What Pastry Technique Do You Want to Master?

by moderndomestic on September 22, 2010

Pastry Class- Cake

For me, it's cakes. Especially the sides of cakes.

I’ve been waiting all summer to get to cakes in my pastry class. It’s not that I haven’t loved doing laminated doughs, or pâte brisée, or pastry cream, because I have. But cakes kind of fascinate me. They’re really hard, for one thing. I’ve had many a Twitter and in-person discussion about this with Shaw Girl about the challenges of making the sides of a cake perfectly smooth – no matter how hard I try, I’m never quite able to do it to my liking.

So, here’s the cake I made in class this Tuesday. Yes, that’s you, ModernDomestic readers, that I’m saying hello to. I picked up a couple of tricks to make the top perfectly smooth, but those sides are still eluding me. And let’s not even talk about that chocolate piping.

Pastry Class - Cake 2

I wanted to write "Hello ModernDomestic Readers" but I started the "H" too big.

Still, it’s a start, right?

I’m sure I’m not alone in my cake obsession. And now that it’s a new school year it’s a good time to tackle those pastry projects you’ve always wanted to do.

What pastry recipes, techniques, or projects do you want to master? Chocolate truffles? The perfect cream puff? Fine piping? Share your ambitions or frustrations in the comments.

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{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Jodi Lewchuk September 23, 2010 at 7:38 am

I’ve recently committed to learning to use a pastry bag and some basic tips properly. I’m baking enough now that resorting to a ziploc bag with the corner cut off just doesn’t cut it; I’d like to have some basic skills in my back pocket so when a birthday or other special occasion comes up I’m confident that I can not only bake the cake but also make it look festive.

I bought my bag, a collection of ten tips, and now I’m thinking about taking a weekend afternoon, making a batch of icing, and just practicing on some baking trays. I’ve got Sur La Table’s lovely baking encyclopedia, and there’s some good instructions in there on piping. Fingers crossed…


moderndomestic September 23, 2010 at 2:46 pm

Jodi, that sounds excellent! I think it’s an excellent goal.

Oh yes, those ziplock bags totally don’t cut it – once you use a real piping bag you can never go back. I think you can totally teach yourself how to pipe a lot of things – most of piping is practice, practice, practice. But it would be helpful to take a class to learn some basic things, like how to make a cornet for fine piping or chocolate work. And I’ve tried sooo many times to figure out how to make flowers from the piping instructions in The Cake Bible, and I’ve just decided that I have to have someone show me how to do it.


Olga @ MangoTomato September 23, 2010 at 10:10 am

challah (althouhg I’ve managed to make it in the past)

I like the idea of covering the sides of the cake with nuts 😉


moderndomestic September 23, 2010 at 2:47 pm

The nuts were so tasty too. You should do a challah re-do with the challah recipe I posted, and see if it works out better for you :-)


Megan September 23, 2010 at 11:52 am

Your writing looks great! It probably took me 6 months before I was happy with my writing on cakes with chocolate. Believe it or not, it’s actually easier to do cursive… or a combination of cursive and print, attaching letters where it makes sense.

And it’s funny, but I always had an easier time getting the sides smooth and a harder time getting the top smooth. Do you use a cake stand and an offset (and start with entirely too much frosting)?

I did a long post about the year I spent working at a bakery… you might like it:

I would like to get better at piping on cakes. And I’d love to learn how to make buttercream roses.


moderndomestic September 23, 2010 at 2:43 pm

Megan, I LOVED your post about working at Flour – it sounded like fun, and I think it was so important that you pursued something you loved, even if you ultimately didn’t choose that path. The problem with my piping is that I don’t do it enough – like, it’s hard to find the discipline to do it every day, and that’s really what you have to do to get it perfect.

My teacher showed us this good technique to smooth the top by moving the offset from the sides to the center of the cake, and I found it really easy to pick up. I actually wasn’t using a rotating cake stand – I was holding the cake in the palm of my hand. I really want to get a turn table – I think it would make getting the sides smooth SO much easier, it’s just a matter of buying one.

I would also love to learn how to make buttercream roses. Did you just do writing on cakes, or did you do borders too?


Elena September 24, 2010 at 10:33 am

Spun sugar! Hahah- just said that to annoy you :)


moderndomestic September 26, 2010 at 5:28 pm

I hate you.


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