A cake decorated with rolled fondant. Say these words to an attendee at a wedding reception and they will likely admire the beautifully decorated cake until such time eating begins. They will then most likely think, Oh my, how can something so pretty and beautiful be so tasteless. Say these words to a pastry chef or cake decorator and images of a clock with time closing in quickly while working rapidly before the product starts to dry, harden or even worse crack likely comes to mind. And heaven forbid should refrigeration be required prior to delivery…this spells absolute doom to the fondant that is traditionally used.
Enter MASSA by Albert Uster Imports…drum roll…. wonderful, absolutely wonderful stuff! Comes in multiple flavors and colors, tastes very good and has a most pleasant mouth feel. It doesn’t stop there as it is also soft and pliable with minimal tendency to crack and has a greater tolerance for cooler temperatures.
Award winning and world renowned pastry chef and sugar artist, Nicholas Lodge, recently demonstrated this wonder product. The Creations dining room at the Art Institute of Atlanta was filled to capacity and attendees watched in rapt attention as Chef Lodge deftly showed his skill with the newest and very attractive MASSA color of the year, Amethyst. It has a beautiful rich hue and the cake was absolutely stunning by the time he completed decorating it with a combination of ivory pearls, shiny “crystals” made from sugar and silver broach jewelry fashioned with the assistance of silicone molds.
The two hour demo which seemed to last only minutes was filled with history and tips on rolled fondant use. Chef Lodge discussed the origin of fondant which started in South Africa and Australia before it spread to England and eventually the US. Fondant was made to emulate Royal Icing and Marzipan. The MASSA fondant is Swiss made where it was developed for use on softer sponge style cakes which is closer to the type of cakes commonly made in the US.
As recently as 20 years ago, fondant use was considered a “foreign technique” in the US. It did not take long for pastry professionals and cake decorators to bring attention and raise consumer awareness of this product which provides a great start and finish for many beautiful cakes. Fondant is now part of our culture and will likely remain in that status for many years to come.
The theme of the Winter Innovations 2010 MASSA Road Show is “Beauty From the Inside Out” as the regal Amethyst color is featured. Chef Lodge explained the purpose of fondant is to enrobe, not to add flavor. MASSA exceeds this purpose by providing a pleasant taste which complements the flavor of the cake rather than detracting from the flavor of the cake.
Tips and hints on MASSA use. There were so many given I think it is fitting to devote a paragraph to them, ie: Use a French rolling pin when rolling out to help facilitate a smooth and quick rollout …use a straight pin to burst any bubbles that develop during the rollout process…use powdered sugar instead of corn starch when rolling out to provide a better flavor if any residual remains…MASSA can be rolled out thinner (to 1/8 inch thickness)… Chef has calculated an approximate cost of 25 cents per serving…Karo syrup or apricot glaze can also be used to obtain stickiness when adherence is needed…when applying Buttercream icing for a crumb crust, use a thin coat because a thicker coat will cause the MASSA to shift…when using dark color fondant use plastic to buffer the rollout so the powdered sugar is not necessary…when coloring fondant, use shortening as the medium instead of water…always polish MASSA before placing on cake to save time…MASSA will adjust to temperature when placed on a cold cake so there is no need to put powdered sugar on to help temporary stickiness…when smoothing out initial placement, pull it out gently like smoothing a skirt to keep wrinkles from developing…use of a low profile turntable will help keep MASSA from pulling too much…use a fondant smoother in each hand when smoothing so your handprint does not remain in the top…fondant smoothers that have a straight edge are very helpful for making sharp, well defined corners…softened fondant mixed with gel also makes a good adhesive and stabilizer…place design indentations before applying to cake layer …when covering the baseboard, remove fondant from the area where the cake will be sitting. This will help stabilize the cake and saves fondant that would otherwise be covered up completely with cake…MASSA is the only fondant that can be mixed with water and used for piping, this also creates a perfect color match…once this is mixed, will keep indefinitely as long as it is covered…put vegetable shortening on table to help prevent 50/50 from rolling up when being cut…50/50 is combination of fondant and gum paste used for decorations that need increased strength such as medallions…when painting with silver, go with gray and when painting with gold, go with yellow to help give more depth to the colors……another trick with these colors is to tint the piping gel with silver or gold, it helps diminish any “squish out” appearance…when attaching a heavier piece such as a broach, use 50/50 glue…a mold with a shinier finish will diminish the need for finish painting which helps save your time…to make a round sausage shaped item a consistent size, use the fondant smoother with wooden dowel rod or tool of size choice when rolling out…put cornstarch directly onto the 50/50 or gumpaste before placing into the mold to help keep the mold clean…chocolate fondant is strong enough to be used straight and does not require a 50/50 mixture.
Wow. As you can see, the demonstration was amazing and absolutely packed with information. As I reflect back on this time of learning under the hands of a master, I would like to express special thanks to Chef Lodge for the contribution of excellence and the gold standard he consistently provides to the pastry world. Benefactors are the artists who create as well as the consumers who partake. Thank you.
And in closing, a very special thank you to Chef Paul Bodrogi, Albert Uster Imports (www.aiuswiss.com) and the The International Culinary School at The Art Institute Atlanta for their contribution to the furtherance of this art and craft by making this event possible.
by Elisabeth Walker