Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Butterfly Birthday

Chocolate and Butterflies

Every year I try to make a special cake for my mother's birthday. 
Every year, same thing... German Chocolate Cake. 
I posted the recipe I used  here on my blog if you are looking for a great one! 
I received a lot of emails after posting a picture of the cake asking how I made the butterflies so perfect. Well, there is something to be said for the flash of the camera reflecting and hiding some flaws, but overall, these are some fun little butterflies to make.

I start out by rolling a few pieces of gumpaste into a very elongated tear drop , insert some 20 gauge floral wire in the bottom of some and through the middle of others. Also, insert a couple white flower stamens in the top for antennae before it dries.

Mix some fondant with a considerable amount of gumpaste. I believe I use a 70 /30 mix for these. They need to dry very hard.
Once I have that mixed I load it in my clay extruder ( what an amazing little gadget that is!) 
I pipe out ropes, whatever size you want the thickness to be. Store in a ziploc bag until you are ready to use, they will dry FAST!

Pull one out , place it on a piece of wax paper and  shape it into one of 4 wing sections. pinch the top and bottom, then use your fingers to manipulate the shape you would like, repeat with a larger rope , repeat again if you would like, I only use 2 though.

 They will be starting to dry before you are done, gum glue these together in the center, then attach a white gumpaste body with gum glue on top. 

I let these dry over my flower formers to make the wings look as though they are " up". A couple I dry flat. You can be creative with the shaping and positioning.
These are fast and easy and look great!

For the tulips on the side of the cake I used a Wilton large leaf cutter for the leaves, used my extruder to pipe a thick rope of green fondant for the stem, and the small Wilton leaf cutter x's 3 to make the petals. 

Saturday, March 17, 2012

The Legalities

As a cake baker / decorator you are required to weed through a lot of legal jibberish in order to develop a plan to produce and market your cakes, cupcakes and confections. Many people are not aware of the laws, many cannot understand the laws, and some just don't care about the laws.
I recently took the Wilton 4 course and  met a few people interested in making cakes for profit that were just not aware of the requirements. I was able to answer a lot of their questions in regards to New York's Home Processor Certification, also known as Cottage Food Law in many states. (New York just has to be different. ) This is a hot topic for those who care , and have a sincere desire to bake , decorate, and sell from home.
So, for those who are in New York and trying to make heads or tails out of the information provided on the .gov website here is the watered down version of the Home Processor Certification.
~get your umbrellas, I have a feeling I'm about to rain on a few parades.
You can produce cakes, cupcakes and confections from your home without having a separate commercial kitchen. If you plan to market these cakes for profit you must receive certification from the Department of Agriculture in your county to be a Home Processor.
Someone will visit your home, inquire about your plans and give you a list of things you cannot use in your products or produce as a home processor, ie. dairy products, custards, jams, fruit pies and a host of other substances they consider "hazardous".
Before you contact the Department of Agriculture and schedule an inspection of your kitchen there are a few things you will need to have in place or you will be wasting your time.
Here comes the rain...In NYS under the Home Processor Certification you can bake and decorate right in your own home's cannot sell from home, or deliver.
You do have a couple options though...

1. You can rent a space at your local farm market, it's Regional Market here in Syracuse, and you can sell cakes and cupcakes from your booth. I remember starting out thinking this was the way to go, I could set up some dummy cakes, put together a book of my designs, and bring along mini cupcakes for tastings. Ready for the fine print?  The farm market must be the point of sale, so your customer is required to pick up their cake /cupcakes from you at the farm market. You cannot deliver to their venue.
~Yeah, thats' practical, I'm sure a lot of brides want to run to the farm market before their wedding, transport and set up a 5 tier wedding cake and then go to the ceremony.
The mere though of my customer transporting and setting up anything over 1 tier is frightening. So this option is for the brave, and for those who feel they can produce enough cakes per week to cover the booth rent and insurance.

2. You can enter into a contract with a retail establishment stating that they will purchase the cakes/ cupcakes from you for resale. It can be any type of retail establishment, BUT, they will be required to be inspected and certified by the health department and /or Department of Agriculture if they are not already a licensed " food business."
So you can approach a local store or restaurant with your designs but they have to be willing to accept the liability of selling your cakes to your customer.
Some places may allow you to set up a display case and operate from their store which is great..
OOOhh wait..are those storm clouds I see?? Yes, you can enter into a contract with a retail establishment, BUT, again, you CANNOT deliver cakes directly to the end consumer, the store must . So the customer would have to pick up their cake at the store, transport and set it up themselves, unless you can cook a real sweet deal with the store or restaurant and they would be willing to take on that task for you.
Most won't...and most won't know how.
On top of all that, you must abide by the regulations on what can and cannot be used in your cakes & cupcakes and submit to random kitchen inspections.
I also suggest purchasing some insurance to CYA,  who ever you enter into a contract with be it a farm market or a retail establishment will probably require you to be insured also.
Be sure to have your contract in hand before your kitchen inspection.

You can start your cake business from your home kitchen, but the laws are very discouraging.
If you have the funding and motivation another option is setting up a commercial kitchen at home. You must have a separate room and  entrance, and be inspecting by the health department for a Bakers License.
With a Bakers License you can sell directly to the end consumer, only stipulation with that is you cannot place any signage on your kitchen designating it as a bakery.

If caking is your passion I encourage you to go after it. Don't let the laws discourage you, where there is a will, there is a way.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

German Chocolate Cake

I grew up with german chocolate cake. Granted it was out of a box and the frosting wast out of a plastic tub, but it was my mothers favorite. If we had cake in the house, it was german chocolate..and I thought it was the best thing ever!
Now that I'm a caker, I have discovered that I don't care for box mixes, and I REALLY don't care for pre-made frosting. So, this my new version of an old favorite that I make for my Mom's birthday every year!

German Chocolate Cake
1/2 cup water
1 4oz German's Chocolate  bar
1 Cup butter ( softened )
2 Cups sugar
4 eggs ( separated )
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup buttermilk
2 1/2 cups cake flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt

Coconut Pecan Filling
1 Cup sugar
1 Cup evaporated milk
3 beaten egg yolks
1/2 cup butter
1 1/3 cups flaked coconut
1 cup chopped pecans
1 tsp vanilla extract

Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

1 cup unsalted butter ( softened ) 
4 cups confectioners sugar
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp vanilla extract
4 TBSP powdered coffee creamer. 1:1 ratio PREPARED with hot water and cooled.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F
Line 3 9 inch rounds with parchment paper.
Sift together the flour, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
In a small saucepan add water and chocolate , heat until melted and let cool.

In a large bowl cream butter and sugar until fluffy. Beat in 4 egg yolks, one at a time.
Blend in chocolate and vanilla.
Mix in flour mixture, alternating with buttermilk. ( do not over mix )
In a separate bowl whip egg whites until stiff peaks form.
Fold into batter in 2 portions.
Combine until there are no streaks of egg white.
Pour into prepared pans and bake for 30 minutes.
Allow to cool, then turn onto wire rack .

In a saucepan over medium heat combine 1 cup of sugar, the evaporated milk, 1/2 cup of butter, and 3 egg yolks. Stir constantly until thickened. Remove from heat and stir in coconut, pecans, and vanilla. Let cool until it reaches a spreadable thickness.

Cream butter for a few minutes.  With mixer on, add cocoa , salt and vanilla. Mix in powdered sugar alternating with heavy cream. Add more cream or sugar to get the consistency you prefer.

Stack layers ,spreading filling between layers. Ice with chocolate buttercream.