Baking Cakes, Icings and Fillings
If you have baked a light sponge, for example, or a rich fruit cake, a well-risen Kugelhopf or a tray of biscuits, now the next stage can begin: completing your piece de resistance with a filling, an icing or a decoration of some kind. To assure your success, the following section gives you all the basics, as well as suggesting many new and unusual ideas to put theto your masterpiece.
There are several types of cream filling. Whether the filling is based on eggs or cream, cream or curd cheese, or butter, any number of varied combinations will give the desired taste and colour. Simply remember to follow the recommended quantity for the ingredients and to use the correct method.
Use lightly whipped cream to fill cream slices, choux pastry puffs, sandwich and sponge cakes and meringues, and to decorate fruit flans and gateaux.
Keep the cream in the refrigerator until ready for use and whip with a balloon whisk until it reaches the correct consistency. Beating by hand produces more volume than using an electric whisk.
We give two recipes for butter cream: a very light butter cream, prepared with custard, and the French butter cream which is heavier but has a delightful flavour. Both creams can be used to fill and cover flans, tartlets, slices and gateaux.
Custard Butter Cream Recipe
225 g | 8 oz butter
25 g | 1 oz custard powder
140g | 5 oz icing sugar
2 egg yolks
350 m1 | 12fl oz milk
Beat the softened butter with the sifted icing sugar until light and fluffy.
Blend 4 tablespoons milk with the custard powder and egg yolks. Bring the rest of the milk to the boil. Pour on to the custard powder, stirring, then return to the pan and bring to the boil again, stirring constantly. Remove the custard from the heat and leave to cool, stirring repeatedly to prevent a skin forming. (Alternatively, place a sheet of dampened greaseproof paper over the custard.)
When the custard has cooled to the temperature of the butter mixture, beat it gradually into the butter with a wooden spoon.
French Butter Cream
250g/9 oz butter
160 g|6 oz castor sugar
4 eggs few drops of vanilla essence
generous pinch of salt
Beat the butter until light and fluffy.
Beat the eggs with the salt and sugar in a basin over a pan of hot water until quite warm. Then remove from the heat and beat until cool. Gradually beat the cooled egg mixture into the butter, using a wooden spoon, and flavour with vanilla.
• To make a chocolate butter cream, stir 40 g/1-1/2 oz sifted cocoa powder and 20 g/3/4 oz icing sugar into the French butter cream.
• Butter cream can also be enriched with ground almonds or nuts, melted marshmallows, liqueurs, grated rind and juice of citrus fruits, or puréed fruit. Be careful to incorporate fruit, fruit juices and liqueurs slowly into the butter cream, to prevent curdling.
Icing gives a festive appearance to every kind of cake, and also helps to prevent cakes from drying out too quickly. When making an icing always add the liquid gradually until you finally obtain the required consistency. If you require a shiny icing, spread the cake first with apricot jam; sieve the apricot jam and bring it to the boil with a little water, stirring continuously, then spread over the still warm cake. Leave the jam to dry for a short time before icing. Spread the icing over the flat surface of cakes with a palette knife which has been dipped into hot water.
250 g / 9 oz icing sugar
2-3 tablespoons hot water
Sift the icing sugar and gradually beat in the water, which should preferably be hot, until the icing reaches the correct consistency.
• Instead of water you can also mix the icing with milk, fruit juice, wine or spirits, according to the type of cake. You can colour the icing with a few drops of food colouring, and flavour it by adding flavourings such as almond essence, rose water or vanilla essence.
2 egg whites
1 teaspoon glycerine
450 g/ 1 lb icing sugar
Very lightly whisk the egg whites until frothy. Gradually beat in the sifted icing sugar until the correct consistency is obtained, then finally add the glycerine.
• Like glace icing, royal icing can be altered in both colour and flavour by adding food colourings and flavourings. If you add extra liquid then compensate for this by adding a little more icing sugar, until the right consistency is reached.
125 g / 5 oz plain chocolate
1 tablespoon water
150 g|6 oz icing sugar
15 g oz butter
Melt the chocolate in a basin over a pan of hot water, stirring continuously. Add the sifted icing sugar, water and butter and stir until the ingredients are thoroughly mixed. Remove from the heat and continue stirring until the icing reaches the correct consistency.
Tart glaze (quick-setting jel mix) can be bought in red, orange and yellow colours. It is a jelly powder which when mixed with liquid produces a suitable glaze for fruit flans and tarts. It is poured over the flan while still liquid and then sets to a jelly over the fruit.
Always prepare and use the glaze exactly as instructed on the packet, making it up with fruit juice or wine, instead of water, if suitable. Almond flakes, crystallised sugar or grated chocolate are suitable to decorate the sides of the glazed flan or cake. Do not decorate the top of the flan with whipped cream until the glaze has set.
Sifting and Sprinkling
Icing sugar, drinking chocolate and cocoa powder are suitable for sifting. Always place only a small quantity into a small hair or nylon sieve and sprinkle the cake by evenly moving the sieve to and fro.
Use doilies to form a decorative pattern over a cake or tart. When removing doilies you must be especially careful not to smudge the pattern. With a little skill you can make your own paper patterns, stars, for example, or a fir tree for Christmas, small birds, flowers or even letters.
For sprinkling you can use crystallised sugar, chocolate vermicelli, flaked or nibbed almonds, desiccated coconut, other nuts or finely chopped glace fruit. In many recipes you will find the instruction ‘sprinkle the edges of the cake with . . .’ Do not take this literally but rather press the chosen decoration on to the sides with a plastic pastry scraper or palette knife. You can even roll the cake in the chopped nuts, etc., to coat the sides evenly.
Piped Rosettes and Garlands
You can pipe rosettes or garlands with whipped cream or butter cream. For this you will need a piping bag (see below) fitted with a star or plain nozzle. Both star and plain nozzles come in various sizes; the smaller the nozzle the more delicate will be the decoration.
If you wish to avoid the bother of boiling a fabric piping bag after using it each time, then use greaseproof paper bags. Fill the piping bag no more than half full with cream so that the open end is easy to hold. If you are inexperienced at using a piping bag, pipe the planned design once on to foil. (This does not waste the cream; you can remove it from the foil with a knife and return it to the piping bag.)
To pipe rosettes, squeeze equal peaks from a piping bag with a star nozzle. A large rosette can be topped with a glace cherry, candied coffee bean or segment of fruit. If you pipe several small peaks in a circle with a larger rosette in the centre, this will give a flower pattern. Garlands piped with a star nozzle can be made to radiate from the centre to the edge of each slice of gateau or tart, ending in a rosette. Garlands can also be piped to form a border around the edge of the cake, into a heart shape or any other chosen shape which suits the occasion for which the cake has been baked.
Sweet Writing and Figures
For more delicate icing, such as writing or figures, you will need to use royal icing.
Praline is often used to sprinkle on to cakes and gateaux. It can be made in advance, crushed and stored in an airtight jar.
175 g / 6 oz granulated sugar
75 g / 3 oz almonds, roughly chopped
Heat the sugar with the almonds in a saucepan over a gentle heat. When the sugar has dissolved, boil slowly until golden. Pour on to an oiled baking tray and leave until set. When cold crush the praline with a rolling pin and use as required.
To make chocolate caraque, spread melted plain chocolate on to a large melamine chopping board. Leave until just set. Using a sharp knife, scrape the chocolate, allowing it to peel off into long curls. For a quicker method, simply scrape a vegetable peeler along the flat side of a bar of chocolate, shaving it off into curls. Alternatively, grate coarsely.
Nougat is sometimes melted to use in cake fillings and icings. If you are unable to obtain a very good quality nougat, substitute marshmallows, as these will give excellent results.
Preparing the Piping Bag
Fold a large square piece of greaseproof paper diagonally and cut down the fold to give two triangles which can be used for different coloured icings. Roll the triangles to make cone shapes. Fold over the top edge of the seam side twice so that the cone keeps its shape. With scissors cut off the point. It is important to cut it straight for only in this way will you obtain an even ‘thread’. The higher you cut the point, the thicker the thread will be.
It is advisable to practise piping on to greaseproof paper or foil first. Take care not to hold the tube too near the icing surface. The icing must flow freely as only in this way will you have enough elbow room to control the resulting shapes. It is a great help if you first mark out the desired shapes — letters, figures or numbers — on to the writing surface using a pin. You can then ice over the shapes with ease.