Saturday, April 4, 2009

Cake Decorating Class, Week #1 & #2

Last Saturday, I started on a fun-filled 5 week course with my girlfriend, Jennifer. Cake decorating. Why the heck would anyone need to or rather, want to, know how to decorate a cake? When I need a cake, I go to the local baker, point and they box it up. Voila! I go home, take it out and tell everyone I made it. Now that's easy. Really difficult could it be? Surely, it can't be that difficult, could it? We were instructed to bring along a pen and paper. The instructor, Lori, lugged along a cake her 9 year-old daughter prepared a couple of nights before, and all the bells and whistles that a professional cake decorator could ever need, minus the Hobart. I think she needed a Hummer to move it all.

She talked, and we wrote feverishly, down the recipe for perfect icing, all while she stood up there and whipped up a double batch of buttercream icing and managed to slice, fill, and ice the thing in about a total 15 minutes flat. Easy. At least this is how she made it seem. How hard could it be after all, to bake a boxed cake, freeze it and slap sugar mixed with shortening? No problem. Or so I thought.

So my adventure begins...

Anyway, I tried to get the icing done last night so that the plain iced cake would be ready to take to class in the morning. Well, little Lauren woke up screaming that she had to pee, so I thought I'd better go to bed and just get up early to start. At 6 am, I took out the cake to defrost and stupid me, didn't check to see how many couplers I had. Guess how many I had amongst all the junk in the pantry? NADA, ZERO, ZIPPO, NONE! Not a one! NONE!

All week, I've been trying to squeeze a bit of time to try to get all the supplies that I needed to fill the list of required materials. Unfortunately, my thrifty ways prevented me from purchasing everything from one store alone. So, I sent myself on a wild goose chase around town. What the he** was I thinking? I have had such a busy schedule lately, I don't have a single minute to spare. I ALMOST got everything except for a the coupler sets. So, I set out for the local craft store at morning at 9 am. I have to admit - I had a hard time paying full price. I could have gotten them for friggin' $0.30 each when I went to the restaurant supply store but because I didn't know that mine were all missing, I paid almost $2 each!! OOWWWCCHHHCCHH!! That WEALLY, WEALLLYY hoort! If you know me, you'd know how hoort I really am. I'm not cheap, I'm thrifty. There's a difference. It's not that I buy cheap stuff or am cheap but that I like to get a good price for the things when I do buy something.

I look at the pound of shortening and add it to the mixing bowl. I sift my powdered sugar and add it to the mixing bowl. Then the vanilla, the meringue powder, the water. Start up the mixer. Poof! You see, the problem with this Kitchen Aid stand mixer is that it fluffs up anything that is fine like flour and icing sugar when you start it up, not to mention that it's one heavy sucker of a piece of machinery. I swear after looking at what goes into this stuff, I will NEVER EAT BUTTERCREAM ICING AGAIN! NEVER! It's all fat and sugar! When it got on my hands, my hands started automatically moving up towards my mouth and my tongue came out to lick, but my conscience got the better of me and arm pulls back, tongue retracts and lips furl. I look at the stuff and just think, UGGHH! I could just imagine a new cellulite ripple growing out of my butt with every lick. I just can't get myself to do it anymore. It's ok, because my arse is big enough. It's taken many years to get this way and it's all growed up now.

Here's the recipe to make 4 cups of STIFF BUTTERCREAM ICING (1 cup stiff, 1 cups medium and 2 cups thin):

2 cups shortening
2 tsp. flavoring (vanilla, almond, mint, etc.)
6 tbsp. water/milk (luke warm) (plus extra to thin)
8 cups powdered sugar
2 tbsp. meringue powder

Cream together shortening, flavoring and water/milk. Sift powdered sugar and meringue powder together and add to the shortening mixture and mix well.

Remove 1 cup of icing (stiff). Add 1 tsp. water to the remaining 3 cups. Mix and remove 1 cups of icing (medium). Add 2 tsp. water to remaining 2 cups, mix and you have thin to ice your cake. Add food coloring to icing if desired.

The concentrated paste coloring from Wilton work best. You need very little and these will give your icing a deeper color.

See this Pampered Chef decorator bottle kit? This has got to be one of the dumbest things I've ever bought. I thought it would be a great tool for the kids but how the heck do you load the thing??? Not to mention how difficult it was to wash! I want a REFUND!

Anyway, I make my icing, fill it with chocolate pudding, ice the cake, pack up all the materials (a giant Costco reusuable bag's worth) and Jennifer picks me up at 10:30 sharp. We get there and I forget my practice sheet(what the...) so I use paper towel. I'm pretty good, I must say. I learn a couple of new things such as how to trace and transfer an image to a cake. Also, if you pipe a rim of icing before filling the layers, it will prevent the filling to overflow. It just makes for a neater looking cake.

**Note to self: DO NOT pay for plastic covered cardboard. Next week: I bring laminated place mat.**

LOOK! I made a freehand doggie on my "practice board"!

Do you know that out of 9 students, there are 2 male? One is taking it as a bonding experience with their wife. Awww... Someone said these two are the sensitive types. An interesting group of people here. Nothing out of the ordinary but from what Lori the instructor was telling us, there's been some doozies in her previous classes. I guess when you're in this line of work, you see all kinds. Funny thing is that Lori probably telling the students in the next class, "UGHH! You know, there's this woman in the last class - you won't believe how weird she is! She... And this other one, she..." Hmmm...gotta wonder sometimes. LOL!

This is the work of one of the sensitive men.

Jennifer practicing her letters on her "yellow practice sheet". Here's Jennifer's finished cake (I did the yellow).

Last week's class was just to show us how to ice a cake properly. Today's class was basically using a useful #3 for printing and #5 for writing (or was it the other way around?), and practicing using the star tips.

Not bad for a first real cake. The kids thought it was VERY nice and they ate most of it for dessert. I know it needs a lot of work but as we know, practice makes perfect.


  1. Hi, I've done a cake decorating course before. I remember that buttercream and like you, couldn't think of putting it in me. Anyways, the course was really fun except when it came to bringing my creations home, well...who will be eating it? It was just my hubby and I at the time so it always got chucked in the garbage. After a while, I just brought a dummy cake although I don't remember what I used.
    Too bad about the overpriced couplers.

  2. Your cake looks great. I took a class 6 months ago and quickly learned that making roses was for the pros! Enjoy your class!

  3. I think I'll have to agree with Susan on the roses. The instructor actually made it look so easy and I've tried a few times at home. Maybe I'll stick with the stars for now! :)

  4. Hey great first try. I does get easier with practice. You'll never buy a another birthday again! Think of all the money you'll save.