Saturday, May 10, 2008

She Said - She Said: Cake Decorating - Class 1

Giz and I have a bit of an odd connection on our thoughts. Quite often, we'll call each other at the same time or want to tell each other about the same things. Giz will say, "Did you see so and so's post today? Doesn't it look delicious?" and I'll already have starred it. Granted, Giz and I have different ideas about MANY things but with the forces of both nature and nurture, there's no denying that we're related.

I guess I should acknowledge the 3rd force: the power of words and pictures....or more simply, the power of suggestion. Seeing the fruits of other bloggers' labours is probably one of the most motivating force for me to go out and try something myself, whether it be food, drink, travel, fun, entertainment, etc.

With the three forces acting together, it was not coincidence alone that Giz and I individually decided to take a cake decorating course.

Just look at these photos of great cake decoration (first two are by Katie and the third photo is by Emiline and the last is by Ann at Redacted Recipes):

Fast forward three weeks after the cake decoration wheels started turning and Giz and I have now completed our first of four cake decoration class. So, we've decided to share our experiences you with in a little series we'd like to call She Said-She Said. In each of our four series (or three, after this post), we'll post about our impressions of our respective classes, the process and the products of our learning (i.e., the cakes we make).

So...without further adu...

Psychgrad's Impressions of Class 1:

I convinced my friend, S, to take this cake decoration course with me. You may recall S as being the one I had to kick out of my kitchen for having an opinion on everything. On occasion, we bicker like siblings, but the fact that we're upfront with each other has allowed us to remain friends.

The course is offered at Michael's Art and Craft Store. For the first class, we arrived about 30 minutes in advance. Man...It's craft central in that store. I have to exert restraint when walking into the store. The questions, "Do you need this?" and "Do you have room for this?" are consistently running through my head as I look at their products.

The class went over fairly smoothly as we learned to make icing, ice a cake, what to purchase, and general technique. This information alone, although basic, will change the way I make cakes from now on.

But, as the class progressed and more information was relayed, I became overwhelmed. Mainly overwhelmed with the products to be purchased. Watch this video to see the products I've purchased since the first class.

Knowing Giz...I'm sure her stash is twice the size of mine. For now, I've put all of my non-edible stuff in a portable file folder:

So far, I'm finding my instructor a bit confusing. As a teacher, myself, I know how quickly confusion arises among students so I am probably over-cautious about being clear (save for the fact that I can't write up a clear recipe). Since I chose to make a character cake (the sunflower) instead of the rainbow cake, which Giz will be making, it wasn't clear to me which products I would not need. My teacher also forgot to explain how to add colour ti the icing. But, she's a nice lady and is good about answering questions, so I'm still optimistic.

So...the verdict so far is: tentatively optimistic. Poor S has been having cake nightmares through the week.

Giz's Impressions of Class 1:

Psychgrad knows me only too well. I'm even embarrassed to photograph or video the "stash" I came home with. Suffice to say that if anyone walked into my home and got a look at what's going on here, they would be certain that a professional baker lives here or at minimum there's a thriving business happening out of the kitchen. Neither of these thoughts would be even remotely close to the truth. If I have to fess up, I need to stand in the middle of a room and say "Hello, my name is Giz and I'm a compulsive (insert choice word here).

Meet Lydia - my instructor explaining how simple everything was going to be and outlining the "necessary purchases" for course 1. There are 5 of us taking this course together. I don't know why this seems to be a law of nature, but somehow, there's always one in the class who has this compulsive need to draw an excessive amount of attention to herself (no, I'm not talking about me). She quickly became annoying to the instructor and to the rest of us in the class. We finally had to shut her down when we were asked to bring some wax paper to the class and she blurted that she only had the extra large size at home. I think the instructor got her point across when she told her to make a trip to the store and buy a small one - moving right along.

Lydia teaching us the technique of "torting" which is a fancy word for slicing the cake evenly into as many layers as you want (Psychgrad's note - my teacher uses waxless dental floss and it seems to do the job really well too). The purpose was to encourage us to buy the handy tool that comes in two sizes. Since I bought the "Professional Kit", it was included.

Buttercream icing - pretty easy but a total misnomer since there's no butter in it, at least not in this recipe. I guess we'll be learning more as we go along.

Apparently this will be one of the first cakes we make on our own.

The first class was a demo and a list of homework items for the next class. It's going to be rather interesting how we'll get to the class with:

1. A baked cake in carrying case.
2. Three batches of icing in separate containers
3. Icing X3 colours loaded into decorator bags
4. The handy caddy kit that looks like an electrician's toolbox.

The verdict so far - could be fun - let's see what happens next time.

Before I say slong for today, I want to acknowledge with thanks the Blogging with a Purpose award that we received from Elle at Elle's New England Kitchen. All we could say is WOW since this award honours bloggers for sharing their insights with the rest of the food blogging world. Thank you Elle!

In the fashion of "pay it forward" we would also like to share this award with a few of the many bloggers who, we believe, have shared their purpose with us.

1 To Kitchenetta at Got No Milk who teaches us that lactose intolerance doesn't mean a life of boring recipes.

2. To Ann and Jack of Redacted Recipes for their injection of sensibility and thoughtfulness in the presentation of food and wine. (not to mention for being great adoptive parents)

3. To Chanit at My Mom's Recipes and More who's blog I love to go to for the combination of old and new world in both English and Hebrew and there's always a video with great Israeli music to listen to.

4. To Jaime at Good Eats and Sweet Treats Honestly, I think Jaime could take a picture of a pen and make it look like a gourmet meal. Her photography is absolutely amazing.

5. To Baroness Tapuzina who shares Israeli cooking and life, perspectives from inside Israel and abroad. I adapted some of her recipes during Passover and they were delicious. StumbleUpon


Lore said...

You make decorating classes sound fun! I have always been intimidated by them and can you blame me? Look at those gorgeous results!

Ruth Strong said...

I've been wanting to try cake decorating classes recently too. Sounds like you've both had fun! I'll need to start hunting out local classes soon!

Anonymous said...

I hope you'll be posting about each class as you go... I can't wait to see your first cakes! I'll also be interested in seeing which techniques and tools you dismiss as unnecessary as you become experts (guessing the Wilton buttercream recipe might be the first to go).

And thanks so much for that award!

Valerie Harrison (bellini) said...

You go girls:D Cakedecorating sounds like so much fun:D I remember all the cakes I made in my amateur way for the first 8 years of my daughters life. I was so disappointed when she she said she didn't like it was ice cream cakes from then on:D

Anonymous said...

I've never even considered a cake decorating class, but I may put it on the radar screen for the future. I never tire of being creative in the kitchen.

As for the award that you bestowed upon me - What can I say? Thank you so much! I feel quite humbled and pleased at the same time. I will place the logo proudly in my sidebar. It feels nice to be recognized! With my appreciation ....

Chanita Harel חני הראל said...

Thank you very much , you're Welcome ! ;)

Anonymous said...

Thank you very much. I am honored.


Jaime said...

wow, i've always wanted to take one of those cake decorating classes, but i don't think i could make the huge investment in all the supplies right now!!! looks like fun though and i hope you guys enjoy it :)

thank you so much for the award! i'm flattered that you think so much of my photography skills, when i look around at other blogs and see so many pictures that put mine to shame!

That Girl said...

Cake decorating is the new black ;-)

test it comm said...

The cake decorating classes sound like fun. Though I think that I would rather a class that taught you how to do it with things that you would likely already own. :)

Anonymous said...

Geez, if I only knew how to do only a little bit of that decorating. I mean it's so beautiful. Thanks for sharing.

Michelle said...

I just finished Cake Deco 101 and am not taking the follow-up course CD 102! It's fun but you sure need to buy alot of stuff!!!

Giz just want to take this time to answer a few questions you had on my blog.

The Bits-O-Cupcake arrived in OH in perfect condition. USPS did not damage a single Bit.

And my best guess on making infused vinegar with your black tulips would be that the vinegar would be purple. Could be stunning and I hope you try it!

Elle said...

That sounds like so much fun1 I've always wanted to take classes for that. I should just do it.

Anonymous said...

What a great video. That's an awful lot of stuff to buy!Oh my! Do they also want you to surrender your first born son? haha :)

Cakelaw said...

Oh wow - the little clown cake that your teacher is demonstrating is so cute. I know what you mean about wanting to stock up on all the gadgets. Luckily for me, our teacher was anti-gadget man, so apart from a few cutters, wires, florists tape and veiners, the major tool he used was baking paper for piping bags - neat!

LisaRene said...

Hi Giz, I'm glad you found my blog, come back and visit often :)

I give you both a lot of credit for taking a cake decorating class, what fun! I'm always amazed when I watch Food Network cake challenges or Ace Of Cakes, the talent these people have!

Looking forward to seeing your works of art :)

Cakebrain said...

I remember trying to lug all that stuff to my cake decorating classes! The whole problem was trying to get all the prepared cakes to class and back without smushing everything along the way. I thought the classes were really fun and I learned a lot.

Neen said...

Woah. Overwhelming, for realz. I'm looking forward to learning how the next class goes. Sounds like it's not a course for the faint of heart. Psychgrad, thanks for the video. Now I have that much more appreciation for people who do this professionally. (intimidated).