The New Bakers Dozen

The The Bakers Dozen: Stencils
By Ghb (Ghb) on Monday, June 11, 2001 - 03:20 pm: Edit

My boss was at Payard this weekend and came back wanting to revamp desserts so that they look like Payard's. One thing he talked about was the way designs were etched or stencilled on the sides of individual cakes--they seemed to be done in cocoa on white cake. I know what he's talking about but have no idea how to do it. The designs aren't cigarette paste --they are intricate (there's one of the NYC skyline) and quite delicate looking.

Can anyone clue me in to how this is done, what equipment/techniques are involved? Thanks!

By Yankee on Monday, June 11, 2001 - 04:31 pm: Edit

Were they sprayed on with an air gun?

Also, I'm not sure where you work, but Payard has an army of people, plus an extensive collection of really expensive equipment. It's a pretty amazing operation.

Thing is, is your boss going to put up the extra cash for equipment and staff?

Personally, I like a little style and character, but not at the expense of taste and freshness.

By Cheftim (Cheftim) on Tuesday, June 12, 2001 - 12:10 am: Edit

How about Transfer Sheets?

By Debord (Debord) on Tuesday, June 12, 2001 - 08:24 am: Edit

With-out looking at it personally it's impossible to say exactly what their doing. I'd bet it's stenciled on with a silk screen with cigarette paste! That's how you get great detail and very artistic images.

If the image is on cake it's probably cigarette paste...that can be used for fine detail with silk screens. But it is possible they could have baked the joconde and sprayed it after baking with a cocoa paste thru a stencil. But then they'd would have put some cocoa butter or glaze over the whole layer to set it.

Was it stenciled on the bavarian dirrectly? You can transfer intricate patterns onto acetate sheets then rub them onto the tops of your frozen tortes.

If they used a transfer sheet then most likely the image would be in chocolate.

The techniques your boss is interested in are not expensive to reproduce. You buy the skill screens with the images on them (although this sounds like a custom screen which you can also make yourself) just like you can buy a variety of stencils, grills etc...

By Debord (Debord) on Tuesday, June 12, 2001 - 08:39 am: Edit

I own La Patisserie de Pierre Herme' and L' Art des Entremets de France by G.J. Bellouet and J.M. Perruchon (they come in English too). Both books show the techinques your boss is interested in....each book costs around $150. plus.

Then start looking at several web sites for stencils and silk screens. Try J.B. Prince (I know they have stencils but I can't recall if they have silk screens),right now I'm drawing a blank on other company names....but there are only a couple places that sell the silk screens that I've found.

You can do these techinques quite easily once you have your recipes and stencils....I'd say it will cost around $500.00 to get both books and one stencil....then buy more as time progresses.

P.S. Don't think these books focus exclusively on these techinques...if you have to buy only one get Hermes'.

By Ghb (Ghb) on Tuesday, June 12, 2001 - 09:41 am: Edit

Thanks for your help, everyone. The J. B. Prince site is great--I saw lots of stuff that would be fun to play with.

See, the thing about my boss is that while he wants to do all of this stuff, it's hard to get him to spend money on equipment. He always says he'll buy us anything we need, but most of the time it doesn't happen.
And then you have the fact that my coworker and I don't have any formal training--we've both learned on the job and taught ourselves most of what we know through books and trial and error. We've helped build the business into a well-respected restaurant with a good reputation but I at least am really aware of my own limitations. There's also little opportunity for continuing ed in our area--we're in a small, fairly isolated city without any culinary programs nearby. But I guess that's another thread!

Thanks again for your help--I'll do more research about silk screening and stencils.

By Debord (Debord) on Wednesday, June 13, 2001 - 06:59 am: Edit

hey now wait a minute....were not talking about doing brain surgery here! This is simple stuff...much easier than working with chocolate. Easier than novelty cakes and wedding cakes! I'm totally self-taught and this is not difficult for me so I'm sure you also can do it, and mass produce it too!!!!!

You scrap some paste thinnly over a stencil or silk screen on a silpat then freeze it to set the image. Then bake a layer of joconde over it. Slice it into strips, line your pan with the strips then fill with whatever you want.

One of the best companies that sell these silkscreens shows a demo and I think it even had recipes to use with it's equipment on line. Unforunately I have to search thru saved sites to locate the one I'm talking about because I can't remember which one it was off the top of my head. Give me a little time and I'm post the info. for you.

You would be shocked by how little equipment I have at work (my assistant is). You'd be supprised at how you can use ordinary items as pans, molds and forms. The only purchase you MUST make is the stencil or the silk screen. I buy alot of things out my own pocket. You can write many items off on your taxes (and no I don't own a business)...all my books and utensils can be written off, just save all your reciepts. I personally buy items that I know I would have a hard time working with-out or are hard to replace...just incase I change jobs I wouldn't loose a minute of production time having to re locate and purchase these small items. The silk screen I'd buy myself as an educational tool. The more you know the more hirable you are to another employeer!

By Ghb (Ghb) on Wednesday, June 13, 2001 - 08:50 am: Edit

I did more research yesterday after posting and found the Matinox website, which has good photos and explanations about using the silk screening and stencils. J.B. Prince and Chefstore helped, too. Now that it's demystified I have no doubt that we could easily do this stuff.

DeBord, I also have a pretty minimalist setup and I purchase a lot of my own stuff and write it off--books especially, since I can't seem to get enough of them! I also try to find cheaper solutions--the hardware store is one of my favorite places to find "pastry" equipment.

One of my concerns for this drive to make the pastries look more upscale is that we not lose sight of the taste. I'd rather eat a modestly decorated dessert that tastes great than an extravagent showstopper that tastes like sawdust. I also see customers ooh and ahh over the fancy stuff and then they buy the simpler cobblers, crisps, blueberry tart, etc.

By W.DeBord on Thursday, June 14, 2001 - 06:52 am: Edit

Ditto on your concerns over quality! Of course that's number one. I've also mentioned what they buy from me is the simplier items....they buy what they know, although on a buffet where the dessert is included in the price then they'll try something new. But when they book their party they still pick that same simple old dessert.

Try to put out a few crazy fancy items...they sort of certify you as knowledgable in all aspects of pastry. Shows you can compete with whatever the other bakers are doing in your area.

Anyway...I'm certain you can reproduce the silk screen joconde. I've silk screened art many times but have yet to do it with food...I don't know exactly how different the screens are but they can't be too different because their still made of silk. Anyway make sure you wash it well each time leaving nothing behind to clog your fabric.

Talking about cheap solutions I just came across one the other day that was so funny like "DA" (a light bulb going on moment). For those cone shaped items use a paper decorating cone or even a paper cup (the kind from the water dispensers). I thought that was so obvious, but I missed it totally!For Mothers Day I made these high heeled slippers out of tuiles and a chocolate cone for the heel and cotton candy for the toe part, etc... It took me a while to figure out how to form the heel....and then the light went on! It's fun to figure things out sometimes.

By Michelle on Saturday, June 16, 2001 - 10:53 pm: Edit

In addition to pastry suppliers, silkscreens may be obtained from screen printers themselves. You may use the fabric, or stainless steel screen material is available also (it is used in the electronics industry for printing circuits). The screen density for chocolate is about 70-90 squares per inch. If you are making tranfers on acetate make sure that the artwork is blasted in reverse. Also note that mylar is typically much cheaper than acetate if purchasing it outside a pastry supplier for the same mil thickness. A screen printer can also order you the hinged frame holder and squeegee required.

By W.DeBord on Sunday, June 17, 2001 - 08:22 am: Edit

You can make your own frame holder cheaply (I have, so it's not hard) and buy the squeege at most art stores, too.

Where are you buying your screens Michelle...any leads you wouldn't mind sharing?

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