Needless to say that we are going through unprecedented times, unfortunately for us.
But here we are, and there is not much to be done other than wait it out, and wish for all our loved ones (and ourselves!) and everyone else to stay safe.
Since you are here reading this, I also wanted to have a special thought to all the medical staff all over the world who are working hard at keeping us safe, but also to all the cashiers, postman, fireman, and literally everyone who despite this crazy times we are going through, keep working to help the community!
This being said, this post here is for cake designers! Many of us have had to hang their apron as, for obvious reasons, weddings and birthday parties all over the globe are getting cancelled. And here we are, with lots of goods with use-by dates on our shelves. So what do we do?
ASSESS WHAT'S THERE
That's the first thing to do, right?
Start by checking "Use By" & "Best Before" dates: Some products, like Chocolate, Nuts or sugar and honey, have a "Best before" date for the sake of having a date as they will last for a very looooong time. But of course, as food businesses, we are not supposed to use out of date ingredients, whereas they have "Use By" or "Best Before" dates.
So have a look through your shelves and get rid of things that are out of date with a Use By date, and should you have products out of their Best Before date, if you think they are still usable, save them to try new recipes for yourself, make breakfast granolas of nuts spreads, snacks, etc. Be creative and if there were ever a time to bake with the kids or to try out new cake recipes, it is now!
If the Use By date is getting close but not there yet, ask yourself if it can be frozen? Negative cold will save LOTS of ingredients and it would be a shame to throw away some products which shelf life could have been prolonged.
The perfect example of a product that can be saved by freezing it is roll-out Fondant!
I have a whole tub of Massa Ticino sugar paste that is coming out of date in a few weeks only, and I know that by the time I can use it again for weddings, that date would have probably have long gone. And I am not about to waste 6 kilos of sugar paste at almost £6 a kilo!!
If you are facing this situation too, here is what I suggest you do:
- Cut blocks of one kilo
- Protect each block very tightly in cling film, (double layer), making sure the film is really sticking to the fondant to avoid contact with air as much as you can.
- Label each block indicating: its weight, the date it has been frozen, and if you use different types of sugar paste, the name of the brand for you to know which is which.
- If you can, pack it in an airtight container, and place in the freezer. If not, just place the blocks in the freezer as such.
By making different blocks, it allows you to only defrost what you need when you need it. You can of course freeze the whole thing if you know for certain that you will use the whole block in one go when you start baking again (which we can't wait for!!). Just be aware that it will take longer to defrost.
Place your sugar paste block(s) in the fridge for 24 hours, and then bring it to room temperature This rule works with everything: macarons, chocolates, cakes, etc. The idea is to always bring goods back to temperature by stages, and NOT go from minus 19 ºC to + 20ºC directly which is the best way to create condensation and make everything sticky.
Speaking of freezing, the same way you checked your shelves, your freezer probably needs a good Spring cleaning! If you're anything like me, you would have saved leftovers of ganache, buttercream, macarons, etc.
The same way though, anything that has been in there for over 6 months should probably be thrown out. If you haven't used it yet, you most likely won't. Plus you need to make room for things that you know you will have to use when the coronavirus crisis is over, like your roll-out Fondant for instance ;)
If you have cake samples in your freezer: make sure to re-cling film them nice and tight with fresh cling film, and place them all in an airtight container to prevent them from getting cold burn.
3. CAKE DUMMIES
If you have old display cakes in your garage, or on your display shelves, and they have been collecting dust for the past few months or even years, now is the time to separate the tiers, place them in a bath of hot water and with a sharp knife, remove the old sugar paste (see photos below).
Rinse them well, leave them to dry, and decorate them again :)
Do that cake technique you have been dreaming of trying but never found the time, use that sugar paste that you don't have room for in the freezer to start your new cake design collection, be creative and have fun!
I usually reuse my polystyrene dummies up to 4 times each. They get a bit damaged every time, and sometimes they even keep the colour of the fondant I used on them (see photo below), but it never shows on my new designs, so reuse them as much as you can!
TO WRAP IT UP...
This is it for now my friends! I will try to keep on posting here, as soon as I have ideas that I think can benefit the rest of the cake community, and I would be so happy to hear about your suggestions and ideas too, but mostly to read about how you are copping with this very unknown and scary situation.
I think that what makes this crisis so worrying is also the same reason that will get us all closer together: WE ARE ALL IN THE SAME BOAT! We are all losing financially (big time, may I add!) as we are losing business and customers, we are all (to a point) isolating, at home with kids, or home alone, but we are all facing this nevertheless. And I strongly believe that this means that we are all going to help each others, and have each other's backs more than ever!
So let's share the love and the worries, leave a comment, your goops tips, anything that you think is relevant, and keep an eye on my Instagram stories as I will also be trying to post good vibes and good tips there to do my small part to keep to morale of the troops at its best :)
With more love than ever,