Sunday, November 15, 2009

Poured sugar ice

I have been interested in poured sugar work, but only in the form of reading about it until recently. We had a wedding cake order at work with an "ice" theme, and the bride wanted some sort of ice to border the tiers if possible. It doesn't take much for me to try out new techniques, so the excuse to put the sugar ice recipe to the test was a welcome task.

It's really, really easy, and takes almost no time at all to do. There are a ton of recipes out there, but I settled on this one and it worked well:

1/3 cup sugar
2/3 cup Splenda (not the packets...the bulk buy bag found in the baking aisle at the grocery store.)
1 cup light corn syrup

I started out by putting all of the ingredients in a pan, stirring until everything was blended and then bringing it to hard crack stage (300 degrees).

(ignore the ".7" past 300 on the thermometer! I read (later, of course) that it helps to pull the mixture off of the heat at about 295 so you don't go past the 300 mark, although some recipes instruct you to take the mixture to 310, so I don't know that it hurts anything.) If you don't have a thermometer, the way to tell when you reach the hard crack stage is to pull a bit of the mixture out and drop it into some water. If it is at that stage, you will hear it crack when it hits the water. If you don't bring the mixture to hard crack, the ice will not be brittle when you are will be soft.

Since I knew this mixture would caramelize and give an amber cast to the color of the sugar, I wanted to see what would happen if I added color to it. I selected orange from my regular Wilton gel coloring, dropped it in after the mixture had cooled a bit, and stirred it.

Then I poured the mixture onto crumpled up Reynolds Wrap Release foil (this has a non-stick side, which is best for getting the poured sugar out when everything is done). Side note: I learned that the thinner the sugar is poured, the better for ice chips, so I will spread the next batch out over more of the foil. Some of this batch ended up thicker than I would have liked.

Once everything was cool, I popped the ice chips out of the foil and it was ready to use. On what, I can't say. Maybe orange wasn't the best color to select?

I have read that clear ice can't be made from sugar because when it reaches the right temperature, it will caramelize. Clear poured sugar can be achieved, supposedly, by using Isomalt instead of a sugar mixture. Because I just HAD to know, I ordered some Isomalt off of the internet to give that a try. It was delivered to the house the evening before we left for our Orlando trip, so I haven't given it a shot yet.

BTW. The wedding cake came out great--the bride was really happy with it. Kelli used a round tip (maybe a 5 or 6?) to pull buttercream frosting over the edges of the cake tiers to give the feeling of icicles, and we used the sugar ice to border each tier. We made some that was not colored and was barely tinged with the amber coloring and also tried blue coloring on a batch and they both worked well. We used the clear-ish batch for the cake and painted it with blue and silver with the airbrush. Here is a picture showing a couple of the tiers:

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