Expert Interview Series: Bobbie Noto of Bobbie's Baking Blog About Intricate Cake Decorating

Bobbie Noto, the owner of 5th Avenue Cake Designs, is a sugar artist who posts tutorials on Bobbie's Baking Blog. We recently had a chance to speak with Bobbie about cake decorating and some of her favorite baked treats....

Cake decorating

Bobbie Noto, the owner of 5th Avenue Cake Designs, is a sugar artist who posts tutorials on Bobbie's Baking Blog. We recently had a chance to speak with Bobbie about cake decorating and some of her favorite baked treats.

Tell us a little about yourself. Why did you decide to start Bobbie's Baking Blog?

I began posting tutorials on Bobbie's Baking Blog in 2010 after I opened my shop in 2007.

I have always loved baking and pastries. When my daughter was young, I created all her birthday cakes and party favors. My daughter's friends' parents started inquiring if I would create treats for their children. That moment was the birth of my career, and it blossomed from there.

Where do you come up with all of your decorating ideas? What inspires you in your sugar art?

Most of my decorating ideas are inspired by places I have visited and their natural beauty, antiques gifted to me by my grandmother, and vintage fabrics.

Your site mentions the Lambeth method of decorating cakes. What is this method, and is it really as difficult as it is rumored to be?

The Lambeth method of cake decorating is one of hardest, most rewarding, and time-consuming techniques. The method consists of dimensional over-piping of borders on either a fondant or royal icing cover cake. The borders must have at least five layers of over-piping that decrease in size.

Your blog features recipes for other types of desserts and foods, including viennoiseries. What are viennoiseries, and how hard are they to make?

Viennoiseries sound fancy, but in reality they are baked goods made from a yeast-leavened dough similar to bread and puff pastry, but with added ingredients (eggs, butter, milk, cream, and sugar) that give them a deep, richer, sweeter taste that is more similar to pastries. The dough is often laminated.

Viennoiseries are typically eaten at breakfast or high tea or as snacks. Here are examples of viennoiseries:

  • baguettes
  • brioche (a rich egg-based bread)
  • pain au chocolat (similar to a croissant, but shaped differently and with chocolate baton inside)
  • pain au lait (milky bread)
  • pain aux raisins (fancy raisin bread
  • chouquettes (choux pastry sprinkled with pearl sugar and sometimes filled with custard or mousse)
  • Danish pastries (twisted ribbons, deep-fried and sprinkled with powdered sugar)
  • chausson aux pommes (apple turnover)

Do you have a recipe for a delicious treat that you'd like to share with us?

Espresso Chocolate Chunk Meringues

Ingredients:

4 egg whites, at room temperature

Pinch fine sea salt

200 grams superfine baker's sugar*

2 teaspoons cornstarch

1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 teaspoons instant espresso powder

1/4teaspoon cinnamon

112 grams bittersweet chocolate, chopped in pieces

Directions

  1. Place an oven rack in the center of the oven. Preheat the oven to 175 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Set aside.
  2. Combine sugar, cornstarch, espresso powder, and cinnamon in small bowl.
  3. In a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the egg whites, cream of tartar, and salt until frothy, about 1 minute.
  4. With the mixer running at medium speed, slowly add sugar mixture in a steady stream down the side of the mixer bowl (process should take about 30 seconds).
  5. Stop mixer and scrape down the bottom and sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Return mixer to high speed, beat until glossy and stiff peaks have formed, about 30 to 45 seconds.
  6. Add the vanilla extract. Increase the speed to high, and slowly add the last ¼ of sugar and beat until the mixture is thick and holds stiff peaks, about 3 to 5 minutes.
  7. Using a spatula, fold in the chocolate.
  8. Drop 1/4 to 1/2 cup of the mixture onto the prepared baking sheet about 2 inches apart. Bake for 30 minutes. Rotate the pan and bake for another 30 minutes.
  9. Turn off the oven and allow the meringues to cool completely while still in the oven, at least 4 hours (overnight is preferred).
  10. Store airtight in a plastic container for up to 1 to 1 ½ weeks.

Cook's Note: The meringue mixture can also be placed in a pastry bag fitted with a large tip.

What are some of the most important tools and kitchen items for someone to have if they want to try sugar art and cake decoration?

The most important tool in the kitchen is a good scale. Baking is a science, and having the exact measurements are imperative. You also need a good thermometer, mixer, and food processor.

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