This may sound quite silly, but although I am not necessarily new to the world of baking and cake decorating, I am truly a novice. I want to start doing more from scratch, but with better ingredients. I've read about H-Ratio Shortening, but can only find crisco locally. What about the confectioners sugar? I use C&H, but I've also seen a recipe talking about 6x? Not a clue lol. What are some of the best ingredients to use. I'll take any advice from best brand of flavorings to flour to fondant...plus where can I get most of them lol. I am super excited to start expanding my talents but need some help from some of you wonderful and extremely talented friends. Thanks so much!
Well I think on the shortening issue, most people will tell you not to use crisco, they took out the trans-fat and it does not work as well in icing. I use Albertsons brand (which is cheaper) and it works great. I just bought the hi-ratio myself but i haven't tried it, look for a cake decorating supply in your area, or another local cake shop may sell it to you. Lots of people on here recommend the pillsbury brand cake flour SoftaSilk and I do like it but i can't say definitively if its better than the other cake flour brands. Very important to buy good quality butter, look for it to be very pale yellow. I know if you buy bulk powdered sugar it is listed as 6x 10x etc, think it basically means how many times it was sifted, but i have to say i love the target brand ps, it does not get nearly as clumpy as c & h and i never have to sift . I love to make my own fondant and it tastes great, easy too, the recipe is on this site, search for michele fosters fondant. i love intotheoven.com to order things online, i got a bunch of really nice pans there for very reasonable prices. ok thats all i can think of, hope this helps..
Here's an FYI on what the "x" in sugar means. I copied this from the Domino Sugar website -
Q. What is the difference between DominoÂ® 4X and 10X Confectioners Sugar?
A. The "X" designations are derived from the mesh sizes of the screens used to separate powdered sugar into various sizes. Thus, 4X would have a larger particle size, whereas 10X would have a smaller particle size.
Therefore, 10x sugar is considered a smaller "grind" than 4x or 6x, not how many times it was sifted.
Here's the link, for more FAQ on sugar -
oh cool, good to know, i knew it had to do with how fine the sugar was, but not the process of how they got to that point
Yes, the higher the # on PS the finer the particles. I still sift 10x. On flavorings, extracts, oils, this is more of a trial, and error thing. To me it is any way. Some companies have better of one thing, some better of another. All dairy products look for the freshest you can find. That will be the biggest factor.
I will say I only use Domino PS now. I read on here that the generic brands contain more cornstarch. I sift my PS too, that has made the biggest difference for me with smoothing my icing... Good Luck!
I don't do the PS icings anymore, but when I did it was strictly Domino. I was taught that other brands, particularly generic brands, cannot guarantee what percent of the mixture is cornstarch or maltodextrin (same thing), and what percent is sugar.
Domino bags used to be labeled with a percentage. I do not know if that still applies.
In any event, check the PS bag before you buy it, to see if the percentage is listed. If it's more than 5%, put it back on the shelf.
My favorite ingredient....Creme Bouquet. It makes my baked goods and icings taste incredible . I buy it online. I also use very good quality vanilla and butter. I buy Robin Hood flour, which is equivalent in quality to King Arthur. I think you can get King Arthur at Publix in the states. I make MMF...simple, easy and delicious. I buy whatever brand of PS that's cheapest or on sale and I haven't seen any difference in the quality.
Thanks! I'll have to do some research on where to find some of these ingredients. Chico is definitely not a fine food city lol. Too many college kids living on mac n cheese lol. I did find some places to order online in bulk so that may be my best option for quality and price.
I just looked on the map to see where Chico is. You are definitely near the middle of nowhere. It must be nice to be in a smaller town. And totally inconvenient when it comes to trying to buy products.
You might consider contacting a local bakery and asking them if they can sell you a 50 lb bag of cake flour, to start. It goes faster than you think it might.
Here's a link for you to compare prices with. I have dealt with them before, and they are very nice.
Good luck on your quest -
Thanks so much...Yes we are a small area. The only thing that has made us a little bit bigger is Chico State University and the college kids are not gourmet eaters lol.