The Vanilla Bean is a thin pod that is the fruit of one variety of
orchid. Vanilla beans have a sweet, perfumed aroma with a woody/smoky flavor. Pure vanilla can be expensive because
the growth and harvesting process is time consuming. The pods are hand picked and dipped immediately in boiling water to halt their growth. The
vanilla bean has no flavor or aroma when is picked. The beans must be cured by heating in the sun and wrapping
them to sweat at night for around 20 days. They are then air dried for 4-6 months to ferment and develop
that unique aroma and flavor we all love. Despise the expense, vanilla is one of the most common
and favorite extracts used in baking.
There are three common types of vanilla beans are:
*Mexican vanilla beans have a smooth
*Bourbon-Madagascar: The beans are rich, sweet and the thinnest of the
*Tahitian vanilla beans are the thickest and darkest, and although very
aromatic they are not as flavorful as the other two types.
choosing Vanilla Beans, make sure to get plump beans with a thin skin
to get the most seeds possible. Pods should be dark brown, almost black in color and pliable enough
to wrap around your finger without breaking. If they feel dry they are not fresh.
Make sure that when you purchase them, you
store them in plastic in a dry container.
Vanilla beans are usually available either singly or in small bundles
often packed in a glass tube or jar, or sealed plastic packages.
One of the most striking differences between pure and fake
vanilla involved alcohol flavor. While federal guidelines require 35 percent
alcohol in pure vanilla extract, there’s no minimum for alcohol in imitation
vanilla, and manufacturers have an incentive to use as little as possible to make synthetic
vanillin soluble: If they use more, it costs more to make. This explains why tasters kept describing
real vanilla as “boozy,” an adjective rarely applied to fake vanilla. But
they also found the real stuff nutty, spicy, and more complex. (Published March 1, 2009.
From Cook's Illustrated.)
you try a good quality vanilla extract it's very hard to go back to bad quality ones. Keep in mind that when
you are making buttercream, you need to use clear vanilla since you need the buttercream to stay as white as
you possibly can. But there are really good companies that sell good high quality clear extracts.
For cakes and other confections you can use a more pure form of the extract and you can even make
it yourself. I will do another tutorial on how to make homemade vanilla extract on my next tutorial.
For now, hope you enjoyed how to work with this amazing bean.
Click this link to see a video on how to get the seeds out of the vainilla bean pod and how to use the outside part to flavor your sugar.
In my next tutorial I will teach how to make your own vanilla extract. Hope you enjoy this information. Until next time..
I created this delicious Strawberry cake for those of you who are fans of strawberries. Make sure to
follow the directions and don't use the liquids when using frozen Strawberries. Using all the sugary syrup can make the cake
dense and the cake can fail to bake well in the center. This cake recipe was not created for fresh strawberries. So if
you decide to use fresh strawberries you will need to prepare them properly to use for this recipe. I will post
how to prepare those fresh strawberries in my next blog!
Hope you enjoyed the tutorial. Until Next time, Ta, ta!
I decided to open another Basket Class since the one in March was getting
too full. We had so much fun at the March Class, I can't wait to see my new students in April. Here is the info
on the class: http://www.designmeacake.com/id141.html
I am working on my Michigan Class May 3 & 4.
This will be a great class. I love everything about this cake. Astromelias, roses, leaves, triple bow, drapes and details that can help with
your wedding cakes.
I love keylime
cake and I have been tasting recipes for awhile. This cake is delicious and it has a pound cake texture. I use margarine
because it turned out to be tastier, but if you are into real butter and hate margarine go for it. If you
decide to use margarine, make sure it's a good one. Some margarines have too much water content, so it would be
better to stick with butter then.
I added photos of the products I used for those who like that
info. It works wonderful by following the directions, so if you decide to do your own thing and it doesn't work.
Try it again. It will be worth it.
Some of you have been asking
for a contest. So I decided to do one that it's easy and fun. It's basically a sharing contest. All levels and skills of decoration can join. Here are the rules: 1. Go to my Facebook page and like it. The FB button on the right will take you there.
2. Look for the photo I posted below in my Facebook page and share it with your other friends
in FB. Press on the photo below for a direct link to it. 3. Then last but not least, share a photo of your own cake creation in my Facebook page. It doesn't matter what level of decoration skills you have.
This is all about sharing!
Anybody can participate in this contest. The winner will win a DVD from my collection
of DVD's. The winner will be announced next week!
Have fun and participate! Until next time...Ta
ta! Edna :)
I made this tutorial
for those who like to make gumpaste flowers and like to know my favorite gum glue. I always use this glue, not
only for flowers but even to glue things to my cake. Keep in mind that the glue you use might change depending on what you are doing.
For buttercream if I am doing small pieces I will use tylose glue,
water or vodka or some extract. If am doing heavier pieces, I will use buttercream.
If I am working over
fondant, I can use tylose glue, water, extract or vodka. For heavier pieces I will use buttercream, royal icing
or melted chocolate.
Sometimes for smaller pieces of fondant you can lay them over a moist kitchen towel
paper and that will be enough to stick the piece over buttercream or fondant.
Too much liquids and the piece
will slide down, so make sure not to use too much glue.
Try it all and find out what works for you but keep in mind all things works if used properly.
I use only Tylose glue for my flowers. I like it because it can
be made in a thicker consistency. In the video below I explain how I make it. I have Tylose available in the website for those who can find it locally.
How to work with Lace Molds I love working with lace on cakes. This one is one of my favorite laces I have ever worked with. Molds for laces can vary a lot. Some are all silicone, some are one sided. This one in particular has 2 sides. Click on the lace to find more information on it In this video tutorial I explain how to work with it.
Hope you enjoy
the tutorial, until next time Ta ta! Edna ;)
I have been asked for this
tutorial for awhile. I finally was able to get it done. There are many ways to do buttercream roses but to me this is
the most basic one. Remember, practice is key with making these. They can be difficult to learn for some people
but once you learn them you will never forget them. Hope you enjoy. Ta ta! Edna ;)
Magnolia Cake I did this cake a few weeks ago and a lot of people asked me about it. The flower is a specimen of
Magnolia called "Magnolia X Soulangiana". A beautiful flower with pink tones in it.
The cutter I used is available at the webstore. Press on the photo to get to
it. At the base of the cake I used a mold. I don't have the mold available in the website but here is a photo
of it: I had to mold each square to make the ribbon at the bottom of the cake.
To finish it I use the extruder on top and bottom of the ribbon
The cake was covered in fondant. I started with a base of purple and used a brush to
handpaint it with some luster dusts. For more photos of the cake go here: http://www.designmeacake.com/id122.html
On another note, The Central Florida Fair is coming soon. March 1-11, 2012. Here is the link to their
website: Central Florida Fair
I just posted some photos that were taken the day of our
Challenge started with a trip to Denver. Our episode was filmed April 1, 2011..April Fools day!
We arrived 2 days earlier and started by doing some shopping and getting ready for the Challenge.
We had a
meeting where we met the other contestants and the judges. We were competing against: Jennifer Matsubara (3 time
winner) with Mariella Ortega Lorie Burcham with Jason Burcham (their second Challenge) Burton Farnswoth with Sandy
Our Judges were: Keegan Gerhard Kerry Vincent Ashley Vicos (Guest Judge)
day of the Challenge is a long hard day. We had to be there by 4:30 am. Usually, Challenge gives contestants 8 hours
to finish the cake, but with filming, time can be cut to almost 7 hours.
Our Challenge was intense. We had
to do Extreme Aliens. Paul and I decided to combine both our strengths in the design. His sculpting abilities with my
finishing touches. I was supposed to do a mini-tiered cake with flowers in an hour and a half, while he sculpted. We both met our time-line well, but the
unexpected twists were insane.
The first twist was at the 2 hour mark. I already had done the mini cake, and was
helping Paul with covering the cake in Ganache, when they took the time clock away from us. They took our watches and
phones away, too, so ther was NO way to know the time. All we could do was keep moving.
While I kept finishing,
smoothing and texturing the skin, Paul kept covering arms, legs and head. Time came for the SECOND twist! NOT FAIR!
There is never more than one twist in Challenge, but guess what? We were in for another one!
For the second
twist, they took all of the assistants away. One thing that people forget is that this is a Challenge that needs 2 people.
Food Network gives us the name "assistants" but, in reality, we are teammates. Each teammate has steps to follow
for the piece to be finished. Taking me away was the worst thing they could have done to Paul and I. Paul had never worked with my tools, so while we did the the "Mini-Challenge" twist, he wasn't sure what to do with my
The Mini-Challenge took around 1hour & 15 minutes. We had to make a UFO and fly
it across the room with cables. That UFO was heavy! Imagine flying a wedding cake..not nice! Talk about having a heart
attack! I had to get back to Paul, so did the other teammates, so we worked as fast as possible to accomplish the
As soon as I returned to Paul we got moving with the piece again. Still, we didn't know the time remaining,
so we were rushing. Paul was putting the head on the body while I was finishing the aliens attire. We both started airbrushing
We were almost done with the airbrushing and applying the hair when they stopped us to tell
us we had one hour left...ONE HOUR! After the airbrushing was done, there was not much we could do!!! Had we known
we still had a full hour left, we could have done much more with her attire, then airbrushed.We decided to add a few
more strands of hair and a few more details.
Finally time was up and it was time to move
the cake to the judging table. Burton and Sandy moved their cake. It was leaning a bit already, their piece fell. I couln't
believe it. What if that were to happen to us?
Then is was Lorie and Jason's turn. They moved the piece and activated
their extreme elements. The head didn't move, but they had other elements.
It's our turn next. We had 4 people
help us move our cake. It was hard to be even and straight with so many people helping. One toenail fell off! Oh No!
The judges noticed. We had to take our piece back to the table to fix the nail, per the rules. Not doing so would mean that
the judges would take away points, but moving the piece was dangerous. It could fall.
We decided to move it. As
Paul fixed the nail, I noticed the head move a bit sideways and had a hairline crack formed around the nose. We asked if we
could fix it, but it was not allowed. We moved the piece back to the judging table as I kept saying "straight, straight,
straight" with every step we took.
It's was on the table, the face still there, the mini-wedding cake was straight, but the plate it was on was a
bit sideways. Our piece was safely on the table. The extreme elements worked well. The Alien's arm with a scanner in
hand moved up and down. She talked and fog came out of the small volcanoes on the board.
and Mariella moved their cake and did their extreme elements. We where done, except for judging. Now we wait. It's been
a long day with no food, so we ate and went to a room off the set with the other Challengers.
wass called one a time to go in front of the judges, while the rest of us waited and talked about what happened.
Everybody was dead tired. Finally we were called out to hear the decision. WE
WON! The day was hard, but the outcome was great. We left the next day to go home to Orlando and couldn't tell the outcome
for 6 months. That was hard.
Paul Joachim is a great Sculptor. We complement each other skills so well. I
am glad that I was his teammate. People were calling us the "Dream Team." As it turned out, we were.
Thanks for all the support everyone gave us! Here is
the link to the program: Click Here
This past Sunday, the
Cake Challenge episode was aired on Food Network Channel. We can finally talk about it. I've been really busy the past few
weeks. I Just came from Oklahoma where I was a Judge for the Oklahoma State Sugar Art Show (OSSAS). Then the Episode aired
the day after I arrived home.
I have lots of photos to post! For today, please enjoy the Challenge
Episode "Extreme Aliens." I will post photos on the next blog.