An Introduction to Specialty Cakes

Although almost everyone is familiar with how delicious a freshly baked cake can be, not everyone has had the good fortune to experience a specialty cake. If you’ve never had one of these delicacies, you might not know what to look for. If you’re thinking of buying a specialty cake for yourself or to give as a gift, here’s a short introduction to what you can look forward to.

Premium Ingredients

Although not every cake is made from premium ingredients, it’s worth the extra time and effort to look for one that is. In most cases, the best-tasting and highest quality specialty cakes are made from natural ingredients. As an added bonus, many bakeries use local ingredients and regional specialties, making the cakes even fresher and more flavorful. Fresh fruits, pure honey, and high quality nuts are among the many delicious ingredients you should expect to find in a truly high quality specialty cake.

Ingredients to Avoid

Sometimes the ingredients that a cake doesn’t include are just as important as the actual recipe ingredients. For example, when most people think of cakes, they don’t expect to find ingredients such as artificial flavors, artificial colorants, hydrogenated fats, high fructose corn syrup, or artificial preservatives. Although these are all ingredients that are common in average cakes, they have no place in a truly delicious specialty cake product.

Of course, it’s important to note that specialty cakes made without artificial preservatives and other unnatural ingredients tend to require a bit of special care and consideration. While a preservative-laced cake might be able to remain basically edible for a long period of time even when stored at room temperature, specialty cakes made from natural ingredients should be stored a bit more carefully. In most cases, you’ll want to store your premium specialty cake in the refrigerator so that it will stay fresh and delicious for a longer period of time. Stored properly, many specialty cakes can be maintained in tip-top condition for several weeks. If it’s necessary to store them for longer periods of time, it’s usually advisable to store them in the freezer. However, due to the fact that these cakes are so delectable and delicious, they rarely last long enough for storage to become a problem.

Serving Tips

Because there are so many different kinds of cakes to choose from, there are also a wide variety of ways that they can be served and enjoyed. Although many people enjoy the taste of a chilled piece of cake served directly from the refrigerator, these cakes are often especially delicious when served slightly warm. In order to safely warm up a slice of cake, you can place it in a microwave for thirty seconds or less. Once the cake has been warmed, it will taste as though it’s being served fresh and delicious, straight from the oven.

Specialty Cakes for the Holidays

Few things are more unique and personal than the gift of food. And during the holidays, when dessert often becomes the main focus at our celebrations, our options become almost limitless. With so many to choose from for that special holiday touch, specialty cakes might be our saving grace.

Cake has come a long way since the ancient Egyptians began making breads sweetened with honey more than 5,000 years ago. Breads that were made for sustenance back then gave way to cakes that today are designed to make a splash. Specialty cakes, as their name implies, are made for a special occasion. A specially decorated cake can make a holiday meal brighter and giving it as a gift can make your visit sweeter.

Holiday cakes are versatile, particularly eye catching, full of color and flavor. You can choose based on theme, content, color, and size. Whether you’re looking to make a decorating statement or a culinary one, a specialty cake could be the item that ties it all together with style.

There are several things to keep in mind when deciding on a specialty cake. Who will eat it? Is it geared for children or an older crowd, and if so, how many? How much do you want to spend? What will it be paired with? Do you want to bake it yourself?

If you want to use grandma’s recipe, consider the complexity and labor associated with this feat. Baking it yourself highlights your creativity, but buying it online might be a better alternative if you’re strapped for time. For example, a traditional Christmas fruitcake sells online for between $25 to $75, can be sent to anyone on your shopping list, and could arrive in a festive tin box just in time for Christmas.

Which cake is right for your holiday get-together? The list of choices varies from traditional to trendy and includes fruitcakes, panettones, cheesecakes, tarts, gingerbread and even ice cream cakes. Cupcakes are the latest trend in holiday treats; hundreds of stores catering to this niche have sprouted both as traditional stores and as online sites. The cupcake market alone is projected to grow by 26% through 2014 to more than $20 billion in sales.

“Fondant is not the only way to go anymore,” says Samantha James, a line cook and professional baker in State College, Penn. The trend in holiday specialty cakes is “simple, not as busy,” she adds. James’ holiday favorites include pies and spice cakes, which use nutmeg and ginger. A pie is an inexpensive and delicious addition to any meal and can cost as little as $5.

Ultimately, it may all come down to desert being the big finish, the pièce de résistance, or the icing on the cake, if you will. For those occasions when only a Santa cake will do, a specialty cake will leave guests oohing and ahing all the way to next year. Proof that you can have your cake and eat it too.

Rolled Fondant – The Hot New American Cake Icing

Rolled fondant is a dense smooth white sugar mass, comparable to a pie dough used for decorating cakes. Rolled Fondant can be rolled and draped over a cake. Fondant originates from the word “fondre” which means to dissolve and is named so because it melts in your mouth when eaten. Fondant may be used as a modeling paste or to construct wedding cakes and fondant cakes for all occasions. Fondant is somewhat new to this country and has been gaining in recognition over the last ten years or so. Rolled Fondant has been well-known in Europe and other countries for decades. The influence is spreading here as availability of prepared Fondant grows. Rolled Fondant is sold to the baking and foodservice industry in 20 lb., 5 lb. and 2 lb. pails. Rolled Fondant products should be stored in a sealed container and will last for up to one year.

This is what the professionals do to prepare their Rolled Fondant. After removing your Fondant from the container, separate the product into smaller pieces and situate in mixing bowl with dough hook. If you coat or spray the bowl and hook with a vegetable shortening this will put a stop to the icing from sticking and allow trouble-free removal of product once mixed. Mix on slow speed for 1-2 minutes, kneading the icing to a smooth even uniformity. Color or flavor may be added prior blending. Of course, you can kneed the dough by hand if you do not have a mixer. Memo: Comparable to chewing gum, the gums in Rolled Fondant turn out to be more flexible and extendable once worked, this is why it is essential to knead well before rolling out.

The adding of extra gum will make the icing more extendable, and will also trigger the product to dry faster. Ready-made Gum Paste (gumpaste) is available for this purpose and is perfect for the production of sugar flowers and more. Gum Paste flowers can also be made well in advance of use.

Regular climate temperature changes may necessitate the icing to be softened or made a little stiffer. If you sense the need to stiffen the product, knead into the dough a little powdered sugar. The addition of a couple drops of glycerin to the fondant will soften the icing during the colder winter months, however once the product is stored at room temperature no add-ins or product changes should be needed.

Any time your Rolled Fondant remains exposed to the air it will dehydrate, therefore it is very essential that the storage of it is proper. I suggest storing it in the original bucket after use. Your covered cakes can be refrigerated and/or frozen. When doing so the cake should be kept covered or packaged, as refrigerated units often have elevated humidity which may trigger water condensation on top of the cake surface.

This is a great tool approximately determine how much fondant you will need to properly cover a cake. – Cake Diameter 6″ Net Weight Required 10 oz. – Cake Diameter 8″ Net Weight Required 12 oz. – Cake Diameter 10″ Net Weight Required 18 oz. – Cake Diameter 12″ Net Weight Required 24 oz. – Cake Diameter 14″ Net Weight Required 48 oz.

Here are the typical ingredients for white/vanilla Rolled Fondant. Each manufacturer is different so do not take the following as exact fact. Sugar, corn syrup, palm oil, flavorings, gum tragacanth, titanium dioxide glycerine, cellulose, corn starch, potassium sorbate, acetic acid. The majority are also manufactured with Zero grams Trans Fats, Zero grams Cholesterol, Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Nut Free, and containing no animal-derived ingredients. Verify each label to make certain it is Certified Kosher.

Beautiful creations prepared with Rolled Fondant have become progressively more popular with consumer and are highly rewarding to the baker. Some of the well known and celebrated cake designers and sugar artists use Rolled Fondant and Gum Paste. These products can be seen on cable and satellite TV food shows such as “Ace of Cakes” (Food Network), “Cake Boss” (TLC), “Food Network Challenge”, “Ultimate Cake Challenge” (TLC). The finest cake shops, bakeries and patisseries use Rolled Fondant and Gum Paste products to achieve their works of edible art.

There is one brand of Rolled Fondant manufactured in the United States. The name of this company is Satin Fine Foods. Their products are made with the flavor of Americans kept in mind. Their signature flavor is unmatched. In my opinion it has excellent elasticity/flexibility when rolled out, unproblematic to handle and seemingly unbreakable. The satin-fine texture allows it to be rolled awfully thin. The product is certified Kosher Pareve.

After modeling the decorations, your pieces will dry just as you planned for. A high-quality Rolled Fondant will not over dry and crack. A high-quality Rolled Fondant seals the cake, keeping it moist and fresh while also increasing the shelf life of the cake. The completed cake may be refrigerated or frozen as soon as it is covered.

To conclude I want to explore growing your profit margins with usage of Rolled Fondant. With expenses well below that of dairy products used in buttercream blends, the profit margin has grown for bakeries offering specialty cake products using Rolled Fondant. The item produces the quality, elegant looking cake which is gaining in popularity in the baking industry as well as the retail sector.

For more information pay a visit to your nearby oasis cake decorating supply store.