When doing a dessert table, or treat spread it's the little touches that make a big difference, like these button cookies for a Cinderella themed birthday party.
Ah welcome back kindly blog readers. My last post was about a class I took to improve my cake decorating skills. This is the exciting conclusion. I may be overselling this a bit.
I'm always interested in making more professional looking cakes. I'm a hobby baker, I don't sell cakes, I don't think I could take the pressure. None the less I want my cakes to look like I could. I took the class to focus on getting that perfect finish on the coating layer whether that be ganache or buttercream. I have long known the secret to covering a cake in fondant smoothly is a perfect coating on the cake.
That was the second thing I wanted to achieve. A perfect fondant layer. I usually find myself disappointed with my fondant covered cakes because they just aren't perfect. I end up with puckers or little tears, wrinkled fondant which is called elephant skin (nice). I had turned to making my own fondant which helped a bit but this class really gave me confidence, so I shall tackle my next fondant project with gusto!
The class covered the following:
- covering your cake board
- cutting & stacking a cake
- making ganache
- filling a cake with ganache
- covering a cake with ganache
- achieving that perfect sharp edged ganache finish
- covering a layer cake in fondant
- creating a lustre dust painted finish
- making and applying wafer paper flowers.
Phew, that's a lot - probably why it took all day.
I did say last time that I wasn't going to give away any of the actual guidance from the class, that's only fair. I paid to learn and Kirsty earns a living from teaching it, so stealing her Intellectual Property would be unkind. BUT one tip I will pass on is that patience does seem to be the trick with ganache. We all spent a considerable portion of the class covering and smoothing our cakes. That is fine in a class, and most of us there are the perfectionist type, so we took the time to get it right. I just hope I can get faster because I won't always have all the time I want to cover a cake.
*Update* I have since covered a couple more cakes in ganache and I'm getting MUCH quicker - so practice makes perfect.
It has to be said, much to my husband's delight (he is not Team Buttercream), I may never buttercream a layer cake again - fill it yes, cover it no. I'm a ganache girl now.
Aside from anything else the cake I took home was yummy
Oh and I enjoyed the experience of taking a class so much I've booked myself on another one. If that's not an endorsement then I don't know what is.
I'd love to hear about your class experiences and recommendations!!
On Saturday 13th June I live tweeted the first ever professional cake decorating class I've ever taken. It was fun, a little tiring but very insightful & not just from a cakey perspective.
The mix of students in the class I took was interesting, there were seven of us all together & we broke down like this.
1. 2 professional bakers (made cakes for money) one full time, one not.
2. An engineer who doesn't do much decorating but is helping a friend make a wedding cake
3. Enthusiastic hobby-ist and first time class taker
4. Professional cake class taker, or at least she had taken classes with this instructor before
5. A Financial Industry professional who describes cake making/decorating as a 'hobby on steroids'
6. Me, hobby baker & blogger.
Oh & all women. I don't say that for any reason other than it was true & partly because I expected it to be the case. Make of that what you will.
I don't intend to give away any secrets from the class, but if you want to know more you can always contact Kirsty on her website, or hey, why not take the class yourself.
I would definitely recommend that by the way. Kirsty herself is fun & energetic while keeping 7 wayward cake ladies on track when we were chatting. Her teaching style is effective & she explains things clearly, whilst also demonstrating them.
I watch a lot of teaching / cake demo videos on youtube and I've bought a fair number of Craftsy classes but for me there was definitely something brilliant about a live class situation. It isn't just being able to ask questions (although that is handy) it's being able to watch what your instructor is doing from a couple of angles, there were a few of us bobbing around behind her and next to her to watch how she did something.
If I had one criticism, and I feel like I've started writing a review here so I should present a balance, it's that if I got stuck and asked for help close up Kirsty would oblige. She would explain and demonstrate again what to do (she is an incredibly patient woman). That doesn't sound like much of a criticism I know, in fact, most of you are probably saying 'what on earth would you expect her to do?' it's a fair question. What I mean is she would complete the step for me, up close on my cake so I could see. I learn well by watching, I learn better by doing and in those instances where I needed more help, I would have liked to have completed the step myself, with her guidance. That way I definitely know I can do it. It's not a big deal and I'll practice these skills again on my own anyway.
I was totally blessed by my cohorts on Saturday, the Pro's had more tips and advice to add to Kirsty's extensive knowledge, the ladies who'd taken other cake classes had info they'd picked up and one other, my 'hobbyist on steroids' well I could have become best friends with her brain. She pitched in regularly with gadgets she'd tried or techniques discussed by other instructors and even the latest change in EU law concerning the use of IPA when creating luster dust "paint".
One of the highlights of my day was definitely lunch time. That sounds bizarre as I have lunch every day, but it was a great opportunity to just sit and talk with everyone, Kirsty included. We talked about cake. I am not often surrounded by people who want to discuss the finer points of baking, the laughter and tears. That feeling when a cake sinks or you pipe a perfect rose. We all have other things in our lives, even those who baked for a living so cakery isn't the be all and end all but it's something we all loved. As with any conversation about a 'love' it quickly turned to horror stories.
Imagine a sunny wedding day, a bride preparing for her big day, excited about all the little details. And her cake. She has asked a trusted baker to make the cake she will serve her guests. The cake that will stand proud in the reception venue, the cake that will have photo's taken of it as though it were a celebrity. The baker, who doesn't usually do wedding cakes, has taken care and patience over making this cake perfect. She is also about to leave for a holiday abroad, on the same day as the wedding. With a car packed for the airport, the cake is carefully loaded. They leave home, stomach full of nerves, boot full of fondant and sponge. They turn the first corner at the end of their road and there is a sickening sound. A box sliding, tipping, falling. The baker stops the car and her worst fears are confirmed. The cake has fallen.
We all commiserated, hands over our mouths, lumps in our throats. It's a tale to chill your bones and your icing.
Check back in with me for my next post and more information on the class itself.