Tag Archives: Squires Kitchen

Of Tuberoses, books and romantic cakes

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I couldn’t be more excited about the news I am going to share. Today is the launch day of the long-awaited book The Art of Sugarcraft (Amazon UKAmazon US), published by B.Dutton Publishing Ltd, which I had the great pleasure to contribute to.

Joining several first-class names of the industry to create this huge sugarcraft “bible” was an honour, and I was very flattered that my tuberose flowers were among the few images chosen for the press release as well as for other advertising of the book.

The Art of Sugarcraft AI Sheet

When B. Dutton Publishing contacted me for this project I was over the moon, they asked me to create sugar flowers that could pair well with a wedding cake.

My credo – when it comes to sugar flowers and sugarcraft – is all about neat style; I like to believe that if my cakes were poems they’d be haiku rather than baroque.

I immediately decided that I wanted something a bit different from typical wedding cakes, too often congested with a miscellany of different flowers.

I’d rather stick to a single variety and make it the leading character.

So I turned to Tuberoses.

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Undoubtedly romantic in appearance, their luscious white petals, so pleasingly rich, would be ideal for my purpose. The only thing I regretted about the sugar version was the lack of a real flower’s scent. The two-tiered cake on which the flowers are displayed is covered in two different shades of the tenderest green to provide a soft counterpoint.

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As usual, I took care of the photography as well. Photographing my sugar flowers provides the perfect finale to all my projects, big and small. It closes my creative circle.

Developing this project has been an utter joy and I hope it will inspire readers to have fun making sugar flowers and beautiful cakes and to unleash their creative potential.

I wish to thank Jennifer Kelly and Frankie New at B.Dutton Publishing. Thank you so much for your support.

Unfortunately I couldn’t manage to be present for the book launch at Squires Kitchen’s annual exhibition today. But I do hope you’ll be able to have a look at the book which is packed with information and ideas and is the ultimate text for both beginners and experienced cake decorators who wish to hone their skills and dive in 520 pages of pure sugarcraft fun!

Squires School Class July 2013

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This year I seem to be blessed with the opportunity to teach my beloved sugar flowers beyond the borders of Italy. After attending Squires Kitchen’s Exhibition in England and Expotarta in Spain, last July I had the pleasure to be invited to teach a two-day class at Squires Kitchen International School in Farnham, Surrey.

Besides being my first two-day class in the UK, the course scored other pleasant records. The one I cherish the most is having the youngest student ever, a lovely, talented 14 years-old girl named Helena. In spite of her young age, Helena has already attended several classes and acquired quite an impressive experience for her age. I really admired her professional and determined approach to the course. I was also delighted to learn that another student had flown right from Ireland to attend my class.

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The course was about one of my favourite combination of flowers: roses and hydrangeas. Well, I guess this might not be just a favourite of mine, since theclass sold-out pretty quickly!

Students worked hard and concentrated on techniques such as wiring petals and leaves, colouring each piece to obtain a rich, yet natural look and assembling their flowers to make them stand out.

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Many of the students had little and some none-at-all experience of sugar flowers making. All made great flowers (you can judge by the picture of the lovely arrangements) and sported big, pleased smiles at the end of the course (I think this shows in the pictures too!). I felt my mission was accomplished.

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Sometimes as I teach I tend to forget that I’m actually working, it is more like spending great time doing what I like the most, in company of lovely, like-minded people, sharing our love for the craft. This is literally how I felt about my class at SK’s school.

This relaxed feeling is highly supported by Squires Kitchen school environment. They provide the perfect conditions to learn in a professional, friendly atmosphere.

Gardenia & Jasmine Class August 2013 – UK

Romantic Bouquet Class

Good news for whom may be interested in my summer courses in the UK.
The July course “Vintage Charm Bouquet” – Roses and Hydrangeas is sold out but there are some places left in the “Romantic Bouquet” – Gardenias and Jasmines August class.
For all the details, please follow this link.

Squires Kitchen’s Exhibition 2012

Squires Kitchen’s 26th Annual Exhibition report.

The Exhibition traditionally takes place in Farnham, Surrey, home of the Squires Group, and is the perfect chance for sugarcrafters from all over the world to congregate.

Whoever visited the Farnham Maltings between March 9th and March 11th had the chance to meet master sugarcrafters: Eddie Spence, Paddi Clark, Sue Griffiths, Makiko Searle, Alan Dunn, Ceri D.D. Griffiths, Carlos Lischetti, Liz Aplin, Peggy Porschen, Mark Tilling, Jan Clement-May and many, many more in free demonstrations or pre-booked mini-classes.

If a wedding cakes display, a huge bookstand with the chance to meet the authors, a contest and many more demonstrations (such as the beautiful isomalt creations by lovely Ildo and Maureen Nicolello and the live wedding cake decoration display) were not enough, visitors were also able to sample and purchase professional equipment and ingredients from numerous stands set up by Squires Kitchen and many other exhibitors.

The public liked the idea so much that all tickets for the show sold out on all three days.

I had the privilege to be at the Exhibition, you might have seen me at Squires Kitchen’s stand, busy working on hibiscus petals… If not, here’s a piece of photographic evidence! 🙂

A short recap of those three days? I met some lovely people and got in touch with friends: an extraordinary experience I’d love to repeat next year.

Photography: ©Squires Kitchen

SK Chocolate Ganache Mix Review

During my last trip to England, I had the chance to visit Squires Kitchen’s shop in Farnham. Squires Kitchen’s one of the most renown British manufacturers and sellers of cake decorating equipment and ingredients. Among their vast selection of products, I found some particularly interesting: SK Mixes. You basically just add water to obtain different baking essentials: ganache, marzipan, fondant. I bought those I found more intriguing for testing, and also cross-testing against their traditionally-made counterparts.

The first product I put to the test is SK Chocolate Ganache Mix, sold by Squires Kitchen’s Online Shop.

Preparation
Place the mix into a microwave bowl, add the suggested amount (85ml) of cooled boiled water. At this point you might want to add a personal twist to your ganache: coffee essence, liquor or essential oils (but remember, the total amount of added liquids should not exceed 85ml).
Stir with a whisk, then place in the microwave at full power for a minute, stirring every 20 seconds. Stir once more, and your ganache is ready.
The ganache can be used warm as a fluid icing, or cooled at room temperature and put into the fridge for about 30 minutes or until it reaches the desired consistency.
Cooled ganache can be used for filling or icing cakes and cupcakes, for filling chocolates, making “Bûche de Noël” or banana skewers, one of my favourite treats!

Whipped Ganache
Alternatively, you can whip the ganache in the mixer: adding air to the mixture will make it lighter (in colour and consistency). I got good results whipping for 3/4 minutes at medium speed.
Whipped ganache is great for filling chocolates, and looks (and tastes) great piped on top of your cupcakes with a large star nozzle.

Comparison
I filled and iced the two halves of the same vanilla cake: one with ganache made from scratch (cream and dark chocolate 50% cocoa, same quantity), one with SK Chocolate Ganache Mix.
Visually, the results are pretty similar: traditional ganache is just a shade darker and glossy, probably because of the type of chocolate I used.
Once the cake covered, SK Ganache dries faster. That’s especially useful if you’re planning to coat your cake with marzipan or sugar paste: you won’t have to wait as long!

Tasting
Tasting wasn’t limited to myself: I got help from two trusted “testers”. They were given no indication and were asked to evaluate both cakes. The results are substantially equal, with a slight preference for traditional ganache texture by one of the tasters.

Conclusions
I believe SK Chocolate Ganache Mix is a great product: it scored on par with a ganache made from scratch. Preparation is even easier than traditional ganache. The main reason to use this mix is its convenience: the shelf life is incomparable to fresh cream (many months for the mix, a few days for fresh cream). You can keep a few packs in your pantry without worrying about expiry dates, and you’ll have an excellent ganache ready in no time with just a little of tap water.

Stocking up with SK Ganache Mix is a great idea: even if ganache is quite easy to make, it is also easy not to have fresh cream readily available. In all those cases, the mix comes to your rescue. Last, but not least, your friends (or clients) will love it!