Sunday, April 23, 2006

Parchment Paper.. the baker's security blanket!

As per Wikipedia...
Cooking parchment (also parchment paper, kitchen parchment, greaseproof paper and cooking paper) refers to a form of silicone-impregnated paper used as a substitute for parchment in cooking. The silicone renders it grease- and moisture-resistant as well as relatively heat-resistant. A common use is to eliminate the need to grease cookie sheets and the like allowing very rapid turn-around of batches of cookies in a commercial bakery. It can also be folded to make moisture-proof packages in which food items are cooked or steamed.

A few things I've learned about cooking parchment

1. Use it. Use it every time. It's SOOO not worth taking the chance that you needed it and didn't use it. Just use it!

2. It's washable and re-useable... many, many times. I just wash mine in the sink with the other dishes and rinse well. Make sure you dry it flat 'cause curled edges are no fun.

3. Store them IN YOUR PANS!!! You'll never have to search for it, it's always stored flat and safe, and nobody needs ANOTHER storage thingie in their kitchen.

4. Buy a roll, take some time while watching TV one evening and just cut one out for EVERY pan you own. Repeat every couple of years, or when you buy a new pan! The shape should be SLIGHTLY smaller than the base of your pan (you don't want it up the sides at all... go back & trim if necessary.)

5. Do not replace it with waxed paper. Especially when using Sugarveil (but that's another coversation!) Waxed paper looks cheaper, but you can't re-use it. Waxed paper is just that... waxed. Do you REALLY want to add WAX to your cake ingredients?

6. Did I mention you should REALLY use it?!? LOL For most cakes, just the bottom is fine (I never bother with using it on the sides of a cake)

7. TO USE PARCHMENT:
...a) grease your pan however you like.
...b) insert parchment into base.
...c) Grease the parchment.
...d) Flour the whole thing (unless you're using a grease with flour in it)
...e) Fill as usual.
...f) Sing the praises of Choc while releasing your cake from the pan without trouble.
...g) repeat.

8. If you're baking another batch of cake right away, wipe off any crumbs and re-use it. You don't have to wash it if it's going right back into the oven (you don't want the water there anyhow) HOWEVER... please don't store it away un-washed... ICK!!! LOL

You can also use it to roll out pastry, bake cookies on... it's a wonderful thing!

Friday, April 14, 2006

First Contact...

So it's been a week since I started working on this grand idea. My book outline has blossomed to an 18 page bullet-point list and I have put out the first few feelers to some well known bakers and cake artists to see if I can quote them or get some feedback from them. Of course we're just starting into wedding cake season, so anyone who will be willing to give me some feedback will not be able to look at anything until at least September (which is good... gives me some time to actually have something to show them!!) but at least I can gauge who would be willing!

It's also been long enough for me to realize I haven't introduced myself!

SO... my name is Melissa Capyk. I am in my 30s and am married with 2 kids (that's my youngest asleep in his wagon in my avatar). Cake decorating became my latest obsession about three or four years ago, and almost a hundred cakes later, I still love it (which is a good thing, because I have built up quite a collection of equipment!) I have a day job, so making cakes has always been just a side business for me, much as I would love to do this full-time. In my university years, I sculpted and painted, so you can see in much of my cake-work that I like to make cakes that don't look like cake! I also make polymer-clay custom cake toppers when called upon, and I have dabbled in marzipan and pulled sugar work. Some day I hope to create a line of custom, one-of-a-kind cake plates, but one major project at a time!

At this point I have no training in web design so my site (www.itsyourdaycakes.com) is pretty basic, and a few things don't work the way I'd like, but I am about to rectify that as I will be taking a web design course at a local college in a few weeks.

Up until about a year ago, I had been decorating in a sort of vacuum... no contact with any other cake decorators except through my ever-expanding collection of books and magazines. One day while searching the net for something cake-related, I happend upon www.cakecentral.com and discovered a whole community of cake people! It's an amazing resource; full of wonderful, helpful cake artists. The only down-side is that it is so large, and so choc-full of American resources that as a Canadian can be difficult and/or expensive to access.

Along came my new friend Paul, who set up a Canadian-centred site: www.CakesCanada.com Over time I talked myself into the role of one of the moderators on the site. While there are not as many resources as CakeCentral, this site fill a different niche. The classes and stores mentioned are all Canadian, as are most of our members. It's a smaller community of the cake-obsessed, and many of us have met in person through either our DoS (Day of Sharing) or other local cake activities.

When I want to see what's new in cake-related stuff on-line, I like to check out my fellow blogger Lisa's site: http://cakefun.blogspot.com. Eventually I spent enough time there (and posted enough pictures in her www.Flickr.com group) that she asked me to become a contributor, so you'll see the occasional (much less long-winded) post from me there too!

Saturday, April 08, 2006

So what's this all about?

I've been decorating cakes for a few years. It's my passion and my creative outlet!

Through conversations I've had with other cake artists, and my own experiences, I've come to realize that there is a big void when it comes to comprehensive information about the business side of making cakes. There are hundreds of fabulous books about cake decorating... some how-to, some purely for inspiration, some recipes, and many combinations of all three. What there aren't much of are books about the tricks and pitfalls of making a living at decorating cakes.

That's where I come in.

I'm writing a book to fill that void. It covers the whole gamut of the business of cake... from deciding whether to open a home-based business or open a storefront, to other things you can add on to your business. There will be a few basic recipes that I love, but the book is about the steps and decisions you will need to make in order to have a successful cake business; no matter the size!
The web is a massive source of information, and one I intend to use. I will be passing along tips and tricks along with general conversations about the process of this book in my posts.

This is where you come in.

Got something that really works for you? Some tip or technique or tool or idea? Is there something you don't know that you'd really like to (cake-related of course!) I'D LOVE TO HEAR FROM YOU!

Anything you submit here may be used (with credit given of course) in the book, but will also be available to anyone who reads this blog!

There are several great resources on-line (which I will discuss soon!) and hopefully this blog will become another one!