Monday, November 2, 2009

Me vs. the Pros

As a caking hobbyist, I certainly don't have all the accoutrements of professional cake decorators and bakers. My caking tools have their own cupboard in the kitchen and the rest is stored in a sealed storage tub and Wilton tool kit (you know the one).
My kitchen is spacious but there are several things just waiting to be upgraded. And I love being able to decorate on an island, but I can guarantee, where I create my cakes is no chic and stainless commercial kitchen.

I pride myself on working cleanly and making the most of what I have, but let's compare what I use and what the pros have at their disposal. Much like man vs animal, this is me vs. the pros.

1. Fondant. I work exclusively in fondant. It's the medium of choice for a more finished look of my cakes. However, in addition to making my own fondant, I knead in the color and roll it out by hand before covering makes cakes. What to use?

Me: A rolling pin.

You're guaranteed to work up a sweat regardless of how much fondant you actually, need (heh). Not to mention your forearms are to be reckoned with afterwards.

A rolling pin can be found anywhere, from your local grocery store for a few bucks or upwards of $40+ at specialty cookware stores (Williams-Sonoma, etc.). And don't get me wrong, many well-known decorators use a rolling pin like me. But many use...

The Pros: A Somerset Dough Sheeter

Retailing for $2,945.00 - $4,500.00 this puppy wouldn't even fit in my kitchen. But it doesn't make me want one any less. I'd be the fastest decorator in the West, with fondant of perfect thickness every time.

2. The Mixer. No decorator is complete without a stand mixer. I fondly look back on the days helping my mom make yellow cakes with chocolate frosting, from the box and the tub respectively. And we only needed three things, a bowl, a spatula and an electric hand mixer. But these days, everything is easier with a stand mixer. What to use?

Me: The KitchenAid Artisan 5-quart Stand Mixer

This is the best thing I ever registered for when I got married. This is my baby...I love her. A little more than my husband, I think. Just kidding.

She purrs when making cakes, frostings, cookies, bread dough and fondant. My only wish would be that I had a bigger one or more than one bowl to do all the things I use her for. Talk about dish-pan hands when washing between uses. There are several different models ranging in price from $299.00 to $600.00 and multiple attachments, to include a pasta maker and juicer.

The Pros: 20 quart floor mixer.

The sheer quantities of sweet creations to be made (insert evil laughter)! I'm almost certain I'd make a gigantic mess, but again, time would be saved if I could make singles batches of anything with this baby. For $2,590, you'll get the mixing bowl, wire wisk, dough hook and spatula. And hopefully a warranty with an on-call repair man!

3. Baking. In an effort to be efficient with my time, I have a schedule I follow when preparing cakes. Baking on this day, making fondant and icing on another day, and covering, assembling and decorating on the 3rd day, in that order. However, when baking a large cake, I have to bake and freeze in advance, giving me plenty of time to bake all the cakes I need in my modest little oven. What to use?

Me: GE Freestanding Electric Range

Not a double oven or a convection oven, but your run-of-the-mill-it-came-with-our-house-observe-aforementioned-upgrade-comments range. She works well, but darn it if our house doesn't become it's own oven when I'm on a caking frenzy. And let me remind you that I live in Arizona where it should never be as hot inside as it is outside. Available at Sear's for $450.00.

The Pros: Vulcan VC4GD Single Convection Oven

You're rolling with the big boys now. There are several different types of convection ovens depending on your needs and available space. I can't begin to tell you how glorious it would be to make a cake I'm certain would fit in my oven (think 16-18 inchers), bake evenly and not take a gazillion years. And for a mere $3,500.00 (on special from, it could be all mine.

4. Cooling. After making aforementioned cakes, I'll usually level, wrap well and leave on the counter before I need to assemble my cakes. However, if I'm baking a larger, tiered cake, I'll bake and freeze for a few days. Wrapped cakes on the countertop, even in AZ, can start to smell a little off if left on their own for too long. So, ideally, you chill or freeze, either iced or not. What to use?

Me: Kenmore 18.2 cu ft Top Freezer Refrigerator

I'm not very particular when it comes to refrigerators. As long as it works and has enough space to hold all my food, frozen and fresh, I'm good. And let's just say, it's near impossible to freeze or even chill cakes if you plan to freeze any other food in your house. "Sorry kid, but the chicken nuggets have" or "you didn't want ice with that right, my bad." It just doesn't fly. I'd happily settle for an energy efficient chest freezer for the garage.

The Pros: Top Mounted Solid Door Reach-In

(fridge & freezers available)

Aside from a walk-in, this is the next best thing. Alas, everything at arm's reach. Fresh, cool, and without the random peas that freed themselves from the partially opened bag in the back. Approximately $2,500.00-$3,500.00 smackaroos.

I could go on and on about what you can find in a professional baker's kitchen and well, I think I will! It's NaBloPoMo...I've got the time. Check back tomorrow for more Me vs. The Pros.


faithy, the amateur baker said...

This post of yours makes me wanna upgrade everything too! LOL! Esp the fridge, i totally understand where you are coming from..LOL!

SweetThingsTO said...

Great post!

Jennywenny said...

Oooh you're definitely right about making a mess with the mixer, I made buttercream at my work experience and it looked like it had snowed!!

Little Miss Baker said...

This is an awesome post! Makes a little sad I don't have anything too fancy around here but we make do right?? Have a great week :)

CB said...

I think I have the same exact refrigerator/freezer! I'm with you. I definitely need an upgrade to freeze cupcakes. ;)