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Archive for May 10, 2014

TIP OF THE DAY: Fondant Cake Topper

Here’s an idea to turn a plain cake into a stunner for Mother’s Day. All you need is the cake, fondant and a cookie cutter.

But there’s a bonus below: an absolutely delicious, old-fashioned ginger-sultana cake, courtesy of the England’s high-end food store chain, Waitrose.

Whether you buy or bake the cake, people will ooh and ahh over the beautiful rosette topping.


Fondant (sometimes called fondant icing) is a coating for cakes that is made from sugar and water, cooked to the soft-ball stage and then stirred or beaten to a creamy mass. It dries to a smooth, opaque matte finish and can be colored and/or flavored or left white.

Fondant is formed into a dough, rolled out and laid over cakes (typically wedding cakes) or petit fours. It not only gives the cakes a smooth and elegant appearance, but acts as a preservative and protection: The dense fondant keeps the cake underneath moist for the extra day it may take to assemble and transport. Also, fondant does not mar easily like buttercream.



A rosette cake topper, made from petals of fondant. Photo courtesy Waitrose.


We enjoy the taste and texture of fondant, although some people don’t care for the thickness or flavor. It should be noted that commercial fondant, bought already prepared, does not achieve the glory of made-from-scratch fondant. Homemade fondant can be addictively delicious, especially to people who like marshmallows.
Other Types Of Fondant

  • Poured fondant is very smooth and shiny and typically used for decorating and filling cakes.
  • Sculpting fondant can be formed, like marzipan, into shapes and embellishments.
  • In the world of confection (as opposed to cake and pastry), fondant has a different meaning altogether. Among other things, it’s the creamy, white crystalline filling for maraschino cherry and other bonbons. Here’s more in our Chocolate Glossary.


    It’s easy to make a beautiful petal topping
    with fondant: scoop, roll, cut, place. Photo
    courtesy Fondarific.



    Prep time is 15 minutes, cook time is 35–40 minutes. The cake serves 8–10.


  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup dark brown muscovado sugar
  • 1½ cups golden syrup, plus 2 tablespoons
  • 3 pieces stem ginger*, finely chopped, plus 2
    tablespoons syrup from the jar
  • 1 cup self-rising flour†
  • 3 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon sultanas (golden raisins)
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 2 cups white fondant

    *You can buy or make stem ginger: Blanch peeled, diced fresh ginger in boiling water for about 10 seconds; drain water and repeat process two more times. In a different saucepan, make a sugar syrup and then add the ginger, simmering for 20 minutes. Remove from heat, cool and store in an airtight container in the fridge.

    †Self-rising flour is flour with baking powder and salt already added. It is traditionally milled from softer, lower protein wheat; and it produces softer, more tender baked goods than all-purpose or higher-protein flours. If you don’t want to buy a bag, you can make a home version: Combine 1 cup all-purpose flour with 1½ teaspoons baking powder and ¼ teaspoon salt.

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 356°F. Grease and line the base of an eight-inch-round cake pan with nonstick baking parchment.

    2. PLACE the butter, sugar, 1 cup of golden syrup and the chopped ginger and syrup together in a small saucepan and heat gently, stirring until the butter has melted.

    3. PLACE the flour, ground ginger, baking soda and sultanas in a large bowl.

    4. WHISK together the eggs and milk in a pitcher. Pour the melted syrup mixture and the egg mixture into the bowl of flour and beat well with a wooden spoon until blended. Pour the mixture into the prepared cake pan and bake for 35–40 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.

    5. LEAVE the cake to cool in the pan, then invert the cooled cake onto a serving plate so that the flat bottom is on top. Brush with the remaining golden syrup.

    6. ROLL out the fondant on a sugar-dusted surface to the thickness of a pound coin. Using a 1- to 1-1/2 inch diameter cookie cutter, stamp out as many discs as possible (you should get 55–60 pieces). Arrange an overlapping ring of fondant discs around the edge of the cake. Continue to arrange the overlapping discs towards the center of the cake, alternating the direction in which the circles overlap each other so that each ring forms a rosette pattern. Allow the icing to set for a couple of hours before slicing and serving.
    There are more than 5,000 recipes can on the Waitrose website. Dig in!


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    RECIPE: The Best French Toast

    Our mom didn’t have to be convinced to whip up a batch of French toast, one of her favorite weekend breakfast foods.

    While she used challah, eggs and cream to rich effect, here’s an even richer recipe—a signature brunch dish at the Sushi Samba restaurants in New York City (there are other locations nationwide).

    If you’re in New York City for a brunch, head to Sushi Samba’s Gramercy or West Village locations. The French toast is on the $30 pre-fixe menu; bottomless Prosecco can be added for an additional $25.

    Everyone else: Make it yourself at home!

    You may notice that there’s no dulce de leche in the recipe below. That’s because dulce de leche is made by heating sweetened condensed milk until it caramelizes.

    Soaking the bread in sweetened condensed milk embeds the flavor of dulce de leche in it.


    Ingredients For 4 Servings

  • 5 slices brioche, cut in half into 2-inch-thick pieces
  • 1 can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 can evaporated milk
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • Garnishes: fruits of choice, powdered sugar
  • Optional: maple or other syrup
    *Sushi Samba, which has a Brazilian flair, uses the Portuguese term, doce de leite, instead of the Spanish dulce de leche.


    [1] It doesn’t get richer than this (photo courtesy Sushi Samba | NYC))!

    Brioche Loaf

    [2] A loaf of brioche (photo courtesy King Arthur Flour ).



    1. PLACE brioche in a 275°F oven for 5-10 minutes to dry.

    2. COMBINE all the liquid ingredients and add the bread. Allow the brioche to soak for 1-2 minutes.

    3. COOK on a flat top or in a nonstick sauté pan for 2 minutes per side and finish in a 350°F oven for an additional 3 minutes, or just until the center has firmed.

    4. GARNISH with the fruits of your choice and powdered sugar.


    Brioche With Chocolate Spread
    [3] Parisian pâtissièr Pierre Hermé bakes round loaves of brioche (photo Pierre Hermé).

    morning breakfast on serving tray french Brioche and white cup o

    [4] A brioche roll—specifically, brioche à tête, with a “head” (photo by Elena Moiseeva | IST).



    Brioche (bree-OASH) is light, slightly sweet bread made with eggs, yeast and butter, and glazed with an egg wash. Richer than a standard loaf of bread, brioche is used as a breakfast bread, for French toast and in combination with luxurious first courses such as foie gras and smoked salmon.

  • A standard brioche loaf is called brioche Nanterre, after the commune in the western suburbs of Paris.
  • The style of rolls baked in fluted tins with a small ball of dough crowning the top are called brioche à tête—brioche with a head (see photo above).
  • Almond brioche is sliced from a loaf of brioche, cooked so it looks like French toast, and topped with frangipane (crème pâtissière flavored with ground almonds), sliced almonds and powdered sugar.
  • Orange brioche is filled with orange cream an topped with sugar.
  • Brioche is made in rolls and loaves, and also in gingerbread men-type shapes topped with sugar.
    The word comes from Old French, broyer, to knead. The expression, “If they have no bread, let them eat cake,” commonly mis-attributed to Queen Marie-Antoinette (1755-1793), wife of Louis XVI. There’s more about this below.

    THE HISTORY OF BRIOCHEbrioche first appeared in print in 1404. The recipe is believed to be based on a traditional Norman recipe, which may in turn have been brought to Gaul by the Romans. A very similar sweet holiday bread, s?r?lie is made in Romania—also attributed to the Romans.

    The sweetness of the bread led it to be served as a pastry or as the basis of a dessert, with many local variations in added ingredients, fillings and toppings [source]. It is also served with meat dishes, most famously with foie gras.

    The philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau, in his 1783 autobiography “Confessions,” writes that “a great princess” is said to have advised, regarding what to do about starving peasants, “S’ils n’ont plus de pain, qu’ils mangent de la brioche”. This is commonly translated as “If they have no bread, let them eat cake.”

    After publication, it was speculated that these words of compassion and noblesse oblige [not!] actually referred to Maria Theresa of Spain (1638-1683), the wife of Louis XIV (her husband’s paternal grandmother), or various other aristocrats. If so, Marie-Antionette may have known, and repeated, the phrase.



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