Sunday, November 25, 2007

Flavour and Colour

Turkish Delight:
1 large cup boiling water
2 generous cups sugar
1 oz (30g) powdered gelatine
1 tsp citric acid
red or pink food colouring*
vanilla extract
lemon essence
icing sugar
In a saucepan boil the gelatine, sugar, citric acid and the water, for 15-20 minutes, stirring well. Divide the mixture into two - colouring one half with the red or pink food colouring and flavouring with a few drops vanilla extract; keeping the other half white and flavouring with a few drops of lemon essence. Pour each into two greased shallow containers. When cold, cut into squares with a knife dipped into boiling water. Roll squares in icing sugar.

Tip:* if using food colouring often - such as for icing cakes etc. food colours are best used in paste form, as they come in a much wider variety of flavours, and you can get more intense colours (such a red) using the paste rather than using the liquid colour which tends to dilute the icing too much. However, with the above recipe, as the colour needs to be pale, use only one drop at a time of the liquid until you get the colour you wish.

Anyone with children will always find it far cheaper to make their celebration cakes rather than purchase them. Starting when they are small, ample time to practice, so by the time they are married, wedding cakes will be a doddle. Have to modestly say (oh, why be modest, having four children and plenty of practice, I got darn good at it), that I have iced many wedding and celebration cakes for others in the past. A few useful tips, always add a few drops of glycerine when beating up royal icing. No noticable difference, it still sets hard, but cuts cleanly with a knife rather than tending to crack. Perhaps worth me mention that my first wedding cake made for a close friend (luckily), did not contain glycerine in the icing, so bent the silver knife when using for the ceremonial cutting (a little bleat from me that 'I shouldn't have used Polyfilla' made them all laugh and saved the day). If making fragile decorations, add a tsp of gum tragacanth (from the chemists) to the icing used for piping the decorations only (not for icing the cake itself) as this makes it super strong, and prevents a lot of breakages.
To get a really flat top and sides, spread the royal icing very thinly (even still able to seeing the marzipan beneath), and let it dry overnight. Using the flat of a knife, drag it across to remove any ridges (some people use fine sandpaper) and brush away the icing dust. Give another coat and repeat once a day until satisfied (it may take up to six or eight coats but well worth it for a perfect appearane).
Mentioning icing - after putting the almond paste on the cake, leave it uncovered for about a week for the marzipan to dry out or it could taint the icing with yellow patches.
And for those who haven't the patience or the time, if your cake does have ridges or holes, just get an icing pipe with a tiny round hole and start doodling an endless jig-saw like rope, icing over the ridges and around any dents and they will then seem to disappear.
Sadly, nowadays most cakes seem to be covered in fondant icing, but maybe one day royal icing will come back into fashion. You can always practice using royal icing on this year's Xmas cakes. It is after all, far cheaper than buying the fondant, all you need is egg white (saved?), icing sugar and a bit of lemon juice, plus a goodly amount of elbow grease.