Decorating Like Crazy!

I’ve been decorating cakes for a very long time, but I’ve never had any formal training. So, I decided to sign up for some cake decorating classes. I had a lot of the basics, but I wanted to tweak my method and learn a few new techniques in course 1. I have to say that my absolute favorite is the icing tip. I LOVE the icing tip. It makes frosting a cake so much easier. It helps you put a relatively consistent layer of frosting on the outside of the cake, it goes on more smoothly, and for me it’s quicker. You still need to smooth the frosting with a spatula, but it is so much nicer. Getting your frosting nice and smooth is a real pain in the butt, but if you use the paper towel technique, you can get an awesomely smooth frosted cake! 
Have you ever made a layer cake with a non-frosting filling (i.e. lemon or raspberry curd) and have the filling ooze out and the layers slip and slide everywhere? A couple of summers ago, I was visiting my in-laws and made a coconut cake with a lemon filling for my father-in-law’s birthday and the filling was too thin and completely oozed out taking some of the side frosting with it. It’s beyond frustrating, but now that shouldn’t happen. If you pipe a ring of very thick frosting around the edge of the layer of cake that you’re going to put the filling, the filling and the cakes should stay put.  We also learned some fun ways to decorate and fill cupcakes. In our very first class, the teacher demonstrated how to make a ribbon rose that she would teach us in our last class. We were celebrating my mom’s birthday that weekend, so I attempted to make a ribbon rose. I couldn’t get it to work. After several failed attempts, it dawned on me to look for a video online. I ended up finding a video for a “lazy” ribbon rose. That seemed to work out well, but the edges ended up a bit raggedy. I found out later that adding corn syrup or clear piping gel will correct that problem.
I made a violet flavored cake with violet flavored frosting for Mom’s cake. The trick it to put just enough extract in without it tasting like soap. It was a success!

Here is the first cake I decorated in class. It felt quite easy after the one I made for Mom’s birthday.

This is the final cake that I made for Course 1. I was able to get the cake very smooth using the icing tip and the paper towel method. It’s a peanut butter cake with peanut butter filling and chocolate frosting on the outside. I need to make it again because I forgot to write down the chocolate frosting recipe.
Here is the final cake. It was during this class when I learned about the corn syrup/piping gel trick to smooth out the frosting.

Last month I signed up for the fondant and gum paste class. I really had a lot of fun with this class. It made me feel like a kid playing with clay.  I thought working with fondant and gum paste would be much more difficult. My favorite part was learning how to make flowers. The botany classes that I had to take in college and grad school weren’t a complete waste. There is something captivating about shaping and forming a flower and seeing it come together before your very eyes.

Calla Lilies
Carnation. Carnations hold a special place in my heart. When I was little, every so often I would walk up to the flower shop and buy my mother a carnation. It was usually a single carnation. I loved to see the look on my mother’s face when I gave it to her.
I spent a good bit of time that following week and weekend making roses and playing with the technique, thinking about how the flower is formed and the characteristics of each petal. 

For the last class we had to make a cake, cover it with fondant and decorate it with fondant and/or gum paste. I made this fabulous strawberry spice cake that I adapted from Cooking Light magazine with a strawberry frosting. It wasn’t as difficult cover the cake in fondant as I thought it would be. Using fondant makes a very pretty cake and the taste of the fondant that I used wasn’t bad, but I prefer to eat cakes covered in frosting.  I am quite pleased with how my cake turned out. The hardest part was cutting the cake. I stood there with the knife poised over the cake for a couple of minutes before I could bring myself to make that first cut.

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Beautiful!! I always marvel at beautiful cakes, I don't think I have the patients for them!

The flowers are gorgeous!