Sweet Showpieces

Hello again, friends!

Sugar seem to be the basis of awe. From creating a delicious but not-so-good-looking dessert to creating showpieces from sugar-based confections, life has literally become sweet for us. However, aside from satisfying our current indulgences, sweets and sugar-based items have even become accessories for any baking spectacle like wedding cakes (http://www.whotelaustin.com/wedding-cakes) and competition showpieces. Some of these accessories are made out of pastillage, like this one below.Pastillage first attempt.

So what is pastillage?

Pastillage (Pahs – tee – ahj) is a powdered sugar and gelatin mixture that is similar to gum paste (a paste normally used to make flowers for decorated cakes), but is rolled out thicker and is sturdier than gum paste. Pure white in color and like fondant in texture when freshly made, its ability to hold its shape equates to its ability to stand on its own (literally).

If you ever wish to work with pastillage, make sure to have your templates cut outs or desired cookie cutters ready before you even make the pastillage. Also, if your showpiece has any other elements to it, it is best to complete the pastille pieces first because they take at least 24 hours to dry completely. However, it starts to crust and dry out much quicker than gum paste, so much so that you have to make and cut out your desired pastillage shapes within an hour. Also, pastillage is very brittle when it is completely dry (and even while it’s drying), so extra care has to be taken when carrying a showpiece based off of pastillage and when assembling pastillage. (Another note – please don’t eat anything made out of pastillage. It’s edible, but trying to bite into rock-hard pastille may just break a tooth).

While not unknown in the pastry world, only some hotels and restaurants showcase the pastry chef’s talent in pastillage-based showpieces. One of them is TRACE Austin restaurant in Austin, Texas (http://www.traceaustin.com/meettheteam/). in the W Austin hotel (http://www.traceaustin.com/location/). The restaurant has a very experienced pastry chef on their team, Angel Begaye, who mainly is experienced in decorative pastry work like wedding cakes and showpieces, although she has also done other things like making ice cream for restuarants (http://www.traceaustin.com/meettheteam/), who also creates the wedding cakes coming from TRACE (http://www.whotelaustin.com/wedding-cakes).

Aside from showpieces, sugar can be used to make confections (candies), such as maple fudge and peppermint patties. What happens with these confections is that a sugar mixture is boiled on the stove to a certain temperature and then the mixture is poured onto a marble slab or Silpat with a greased frame on top, left to cool to a lower temperature, and then agitated (scraped back and forth onto itself) until it has solidified somewhat, spread into a frame, and left to harden fully. Some of them can be a little granular in texture because they are crystallized confections (some solid sugar crystals have been reintroduced into a fluid form of a melted sugar mixture while it is cooling and the mixture turns semi-granular again during agitation).

These can enhance a bakery or restaurant by showing the amount of skill of the kitchen crew has in order to make the confections. This is more shown within city-based areas, where people can afford to buy more specialty items (Unique Sweets). One example is Van Otis Chocolates, which specializes in chocolate confections.

Thank you again for sticking with me throughout this experience. I hop you enjoyed reading this.

See you again soon!

Sincerely,

              Lisa

References:

Location. (n.d.). Retrieved April 13, 2016, from http://www.traceaustin.com/location/

Meet Our Team. (n.d.). Retrieved April 11 – 13, 2016, from http://www.traceaustin.com/meettheteam/

Unique Sweets [Television series]. (n.d.). Cooking Channel.

Wedding Cakes. (n.d.). Retrieved April 13, 2016, from http://www.whotelaustin.com/wedding-cakes

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