Sunday, November 13, 2011
The Dear Nicholas Lodge
Nicholas Lodge...the best chef in the world in my opinion. I feel like I say this all the time but he truly is the best. Nicholas Lodge made one of Princess Diana's wedding cakes, made Harry's Christening cake, and makes all of Elton John's cakes. He is from England and literally has revolutionized this industry. He made his first gumpaste flower at 10, wrote and later published his first book at 13, and now has plenty of books. He has created many techniques that are now considered the standard way of doing things. For instance, gumpaste roses used to be made by making each petal individually at attaching it. He decided to use a normal flower cutter with 5 petals, cut down the sides of each to make each petal deeper and then attach it to a center bulb. Very few people use the old method because it is so time consuming and really doesn't change the result much. He literally has a foolproof method for roses and everyone's looked great. He now has his own school in which he teaches basically every pastry chef out there so he knows everyone (and he's willing to help us make contact with these amazing chefs). He also realized that the pastry industry didn't have many of the tool that it really needed to get consistent results so he started his own brand and now sells all these tools that basically aren't made anywhere else. Also he felt that the colors used to dust flowers were not realistic to he had a woman created more accurate colors that only he sells. He basically is a pastry genius. And he taught us for two weeks and will be teaching/helping us during our final two weeks in which we do our individual wedding cakes and team sweet 16 cakes. He will also be grading us on these two final projects. I can't explain how much of a privilege it was to have him for even two weeks.
The first week with him we worked on our fruit cake which is his family's recipe. Like I said in one of my first few blogs, it is supposed to mature for a few months. When he let us try it, he said it still wouldn't be ready yet even though it's been two months. He suggested we save it for Thanksgiving at the earliest but being that it was a Valentine's day cake, he said that would be an ideal time to wait to eat it. So we covered it with marzipan which is used like fondant but is basically just almond paste so it tastes really good. Then it is covered with four layers of royal icing. Royal icing is just normal icing that hardens completely. So basically if you dropped this cake on the ground, nothing would happen because the royal icing is rock hard. When he cut his open he literally had to saw through these layers of royal icing. This helps keep the fruitcake protected and sealed so that moisture cannot get out. We asked him how long this cake could last and he told us about how the newspaper wrote of a family who found a 113 year old fruitcake in the attic and how it was completely unmolded and looked exactly like it had when it was made after removing all the marzipan and royal icing. Also fruitcake is the only cake used for weddings. The tradition of saving the top layer of a wedding cake for the anniversary in America started because in England, the top layer is saved for the first child's christening which is normally about 9 months to one year after the wedding. However, Chef Nicholas once had a couple come in for a wedding cake and 17 years later, they came in with the top tier of their cake to be redecorated for their first child's christening party. Crazy, I know.