Recommendations

Wondering what brands and products the Aubergine Chef uses?  Most of the time I don’t have a particular brand that I stick to – granulated sugar for example.  As of now I just buy whatever sugar is on sale.  However, there are some brands that I prefer to use for one reason or another.  Here is a list of items I recommend you give a try if you’re looking to try something new.  I’ll also include books and anything else I think might be interesting to share!

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Please note that any items recommended on Amazon.com are part of the affiliate program which helps ease the costs of maintaining this website.

Books

Bringing Home the Baking: How to Start a Licensed Home-based Baking Business – This is a short but informative book by Quincella C. Geiger.  It goes through the whole process of starting up an at home baking business.  It’s a quick read, which is great for entrepreneurs, but is still a wealth of information.  Also included are cost effective recipes which are great for any start-up.  If you buy it on amazon.com Quincella sends you a packet of worksheets and spreadsheets with your order.  So nice!

The Cake Bible – The single greatest cake and pastry resource available.  Okay, that’s a little over exaggerating but for any serious at home cake decorator this book is an invaluable resource.  Despite its age all of the recipes and virtually all of the information is still relevant.  The Cake Bible explains everything from which cakes go best with which icings, decorative techniques galore, and even advanced explanation of ingredients and components.  The first few pages even include color pictures of several of the cakes in the book providing inspiration and piquing your interest.  No at home baker should be without this book.

The New Food Lover’s Companion – AKA the Food Lover’s Dictionary.  An absolute must for any foodie.  This little book contains definitions to tons of food items and I use it on a regular basis.  It’s especially great for Italian or French words that I have a tendency to forget what it really means (like bechamel).

Grand Finales – This series of books was written by Tish Boyle and Timothy Moriarty.  If you’re looking for inspiration to help you overcome your drab desserts, or if you’re interested in learning how some chefs think and come up with their fancy plated desserts these books are for you.  Each book explores different avenues of thought, such as architecturalism or modernism in the Art of Plated Desserts, that leads to the beautiful and edible presentation.  The three books in the series are: Grand Finales: A Neoclassic View of Plated Desserts, A Modernist View of Plated Desserts (Grand Finales), and Grand Finales: The Art of the Plated Dessert.

How Baking Works: Exploring the Fundamentals of Baking Science – Written by Paula Figoni, a chef instructor at Johnson & Wales, this book takes baking to a scientific level explaining every ingredient in its more rudimentary forms – carbohydrates and fats – as well as exploring abstract concepts such flavor, color, and light.  If you’re a fan of Alton Brown this text book will read like a romance novel.  I highly recommend it if you’re interested in learning how to alter recipes.  This book will also help shed light on any baking issues you may be having by explaining the purpose of each ingredient in a recipe.

Ingredients

Bensdorp Cocoa Powder – Sallee at Fran’s Cake and Candy got me hooked on this cocoa powder.  The smooth velvety texture and rich yet delicate chocolate flavor cannot be beat.  Though you can use it in cakes, it really shines when you use it to make chocolate buttercream.  The link takes you to King Arthur’s Flour’s website since I couldn’t find bensdorp’s site.

Born Free Eggs – While it may seem a little ludicrous to spend upwards of $4.00 on eggs when you can pay a couple bucks for them but I highly recommend reaching deep for these eggs if you can.  Born Free eggs are eggs that are produced by chickens raised in a humane environment where they can move around and behave naturally.  They have cage free eggs (where the chickens are raised with plenty of room to move around), organic (vegetarian fed and such), and range free (chickens play outside and eat vegetarian feed).  Born Free became one of the first fresh shell eggs to receive Certified Humane approval from Humane Farm Animal Care.  By purchasing and supporting eggs and animal products produced this way you make a statement to the industry saying that you want humane products and eventually as humane products become the norm prices will come down.  But do it for the chickens!  Also check local farmer’s markets for free range eggs!  That way you can support free range hens AND local businesses!

Ghirardelli Chocolate – I find Ghirardelli’s chocolate to be the all-purpose chocolate of home bakers.  Many professional bake shops will use specialty brands and couveture (chocolate with a high cocoa butter content) but they can be expensive, difficult to find, and temperamental to work with.  Ghirardelli is readily available, affordable, and consistently labels their products appropriately (chocolate vs. coating chocolate).  For some reason, I find Ghirardelli easy to temper as well.  Speaking of tempering, I know that I cover tempering in my videos but Ghirardelli has a short but informative video on tempering chocolate that hits all the important points.  I highly recommend it!

King Arthur Flour – This is the flour we used at school.  When flour is made it is actually aged before it is sent out.  This can be done in one of two ways: Naturally or chemically.  King Arthur makes a stand to do things without preservatives and without chemicals – “Never bleached, never bromated.”  Also the company has a commitment to its employees being 100% employee owned.  While it’s true that many other companies are moving away from chemical aging – King Arthur was the first. They also have lots of flours available for purchase online that you may not find in the grocery store.

Components

Caullet Glazing/Pouring Fondant – If you’re having a hard time find glazing or pouring fondant for your petits fours glace this is a highly recommended fondant in the online pastry community.  I haven’t used it myself so if you use it for your petits fours let me know how it is!

Satin Ice Rolled Fondant – This is the fondant I use when making cakes covered in fondant.  Rolled fondant is the dough-like icing that can be rolled out and can be used to make figurines.  I find Satin Ice to be flexible, forgiving, easy to use, and tastier than other fondants.  It stays softer longer so if you’re trying to create 3D decorations consider using Wilton fondant or gum paste.  Satin Ice also makes excellent chocolate fondant and gum paste.

Wilton Fondant – Wilton fondant is an excellent fondant to start with.  It’s a little difficult to work with at first because it has a tendency to dry out quickly but once you develop the feel and timing with Wilton you can use any fondant.  Wilton fondant is also less expensive so use Wilton when practicing – especially with dummy cakes.  Wilton fondant is great for making 3D decorations like bows because it dries out so quickly.

Gum Paste Work

CK - CK makes powdered food coloring for use on gum paste flowers.  I mostly use the shimmery color called super pearl dust.  It’s almost like spraying them with a very find shimmery glittery finish.  I’m not necessarily brand loyal to CK but in case you’re wondering what to use and you don’t know where to start you can try this brand out.  They also make a variety of different products especially tools, like molds, for use with gum paste.

Crystal Colors LLC – Crystal colors make up the majority of my powdered food colors.  While you can use them to color buttercreams and such I mostly use them for use on gum paste flowers.  The biggest reason you want to use them to color your buttercream is if you want that perfect match in color from your flowers to your icing.  The link will send you to a supplier that provides a wide variety of baking and pastry products.  I haven’t purchased anything from them though so I don’t know much about their customer service but at the very least it has pictures of the products.

Flavoring

LorAnn Oils – LorAnn oils is something new I’ve been using to flavor my cakes.  Oils are great for use in icings because they are fat based – they won’t add any moisture to your icing.  Flavors are fat soluble so oils are a great way to heighten the taste of the whichever flavor you are using.  Oils are also great for flavoring candies and chocolates.  LorAnn is a family run business and produces food safe natural and artificial oils for a variety of uses – not just flavorings – and have been in business since 1962!  Definitely check out their website; it’s a fun read and great window shopping.  Flavored oils are also great for flavors that are not easy to find such as natural strawberry.

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