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Review | “Learn Fruit & Vegetable Sculpting” DVD with Chef Ray Duey

Reported by Maria del Pinto

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Fruit & Vegetable Carving by Chef Duey

Fruit and vegetable carving has been growing in popularity lately, so I decided to give it a try to see if I could learn this interesting art form.  My first step was to buy the video  “Learn Fruit & Vegetable Sculpting” by Chef Ray Duey, C.E.C.  I wanted a video that allowed me to learn some basics without investing in a bunch of expensive equipment. This particular video has quite a few projects that I could do with just a simple paring knife by adjusting the techniques taught a little.

sharper image knife

Before I could watch the video, I got a chance to watch Chef Duey carve in person at the Orange County Fair in Costa Mesa, CA.

Chef Ray L. Duey, carving a melon
Chef Ray L. Duey, carving a melon

He was carving the outline of a bird on a melon using just a knife.

Chef Ray L. Duey, carving a melon

Then he carefully removed the excess pieces of the melon.

Chef Ray L. Duey, removing excess melon parts

Chef Duey does not believe in wasting any part of the fruit he carves.  If he cannot use all of it for the center piece, then the excess goes into the composter.  He showed us how some of the extra pieces can be re-carved and used as additional decoration for the carved fruit center piece.

Chef Ray L. Duey, carving fruit 2

The finished carved fruit center piece was a swan.

Chef Ray L. Duey, carving a swan center piece

This inspired me to go home and watch the video and get started!  The video is put together in a very logical order with a special section for tools, display ideas, etc.  Here is a list of the carving demonstrations in order of how they are taught on the video:

  • Tomato rose carving
  • Radish flower carving
  • Pineapple rose carving
  • Cantaloupe dahlia carving
  • Root vegetable daisy carvings – with beet coloring
  • Leek ribbon flower
  • Leek fern leaf carving
  • Leek stargazer lily
  • Butternut squash staircase w/eggplant leaves carving
  • Fennel calla lilies carving
  • Pepper anthodium carving
  • Cantaloupe spiral carving
  • Apple swan & Butterfly carving
  • Apple turtle carving
  • Squash duck carving
  • Honeydew melon swan carving
  • Honeydew sculpture carving
  • Honeydew lantern carving
  • Watermelon sculpture carving

I decided to try to carve a “Betsy” mini watermelon.  The chef had mentioned that it is easier to carve a firmer melon than it is a soft one.  I used my paring knife and carefully followed the directions on the video.  Since I used a paring knife and not a fruit carving knife, I could not achieve the details that you can see in the swan that Chef Duey carved at the fair.  However, since it was my goal to be able to achieve a simple carving using only the tools I had on hand, I felt it came out pretty well.

1st try at carving a watermelon

Here is a back view of the watermelon carving, I left it empty so that I could use it to serve fruit.

back view of the watermelon

It only took a few minutes to carve the watermelon. Once I had removed the all the excess pieces, I put one of the left over pieces back inside the melon to create a platform.  This will allow me to place some carved fruit pieces into the melon cavity to use it as a serving bowl.

I really enjoyed the video, it did have some projects that could be done with just a paring knife.  Just do not expect your pieces to look as good as his do without the proper tools.  Most of the other projects did involve the purchase of additional fruit carving tools in order to be done.

Chef Duey did such a good job of explaining the process that I did find myself heading over to the local restaurant supply and picking up a couple of additional tools so I could try some of the more intricate projects.

Pros:

  • Easy to get carried away and start carving most of the fruit in your refrigerator!
  • Great party tabletop projects.
  • Very easy to follow video.

Cons:

  • Cost of additional tools can be expensive if you are not careful.
  • Need to be mindful when carving with sharp object.
  • Can be messy.

The video “Learn Fruit & Vegetable Sculpting” by Chef Ray Duey, C.E.C. can be purchased on Amazon.com or in person at one of the many events Chef Duey demonstrates at.

Edible Embossing

Reported by Anam Stubbington

All to often, craft supplies get relegated to the particular craft they are labelled for in the shop, but there are so many cross-over opportunities, not just in the paper craft work. We have yarn and paper crafts mixing with crocheted flowers on scrapbook layouts; oil pastels and watercolors for making your own paper backgrounds for cards; and fabrics used for texture in clay work.

Today I decided to use my ProvoCraft Cuttlebug Embossing folders for something new. I use and abuse my folders because they are just so versatile and easily cleaned – a big bonus in my book.

We have all done the inking trick with the embossing folders, used them on velvet to extend their usability and used them on fimo and clay to make jewelry pieces. I had made the traditional clay ornaments with them – perfect for the Christmas season – I gave them as party favours using handmade air drying clay to match the invites I made also using the embossing folders.

(don’t know why the purple one looks dirty but in real life its got a gold and silver sheen)

In making these, I thought that I would try and see if I could continue the theme onto the cupcakes using icing and chocolate. I have the basic standard embossing folders so all I added was a rolling pin.

Turns out the embossing folders are awesome for making edible decorations – and I cleaned mine by sticking them in the dishwasher afterwards.
I started with Ready-to-roll icing because I will admit that I suck at baking. It was super easy – decide what folder you want and if you want the image in relief or embossed into the icing – remember with text plates, the relief version is in reverse when you place it down on the icing.

If you have a steady hand, you could even color the embossed images with food coloring. Food coloring though does not stick to the folders so you cannot coat the folder and then emboss like you would with an inkpad (which admittedly was a disappointment for me).

Then cut out your shapes either by hand or use cookie cutters to make awesome cake toppers.


Imagine the fun you could have with the whole image embossing plates for the tops of cakes or as frame bases for cake flowers.

I then tried chocolate to see how much fun I could have with the folders. I tried a few ways to do it and found these two worked best.

  • Firstly melt your chocolate to a runny dough consistency – I would suggest you buy proper cake chocolate so the chocolate stays harder longer once it is solid as my very yummy milk chocolate melted in my regular kitchen temperatures.
  • Add a little oil or cake release to your folders – I used olive oil and no-one mentioned any taste issues.
  • Put the folders on a flat tray with some greaseproof paper underneath them.

Option 1 is to pour the melted chocolate on top of your folder and allow to harder. once hard you turn the folder over and peel the plate off the chocolate – it should come over very easily. You can then use a cookie cutter to cut out the shapes you want – I found it worked better with a metal cutter that was heated in some hot water first.

Option 2 is good when you only want a specific part of an embossing folder. Place your cookie cutter (slightly oiled) on the area you want as your image. Pour the chocolate into the cookie cutter and allow to harden. Once hard, you can remove the plate and then pop the chocolate shape out – this way seemed to give me thicker shapes.

I left them in the fridge for a few hours and then added them to the cupcakes just before I served them. That said, some of my guests decided they would have happily eaten the chocolate toppers on their own so maybe make them with dark chocolate and serve with coffee for adults?

Remember to leave the cut shapes for a little while to dry out if you want them to be used flat or standing. Making cupcake toppers with the folders was so easy and would be a great addition to anyone’s DIY arsenal of tricks for wedding or party cakes.

Pros:

  • Easy to use
  • Lots of designs available
  • Easy to clean afterwards

Cons:

  • Not all designs work well
  • Have to work in small batches due to size of folder
  • Lots of chocolate left that needs to be eaten

I hope you also find uses for those crafting supplies in the kitchen!

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Cricut Cake Part 2

Reported by Marti Wills

If you read Part 1 (yesterday) you will know that my Cricut Cake and I were not fast friends. However, I was determined to master it and I did. So I wanted to share my tips and discoveries with all of you.

This is a cake I made for Super Bowl Sunday:


We were a house divided so I had to make a half and half cake.


I used my Everyday Paper Dolls Cartridge for the little football players, goal post and footballs.


The side has a banner from Cake Basics and then I added the little footballs. I FINALLY had enough time and energy to do a bit of “finishing” on this one and added dots of yellow buttercream around the top and bottom. Kevin said this was the best one yet…it was also the easiest!

I can’t believe how easy it has turned out to be to use my Cricut Cake machine. I really struggled with it at first and I know a lot of others have as well so I will go through all of my steps:

1. PLAN YOUR DESIGN – it is really the best to plan your design and lay it all out in Design Studio. I make a file for each color of gumpaste I will be using. I use the cake pan size as a guide for sizing my design. By doing this you can cut your gumpaste quickly before it warms and softens when you take it out of the freezer. Resist the urge to weld one long border piece – it will be MUCH harder to move and put onto your cake!

2. Make your gumpaste sheets (not fondant.) – I have been using the Cricut Gumpaste in the tub and have been very happy with it. I use 3 mats when doing this but I may need more….be sure to knead your chunk of gumpaste really well to get it soft and pliable. Now put on some latex gloves, rub them all over with a bit of crisco and start coloring. I use Americolor coloring gel a drop or two at a time…knead it really well to get the color smooth and not streaky.

3. Roll it out on a flexible plastic mat (Cricut mat if you have enough) dusted with a mix of half cornstarch and half powdered sugar. Roll it really thin. Like really thin. Then roll it thinner.

4. Cover your Cricut mat with Crisco – you want a good thorough coating so your gumpaste will stick and not move around. Lay the mat on top of your rolled gumpaste and then flip your “sandwich” over and carefully peel your top mat off.

5. Trim the gumpaste so it is within the borders of your Cricut mat. Now roll it out some more – I can usually get it even thinner at this stage. Trim again to keep from gunking up your rollers.

6. Now put the mat in the freezer for 30 minutes or so. I do ALL of my mats at once so they can all sit in the freezer. You can put some saran wrap over them so they don’t dry out.

7. Once the gumpaste has chilled you are ready to cut. Since you have your design laid out in Design Studio you can cut all your items from each color quickly. Once each one is done remove the excess gumpaste and put it back in the freezer.

8. Now you need to put your layers together. I used some “glue” I made by dissolving a bit of gumpaste in water. I painted it on the back of my layers as I put them together. Once done I put them all BACK in the freezer, covered, until I was ready to put them on my cake. This way they would be a bit sturdier when I move them.

9. Bake your cake and ice it – I highly recommend Rick’s Special Buttercream – THE BEST.

10. Now simply add your gumpaste cut-outs to your cake!

Does anyone else have a Cricut Cake machine? Do you use yours? Do you have any other helpful tips to share? Leave a comment and let us know.