We welcome you at our lesson devoted to decoration with chocolate and realistic cake design in the form of a Christmas candle!
In this lesson we will tell you all about the basic equipment and tools necessary for the lesson. Please note that if you have never made cakes or other confectioneries your kitchen will miss lots of tools. In this lesson we will describe everything you will need to buy obligatory and everything you can replace with the tools you already have.
As for the work with chocolate: we have designed this course in a non-professional kitchen so we will tell you all about ins and outs of working with chocolate in inappropriate conditions. We will describe all the tools and equipment we will use in the lesson but you can always replace some tools with those to your taste and replace colourings at your own discretion.
We use simple aluminium cake pans (12 centimeters diameter, in the middle of the picture). Ingredients are calculated and specified exactly for these size of the pan.
Can I use pans of different size?
Yes, you can. In this case you will have to recalculate the amount of ingredients specified in recipes.
Stand mixer (optional)
You will need a whisk and a flat beater. It is sometimes called a planetary mixer. If you don’t have such a mixer don’t worry. You can use a simple hand mixer with standard beaters.
Silicone spatulas can come in handy to scrape your frosting from the sides of the bowl and to mix the frosting. We also stir chocolate with a spatula while tempering.
We use scrapers for tempering chocolate and smoothing cakes. You can use scrapers for plastering. Don’t bother buying scrapers in professional confectionery shops (their price will be 10 times higher). Don’t use plastic scrapers too. Apart from the fact they are inconvenient to use they wear out quickly and easily get bent. A scraper size is absolutely up to you. If you have a small marble slab it would be reasonable to buy small scrapers. If you have a big marble slab it would be reasonable to buy big scrapers. Blade width of the biggest scraper we use in the course is 18 cm, the smallest one is 10 cm.
Big scraper for smoothing
If you are new to smoothing the frosting on a cake it will be more convenient to start learning using this one. Blade width is 25 cm. You can buy it in confectionery shops.
Rotating cake stand or turntable
Anything will do. A heavyweight and steady turntable will be the best option. It will help you smooth big and heavy tiers. A turntable won’t bend. It will be easy to transport a cake to the fridge and back again.
You can cut sponge cakes in a variety of ways. But again, if you don’t have experience in it it’s much easier to use a cake leveller. You can set your wire as high as you want in order to get sponge cakes of the same height. You can buy a cake leveller in confectionery shops.
The manufacturer doesn’t matter. The most important thing is that they should be convenient for you to weigh products. Ideally, you need to choose scales with flat surface so that it will be convenient to weigh both products and containers with products inside. Scales should have a tare feature (nowadays all scales have it).
We will use a non-contact infrared thermometer. A model and a temperature range do not matter because we will work at an average temperature range. You can buy the cheapest non-contact thermometer. The main thing is that it has to measure temperature 🙂
Can I use any other thermometers, probe ones for example?
No. It isn’t convenient to measure temperature of chocolate this way. Using such thermometers, you must not touch the surface of a slab (with a tip of the probe) on which we will temper chocolate otherwise you will measure the temperature of chocolate wrong.
It’s better to buy good quality synthetic paintbrushes. They are easy to wash and don’t leave bristles. Sizes and their amount are up to you. But you will definitely need a couple of them: small and big ones. You can buy them in art supply shops.
Pearl dust and sponge (or angled scraper)
Как и кистей, кандурина много не бывает :). В уроке мы используем только золотой кандурин. Можно использовать любой другой.
Both pearl dust and paintbrushes are never enough in our work 🙂. We use only gold pearl for the lesson. You can use any other.
Small palette knife
The blade of my knife is 9 cm. It can be replaced by an angled scraper (palette knife) with a blade of 10-12 cm. You can buy a palette knives in art supply shops.
It is necessary for working with chocolate and cocoa butter.
It is necessary for heating chocolate. We use it to raise temperature by a few degrees after cooling and to maintain working temperature. We also need it to heat a mixer bowl while beating butter. You can use any hairdryer, even the one you use at home.
Bowls and plates
You can use both glass and plastic bowls. We will need them for melting chocolate. It’s better to not use ceramic bowls as they are quick to heat what can lead to burnt chocolate.
If you buy glass bowls take so called “glass pans” with a thicker bottom designed for microwaves. It is very convenient to temper a little cocoa butter in such bowls.
But to be honest, the most convenient bowls for melting chocolate are plastic ones. It doesn’t get hot and retains temperature of chocolate pretty well. A bowl size depends on the amount of chocolate you want to temper. We use for the lesson a big bowl (≈2.5 litres).
It’s necessary for cooling sponge cakes.
I advise you to buy an airbrush with a nozzle diameter of not less than 0.3 mm and no more than 0.5 mm. A happy medium is 0.4 mm. The manufacturer and other characteristics don’t matter. The manufacturer and other characteristics don’t matter. There are a lot of affordable models of Chinese airbrushes nowadays (the most well-known Chinese company is Jas, see models 1113, 1131, etc.). You can buy a Chinese-made airbrush with a compressor for up to 70$. It will be enough to start with but if you plan to make cakes to order this airbrush won’t be able to withstand the load.
Japanese airbrushes (Iwata, RichPen) are considered to be of higher quality but their price is higher too.
We wash an airbrush with hot water: wash properly, spray hot water through an airbrush by opening and closing the nozzle with a finger. You can also wash it with alcohol if you want. After cleaning you can dismantle it and wash all the accessible pieces (a needle, for example).
Can I attend the course without an airbrush?
Yes, you can.
Any mat for dough rolling will be perfect. It is important to purchase a mat without measurements, charts or pictures. Surface of the mat has to be glossy too (it is usually glossy on one of the sides). These mats are normally sold for dough rolling in shops. The manufacturer doesn’t matter. A mat must be thick and elastic so that it won’t crease when twisting figures and will create, as a result, smooth lines. We will be okay with 1 mat (30*20 cm or more). Students from our courses use silicone mats for macarons (in this case a mat texture is imprinted of figures), IKEA mats (a mat pattern is imprinted on figures) and matte mats (in this case figures are matte, too). Well, yeah, they use everything 🙂 But look for glossy ones! :))
A marble one or a granite one – it doesn’t matter. It must be perfectly smooth and without cracks. Minimal size – 60×30 cm. The bigger it is the more convenient it will be for you to temper a large amount of chocolate (but it will be harder to move the slab because of its weight). It’s better to buy a light-coloured slab because it’s easier to see where chocolate is. A slab colour doesn’t influence temperature. A small size of a slab can be found in ceramic tile shops where you can also buy both marble and granite slabs. Or you can order it from someone who makes table tops of these materials.
Does a material influence tempering?
If we are talking about granite or marble slabs, of course, then no, it doesn’t. Every material has its thermal conductivity coefficient which shows the property of a certain material to conduct heat. The higher this coefficient is the quicker the material will heat and cool under the influence of external factors. Thermal conductivity coefficient of granite is 3.49, and of marble – 2.91. That is why a preheated marble slab, or a precooled marble slab, will hold its temperature a little bit longer under the influence of the same external factors in comparison to granite slabs. But it’s only for your information, not for a choice of a slab.
Granite is stronger, harder and more resistant not only to mechanical damage, but to some other impacts, too, but it doesn’t affect its cooling capacity. In real living environment when you stir chocolate on a slab its hardness doesn’t matter. The best option is to choose a slab which will be convenient for you. Its size and weight should be convenient and suitable for you to work with it taking into account your working space.
Will an artificial stone slab be okay?
No, it won’t.
It’s necessary for melting chocolate and cocoa butter. Any microwave oven will do!
In this lesson we use big polycarbonate half sphere moulds (4 cm) and small ones (3 cm) which can be bought in confectionery shops. They are firm and keep their form well.
Can I use another sizes?
Yes, you can.
Gas torch (optional)
You can easily go without it using a hairdryer.
We use it for mixing various ingredients. Any big whisk will be perfect.
You can also use a simple small sharp knife.
Disposable or reusable decorating bags — it doesn’t matter. We will need big bags (40 cm at a shorter side) and medium-sized bags (20 cm at a shorter side).
Water-soluble and oil-soluble food colourings
We use only dry powder colourings for chocolate. They have to be oil-soluble. We need for the lesson: black, green, red and white (titanium dioxide).
Also we use liquid water-soluble colourings. Colours: red and yellow.
Chocolate and cocoa butter
You can basically use any. It doesn’t matter.
We recommend buying both chocolate and cocoa butter in professional confectionery shops or turn to chocolate raw material suppliers and manufacturers who offer professional ingredients. Belgian, French, Italian or German chocolate – it doesn’t matter. The whiteness of cocoa butter doesn’t also affect its quality.
You can attend the lesson using chocolate and cocoa butter bought in a simple shop but we do not recommend to do it.
Store ingredients at 12–20°C (53.6–68°F) (but not in the fridge!) in a dark place but keep away from sunlight. In case storage conditions are inappropriate and your working environment is hot take into account that it’s better to make decorations right before use.
It doesn’t matter how much cocoa butter will be contained in chocolate you will buy for the course. Its taste also doesn’t matter that much. Remember that you are still learning so all of that doesn’t matter, at least now. Later when you will know all the ins and outs you will decide everything for yourself.
As far as the amount of cocoa butter and chocolate we need 1 kilogram of dark chocolate, 1 kilogram of white chocolate and 150 g of cocoa butter.
Any oven you have at home is great. We will bake at conventional mode (the top and bottom heating elements), without convection.
That is basically everything we need for the course. Take the equipment and tools and we will begin with the most interesting part 🙂