Cake Decorating Workshop

Two Sundays ago, while the local news outlets tracked the route of the approaching Tropical Storm Irene, I was at a cake decorating workshop with a few girlfriends.  My husband stayed home, prepared the house for the storm and cooked while I got to play.  He got to keep the camera – excuse the iPhone quality pictures this time around. 

I might be able to put a meal together, but making pretty things is not my thing. I barely remember to garnish my meals, and when I do, it hardly looks effortless. I still went along, thinking of how I could apply some of that new knowledge into my every day cooking and food styling. At the end of the day – nope – that did not happen. But lessons were learned indeed!  Newfound admiration flourished for the likes of CakeWhiz and Buttercream Blondie!

Cool new toys! Decorating tips, disposable pastry bags and spatula

Affinity and Beau, a husband-and-wife team, have been baking and decorating cakes for a few years now and in addition to selling their creations, they also give lessons on how to make and decorate cakes, cake pops, cookies, etc. They have become incredibly popular through social media outlets, and that’s how my friend Rebeca found out about their workshops.   I signed up for the basic cake decorating seminar. Through this workshop, we learned:

  •  How to make shortening-based icing (grasilla)
  • Basic piping skills
  • How to make fondant from scratch
  • How to frost the cake with the grasilla
  • How to adhere the fondant to the cake
  • How to cut out fondant forms to decorate the cake

I did my homework and read a bit about decorating cakes before arriving last Sunday. My biggest surprise was that real buttercream icing melts under the temperatures in Puerto Rico. That’s why most professional bakers make the grasilla using emulsified shortening sold at specialty stores. Emulsified shortening (also known as cake, icing or high ratio shortening), can absorb more sugar and liquid than regular shortening and can stand up to our weather. That means sacrificing the taste of butter.  Almond extract is almost always used to infuse flavor into the frosting.

Practicing the basket weave with one of my new tips

Smoothing the fondant on top of my cake

Decorating my cake with fondant flowers I colored, rolled, and cut

We got to decorate two six-inch cakes and a small novelty one.  I took the fondant covered cake to work the following day, ate the novelty one by myself, and the other six-inch is in our freezer (because these are definitely treats and not everyday food!).  The only caveat regarding this type of cooking/decorating is that it requires supplies from specialty baking stores in order to make the frosting and the fondant from scratch (if not purchasing the ready-made variety).

Although I am still not overly confident about my piping skills, I had a lot of fun and am sure I will be putting to use my new tools and knowledge with a few family birthdays coming up soon.  That might be a good time to call the girls and have them practice what we learned with me.  Let’s see how that turns out!

The group shows off the day's work!

Disclaimer: I paid for the Melting Pot’s basic cake decorating seminar.  The opinions highlighted here are my own. 

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Adriana is a financial analyst by day, avid home cook in the evenings, and food blogger and runner in the strange hours between those two. When not in the kitchen concocting meals and stories to pass around, she is out looking for the next great bite (or the ingredients to make it at home), checking what's new at the market, or planning a trip around great food and wine.

14 Responses to “Cake Decorating Workshop”

  1. August 31, 2011 at 9:37 pm #

    OMG that cake is gorgeous! So envious. Decorating is something I definitely need to learn too!

  2. August 31, 2011 at 9:39 pm #

    So fun!!!!

  3. August 31, 2011 at 10:35 pm #

    Your fondant cake looks great!

  4. August 31, 2011 at 11:07 pm #

    Your cake looks so pretty, Adriana! I’m glad you had a good time. I have always wanted to take a cake decorating class, but just haven’t gotten around to it. It looks like you had so much fun.

  5. August 31, 2011 at 11:46 pm #

    Looks like fun.

  6. September 1, 2011 at 4:56 am #

    A fun class I love learning new stuff. I am looking forward to seeing the fruits of your learning

  7. September 1, 2011 at 5:03 am #

    Culinary classes are so much fun! I have been wanting to go to one for cake decorating but still looking for classes in my area. Great job on the cake!

  8. September 1, 2011 at 10:18 am #

    I wish I had more patience to make pretty cakes. There was one class in my area that was all day long and only taught how to make a single rose! The ‘gear’ appeals to me though so perhaps I should buy it and give it a try? This looks like a lot of fun!

    • September 1, 2011 at 5:32 pm #

      It was a lot of fun, although I have to admit that it took a lot of time to get everyone to roll and set the fondant on top of the cakes – I must have cut dozens of the little fondant flowers in that ‘free’ time. Still, how frustrating to make one lonely gum paste flower in a day-long class!

  9. That flower cake is beautiful! And I love your basketweave. I was trying to figure out how you did it from the pictures. I love that look so much.

    • September 1, 2011 at 5:41 pm #

      It was my “best” piping technique, by far. You start by drawing a vertical stripe and then, as evenly as you can, draw four horizontal ones that cross the vertical one, leaving the space that it takes to form another line empty in between. Pipe another vertical line, and then in the spaces between your first lines, pipe vertical lines that cross the new line. You should repeat then the cycle until going all the way round. I hope this makes sense!

  10. September 1, 2011 at 5:55 pm #

    Oh, my! Such fun!!! You did beautiful work!!!!

  11. September 1, 2011 at 7:49 pm #

    Looks like such a fun activity…and you did a great job!


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