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Thursday, March 05, 2015

How Does a DIY Sugar Lace Recipe Stack Up?

DIY Sugar Lace Comparison
This cake was made using a DIY Sugar Lace recipe and the Claire Bowman Cake Lace Chantilly mat.

A couple of weeks ago it occurred to me that I hadn't purchased any new cake toys in a while, so I could therefore justify ordering a Silikomart Daisy small mat and some of their Tricot lace mix. Let the fun begin!

I mixed up the Tricot lace according to the directions and worked it into the mat. It went in quite easily. It didn't come out the same way.  I went through quite a few pieces of the Silikomart lace that either tore, or crumbled, or were just so gummy that it all stuck together. Turns out, that was probably my fault. Well, not my fault - my oven's fault. Everyone's oven is a little different, so do yourself a favour and spend 5 bucks on an oven thermometer. Once I did that, the lace came out much better. The mix comes in white, but can be easily coloured with a little bit of gel paste. It has a hint of caramel in the taste.

Next, I purchased a Claire Bowman Chantilly Lace mat and some of her pre-mixed cake lace in Pearlized White. I was surprised at how small the container was when it arrived, but was reminded that a little goes a long way. The product handles beautifully. The lace came out a little bit thicker than the Silikomart lace and was very flexible.

I wanted it in every colour! That would really add up, so I started searching the Internet for other options.

That's when I came across this YouTube video by Sugar Tree Cakerie on how to make your own sugar lace. To be honest, I didn't have high hopes. But, what I did have was all of the ingredients, so what the heck!

I was blown away at how easy (and inexpensive) it was to make my own sugar lace mixture and at how well the lace itself turned out.

I made a couple of small changes to the You Tube posters recipe (outlined below). The result was a mixture essentially the same texture as the Cake Lace. It spread beautifully into the mat. I will say, however, that the Claire Bowman cake lace seemed to shrink less than either the Tricot Mix or the homemade lace. To remedy that, you can always put a second coat onto the mat once the first coat has dried to give you a stronger lace. I stored the lace pieces in individual ziplock bags.

One week later, this is how they looked.

The Cake Lace was still perfectly flexible, the DIY lace less so, and the Tricot lace cracked when I took it out of the bag.

However, The Tricot lace was the whitest white - the others are more of an ivory colour.

Top: Cake Lace Pearlized White (one coat)
Right: DIY Sugar Lace (two coats), sprayed with Pearl Lustre
Bottom: DIY Sugar Lace (one coat), sprayed with Pearl Lustre
Left: Silikomart Tricot Mix (one coat)

There are a number of factors that will determine how your lace will turn out, including how much water is used (the more you use, the drier the result will be), how well you scrape the mat, your oven temperature, how long you leave it in the mat once out of the oven, etc. You just need to play around with it and see what works for you.

For this cake, I tinted the homemade sugar lace mix with a copper gel colour. Then I brushed copper lustre dust right into the mat before spreading the mixture onto the mat. I love the result! And, the lace came out of the mat much easier with the luster dust.

The colour possibilities are endless!

Will I always make my own lace mixture? Probably not. It depends on how and where I am going to use the lace. In fact, I am already eyeing the pre-mixed Cake Lace brand in Pearlized Ruby Red. I love how the Claire Bowman Cake Lace stays so flexible and I love the convenience of a pre-mixed product.

On the other hand, I also love that I have found an inexpensive alternative that is easy to make from ingredients I always have on hand and that works almost as well for my purposes.

This recipe cost me just $1.27 to make. The Tylose powder is the expensive part, but GumTex (Wilton) works just as well and with a 40% off coupon from Michael's or Hobby Lobby your cost would be even lower.

Here's How - DIY Sugar Lace

If you look at the video by Sugar Tree Cakerie and read the comments below it, you will see that everyone does this a little differently. You will find other videos and blogs that talk about different variations of that same recipe. All I can say is that this is what worked for me.

1/2 cup distilled water
1 Tbsp Tylose Powder (or Gum Tex)
1 Tbsp Icing Sugar
2 Tbsp Corn Starch
1/4 tsp Meringue Powder
1/2 tsp glucose (or clear corn syrup)
1/2 tsp food grade glycerin (optional - keeps the lace more flexible)
white gel colour

In the video, they use a hand mixer. I don't have a hand mixer and to put such a small amount into my 6 quart Kitchenmaid caused it not to mix up very well.

So, the next time I made it, I just measured all of the dry ingredients together in one bowl, liquid ingredients into another, then mixed the liquid and dry ingredients together, stirred briefly and placed it all into my mini Cuisinart. (No need to mix Tylose and water first) Less than a minute later, I had a mixture that was the same texture (almost like thick mayonnaise) as the Cake Lace.

Here is the second part of the video which shows how to spread the lace mixture into the mat and bake it.

I found that leaving the light in the oven on as well as the convection fan and setting at a low temperature (the lowest setting on my oven is 135F) works well. I also left the door of the oven slightly open to let out any humidity. Fifteen minutes worked perfectly for me for the large mat; about 10 - 12 for the smaller mat.

So, give it a try and enjoy your own sugar lace at a fraction of the cost.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Valentine Sugar Cookies - Fondant & Royal Icing

Fondant covered sugar cookies with royal icing and fondant accents

My granddaughter's school has to be one of the few schools around that still allow treats to be brought in from home. A few weeks ago, she placed her order for Valentine cookies. She told me there are twenty-two kids in her grade four class, but I better make her twenty-five - "just in case". Just in case she eats a few before they get to the classroom, I suppose.

My Pinterest feed is filled with fabulous brightly coloured cookies that are meticulously decorated with royal icing. I really wanted to give royal icing one more shot. You see, royal icing and I are NOT friends. This goes way back to long before I started decorating cakes and such. One Easter, I decided to make my own kids cookies shaped like Easter Eggs and bunnies. To this day, in the Martha Stewart cookbook on the page with the royal icing recipe is a post-it note that says, "Don't do it!!! Remember last year!?!"

Attempt at decorating with royal icing
Nevertheless, I decided to try again.

Sigh. Two hours later, my kitchen looked like a disaster zone with squeeze bottles all over the place, and tips, and long needles for spreading the icing, and bowls of royal icing in different colours and in varying consistencies. I still couldn't get it right. I tried the outlining method and didn't like the look. So, I tried doing it all in one shot with a thinner icing. That didn't work for me either.

In the end, I scrapped the whole idea and went back to my trusty fondant covered cookies with royal icing and fondant accents. I'm happy and I am guessing that my granddaughter and her class will be happy too.

Will I try decorating with royal icing again? You bet - probably at Easter! I will get the hang of it one of these times!

Saturday, January 17, 2015

50 Shades of Grey

Oh my! My daughter-in-law is turning 40! That is cause for a great celebration cake. Well, seriously, what birthday isn't cause for a great celebration cake?

50 Shades of Grey Cake www.butterfacecakes@blogspot.ca

With the 50 Shades of Grey Movie coming out in less than a month, we thought that might make a great theme for her party. I looked at dozens of "50 Shades" cakes on line and there were some awesome cakes. (Do a Google or Pinterest search.)

I had always wanted to make a totally ripped male torso cake and you'll find plenty of those in your search for 50 Shades of Grey cakes. But, there was just something about cutting into a torso that I just didn't find appealing. Plus, I wanted to make it family-friendly just in case there are any kids that show up.

So, this is my take on a 50 Shades of Grey birthday cake. 

The bottom tier is a 12" square Chocolate Fudge cake filled with a Nanaimo Bar inspired Swiss Meringue Buttercream, covered in a beautiful, rich, dark chocolate ganache, then covered again in grey fondant. The shimmer comes from giving it a little shot of Pearl Lustre Spray. (I love that stuff!)

The middle tier is obviously inspired by the Red Room and features (what else) Red Velvet cake with Cream Cheese Buttercream, covered in white chocolate ganache and covered with red fondant. (I used Fondx Elite, Candy Apple Red for this tier. It's expensive, but it's the best tasting red fondant I've found.) I then applied a quilting effect to the fondant.

What 50 Shades of Grey cake would be complete without some Vanilla? The top tier is a Vanilla Bean cake with a Cookie Dough Buttercream, covered in dark chocolate ganache, then topped with black fondant (also Fondx Elite - great flavour on the black as well). I then covered the whole tier in black sugar and tiny silver dragees. (Yes, I will be finding little silver balls all over my kitchen for months to come!) Suffice it to say, this tier was a messy proposition. But, I love the effect. I gave it a little shot of Pearl Lustre Spray as well.

The mask and handcuffs are made from gum paste and are decorated with silver highlighter and some silver disco dust, which makes them decoration only and not for consumption. The tie is made from fondant and brushed with a pearl petal dust. 

This was a time-consuming cake, and so heavy, but all-in-all it was probably the most fun cake I've done to date.

Happy Birthday, Stacy, as you say "Laters Baby" to another decade!