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This article was taken from our September 2017 Issue Buy this issue now

Ask the Expert: Tracey Howard

Tracy is the Applications & Development Technician at Rainbow Dust and has been with the company since it was formed in 2008. Tracy is responsible for all the cakes showcased on the Rainbow Dust social media pages. Tracy also runs her own business, Tracy’s Cakes.

Colouring

Q: What can I use to get a really deep colour?

A: I always use ProGel Food Colours every time I want to achieve a really deep rich colour when colouring my sugarpaste, flower paste, marzipan and cake batter. All colours within the range are highly concentrated which means you only require a small amount of colour at a time. This is brilliant when you want to achieve those bright and vibrant rainbow layer cakes. Less colour means less risk of this effecting the consistency of what you are colouring, especially when colouring cookie dough, meringues or macarons.

Q: Do you have any top tips when airbrushing a large cake?

A: I always make sure my cake is placed onto a large sheet of paper, or even place a large box around the cake. This contains any mess to a small area when airbrushing cakes so less mess to clean up!

Q: My colours lack shine. What tips do you have for metallic colours?

A: I find the best product to use for metallic colours is our Metallic Paint range which are available in 22 colours. They are a water based product and are brilliant for painting onto cakes, cookies and cupcakes using either a brush, easy cover sponge or through an airbrush when adding water to it to thin down. This makes covering large areas ideal, especially onto cakes or chocolate work, when you require an even metallic finish with no brush strokes visible. Once dry, this colour is sealed so there’s no risk of smudging when touched. Adding fine details of colour to decorations such as models, edges of flowers or simply small areas directly onto cakes, cupcakes or cookies is easy also when using a finer brush to paint.

Using RKT

Q: When using RKT, should I cover in fondant or modelling chocolate?

A: As long as you can achieve a smooth surface area before covering, you can use either fondant or modelling chocolate to cover your RKT decoration. Using fondant does give you more time to work with before it starts to firm, whereas the modelling chocolate tends to firm up quite quickly.

Royal Icing

Q: I find it really difficult to make royal icing – please help!

A: When making royal icing, I always use a meri-white powder as this is a more economical alternative to pure albumen and also creates a slightly whiter icing. However, if you require a stronger icing, it is best to use the pure albumen, especially when creating extension work or runouts. Always check the label for the required amounts to be used within the recipe as different suppliers do vary slightly. There are many easy recipes online you can use to create royal icing but I tend to use this one which works best for me:

  • 20g meri-white
  • 135ml warm water
  • 900g sieved icing sugar

In a stand electric mixer, beat the icing sugar and meri-white until combined. Add the warm water and beat on medium until glossy and peaks begin to form. This should take around 5-8 minutes. Adjust with more icing sugar or water if needed. For example, if using this as a covering or pipework, you will probably need a stiffer peak so add more icing sugar. When using this to flood a cookie, simply add more water.

Fondant Decor

Q: When rolling out balls of fondant, how do you get the same size?

A: To achieve equal sized balls of fondant, I roll the fondant out between two spacers and use a circle cutter to cut the shape out. I then roll this out into a ball to check the size; if a larger ball is required, I simply use a larger circle cutter and re-check the size. I always use this method, especially when making large quantities.

Q: How do you store your paste?

A: When storing paste, I tend to place any leftover fondant/flower paste into a polythene bag, then place this into a plastic air tight container. This way of storing keeps the paste fresher for longer.

Cake Problems

Q: Why does my cake crumble to pieces when I carve it?

A: It sounds like you are using a much lighter sponge such as a Genoese which crumbles very easily. I would tend to use a Madeira sponge for cake carving as this is a much firmer base of sponge in which to carve. Other than that, I would place your cake into the fridge or freezer to firm up the sponge before any attempt to carve. Also, using a sharp serrated knife helps with the carving process.

Q: What can I make with cake pops?

A: Making cake pops is a great way to use all those leftover scraps of sponge cake, especially after carving or trimming of any cakes. Simply mix together into a bowl until they resemble breadcrumbs, add buttercream and mix until combined. Wrap in cling film and place into the fridge to chill for approximately 1-2 hours. This makes it easier to make into cake pops and you can use a small ice cream scoop to make them into equal sizes. Place back into the fridge to chill then simply dip your sticks into melted Colour Melts, insert into your cake pop and place back into the fridge to set before coating.