Newcastle, NSW, Australia
I’m a former industrial chemist, and after deciding on a career change while at home with my two young children, I’m now a qualified pastry chef. In 2009 I started taking some classes in cake decorating and other pastry-related cookery, and taught myself many more decorating techniques from books and internet resources. In 2010 I started a pastry apprenticeship, studying Retail Baking (Cake & Pastry) Certificate III at TAFE, which I completed with Distinction in 2012. I completed my apprenticeship in December 2013, and am now working as a full time Pastry chef and Cake Decorator at 'Exquisite Cakes by Lennert' in Cessnock, NSW.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Chocolate Magpie

Even as I wrote my blog entry about last night’s homework, I had a white chocolate mud cake in the oven. My dad and I come from a long line of Collingwood supporters, their first finals game is on Father’s Day, I bake for get-togethers where possible, I had a white mud cake recipe I wanted to try, and I still haven’t done any more chocolate decorating since my class. Add all that up and what do you get? Make a white mud cake, decorate it in a Collingwood theme and take it up to my parents place when we go for Fathers Day lunch tomorrow!

The plan is to cover the cake in white ganache and decorate it with a run-out chocolate magpie on top and strips of dark and white chocolate around the outside. This is the magpie pattern, 'borrowed' from a logo on the Collingwood Football Club web site. I re-sized the picture to suit the cake, put the print-out in a plastic sleeve, and taped it to a board for extra stability. I put a smear of copha over the actual design, then started melting chocolate.

I had a bad feeling that I might end up regretting doing something so big and complex for my first ever chocolate runout. As it is, this was my second attempt. I learned fairly quickly that you can't just fill in the outline by squirting chocolate willy-nilly and expecting to smooth it out with a toothpick. It didn't look too bad until it came out of the fridge. It was horribly obvious then just how uneven the thickness of the chocolate was. I let it soften a little and tried to smooth out some of the lumps, and therefore learned my next lesson that the chocolate loses its sheen if you try to play around with it once it sets. Then I tried to spread more chocolate over the top to patch it up, which turned out to be a futile exercise, as the harder I tried to fix it, the worse it looked. In the end there was nothing else that could be done but melt it down and try again, keeping the lessons learned in mind.

The second attempt turned out MUCH better. With the dark chocolate done, it was fairly easy to go back and fill in the gaps with a little bit of white chocolate. As usual, I'm not a hundred percent happy with it. This time I filled in the runout by piping lines close together, and even though it doesn't show so much on the photo, there are still some obvious piping 'ridges' when you look at it up close. But, this is already the second attempt, and I simply don't have time to try for a third.

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