Number 7: Take a Cake decorating class

Remember my list?? Number 7 is a yummy one! I completed a 4 week cake decorating class at my local Joann’s craft store. This is also where I took my sewing class for list item #10. If you are looking to learn a craft check out Joann’s – no I don’t get anything if you take a class there- I just love learning new crafty things and want to share the tips with you!

I was lucky enough to have a cake class buddy – my friend Jody. This class turned out to be more hands on than I expected and it was nice to have someone that I could bounce ideas/questions off of and not feel so stupid when the rest of seemed to be picking things up very quickly!

Our first class we learned how to fill an icing bag and experiment with different decorating tips.We decorated sugar cookies (see below). I have had no experience with anything regarding decorating – unless you count sprinkles so I learned something new on the first day. The lessons did not stop there though.

Also on the first day our instructor, a super fun and talented lady, taught us how to make butter cream icing and then ice a cake. She easily whipped up a batch of icing in class and iced a cake she had made. For the next class we had to bring in a cake to ice and a couple batches of icing. She gave us a list of items we needed for the next class and my first thought was I need to do some shopping. I don’t even own a cake pan! I really didn’t expect the class to have homework but after week 1 we had several assignments.

So I made my shopping list and out I went to find an 8 inch cake pan, bake even strips (you wrap them around your cake pan while the cake cooks to keep the cake level -another lesson learned), a cake leveler (you will see why later), a board to put the cake on, ingredients to make several batches of icing, and pudding (again you will see why later). When I had all my “cake stuff” I baked my cake (yellow flavored) and used my bake even strips. I was so nervous the strips were going to catch on fire in the oven (they feel like they are made of fabric). Let’s face it I have not had much luck with cooking or baking and me setting our house on fire while taking a cake class would be something I would do.

Luckily, the strips did their job and I got a nice 8 inch cake that was ready to be iced. Next step was to make the icing for the cake. Did you know you can make icing in different consistencies? Thin for icing, medium for decorations and stiff for roses and flowers. We got to pick how we wanted to decorate our cake, our class guide book had several designs but our instructor said we could choose whatever design we wanted. So to me that meant something green — a shamrock!

Our kitchen looked like a disaster zone after I was done making my icing – powdered sugar plus hand held mixer equals white dust all over the counter tops. To make matters worse I ran out of powered sugar in the middle of icing making so I had to leave the kitchen a disaster and run to the store. Did I mention that I had on black yoga pants which had hints of powdered sugar? Hopefully no one at Dierbergs noticed.

After a few hours in the kitchen my cake class homework was done and I was ready to go. I had a dream that night that I showed up to class with my cake and no icing. I think I checked my bag like 18 times before class to make sure I had the icing along with all my other new cake assecories.

During class we used our cake leveler (mentioned above) to slice the cake into three sections. This allowed us to add filling (the pudding!) and make our cake super fancy. I chose Carmel filling with my yellow cake. This step was pretty easy and is something I will definitely use in the future. Onto to icing – a not so easy step for this girl. You put mounds of icing on the top of the cake and then work it towards the edge to ice the sides. This was hard for me because I don’t really like icing, I would much rather have the cake. I was that kid at the party that ate the bottom of the cupcake instead of the top with the icing. So I was putting dainty amounts of icing on at first. The instructor quickly corrected me and I began to mound it on. After the cakes were iced we had to wait for them to crust (another new thing learned) basically they have to dry so the decorating can begin.

Once our cakes were crusted (sounds gross but I don’t make up these terms) then we had smooth out the bumps using Viva paper towels – the only paper towel that works according to our instructor. Then we began decorating. I brought a print out of a shamrock with me and used white gel to trace the shamrock on the paper, then I put the paper down on the cake to transfer the gel/design. This was a trick our instructor taught us – if you transfer and you don’t like it you can wipe off the gel and start over. And the gel is clear so you can decorate right over it and no one sees the lines.

I filled in my shamrock and added a grass border -voila cake done! After everyone in the class had finished decorating we had to take a cake walk around the store to show off our creations. This was thoroughly embarrassing but I was really proud of my cake. It wouldn’t have been in any bakery window but it would be prefect for a gathering with family and friends. My co-workers liked it! Below is the finished product and the filling inside.

Week three was cupcakes. Again we had homework. Bring in cupcakes to ice and make several batches of icing. My poor cupcakes didn’t rise very well. As we decorated I noticed that there was more icing than cupcake but they looked pretty. We learned a few techniques and options for decorating.

The final week of class was using roses to decorate cakes. I made a marble cake this time and some icing to make roses. After attempting to make roses I have decided my future cakes will not be adorned with flowers. The rose and me didn’t connect, it was more like blobs of icing but I gave it my best attempt! I tested out a few other decorating techniques after I added my roses. I didn’t have a design I was modeling after so I had to use my creativity – which as you can see from the pictures below was taking the day off. Still it gave me practice using the various icing tips. Not only were roses hard for me but the fact that this class look place in lent and I gave up cake and cupcakes made it difficult to concentrate. So I took this little beauty to trivia night that night and shamelessly pawned pieces off on my friends and family.

While I don’t think I will be opening my own bakery anytime soon I am glad I took this class. I learned a lot of great tips and am now more comfortable baking and decorating. I feel that I could make a nice cake or cupcake for family and friends. Another thing I learned from this class is that cake decorating is time consuming! Making icing, finding that perfect pattern, switching out your tips so you have the right type of design on the cake can take hours. I would like to keep practicing my decorating but I don’t see me spending a ton of time on this. If you are looking for a sweet treat and you don’t mind my amateur skills let me know, I have a few occasions that I know I will bring out the decorating acessories but it won’t be just because. This was level 1 of the decorating classes offered at Joann’s, right now I am fine being a level “oner”. Maybe when life slows down (aka I’m retired) I will look into additional classes.

Until we meet at 6…………………………………


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