Monday, July 11, 2016

Cake Decorating Class

I think it's important to always be learning. I love watching Food Network shows to learn about cooking. I think it's event better to take classes. So, I decided to try out some cooking and baking classes. My first class was a pasta class. This was my second class to take. I took a cake decorating class at Central Market.

We had 12 students in the class. There was one instructor and two helpers. The instructor provided us with a packet that included the buttercream frosting recipe, tinting instructions, and some basic decorating instructions. We learned how to level, split, fill, crumb coat, ice, and decorate a two-tiered cake.

Here's what we did in pictures.

To keep your cake secure, put a small spoonful of frosting on the cake board to keep the cake stable. It is important to have your cake centered on the cake board and your cake board centered on the revolving cake stand. 

Next, I leveled the top of my cake. We used a serrated knife. We cut int approximately 2-3 inches. Keeping the knife still, I slowly rotated the cake stand one full rotation. I moved my knife in toward the center of the cake. On the second rotation, the knife finished cutting the top of the the cake off. Remove the cake top. The cake scraps can be saved, mixed with icing, and used to create cake pops!

I used the same technique to split the cake in two, so it could be filled.

Next, I piped a ring of buttercream around the edge. This creates a border to keep the filling inside the cake. Then, we spread raspberry preserves in the middle of the cake. It was super helpful to use a small, offset spatula for adding the preserves. 

After filling the cake, I replaced the split cake top. It was fairly level. Then, I added the crumb coat for icing. We started by adding a big spoonful of icing on the top. You spread the icing pretty thinly on top. Let the excess fall over the edge. Then, you crumb coat the sides of the cake using a wiggling motion with your spatula. Then, you use your spatula or a straight edge to remove the excess icing. If you're right handed, you ice the left side of the cake.  Then, let the cakes chill in the fridge to harden the icing.

Then, repeat for your next layer. The first tier iced was the bottom layer; it was an eight-inch cake. The second tier of the cake was a six-inch cake.

Level the top of the cake, and split the cake in half along the equator.

Pipe a buttercream barrier, and fill the cake with raspberry preserves.

Then, we crumb coat and chill the second tier of the cake in the refrigerator.

The first cake decorating technique I learned was the basket weave. It took a little time to complete the whole cake. My basket weave is not perfect by any means, but it was a fun technique to learn. I thought it this icing technique was visually interesting and added texture to the bottom tier of the cake.

The last step was adding a 1/4 inch of icing to the top 2-3 outside inches of this cake layer. That layer of icing covered the crumb coat that would not be covered by the second tier of the cake.

Then, frost the top tier.

And, frost the side of the cake. I used a straight spatula to smooth the top and sides of the cake. It was a work in progress.

Then, I used an offset spatula to move the second tier off the decorating stand and onto my bottom layer of cake. Since the cake was only two tiers, we did not include structural support. 

The instructor did demonstrate how to add small dowels. She inserted three bowls into the bottom layer of cake. Then, removed the dowels. She broke the dowels below the mark left by the frosting. She said the dowels should be hidden in the frosting, not showing through the frosting.

Next, we used a toothpick to map out our designs. This was a super helpful tip because you can "erase" mistakes by smoothing the frosting.

And, I decorated to my heart's content.

Here, you can see the inside of the cake filled with the raspberry layer. If you look closely, you can also see the buttercream ring.

Overall, I enjoyed the class. It was a three-hour class, which seemed both long and short. I wish we would have had more time for our cakes to chill and practice the different decorating techniques. However, I was kind of tired from standing and decorating for three hours. 

I think this was a good class to attend because of the techniques. Decorating, leveling, and crumb coating are new techniques for me. It was helpful to see the instructor demonstrate, practice, and have immediate feedback. I will definitely practice these techniques and consider taking another cake decorating class in the future.

Also, they provided soft drinks, hummus, pita, and ordered 3 pizzas for the class. This was a nice touch because our class was held over the typical lunch hour. 

The cake cost $60. I thought this was reasonable compared to other cake decorating courses offered. The cakes were baked for you, the icing was prepared and bagged, and they provided you with an apron. We got to take the cakes home. And, you don't have to do dishes or clean the kitchen when you're done! The class advertised a cake carrier to take home. I thought this would be reusable, but it was a disposable cake carrier. 

These are a few of my favorite tips from this class.
1) Don't throw away your cake scraps.
The cake scraps can be saved, mixed with icing, and used to create cake pops!

2) Use frosting to secure your cake to the cake board.
This helps keep your cake stable during decoration. The cake board makes it easy to move your layers and provides structural support when you stack your layers.
Bonus tip: The cake board under your bottom cake layer should have a visible border. The other cake boards should be the same size as your cake. The cake boards on your upper layers will be covered by a layer of frosting, so they will not be visible.

3) Use a damp paper towel to keep your cake board from slipping on the cake turntable.
This helps keep your cake stable during decoration. I also used this trick for transporting my cake hope. It was super helpful in keeping my decorated cake in one piece on the drive.

4) Make more frosting than you think you need.
We used a lot of buttercream in this class. Our first batch of frosting became contaminated with crumbs during our crumb coating. We could not use the crumb investing frosting for our nice outer layer of frosting. Also, it is difficult to match colored frosting if you run out.

5) Use a toothpick to draw your design layout on the cake.
Drawing with a toothpick on icing is like using a pencil when you're sketching. You can easily erase the indications in the frosting from the toothpick by blending the frosting with a spatula. It is more difficult to remove mistakes with colored frosting.

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