If you are a regular reader of my blog then you will know that one of my goals this year is to learn how to frost a cupcake properly. And by properly, I mean so that it doesn’t look like a pre-schooler went crazy with a piping bag, which has pretty much been my quality bar for as long as I can remember.
I recently signed up to a cake decorating class at Michaels that runs for two hours a week, for four weeks. Thanks to a nice discount that they offered, the class ended up only costing me about $25. Don’t be fooled like I was though – it will cost you a lot more than that to do this course. The course is run by Wilton so they do “encourage” you (read into that what you will) to buy their products. Along with the class fee you will also be required to buy a decorating kit, which is almost $50 (make sure you print off the 40% discount coupon on their website and it will be much cheaper), and you may also have to buy extra stuff along the way, such as frosting or colours. You are also expected to bring baked goods with you to each class in order to frost them (cookies, a cake, and cupcakes).
The best part of the class is that the teacher takes the time to demonstrate each method whilst giving advice along the way, such as what angle to hold the bag, how far to hold it away from the cake, etc. In the first class we actually learnt a lot about baking cakes, including some helpful hints about making the perfect cake, and how to make frosting from scratch. Try to avoid buying the Wilton frosting – if you want to know why check out the ingredient listing. Yuk. In class one, the teacher also demonstrates the three different frosting consistencies and then we moved onto making stars.
The decorating kit contains a helpful template which also has instructions on how to hold the bag and which tip to use. For practice, you can pipe directly onto the template until you feel confident enough to do it without it. This is extremely helpful to practice with at home.
There are three main points that you need to take into consideration when frosting:
1/ The consistency of the frosting. Is it thin, medium, or thick consistency? The consistency will determine what you can do with it. Thick = flowers or roses. Medium = all the details in between (e.g. borders, stars). Thin = only for writing or icing a cake.
2/ The bag position (also known as holding the bag). The angle that you hold the bag and how far away you hold it from the cake really does make a huge difference. This is something I’m only just learning.
3/ The pressure control. The right pressure control is vital to ensure that your designs are consistent.
And the other thing that I’ve already learnt from this course is to use as much frosting as you can when piping. It makes it a lot easier to pipe when the bag is about ½ to ¾’s full.
The second class was pretty much straight into decorating a baked cake. There are a lot of short-cuts that I wasn’t aware of that make decorating much easier, including tracing a template onto your cake using a piping gel and then filling it in. Who knew?! Not me! That is exactly what we did in the second class, after doing some more practice with different tips. At the end of the class, this was my end result:
Sure, I’ve still got a long way to go but I am much closer to achieving my goal than what I was two weeks ago.