At the back of his shop in downtown Toronto, Daniel Stubbe uses a piping bag filled with tempered chocolate. With expert precision, he traces the outline of a template design in milk chocolate. Then he fills in the rest of the cake surface with either white or dark chocolate.
“The ornaments are two dimensional,” he said. “But you can also do piped, three-dimensional centrepieces where you pipe half of an image, and then stick it together and build a three dimensional piece.”
The result of this technique can be eye-grabbing cake toppers and deliciously garnished pastries that catch customers’ attention in bakeries and chocolate shops alike.
The technique is called chocolate piping, an art form those working in the Stubbe Chocolates shop, located on 653 Dupont St., still practise.
Stubbe, 40, said today there aren’t many people who pipe chocolate, but that in Germany it was a “big part” of his training.
“There was a real focus about it in my apprenticeship,” he said. “There were even tests you had to do where you had to present a certain cake garnish to put a border around a cake in a certain manner.”
When he took his apprenticeship as a pastry chef in Germany, Stubbe decided to specialize in chocolate. In the early 1990s, at age 18, he arrived in Canada and has been “stuck” on chocolate piping ever since.
Sally Hildebrandt, 39, says using a template is good if you want “precision for decorative works,” but she prefers a less restrictive technique.
Hildebrandt is a professor at George Brown College, teaching courses for the professional chocolatier certificate. She teaches students proper methods, procedures and the fundamentals of chocolate.
“I’m very freehand and like doing different artistic motifs in my work if I can,” she said. “I personally, don’t like to be chained down to templates. I like to use creativity.”
She said she tries to teach her students a little bit about piping chocolate every week in her classes so they are more confident and prepared to use it in the future.
“I think that piping is definitely an art form that not everyone can do or have the patience for,” she said. “Sometimes it is time consuming, but it is a skill that is useful and beautiful.”