I finally had the opportunity while staying in NY to take a cake decorating course. I’ve been wanting to do this for years, the timing has just never lined up right. Until now! As far as what class to take, I really only had one option where I live and that is to take the Wilton Cake Decorating Course from A.C. Moore. If you’re not familiar with their program it’s broken up into FOUR courses, each having FOUR classes. I thought that I was going to be in NY for many months so I assumed that I would be able to take all of them… well, since I up and decided to get back home to Germany ASAP, I was only able to finish 3 of 4 classes of the first course. Not exactly what I had planned, but it did give me some great insight to share with you. I thought it might be kind of interesting for me to go over the classes briefly with you and give you my opinion on how worth-while they are or not.
For the first class you were supposed to bring cookies to decorate and I never got that memo… I showed up completely cookie-less feeling like a jerk because I had to sponge off of somebody else. This class was very basic- “this is a piping bag”, “this is a piping tip”, etc, etc. And in the end we only learned how to pipe simple, drop stars. And I have no pictures to share from that experience unfortunately : / I never took the cookies home. We had to use canned Wilton frosting and it just didn’t appeal to my appetite- Walmart sugar cookies and canned frosting. No thank you.
Now, the second class was a little bit more interesting. We were asked to bring a one layer 8″ round cake and 2 batches of frosting with us. The focus was mostly on dots and the various shapes you can make with the round tip. We were also taught about frosting a cake and how to best make it even. All very simple stuff. I did “ok” with my practice cake. It took me a while to get a hang of the “continuous dot” as you can see- my left cupcake liner corner is screwy and the center of the liner is kinda fat. But overall I was pretty happy with it.
Now I do have one or two things to say about the methods that Wilton insists we use. I HATE their frosting. I’ve given the recipe here, simply for the sake of sharing it, but I just found it totally unappetizing. And I didn’t find it that much easier to work with than a buttercream (although the theory is that the shortening stands up better against warm weather). It’s made up entirely of vegetable shortening and imitation extracts. then thinned out with water. I don’t think I’ll ever use their recipe again. They also insist upon using meringue powder in the cake batter and the frosting- in the batter to help create more supportive structure and in the frosting to help harden the piped shapes. Basically, I think this is a waste of meringue powder, particularly for the cake batter. Maybe if your doing a wedding cake with many, many layers, and you need extra support. But for a regular 2 to 3 layer cake, I really don’t think it’s necessary. Plus, I don’t want anything messing with the moist texture of my cakes! Now I guess it makes sense to use the meringue powder in the frosting, since it makes transferring roses onto the cake easier. It also allows you to smooth out the entire cake before piping- frost the cake like normal, let it dry a few hours, then take a small piece of parchment and using the heat of your hand, smooth out the frosting. It ends up looking really lovely, almost like you used fondant. No more leftover spatula marks! Then again, now you have to eat that terrible frosting.. haha
Tune in next week to hear how my final class went!
- 1 cup vegetable shortening
- 1 lb confectioner’s sugar, sifted
- 1 tsp clear extract (vanilla, almond, and/or butter)
- 1 Tb meringue powder
- 2 Tb milk or water, as needed
- Beat together shortening, confectioner’s sugar, extract, and meringue powder. As milk or water as needed to reach desired consistency.