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.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Sleigh Sides

I made good use of the pasta maker again to do the sleigh runners (I did actually make fettucine once, but the pasta maker has certainly had far more use as a cake decorating tool!).  I marbled three slightly different browns, rolled out the marbled paste, and put it through the spaghetti cutter.  Then I took six strands at a time and rolled, twisted and squashed them back together to make a rough wood grain effect.  Unfortunately the marbling blended back together more than I was expecting, so you wouldn't really notice the different shades much unless you looked at it closely.

I was going to do a similar thing with yellow paste to do the gold rope trim, twisting a few strands evenly rather than crushing them together.  It didn't quite go according to plan... the paste may have been a bit sticky, as the strands were coming out very roughly cut and I couldn't make a long enough neat rope.  After a bit of experimenting I ended up hand-modelling the rope trim by stretching the paste into a thin sausage, twisting it as I went.  I'd already cut out the holly leaves and berries from rolled out flower paste, so they just had to be glued on.

Next came the painting.  I did the brown wash on the bottom section before the trimmings went on, as I thought it might need something to break up all the white.  I painted the rope with gold lustre dust, and the holly with gel colours mixed in alcohol.  The gold lustre actually darkened the rope trim quite a bit, and it ended up a similar depth of colour to the sleigh runners.  So now the sleigh runners had to be painted too... as usual, making things up as I go along.  I mixed a bit of black with the chestnut to make a darker brown.  It worked really well!  The colour pooled in the grooves between spaghetti strands which enhaced the wood grain effect, and the darker wash over the marbling helped give it the mottled look that I'd originally wanted.  Yeah... dark wash over light marbling... I'll pretend that's what I meant to do all along!

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