So, I have a new job! I’m a commis chef at a rather well known chain of Italian restaurants, I’m not sure whether I’m allowed to mention the chef who owns them, I had to sign some sort of privacy agreement and I can’t remember what’s in it, but needless to say he is rather well known… but I am loving it! I also, obviously, have a new blog name because the last one was boring. This ones a bit more ordinary, I bit more me!
In my new job I am required to tackle things like honeycomb and butterscotch sauce and me being me I thought that would be a piece of cake, I’m good at the sweet stuff! But it happens to be the one thing I can’t do… That and making my gorgonzola salad stand in a tower (which I have just cracked). So I went home and practised. The first attempt went pants, I ended up making something like taffy, yummy, but not what you want! Fuming, I decided to go away, calm down, get my Leiths techniques bible and read what they have to say on sugar syrups. Now the recipe I have to use is completely different from any I’ve found on the Internet, but very similar to what Leiths teaches.
First, kids, we need to cover the basics…
Now there are several stages in sugar making, be very careful when you test these stages seeing as you have to pick up the sugar syrup with your bare hands. Have a jug of cold water near you and every time you want to test the sugar syrup use a spoon to pick out some sugar syrup and dip your thumb and forefinger in the cold water before touching the syrup.
1. Vaseline, where the syrup feels slightly slimy between your fingers
2. Short thread, where you can pull you’re fingers apart and a thin line of syrup will remain.
3. Long thread, duh, exactly the same as short thread just longer.
So all these are used for sorbets and syrups etc
4. Soft ball, where you can pick the syrup up and roll it into a squishy ball
5. Firm ball, where you can make a ball which won’t squish as much as soft ball.
We’re getting onto some seriously technical terms and descriptions here, I hope you can keep up.
6. Hard ball, this will crack if you tap it against something…now I think this is the stage I went to for honeycomb…I think. According to the chef at work, you need to take it to 130oC which so happens to be only a little bit higher than the hard ball stage (124oC).
After that comes
7. Soft crack for toffees
8. Spun sugar for hard toffees
9. Hard crack, the hottest sugar which is actually for spun sugar so, not sure why it’s isn’t called spun sugar, but still. You make pretty sugar baskets and things out of this. Or you just burn yourself like I do.
Or instead of this, you could just use a sugar thermometer which has all of these on anyway and it means you don’t have to burn yourself..repeatedly…like me.
Now we’ve got all that out of the way. Now onto the recipe:
400g white granulated sugar. We use white because it is the most refined and therefore the cleanest and granulated because it has a larger surface area to volume ratio and therefore will dissolve quicker.
500ml/1/2 litre of water (if you use boiling water from the kettle it will start the process off quicker, otherwise you will be standing there waiting for your sugar to dissolved for years)
1 large tbsp of honey (not syrup, as this is honeycomb, not syrupcomb)
Approx. half a tbsp of bicarbonate of soda
1. Place the sugar and honey in a deep, wide based pan and add the water (boiling preferably)
2. Heat very gently and if you want stir also very gently with the end of a spoon
3. Once all the sugar has dissolved turn up the heat and boil the living day lights out of it until it reaches either 124oC/130oC or using the other method until you can form a hard ball with the sugar syrup. Basically when you drop it in cold water it will harden immediately.
4. Chuck in the bicarb and turn the heat off. Whisk until it goes all foamy and pale and rises up the pan. Pour it out into a lined tin and leave it until it goes hard.
Once that’s done you can break it up and either dip bits in chocolate so you have a Crunchy bar or just enjoy on its own…I did!
Well I should be back sooner than I said I would be last time with my recipe for proper American triple chocolate cookies, yummy.