Wednesday, 21 October 2009

Sugarbabe

I'm becoming increasingly interested in the chemical properties of flour and sugar. Cooking is domestic science. Sugar is magical stuff, which strangely contains a good deal of water. You will see this when you make a dry caramel.
For my upcoming Harry Potter menus, I was thinking about spun sugar. It may be old fashioned but it is still spectacular. Perhaps I could make a 'goblet of fire'?
Bea of the esteemed tearoom and cake house Beas of Bloomsbury kindly agreed to give me a lesson in how to make spun sugar. Formerly the patissier at Nobu, Bea also does cupcake decorating Masterclasses.
I'd already tried to make spun sugar once chez moi, and almost disfigured myself in my clumsy half-informed attempt. Sometimes you need more than an internet recipe, you need to be shown.
However I am posting here Bea's advice...just be careful and cover all of your surfaces with greaseproof paper, clingfilm, oil spray or wipe with a rag dipped in oil. Hide the dog and the kids. Molten sugar gets everywhere.
Bea advises to use a 'wet caramel' because it's safer. But we are using a dry caramel. Get lots of wooden spoons and lay them out bridge style.
Start with a thin layer of sugar, not too much. Don't disturb the pan.
Once it is all melted, add more sugar. DONT stir, just move the pan around a bit.
When it's all melted, you can also add a little Golden Syrup to prevent crystallisation, 'shock' the pan of caramel in a bain marie bowl of cold water, to freeze it's temperature.
Looking at the stream of caramel coming down from the fork, is it fast? If it's too fast, you need to wait.
You should be able to fork the bottom of the pan like this...the sugar 'holds' onto the bottom of the pan...now it's ready...
Standing back with your arm outstretched, flick either your forks or an old whisk with the ends snipped off, back and forth over the spoons. Repeat.
This takes a little practice.
Toss the strands of sugar from one hand to the next, making a sugar 'ball'.

If the caramel starts to cool down too much, become too stiff to work with, simply reheat it till it becomes more liquid.
Later this week I shall be making sugar skulls for the upcoming Day of the Dead celebrations which I shall post here...


4 comments:

  1. That advice to cover all surfaces sounds good for my cooking in general. Heaven only knows what would happen if I tried this... looks great fun though so I might just have to.

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  2. ooo what exciting stuff! can't wait to see how they turn out for you! xxx

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  3. I remember seeing some Martha Stewart recipe in which you were supposed to top some dessert with spun sugar "nests." At the time, I was all, "aw hell no. I'm not trying that, I'll give myself 1st degree burns. Is she nuts?" but now I feel that perhaps I won't kill myself if I try. Very inspiring post!

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  4. Thanks everyone, worth a try isn't it?
    I'm going to try again tomorrow....see if I can recreate what Bea did.

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