BPA 130: Final Plate of Chocolate Mousse, Almond Sponge cake, Cherry sauce, Vanilla Tuile cookies and Pulled Sugar garnish

Day 9, Final

I prepared a Morello Cherry sauce, Almond Sponge cake brushed with cherry soaked Kirsch and brandy, Chocolate Mousse, Vanilla Tuile cookies, whipped cream, and Pulled Sugar.


BPA 131: Course Final- Stacked Cake

Day 8/9, Intro to Cake Decorating

Today was our final where we were to make a two tiered wedding cake coated in buttercream then fondant with a shell border, fine piping, fondant or piped flowers, and a 10" square base with 6" round top, both 3.5" tall.


BPA 131: Fondant coated square cake with fondant flowers

Day 7, Intro to Cake Decorating

Today's square cake was cut and filled with a dam of buttercream and raspberry jam and crumb coated. I rolled out a sheet of fondant to an even thickness and making sure there were no air bubbles or bumps, rolled it onto the rolling pin. Gently unrolling it on top of the cake I first smoothed the top, insuring no air pockets, then pressed the fondant tight at the corners. With the corners covered I then smoothed the fondant on the sides, moving from the corners in. This motion moved the air pockets down and out from the middle as opposed to creating large creases or wrinkles at the corners.

Using powdered red color mixed with a drop of alcohol mixed into some fondant, I found a bright orange red for the flowers for my cake. I piped 5 tiny black dots in each center and I piped the branches before affixing the flowers with a dab of royal icing.

I was inspired by cherry blossoms and Asian designs and wanted to create something similar with the small flowers on my cake. The fondant flowers are nice to work with because each has a different movement and shape, making them look more natural.

BPA 131: Stacked cakes coated in fondant with Cornelli lace, Sota, and Swiss Dots

Day 6, Intro to Cake Decorating

I began the same as before with cutting my even cake layers, damming and filling with jam, and crumb coating. The difference was that I was also cutting and coating a 6" round cake as well. The process was the same, but once my layers were cut, instead of just cutting off the edges, I used the small cardboard cake round as a template and trimmed away the cake that remained. Today I colored my fondant a little yellow, kind of a butter color. I rolled it out and unrolled it onto each cake separately. I used 6 straws as structural support standing in the middle of the bottom cake and with a little buttercream as glue put the small cake on top.

I practiced my fine piping of Swiss dots on top, a diamond like pattern, and continued with Sota and Cornelli lace on the bottom. This picture shows the Sota piping which are random curves of icing that falls on top of itself, and is wide and loose.

The other side of the cake I piped Cornelli lace onto. Cornelli lace is a kind of embroidery piping that is supposed to be one continuous line in small curves. It is not supposed to intersect like Sota piping. I piped a very small shell border between the two cakes and on the bottom, merely to hide the cardboard and the space where the cakes meet.

BPA 131: Coating cakes with fondant and fine line piping with royal icing

Day 4, Intro to Cake Decorating

I prepared my cake layers, made a dam on each layer for and filled with raspberry jam, and crumb coated my cake. Today we worked with rolled fondant to coat out cakes. I used a rolling pin and rolled the fondant out on the marble counter dusted with powdered sugar. I wanted it very thin, even, and smooth. Once it was at a good thickness, I rolled it up onto the rolling pin and unrolled it on top of my cake. Working quickly I smoothed the sheet of fondant over the top and sides with my hands and with a fondant smoother. Once all lines and wrinkles were gone I trimmed the extra fondant off the bottom of the cake. Using the fondant smoother I went around the edge of the cake and slid down the sides make sure the fondant was tight and smooth at the bottom. Any excess fondant I cut away with my paring knife.

To finish my cake I used white royal icing to make some small fine line piping along the edges. Where the swags met at the top I made a small dot of icing. Below the swags I attempted some Swiss dots.

I used a small round tip to make the pearl border at the bottom of the cake.

BPA 131: Cutting and coating square cakes, intro to Fondant flowers

Day 5, Intro to Cake Decorating

I cut the square cake to the same thicknesses and followed the same process as the rounds, but was very careful at the corners. The sharp edges and corners of a square cake are really what make it look nice. I filled the cake with raspberry jam that was dammed in by a border of piped buttercream. I smoothed my crumb and final coat using my offset spatula. To smooth the sides I did not turn the cake wheel but used my bench scrapper front and back to gently pull across each side, smoothing and evening out the buttercream. It was difficult to keep the edges crisp but can be done with a lot of practice.

After my final coat of buttercream I piped a simple shell border along the top and bottom edges of my cake.

I added some cut fondant flowers to the top of the cake (I learned later that I was not rolling the fondant flowers properly).

BPA 131: Basket Weave cake with Piped roses, royal icing flowers, and buttercream writing

Day 3, Intro to Cake Decorating

Today I cut my cake layers the same way as I did before, but instead of buttercream filling I used raspberry jam. I created a dam for the jam by piping a ring of buttercream along the inside edge of the layer and using my small offset spatula spread the jam inside the enclosed area. This keeps the jam from oozing out the sides when frosting and makes for a nice looking slice of cake. Because I was frosting the outside of my cake using a basket weave pattern, the crumb coat was a sufficient base to start with.

To make the basket weave, I had two piping bags with buttercream ready, one with a wide ridged edge and the other a thin rounded tip. I began with the small round tip and piped a line vertically, from top to bottom of the cake. I then switched bags and to the second tip and gently crossed over the small line in a horizontal line. I made 5 short (about 1/2", depending) horizontal lines, and then switched back bags. I made my next vertical line but up against the horizontal lines; I didn't want space between the two. Continuing in this same process around my cake I was able to get a nice basket weave. The most difficult part came when finishing the weave; the end was visible but not bad looking.

In finishing my cake I piped a small birthday message in green buttercream and piped three roses in some royal icing. I piped some leaves and used the piped flowers from the previous class to fill the rest of the space. To make the roses I began with the same tools as the other flowers, but started with a small Hershey kiss base for the center of the rose, and made concentric petals curving up and out around it. It took many tries but eventually they began to look like roses. I ended with a piped buttercream shell border around the top and bottom of the cake.

BPA 131: Piping buttercream swags and borders and piping royal icing flowers

Day 2, Intro to Cake Decorating

Working with round cakes again, I cut and prepared my layers using the same M.O.P. as learned on day 1. I filled the cake with buttercream, making sure layers of cake and frosting were even. I crumb coated and final coated with buttercream, and then focused on piping swags. Using various piping tips I was able to achieve ruffled swags, fine line swags, and a shell border along the top and bottom edges of my cake. Where the swags met at the top of my cake I piped small rosettes.

I also had a chance to practice piping royal icing flowers. Using the rose piping tip and some tinted icing I was able to create some nice little flowers. To pipe a simple flower it is easiest to use the flower nail in the piping kit, with a small piece of parchment paper. Holding the nail in my left hand and my piping bag in the other, I piped, stopped, and turned 5 times, making the 5 petals of my flowers. I went back later and piped small dots in the centers.

BPA 131: Cutting cake layers, crumb and final coating with Italian buttercream

Day 1, Intro to Cake Decorating

I began with 9" cake rounds and proceeded to make 3/8" layers, about the height of my pinkie finger (give or take depending on finger size). Starting from the bottom and using my serrated knife, I gently held it level to the cake base and with my other hand spun the cake wheel and let the knife cut through the cake and after a couple of turns it came across cleanly. I cut three even layers in this same fashion. I kept them stacked and with a slow sawing motion cut downwards to remove the brown crust of the sides of the cake. *Any layer of cake that had a brown crust top or bottom and was to be used as a middle layer, had the crust gently rubbed or cut off.

The Italian Meringue buttercream recipe used for a 5 quart mixer is as follows:
-1 lb granulated sugar
-8 fl oz cold water
-6 oz egg whites
-1 lb unsalted butter, room temperature, cut into pieces
-1 tbsp vanilla extract

I placed my bottom layer onto a cardboard cake round on top of the cake wheel and used my medium offset spatula to put the buttercream onto the layer. I wanted my layers of buttercream to be as thick as those of cake, and finished the remaining layers in the same way. I made sure each layer was flat before starting the next. I applied a thin coating on the sides of the layers and the top, keeping the top even and smooth and the edges crisp. I used my bench scrapper to smooth my sides as I spun the cake wheel.

Crumb coating cake layers with Italian buttercream

The crumb coat is a thin layer to trap the crumbs of the cake within the first layer and to prevent crumbs from appearing in the final coat of buttercream.

The final coating of buttercream was applied after chilling the cake briefly, allowing the crumb coat to harden slightly. This made the second coat easy to apply and crumb free. I smoothed the top and sides using my bench scrapper and offset spatulas the same way I did earlier.

I practiced writing with chocolate using a parchment paper cone, choosing a Happy Birthday message. I also finished the cake with a pearl shell border along the top and bottom edges. This gave the cake a more finished appearance.

BPA 130: Deconstructed Black Forest Cake with Chocolate Cake, Chocolate Ribbon, Whipped Cream, Brandied Sour Cherries, and a shot of Kirsch

This deconstructed version of Black Forest cake was made by some students in our class. They took all of the elements of the traditional cake and arranged them separately on the plate. I like this plate in concept, it's fun to look at a traditional cake in a new way and to see the various parts of the dessert as separate entities, but for this cake I do not favor it. I do not think there is enough connection between the elements, I would prefer a little more interaction between them. I like the simplistic and clean nature of the plate, each item has its own space and area. With this cake the colors are monochromatic for the most part, browns, white, clear, and dark red. The white space of the plate makes them pop, but also makes them look so separated from each other. If I were doing this plate I might deconstruct the cake to a lesser extent. I would brush the kirsch onto the cake directly and place it partly in the sauce with the cherries. I would put the whipped cream on top of the cake and lean the chocolate curl against it as a garnish.

BPA 130: White Chocolate covered Passion Fruit Mousse with Lime Sable Cookie, Blood Orange Sauce, and topped with Passion Fruit Pate de Fruit

This pyramid of white chocolate covered passion fruit mousse with pineapple consume and a lime sable cookie was made by Chef Peter Yuen. I paired the tropical flavors with the blood orange sauce both for flavor and contrasting color. I topped the mousse with a passion fruit pate a fruit I cut into strips and sugared. I was very pleased with the final plating. I like how the mousse floats above the pool of sauce and the way the painted sauce on the sides is mimicked by the pate a fruit strips on top. I was worried the bowl would swallow the pyramid, but instead it shows off the angles more than the plate does. If doing this again I might try a chocolate sauce on the bottom and a different pate a fruit of other garnish to see how darker or more monochromatic colors would work out.

BPA 130: Tropical Fruit Mousse with Chocolate Almond Sponge Cake and Kiwi Gelee, Coconut Marshmallow and Caramel sauce

This dish has a tropical fruit mousse over a chocolate almond sponge cake topped with a kiwi gelee. I am very pleased with the way this dish came out. Using a small paint brush I painted caramel sauce onto the base of the bowl in a vine like manner. I wanted the mousse cake in the center because I wanted to keep the circular shape at play. I cut out a small circle of coconut marshmallow for the topper, which kept with the tropical flavors but also picked up the contrasting colors. The cake is almost like a sun with radiating waves. I might use a white bowl or plate if plating this dessert again; the white plate would really pick up the white of the coconut and marshmallow and make it pop even more.

BPA 130: Chocolate covered Dark Chocolate Mousse, Chocolate Shortbread Cookie, and Blood Orange Sauce topped with chopped Pistachios

This dish is similar to the previous in that is has a dark chocolate mousse pyramid, blood orange sauce, and chocolate shortbread cookie. This mousse has been sprayed with a layer of chocolate using a paint spray gun. This gives is a rough sandpaper like texture and catches the light more in some areas than others. I dusted this with gold and put some pistachios on top as well. The bright green looks nice against the dark chocolate below it. This mousse too is hidden behind the large cookie and messy looking nuts on the plate. I would try this pyramid in a bowl with some of the blood orange sauce and a small square cookie serving as a base to the mousse.

BPA 130: White Chocolate coated Dark Chocolate Mousse with chopped Pistachios, Chocolate Shortbread Cookie and Blood Orange sauce

This dish features a dark chocolate mousse, dipped in white chocolate pate a glacer and edged with chopped pistachios. A chocolate shortbread cookie and blood orange sauce surround the mousse. I am not happy with this plate as a whole. I like the pyramid of mousse and the combination of the green pistachios with the white pate a glacer and the final dusting of gold, but it is lost in the sea of big cookie and remaining nuts on the plate. I had envisioned a much smaller, more delicate looking cookie that would mimic the square base of the pyramid, with more orange sauce flooding the area between the two and contrasting colors and textures. Much of the original idea was lost or did not come across in the end. The sprinkled pistachios were an afterthought, and appear so. I would have preferred the same mousse pyramid on the plate with a simple ring of sauce with a small bite-size cookie. From this I see again, less is more.

BPA 130: Creme Caramel with Bubble Sugar garnish

This dish is a Creme Caramel with a piece of poured sugar on top. I poured the sugar onto parchment paper that had been wiped with high proof alcohol, and the bubbles in the sugar are the end product of its evaporation. Since Creme Caramel is cooked in a container and flipped to serve, it was difficult to know how the sauce would come out. I swirled the plate a little bit and was content with the natural flow of it. I wanted to play on the combination of the soft custard and the crisp sugar, as well as the colors of the two. I liked the almost see-through, glass block effect of the sugar when looking at the plate from above. It looks as if its sitting on top of the custard. From the side you can see the small pieces of sugar holding it up, floating it above the creme. In doing this dish again I might try to remove some more sauce before releasing it from its shell, or using a small bowl and having all of its caramel sauce underneath and have the custard appear to be floating.

BPA 130: Quenelle of White Chocolate Mousse in a Sugar Cup with Casis sauce

This dish has a sugar cup with white chocolate mousse and a swirl of casis sauce. I like the delicateness of the sugar cup against the dark, contained sauce. I drizzled the hot sugar over a pyramid flexi-mold and when it was cool carefully pealed it off. It was very delicate and had wild looks strands coming off the top, which made it really fun and interesting. The mousse was almost too heavy for it; it knocked the cup over when I put it in. The contrast of delicate and heavy are also at play here. The sauce appears heavy. I used a small round cutter and swirled a pastry brush of sauce inside. I liked it initially, but as it dried it lost its shine and became rather unappetising looking. I would try this again with a more viscus sauce or a sauce that kept its shine, more like caramel. I would also try this in a bowl and see how the round versus the pyramid sugar would look.

BPA 130: Chocolate Bread Pudding with Passion Fruit sauce and Sugar garnish

This dish was one of the more fun ones to create. I chose to work with the chocolate bread pudding and passion fruit sauce and finished with a sugar garnish. The sugar is meant to look as if it is floating, or flowing like water, from the dessert. I wanted to play with the curves of the pudding and the sugar. I drizzled the hot sugar over a small metal dome and cracked off large pieces when it was cooled. These pieces retained the roundness of the dome but not the entire structure. I used the dome again on the plate when drizzling the sauce. I used spoonfuls at a time and went across the plate. I removed the dome and the white center created the perfect spot for my round of pudding. I like the contrasting color of the bread and chocolate in the pudding, as well as the yellowness of the sugar and the bright yellow of the passion fruit sauce. This dish would be hard to replicate unless a simpler or standard shaped sugar garnish was used.

BPA 130: Half Moon of Marquis Torte with Vanilla Sponge Cake, dusted with Cocoa, Chocolate Sauce, topped with Whipped Cream and Chocolate Moon

I was very pleased with the way this dish turned out. I was inspired by the chocolate disc moons I had made when attempting the various tempered chocolate garnishes and found that the marquis, simply cut, mimicked the moon shape. As with the previous bowl I used my pastry brush to apply the sauce. I brushed chocolate sauce from the inside to the outer edges. The sauce was very thick which made it nice for brushing by holding its shape and not sliding down, but it did not seem to hold much color. I was hoping for a bolder brown, which the photograph barely shows the darkness it really was, but something closer to the depth of the cocoa powder. I would like to try this dessert on a plate and see if the same effect is achieved.

BPA 130: Marquis Torte with Vanilla Sponge Cake dusted with Cocoa, Casis sauce, topped with Whipped Cream and piped Chocolate

With this dessert I wanted to play around with different saucing techniques. First of all, I used a wide bowl which I think added to the interest of the dish. I used a pastry brush to swirl the sauce around the bowl, creating overlapping ribbons of color and texture. I like that the grainy texture of the sauce comes through and the varying shades of red to pink when using the brush. The marquis on its own was rather dull looking; chocolate mousse with vanilla sponge cake. I thought the dusting of cocoa powder added yet another texture and some interest to the top and sides of the cake. The garnish on top was tempered chocolate piped into an "M" shape for the Marquis. I also liked the way I cut the marquis. It was one portion but the angled way I cut it makes it look like there is more, and has interest from all points of view. The dollop of whipped cream on top held the garnishes in place but also adds a pop of contrast in a mostly chocolate dish.

BPA 130: Tower of Devil's Food Cake layered and topped with Ganache, White Chocolate Mousse, with Pomegranate sauce and Tuile cookie garnish

This plate I tried to model after the previous plate which has the same sauce and tuiles, but round cut cake. I think this plate does not really work. The height of the cake and the way it awkwardly stands does not look good with the swirled sauce and tuiles. The leaf tuile here looks like a surf board and the mousse looks like and unnecessary addition. I would definitely try this cake again with a square plate and maybe not stand it up, try a different sauce, and use the tuiles as garnishes and not just leaning against the cake.

BPA 130: Devil's Food Cake layered and topped with Ganache, White Chocolate Mousse, Pomegranate sauce and Tuile cookie garnish

This plate is of a chocolate ganache layered Devil's Food cake, vanilla tuile garnish, and pomegranate sauce. I really like the centrality and concentric circle look of this dish. I used a round cutter to cut the cake and with the smallest cutter, took out the top of the center and filled it with a little white chocolate mousse. The mousse contrasted with the dark chocolate color but also served as the "glue" to hold my tuile garnishes upright. I was not completely happy with the way the tuile leaf came out; to me it almost looks like a feather. In doing this again I would keep the saucing and round cut cake but maybe try another kind of tuile garnish.

BPA 130: Vanilla Ice Cream in a Tuile cup with Pomegranate sauce and Tuile garnish

This plate features a vanilla tuile cookie cup and garnish, vanilla ice cream, and a swirl of pomegranate sauce. I really like the way the saucing turned out on this plate. I had many ideas and various attempts (hence the melted ice cream) before achieving this final look. I just dropped some sauce onto the center of the plate with a large spoon and swirled outwards until I reached a look I liked. This technique could be difficult in banquet plating or a fast paced restaurant where you want them to look exactly the same or you don't have time to swirl each plate with a spoon. The cookie, ice cream, and vanilla are too monochromatic. I would change one of those elements if doing it again, a chocolate tuile or ice cream would create more contrast and actually make each element stand out on its own. As it is they kind of blend together. I like the bright red of the sauce and the nice shine it gives to the plate.

BPA 130: Panna Cotta with Creme Anglaise, Passion Fruit, and Casis sauces

This plate is also from Day 1, working with Panna Cotta as the center and playing with sauces and color to make a complimentary color plate. On this plate I made dots of each sauce, passion fruit, creme angalise, and casis. I liked the color variation between the sauces, the yellow bleeding into the creme into the bright red. Because these sauces were thinner they did not hold the zest shape as well as the thicker sauces, but they blended together better; blurring the edges between them. I would also like to try this same set up on a differently shaped plate to see the effects of the angles. A chocolate or dark central dessert would also work with this sauce combination, the colors would compliment the dark dessert and would still be bright against the white plate.

BPA 130: Panna Cotta with Creme Anglaise, Chocolate, and Caramel sauces

This was the first dessert plated in class. I was to design two plates with Panna Cotta as the central part and work with available sauces to create a monochromatic plate and a complimentary color plate.
This is the monochromatic plate with chocolate sauce, creme anglaise, and caramel sauce. I played around with various tools from my kit and found my zester made an interesting pattern with the sauce. I like the color combinations of the sauces, but I wish they were the same consistency. The caramel was thick and the chocolate sauce was extra thick, which did not scrape across the plate the same way the creamy creme anglaise did. I would like to try this dish again in a bowl or square plate, to see how the angles work with the horizontal lines of the zest marks. If this were a plated dessert to be served, I might have to reconsider the amount of sauce used, right now it is rather sparse, but gives the desired effect. I don't like the look of the chocolate sauce; as it dried it lost its shine.