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.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Good Old Collingwood Forever!

A particular expression comes to mind right about now… ‘all’s well that ends well.’ My Collingwood cake at least LOOKS exactly like it was supposed to, but only after several mishaps and near disasters that made taking two attempts to do the run-out magpie pale into insignificance. Rohan, who had been out at a friend’s place, came home to find me almost in tears and my poor cake drowning in a puddle of way-too runny ganache.

Most times I’ve seen recipes for ganache, it’s been equal grams of chocolate to milliletres of cream. This apparently doesn’t work for white chocolate, which I found out the hard way last night. Even after putting it in the fridge to cool, it still hardly even thickened at all, and was so thin it just dripped right off the cake. Having no more white chocolate left meant that remaking the ganache was out of the question, so with Rohan’s help I scooped up as much of the puddle as I could. We put the cake in the fridge, and the rescued ganache in the freezer to see if it would thicken up any more when properly cold.

Now… chocolate (yes, even white chocolate) is solid at room temperature, and you can freeze cream to make icecream. So why does a molten mixture of the two not even go remotely firm in the freezer??? I kept leaving it and leaving it, until it got to a point where it had barely become a spreadable consistency and just wasn’t getting any thicker any more.

Eventually, though, I had the brainwave that saved my cake… icing sugar. I added enough icing sugar to the miserable excuse for ganache to turn it into a makeshift white chocolate icing. There was only enough for the top of the cake, but I still had some cream and dark chocolate left, so I decided to finish the cake top and call it a night, then make some dark ganache to attach the chocolate strips to the sides in the morning. I covered the top of the cake, then nervously lifted the magpie off the plastic sleeve and onto its new nest of white chocolate icing.

This morning I made up some dark ganache using the same proportions in the recipe from my chocolate class notes (two parts chocolate to one part cream), because I’ve made it before and I know it works! Still, that didn’t prevent a couple more mistakes before it was all over. I pulled the cake straight from the fridge and started spreading the sides with ganache (which had also been in and out of the fridge and microwave at least once each to get the consistency right), only to have it set so quickly on the cold cake that the chocolate strips wouldn’t stick. Not to mention that something had gone wrong somewhere with measuring the cutout strips, as the dark chocolate ones were too long.

So after trimming the dark strips to the same length as the white ones (which were thankfully spot-on) and the cake had been out of the fridge for a while, I then basically used the remaining ganache to ‘glue’ the chocolate strips in place. Finally, my Collingwood cake was finished… not exactly by the method I had intended, but as I said, ‘all’s well that ends well.’ It still looks fantastic, just the way I’d planned it.

(Just a footnote… Dad loved the decorating job, and the white mud cake tasted amazing. The ‘white chocolate icing’ turned out to be really nice, although it was still soft at fridge temperature. Unfortunately Collingwood lost their game today, but the cake was definitely a winner!)

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