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This article was taken from our January 2021 Issue Buy this issue now

Ask the Expert: Daniel Diéguez

Daniel Diéguez

An international multi-award-winning cake artist from Spain, Daniel is a versatile creator with wide professional experience in teaching, design, illustration, artistic direction and pastry. He’s completely committed to cake innovation from his mixed artistic and classic pastry background. Daniel is Cake International official representative for Spain and Magic Colours Champion.

To find more out about Daniel and his work, follow this link to his Facebook page!

Planning:

Q: Where do you begin when planning a large showpiece? 

A: Every project is different. It can be a company anniversarywedding or show. The start point is usually an interview with the client where I try to make clear all the important points such as budget, location, space availability or limitations, theme or reference. This interview is usually a negotiation too where I try to advise, from previous experiences, the best options to make the project possible and the best it can be according to budget. After the interview, I present different options. Usually my preferred one tends to take more time and effort (and more cost), but the result is simplified, yet more detailed. Sometimes I just adjust to the budget and they trust me to take decisions, but I still present sketches and a description of the project. If the project is for a show, the obvious way to implement the budget is by getting sponsorship. This way, we can work with products we love and show it to the public, which is a mutual benefit. Something I must specify is I never accept a project of this kind if I won’t get payment for my work related to that project or event. 

Daniel Diéguez

Cake: 

Q: Which type of cake is best for carving? 

A: To make it easier, I’d say any butter cake. But as I always say to my students, I carve any kind of cake or sponge. For me, what makes the difference is designing good support and also the cream filling and covering. In reality, I love soft sponge and there’s nothing a really sharp knife can’t carve if you work delicately. Of course, there’s a limitation to the amount of cake you can stack depending on its consistency, but that can be solved with few structure changes. The cake must be luscious; I wouldn’t create a totally scrumptious cake display without delicious cake. 

Daniel Diéguez

Chocolate: 

Q: What are your top three tips for a beginner working with chocolate? 

A: First, and most important, room temperature. The desirable temperature to work with chocolate is around 20°. The room temperature may make it super easy or a nightmare and totally impossible to work with chocolate. If your area is always warm or you are working in summer, don’t even consider working with chocolate without air conditioning. Second, be patient until you get used to the material; it is very different from fondant and other pastes. Don’t overheat it, but if you do and it starts dripping oil, leave aside in a cool place while you work osomething else. If you work with it too warm, it will not keep shape and drop from the cake. Thirdlyif you dislike the texture, it has holes, is too soft or isnt smooth, you have probably overmixed it. In this case, if you keep mixing, you’ll make a mess with lots of cocoa butter dripping. To get good texture, allow to cool a bit. You can leave in the fridge for a while and then knead again. It also works kneading over cool marble surface. The consistency of the paste and the temperature are fundamental. 

Daniel Diéguez

Painting: 

Q: Do I need a special edible paint to paint on chocolate? 

A: Some gels may not make painting over modelling chocolate easy. The fat repels watery paints. That’s why my favourite way to paint pieces, other than airbrushing, is with dusts. You can mix dusts with cocoa butter, water, alcohol or essence oils to make them fluid and they will add colour beautifully to cake, and dry matte without issues if the humidity is not high. 

Daniel Diéguez

Tools: 

Q: What are your top three tools?  

A: I love Magic Colours for painting. For modelling, I love the Blue Diamonds tool set from Cerart. I’m super fan of the Cake Lace mats and the Karen Davies moulds. 

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