A relaxed friendly hands-on cooking holiday in the Dordogne, France
T: 0033 (0)553 302405             M: 0033 (0)622 655789             Bombel, 24290, St Amand de Coly, Dordogne, France              Google Maps

Caramel Cages, Baskets, Springs

Caramel shapes - pure magic on a plate...

This is something I love teaching on our cooking courses: spinning sweet gossamer threads over the back of a ladle or ‘steel’ to create a beautiful caramel cage or spring is just pure magic.

Caramel gets seriously hot..!

A word of warning before we get on to the good stuff: caramel gets HOT. We’re talking 185°C here, and, if it gets on your skin it’ll burn like napalm!

So, make sure you have cold running water on standby because, if you do get any caramel on you, you’ll need to have ready access to it (thrust the wound under lots of really cold running water for at least five minutes).

Easy to do, and so damned impressive...

Making caramel is easy, but you’ll need to get hold of some Glucose Syrup (sometimes called Liquid Glucose). This sticky clear gloop - easily obtainable at the chemist - is actually a form of starch and is essential for keeping your sugar syrup from re-crystallising.

Storing caramel shapes...

Caramel doesn't store well – it takes on moisture from the air and quickly turns sticky – but it will keep for a few hours under Clingfilm. If you want to keep your work of art for any longer, pop a couple of silica gel sachets in with them and seal tightly.

Makes at least 12 cages or 20 springs


Heavy-gauge stainless steel (i.e. colourless) medium saucepan
Heat-proof pastry brush
Sugar thermometer (not essential if you use white sugar and a stainless steel pan)
Bowl of cold water (for cooling base of pan)
Several metal spoons (preferably stainless steel)
Several sheets of silicon paper or mat
Heat-proof pan stand
Metal ladle
Large round-section sharpening ‘steel’ or similar size metal tubing


100ml cold water
500g caster sugar
1 tbsp glucose syrup


Put all the ingredients into the saucepan and place over a low flame until the sugar has completely dissolved.

Don’t stir or shake the pan during this stage as you’ll get sugar crystals forming around the edge of the solution. If this does happen, brush down the sides with a pastry brush dipped in cold water.

Once everything has completely liquefied, crank up the heat to max and boil vigorously until the syrup turns a light golden colour or when it reaches 185°C on a sugar thermometer.

Briefly, but gently, plunge the base of the saucepan into a bowl of cold water, stirring with a metal dessert spoon, in order to prevent the caramel from over-cooking.

Place the pan on a heat-proof pan stand and begin making your shapes:

Cages and baskets...

Very lightly lubricate the convex side of the ladle with a smear of neutral cooking oil such as groundnut or sunflower.

Hold the ladle at arm’s length with the bowl uppermost and upside-down.

Take a spoonful of caramel and tip it until the excess runs back into the pan. As soon as you have a steady stream running off the tip, drizzle the thread of caramel over the back of the ladle in a lattice pattern.

Waft the ladle in the air until cool enough to handle, then cup the lattice in the palm of your hand and gently twist it away. Et voila!


Wait until the caramel is cooler and much thicker than before.

Get a nice thin drizzle going off the end of your spoon, then, keeping the steel pointing upwards at a constant 45° angle, wind the caramel onto it doing most of the work with your spoon hand.

Again, allow the caramel to cool sufficiently, then gently but firmly grasp the spring in the palm of your hand and slide it off the steel.

Practice makes perfect...

Both these techniques take time to master, so definitely do not attempt to make then for the very first time the day of your dinner party!

However, once you get the hang of them, you’ll have access to a very impressive arsenal of dinner party dessert garnishes.


You have permission to publish this article and recipe electronically or in print, free of charge, as long as the following byline is included (a courtesy copy of your publication would be appreciated):

"Jim Fisher is an English chef who runs relaxed friendly hands-on cooking courses in the Dordogne region of south west France. Contact him via: or Tel: 0033 (0)553 302405"





































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5 Day/5 Night Cooking Courses Include:

  • Expert hands-on tuition with British chef

  • All courses conducted in English

  • All cooking ingredients, equipment and aprons

  • A continental breakfast each day

  • Lunch each day

  • Dinner
    (Monday, Tuesday, Thursday & Friday)

  • Tea, coffee and wine

  • An evening meal on the day of your arrival

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  • Recipe pack containing all the dishes cooked during your stay

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    Some of the things you'll be doing on the cooking course:

    Learn how to cook pastries, breads and soups

    Select and prepare the best fish and shellfish

    Butcher common joints of meat

    Cook classic French and Italian sauces

    Construct modern dressings

    Master the art of stylish contemporary food presentation