Becks Bakes is open for business! & how to make chocolate shards!! 

I love Baking! I may have mentioned this before or you might just have guessed from my blog. I have baked since I was a little girl and taught my children (and many others) to bake too. I like to bake at least a couple of times a week and to try out new recipes and play around with existing ones, but one family can only eat so much cake! I have baked for friends and family occasions but felt that it was time to go official.

I have registered with my local council (London Borough of Richmond upon Thames) as a producer of food from home. I have passed level two food safety course.  I have reorganised my kitchen according to the food safety requirements. I have set up a diary to log all my commercial food activity and taken out public liability insurance – So now all I need is to let people know I am happy to bake for them!

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Business Cards

I much prefer making naked style cakes and felt that there are lots of people able to offer highly decorated fondant cakes so my card has reflected that, however in the real world people love the wow factor you can get from fondant and I know that I will inevitably end up making cakes using fondant and am currently taking a cake decorating course with The Cake Box – a local cake shop in the hope that I will learn a few techniques to help me on my way.

My first commission was a request for a chocolate winter princess cake. It was important to me that this cake taste as good as it looked so whilst I obviously made the figures well in advance and refined them a fair bit before I was happy with them I also wanted to practise making the actual cake. Chocolate Cakes have a tendency to be a bit dry and the cake design meant that I needed to cover it in buttercream so that also needed to be high on the flavour spectrum. I found the perfect recipe on the BBC Good Food site and simply halved the ingredients to make just the bottom layer.

For my test cake I decided to use raspberry flavours to compliment the chocolate. I split each layer of the cake in half to make 4 layers of cake and sandwiched them together with the buttercream, this gives the cake a little extra height and stops it being too dense to eat. I used the rest of the buttercream to cover the rest of the cake, sides and top ready for the rest of the decoration.

Making the shards requires tempering and colouring chocolate. Both quite tricky processes so I will try to explain how I made them However if you just want to skip to the part where you enter the competition just scroll to the bottom of the post for more details!

Chocolate Shards

You will need to make these the day before the cake and will need 400g of white chocolate and a food colouring paste in a colour of your choice. You also need a sugar thermometer, ideally a digital one as temperatures of the chocolate are crucial.

You will also need 2 sheets of parchment paper. Mark out a rectangle 35 cm x 15 cm then mark 2.5cm lines along top and bottom of the long edge using a thick marker. Turn the parchment over and attach with tape to a flat surface ( a reversed baking tin or chopping board).

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You then need to ‘temper’ your chocolate, this is a process by which you melt work and cool the chocolate so that when it hardens it stays shiny, has a good snap and doesn’t ‘bloom’. Blooming is where the fats have separated in the chocolate leaving a cloudy white appearance, its still perfectly edible but doesn’t look as nice. Tempering is renowned for being tricky

Use a bain-marie or a saucepan of water and a bowl. The water needs to be brought to a boil then simmer, the bowl must rest over the pan without touching the boiling water. Split your 50g of the chocolate 3/4 & 1/4 chop the 3/4 and pop into the bowl to melt. finely chop the remaining chocolate. Melt the 3/4 amount in the bowl until it reaches 45C. Temepratures are different for dark and milk chocolate. Remove the bowl from the bain-marie and carefully wipe off the steam from the bottom taking great care not to get any water into the chocolate.

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Then add the remaining finely chopped chocolate and stir in until smooth, keeping stirring until the temperature drops to 29C you could use a cold water bath for the bowl to help speed up this process.

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Add the paste colouring by mixing with a small amount of chocolate on the spoon first then stirring into the rest of the chocolate. Adding colours to chocolate can make it seize (or thicken and set) so you need to work quickly.

Transfer the coloured chocolate to a piping bag and snip a small hole in the end. Pipe swirls all over the marked rectangle, the more random the better. Leave to set for at least 10 mins.

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Meanwhile repeat the tempering process for the rest of the chocolate. Once complete and the swirls are set carefully dot this chocolate over the rectangle and working quickly with a spatula smooth over the background chocolate to cover all the swirls and the the rectangle. Leave to set.
When just set cut round the outside edges of the rectangle then the shard lengths using the 2.5cm markers as guides. Then cut diagonal lines. Use the top of the rectangle as the starting point, counting across two shards measure 3cm down from the top. cut your diagonal line from the top to this point across two shards at a time. measure from this point to the top of the next but one shard and cut another diagonal line, repeat this process to create a zig zag across your rectangle.

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Leave the shards to completely harden over night.

When you are ready to use them to decorate your cake simply peel off and stick them to the buttercream. I topped the ‘test’ version with raspberries drizzled with a little coulis.

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If you would like to order this or any other of my cakes just send me an email to becksbakes18@gmail.com, you can see a selection of my previous bakes on the naked cakes page of this blog.

Competition time:

To celebrate the opening of my little business I am running a little competition! Simply follow me on twitter and retweet the competition tweet, then leave a comment here telling me your favourite cakey flavours. This is open only to people within a 10 mile radius of Teddington, Middlesex as the prize is a version of the chocolate shard cake in flavours of your choice. The competition is open until the end of May and the cake will be supplied during the following month on a date of your choice.

The final version of the cake needed no adjustments other than a change of colour to the shards and I made the back ones a little longer to give a mountainous feel to the shards! I am delighted to tell you the customer was really pleased with her cake and I hope this is the start of something exciting for me.

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