers? Not sure. She said for all her tiered cakes she travels with them unassembled and assembles them on location.
- Q&A: Popular toppers? In order of popularity: Fresh flowers, gum paste, initials, then last - she only gets a few orders for silk flowers.
- The longer you leave fondant on a cake the harder it gets.
- Q&A: What does she use for cake mixes? She likes Pillsbury for its consistency.
- She fondants a cake 2-3 days before an event and finishes it the night before.
- She is a member of and a supporter for the RBA (Retail Bakers Assoc.). She gave examples where the organization is helpful for bakers and people just starting a business.
- Q&A: What goes into her buttercream? She didn't give the recipe but said it contained shortening, sugar, water.
- Q&A: Does she make all her fondant? No - reasons are consistency and time. She likes Fondx to cover cakes and Satin Ice for her colored accent pieces.
- Q&A: How long to keep buttercream cakes out? She suggests a 3 hour time frame for the reception is fine for most cases, as long as the place is air conditioned. She does not suggest using French buttercream for outside venues.
- Q&A: What's the ratio for the amount of cakes she does for fondant and buttercream? She said she does about 80% buttercream and 20% fondant, and basically the final decision comes to cost.
Wow - Lots of notes!
These are the cliff notes from the Gelato 101 presentation:
The Gelato presentation was done by Biagio Settapani, the owner of Bruno Bakery. He gave great info for those wanting to know more about gelati or wanting to start their own gelati business. If you are serious about a gelati start-up, this is the expert in the industry. He is also a pastry instuctor.
Biagio suggested that location is key to a successful gelateria, and if a start-up is in the future, get educated on the gelato making process. Unlike simple ice cream parlours where you purchase a bunch of tubs and scoop whenever they order it, gelati is a handmade process, and very specific equipment and tools are needed to make it. Visit the site and download the slides for all his recomended gelati schools, and companies that manufacture gelati equipment.
He also showed a bunch of pictures of different gelati companies from various food shows, and the key to each one was how nicely the gelati was showcased. If you have every tasted gelati, you know how fresh it tastes, but also how fresh it LOOKS.
He said there were three basic types of Italian frozen deserts:
- Granita - water base (aqua) or milk base (al Latte)
- Sorbetti - all water bases
- Gelati - Egg/cream base (Crema) or Water/Milk base (Frutta)
What goes into a gelati? The primary ingredients are water, milk, sugar, eggs, flavoring together with milk solids, a stablizer and fresh fruit if a fruit gelati is being made. A question was asked if any preservatives were added to keep the product fresh and he said no, the stablizer would be enough. Make fresh, serve fresh.
His basic recipes for a gelato base
3000g 0% milk powder
- How to cook the base? Cook to about 82 to 84 degrees C. Then cool, add flavoring.
- How much flavoring to add? The best ratio is 10% of the base. Example - if preparing 1 kilo of base, use 100g pistachio paste for a pistachio flavored gelati. Also, a question was asked if the consistency changed at all if the flavoring was thick or thin (like a thick paste or soft puree, does the percentage ever change?) His answer, no, but emulsification of the flavoring to the base is very important. The texture shouldn't change.
- When is the flavor added? At the last minute.
- Let the base mature overnight before using and flavoring for best results.
Keep the show case for gelati (the presentation case for customers to see and choose) at 12 to 13 degrees C. Storage - use a blast freezer at under 40 degrees C. Then, store and pull out the night before using the item and place in regular freezer for service.
Biagio suggested a key to gelati is PRESENTATION. He offered picture examples of gelati showcases and how presentation was an important selling point. Often, ice cream parlours have a bunch of round buckets of ice cream ready to scoop, and sometimes the tubs aren't very appealing after several scoops into the bucket. I get his point and emphasis on presentation.
If you have the time to join up, the eBakery Expo online is free to register and to view all the programs, and all the webcasts may be downloaded in pdf in a power-point-like presentation for later viewing. All the slides are helpful for looking at the details. The cake one you can see the examples of the cakes (antiquing process was gorgeous), and the gelati shows step-by-step how to make it with example showcases and his formula for overrun.
Even though it's now over, event is archived for awhile before it's taken down.