Sugar decorations add artistry to any cake, and you can create these masterpieces fairly easily if you know the right techniques. Casting sugar can be poured into moulds to quickly and easily enhance your cake designs, expand your portfolio and increase your profits.
All of the examples demonstrated here were created using isomalt, a sugar substitute derived from beets. Granular isomalt first must be tempered before you can work with it. Do not be intimidated by this process; it is quite simple and also the most economical option.
You will need granular isomalt, a burner (either induction, electric or gas works fine), a pot, a nylon pastry brush (do not use natural fiber), distilled water (it eliminates contaminants or impurities that can discolor isomalt), a silicone spatula (do not use plastic or rubber), gloves and a thermometer.
To temper isomalt, place four parts granular isomalt to one part distilled water in the pot. Stir together; it will have the appearance of wet sand. Turn the burner on high, stirring occasionally to speed the melting. Dip the pastry brush in distilled water and periodically wash sugar crystals off the sides of the pot while cooking.
After the mixture reaches 250°F, you no longer have to clean the sides of the pot, but you cannot leave the pot unattended as you risk caramelization since the temperature is increasing rapidly.
Once the isomalt reaches 330°F, place the pot into a water bath for about 60 seconds to stop the cooking process. Place the pot of isomalt in a 275°F to 300°F oven for 10 to 15 minutes. This allows the isomalt to rest and releases any trapped air bubbles.
If you are going to use the isomalt immediately, you can hold it in the oven two to three hours as you work with it. If you want to store it for future use, place the tempered isomalt in airtight containers with some food-safe silica packages to remove any moisture.
Isomalt only needs to be tempered once. To remelt cooked isomalt, simply place it in a glass or silicone container, and heat in microwave at two-minute intervals at 50 percent power, stirring occasionally, until liquefied again. You can place it in 275°F to 300°F oven to let it rest and release air bubbles, if desired.
If you don’t have the tools or time for tempering, many manufacturers now sell heat-and-use blocks, sticks or pearls of isomalt, some of which are already colored. Expect to pay two to four times as much for the convenience, but this may be a better option for your operation.
To color isomalt, which melts clear, use paste, gel or powder color. Pour melted isomalt into a small container and add the color gradually, gently stirring to distribute the color evenly, or you can leave the color streaked for a marbled effect. Another option for coloring is to airbrush the isomalt decorations after they have been moulded or you can enhance the finished decorations with glitter dust.
Cast into moulds
To create sugar decorations, you can cast isomalt into a variety of moulds: glass, metal, silicone or even hard candy moulds. However, you should not use plastic, rubber or vinyl moulds. The sugar has been heated to about 300°F, which will melt these moulds and distort the details, release chemical contamination into your pieces making them dangerous to ingest, and greatly increase your risk of injury from burning.
If Isomalt begins to firm up too much and becomes hard to pour, simply heat it in the microwave at 50 percent power for about one minute to re-liquefy.
A small variety of the decorations you can create are demonstrated in the following photos. The designs are only limited by the moulds you use.