Friday, 18 November 2011

Gum Paste Rose Tutorial

When making a gum paste rose, I find that there is no specific way that I make them. This is the general outline that I follow but the way that I choose to style or shape I base on images or a particular look I'm trying to copy.


The first step to making a gum paste rose is to start with a base. This can be a small ball or you can shape it slightly to make a cone. 

Then you make the first petal. The first petal I like to make particularly wide so that I can make a very defined curl in the centre.
To make the petal: roll out the gum paste and cut a petal using a rose petal cutter. Further roll out the petal to make it even thiner. The thinner the petal is the more it will look realistically delicate. Transfer the petal onto a spongey surface and using the large ball tool make small circular motions around the edges until they start to curl.
Depending on whether you need florist wire to attach your flower to the cake you would stick the wire into the ball now. If not, just start adding the petals to the base.
The first petal is attached to the base by curling it around it. 
Next make a few more petals. These ones are smaller. The amount of curl on these petals is much more minimal. What is being made now (the center of the rose)has a closed rose appearance and so the petals have a stiffer, less delicate shape. These are curled around the base, covering the edge made by the last petal added.
The next petals made are what are going to make the petal more opened. These petals are larger and have a more defined curl around the petal edges (I like to think the curl reminds we of a billowing curtain). 
These are made the same way as the previous petals but more emphasis is put on the curling and so use the ball tool for longer and I like to use it all over the body of the petal. 
These petals are attached in mostly the same fashion but are flared out more so as to make the rose look more open.
This a half open rose. The more petals you add and the more you flare them produce a fully open rose. Typically when making an arrangement you might want to add a variety of rose styles.
Here's an example of open roses I made in the past for another cake:

(with these some of the petals were curled inwards using a toothpick)

Friday, 11 November 2011

Peanut-Butter Swirl Brownies

  • Brownies are one of those things that when I go out to eat I love to buy but I'd never really had them at home and I'd never baked any myself. So I found this recipe by Martha Stewart and decided that it was the best way to do some baking with peanut butter which my friend had been wanting to do since we started this and for me to try something new. 

    I can definitely say that the recipe tasted good, although it didn't have the same dense, fudgey-ness that makes up a brownie. The peanut butter filling (of which the recipe made too much) made the batter much lighter and closer to a dense cake than a brownie. 

    When we made the recipe we made a few mistakes (for what reasons I don't know) which I've bolded in the instructions so that no body else reading this will make the same mistakes. These lead to a slow and painful start of the baking process, however before we put it in the oven it looked great. I'm going to blame the amount of filling to batter ratio for what happened next and that was the peanut butter puffing up and covering the brownie batter making it take longer to bake and final product to break and fall  apart where the peanut butter swirls were.

    So I would conclude by saying that the brownies did not look as good as was planned, did not particularly taste like a brownie and were the source of quite a lot of frustration and a lot of salt spilling on the floor. But I would also say that they tasted really good and were a nice combination of creamy peanut butter and dense chocolate.  


    For the batter

    • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces, plus more for pan
    • 2 ounces good-quality unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped
    • 4 ounces good-quality semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
    • 2/3 cup all-purpose flour
    • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
    • 1/4 teaspoon salt
    • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
    • 3 large eggs
    • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • For the Filling

    • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
    • 1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
    • 3/4 cup smooth peanut butter
    • 1/4 teaspoon salt
    • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract


    Line a 8x8 pan with parchment paper.

    Place a bowl over a simmering pan of water. Coarsely chop chocolate and butter and stir in the bowl until melted. Let cool slightly.

    Whisk together flour, baking powder and salt (careful not to spill everywhere) in a separate bowl.

    Add sugar to chocolate mixture and stir until completely combined. Then add the eggs, stirring until each is combined. Add vanilla and then flour mixture. Stir until completely combined.

    Melt Butter (or in our case add hot water at the end) and mix with peanut butter, icing sugar, salt and vanilla, until smooth.

    Pour 1/3 of the brownie mixture into the square pan. Add spoonfuls of peanut butter on top and spaced evenly. Quickly run a knife through the batter to swirl them together. Add the rest of the brownie mixture and repeat steps with the peanut butter mixture. You probably won't have to use all of the peanut butter mixture because it tends to disfigure the brownies when baking. 

    Bake in the oven for 45 minutes at 325 degrees.