Wilton Course 3, Lesson 3: Complete!

Another day, another lesson! For lesson 3 there really wasn’t much to go over. Below was my work station for the day again. I know I’ve said it before… but seriously. No buttercream and royal icing to cart with me? Amazing! Below is all I need to bring.

course3lesson3pic1I didn’t take too many pictures for this class because my phone was next to dying. We started with finishing up the carnations that we started in the first class. The base that we made needed to be completely dry in order to stack the next layers of the carnation. Basically, the book tells you to cut out 5 or 6 circles and fluff them up with the veining tool and stack them on the carnation base that you started. Now I didn’t realize it at the time, but I was using fondant and not gum paste so it wasn’t drying as fast as I wanted it to. It still worked (and dried a few days later), but it didn’t get as fluffy as I wanted it to get. I also used 9 additional petals to get the final result below. It clearly looks like a carnation and is very simple to make. The only thing the book didn’t say is to wait a minute or so between attaching each layer. If you fluffy and shape the circle and then let it dry a bit, the next layer won’t flatten it out (as you can see on the bottom of mine). But overall, I don’t think it matters how many layers you have, it still looks like a carnation.

course3lesson3pic2The next two flowers we made were the daisy and the mum. Both used the same cutter. The daisy was two simple shapes and then taking a little bit of yellow 50/50 covered in sprinkles smashed into the middle. The mum was just 6 layers of the same thing (two sizes) covering the mum base that we made in week one. You can see them both below in the flower forming cups. I think the mum could use a few more layers spaced out better.

My big issue with the two flowers was the cutter. No matter how hard I pushed on the cutter there were still thing scrapes between each petal. I tried to cut them out but it still looked sloppy. I would have to find a better way to cut it out correctly or just be patient to cut away all the excess.

course3lesson3pic3The last thing we did was make a layered ruffle and a ruffled swirl using the “straight scallop cutter” that came with the Ultimate kit.

The long ruffle is used to cover cakes with a long layered look. The swirled one is supposed to be pretty on top of a cupcake or something. I think it just looks awkward. But, the ruffle was easy enough which is good to know for the future. I may try and cover a cake layer with it.

course3lesson3pic4So that finishes the third lesson in course 3. This lesson went by fast. I finished a bit early too. Mostly because once the instructor starts reading out loud from the book, I just read ahead and do it. I figure I rather screw it up and then ask why so I know for the future. Mostly because (as I’ve said before), I won’t be using what I make in class on anything. The dirt in the room alone is insane.

For the next and final class we have to bring flowers already made with us and a cake design. This is something you have to do at the end of each course. If you look back on my lesson 4 of each of the previous classes I, (1) shared with my friend for one, and (2) didn’t bother to bring a cake with me. The women in this class seem to take it a bit more seriously than the previous one. Plus, it is easier to just make the gum paste flowers and bring them in. It’s not like its royal icing that could melt and needs a more delicate handle or it will crack.

One thing I have to keep in mind is where I’m going to take the Course 4 classes. The place I’m at now doesn’t offer it. In fact, no store in my county offers it. Wonderful, right? I really wanted to make sure I could keep up this blog until I finished Course 4. I tend to half ass things and never finish them. I’ve been told most of my life that I was good at something and then I would eventually walk away from it. I’m half good at a bunch of things. I really want this to work. Maybe I’m being crazy. But anyway, I have to find Course 4 somewhere!

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Wilton Course 2: Complete!

Today was my final lesson in Wilton’s Course 2: Flowers and Cake Design. Now I’ll say this… There is no way in hell this course teaches you anything about cake design. Okay, maybe I shouldn’t say that. Maybe it’s different depending on who teaches it or something. But really, we just made some flowers each week. I usually was able to leave after the first hour. I could have stayed the second hour to practice flowers more, but as you’ve seen from pictures and from my complaining, there isn’t much space. Since we don’t have a sink really available it’s a pain to keep switching bags and filling things up. I’m constantly cleaning when I’m home. I also don’t care if I make a huge mess either in my house since I don’t have to pack things up and take them home.

The day after my final class I had to have 24 cupcakes made with ballet shoe fondant toppers. I figured since I had to have a cake ready for class, I might as well get the cupcakes baked and iced before I left that way all I had to do when I got home was make the fondant toppers.

I made the cupcakes, and then made a large batch of buttercream. I added a dash of coco powder to give a light chocolatey flavor, then tried to dye it pink. This left me with the color you’ll see below in the pictures. Almost like a mauve color (after about 12 hours, that nice colored turned brown, so don’t try to replicate it at home with coco powder kids!). The bad thing is after I iced all the cupcakes I didn’t have enough to fill and ice a cake. I had a cake in the freezer ready to go. So I said screw it. I knew the cake I was going to mess around with in class was going to go straight into the garbage so I didn’t even bring one. I had no time to make more frosting so I gave up. Oh well!

For class, we spent some time working on a reverse shell boarder and the basket weave. I think the reverse shell is actually easier than the shell boarder itself.

course2class4pic1For the reverse shell you need to alternate your direction for every shell. You build up with buttercream, then make a half heart drawing for the rest of the shell, then do the opposite for the next, and then keep going. I hope with more practice I can get the hand motions down quickly.

In the picture below if you look at the top and right side of the worksheet, you can see that I was practicing a regular shell boarder. The peaks are a bit high, but I need to practice more. In a pinch, these would be usable I think. Now I had a hard time when we worked with a shell boarders in the first Wilton course. For this class, it clicked in my head because the instructor showed how to do it quickly, and did an entire row. My friend that I take the course with just looked at me, and it clicked for her too. I wish each flower/design was demonstrated this way. But that’s beside the point.

course2class4pic2The other thing that we worked on was the basketweave technique. Below, isn’t perfect. I would have to measure it would better to make sure it was a tight weave. I’m torn about what I think about the weave. On one hand, it’s a clean look for the side of a cake and making a cake look like a basket of flowers is something very pretty to bring somewhere. On the other hand, is it outdated?

course2class4pic3This only took about 30 minutes of the class. The rest was supposed to be decorating the cakes that you brought in. Here is where I think the class should be a bit different. You’re supposed to bring in an iced cake, and a bunch of flowers. So you’ll spend over an hour putting more icing on, and placing your flowers. I guess this would make sense if you were using dummy cakes, and learning how to arrange flowers for the best kind of placement.

Since I didn’t bring a cake with me, I sat around talking about other cakes and such. I’m glad I didn’t bring one since I usually just mess around with it and throw it out. I have to look into when Course 3 is going to happen, which is fondant and gum paste. I was going to try and switch to a different location for it, but the next course for it isn’t until the fall. I have to hope the instructor does another class. Guess I’ll have to wait and see! Until then, I really should practice my flowers. Get them down pat.

Wilton Course 2, Lesson 3: Complete!

Another day, another Wilton lesson day. Today we worked on more royal icing flowers. Again, I made my icing very stiff but between the long drive and warm classroom the icing breaks down a bit. I even mixed powdered sugar while I was there into the icing and the warmth in the room melted it more. Below is my tiny usual set up.

course2class3pic1I took a side view of the rest of the table so I can show how messy things get. There really isn’t much space. This makes me concerned about course 3 (rolling out fondant). I’m wondering how many people they take for that class since there isn’t much room. But anyway!

course2class3pic3If you look closely below, you can see one flower all the way to the left has begun to melt. The middle flower I added more powdered sugar into the mix and did it again. It held up more, but didn’t look as nice. We practiced a few more flowers after. Most of the flowers all look the same (aside from bigger ones, like roses, or lilies). Just depending how many leaves you make, and the color makes all the difference. As I write this, I am again reminded that I really need to practice all of my buttercream and royal icing flowers.

course2class3pic2We also worked on making daffodils. I was too lazy to make yellow icing and kept working with the pink. You can see below my pink attempts at them. They seem easy enough to make and you have to manipulate the petals into pointed tips as it begins to dry.

course2class3pic7The worst flower of the day was trying to make the Lily. I took a picture of the page out of the book to better explain it. You line the forming cup with foil and make the lily in the cup.

course2class3pic4Below, you can see why I kept laughing as I tried to make my own lily. It looked like a little octopus trying to escape! God, it looked ridiculous.

course2class3pic5Below is the flower my friend made. She mixed some purple and pink together and it made a nice color. She also added the stamens (non-edible). I didn’t make it that far. I didn’t want to waste stamens if I wasn’t going to save the flower.

course2class3pic6For the last and final class in Course 2, we need to bring buttercream and an iced cake with us. Along with any flowers we want to decorate our cake with.

Communion Cupcake Favors

The same week I had to do the artist cookies and the Xbox cookies I had an order for 90 cupcake favors. Because of the cookies and how long they were taking, I didn’t start the cupcakes until the day before they were due. My sister came over to help. If my mother and my sister weren’t around to help me today I’m not sure this would have gotten done. Or, I would have been up another 12 hours, things would have been super sloppy, and I would have been rushing to get it done before I had to leave for delivery.

That being said, my mother put the boxes together the day before so they were already done when my sister and I started working on everything. I bought sticker paper and printed out the wording the client wanted on the favor. I gave my sister the task of getting the boxes ready to drop the cupcakes in. So while I baked, she cut out the stickers, put them on the box, put the sticker with my information in the bottom of the box, hot glued the ribbon to the bottom of the box (to easier tie the ribbon later), and then cut a fake flower off the stem, and glued it to the top of the box. When it was all put together, it seemed like it would be something that wouldn’t take long. But in fact it took her 10 hours of straight work. Making sure everything was in the right place and cut correctly took a lot of time. While she did this, I did the cupcakes. It’s time likes this I wish I had a double oven.

Here you can see some of the boxes that were already done towards the back of the table.

ImageBelow are 90 cupcakes. Just plain vanilla. They didn’t seem like much laid out like this. After they cooled, I painted all the tops with simple syrup. It’s been a couple of weeks since I made these, but I remember having some trouble. The recipe said they would be done in 12-15 minutes, but most had to go to 16-18 depending. I had to have a pow-wow outside of the oven and watch them. Some with less batter may have dried out, but no idea really.

ImageMy goal was to have a the icing look almost like a hydrangea. They were originally going to be simple lavender colored icing on top, but of course I had to go the extra step. So after mixing and coloring the icing, I had to get them into the same bag so both colors would pipe out at the same time using the 2M tip. You would use this tip to basically make a ton of stars which would then look like a hydrangea. Getting the icing in the same bag was messy. Some of the cupcakes had a good even color between the blue/lavender, and some had more than the other.

ImageBelow are the first cupcakes I made. I made about 20 with these colors.

ImageWhen I made the next batch of icing, I made the blue deeper. I think they came out better this way as you can see below. The picture also shows how different each one looked.

ImageI saw with my sister decorating all the cupcakes while she finished up the boxes. Below, you can see all the boxes completed and laid out, waiting for a cupcake.

ImageHot gluing the ribbon to the bottom of the box made things much easier then I tied the ribbon on the box. Below, you can see the cupcake in the box with the tied ribbon and a closeup of the label sticker I made. I thought it was a little simple looking, but I’m going to have to learn better computer skills for the future.

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ImageHere is the final picture of them all boxed up and waiting to be put in my car in the morning. I finished around 2AM, and I was so happy to be done.

ImageOriginally, I bought some molds for crosses to make as a cupcake topper. I tried adding them, but they were very large and just didn’t look right. I think in the future a small fondant cupcake topper would have been better. My sister, mother and I decided they looked better as they were. So here we go! A big order done, and it was a busy, busy week.

Lesson 4 Preparation: Joke’s on Me

I am bitter. It is 3AM and I am waiting for my lopsided cake to crust over so I can Viva it and go to bed. In the 10 seconds it took me to type that sentence, my dog did a champion sprint to the cake and ate a chunk out of the side. I’m not sure where my cake karma is, but it is certainly not in my kitchen right now.

To backtrack a bit, I’ve been gone all day running insane errands to prepare for the slamming my kitchen is going to take over the next 24 hours. I volunteered to make cupcakes for a local school, and I simply do not have enough time in the day. I’m also apparently overly cocky about my ability to bake. Additionally, I think things are much easier than they are for me. On a side note, I just googled the word ‘additionally’ because I’m overtired and convinced myself it wasn’t a word.

About 4 hours ago I had the brilliant idea to get my lesson 4 preparation done before I went to bed so I wouldn’t have to worry about it in the morning. According to the lovely lesson book we have, tomorrow we need to bring in a fully leveled and iced cake, on top of about 12 different buttercream colors and flowers already made. Those buttercream and flowers are just not going to happen, but I’ll get to that later.

This should have been very simply. I had my cakes frozen for this class for three weeks. All I had to do was take it out, level it, and ice it. Yet, when I pulled out everything I needed, I noticed all my leftover icing from lesson 3. I never practiced the flowers we rushed through last week. So of course, I decided it needed to be done right away!

I’ll try and get through this part of my post here with a limited about of hostility. The following picture is of leaves! Yay leaves! This is probably the easiest thing I have ever piped. I had slight difficulty with making the leaves have a pointed tip at first, and the first dozen or so looked more phallic than leaf life (you can see some of those scattered on the practice board). To make the leaves, you use a #352 tip. Make sure the tip is held vertically and slightly above the paper/cake/whatever. Then you just release pressure and drag it away when you’re done with the leaf. Reading the instructions in the booklet didn’t really help with this. You just need to do it a few times and you’ll figure out how to make all different types of leaves. Plus, they’re leaves. I’m 90% sure if your icing is green and next to a flower, they are self explanatory regardless of how messy they look. Either way, I started off on a positive note with the leaves.

ImageI moved on to more practice. In the following picture, you can see shell practice (#21 tip), rosette practice (#18 tip), drop flower (#2D), and swirled flower (#2D). For shells, these seem to take a bit of practice to build up the muscle memory. You have to build the icing up with your tip, then release pressure and drag out the bottom, before going into the next shell. I’m not comfortable with it, but I think with practice I can get it down. The rosettes are the easiest thing. Just swirl that icing girl. Swirl away. You really can’t mess that up. I would like to make these with some royal icing and pack it away (but I’m angry at my royal icing right now). Now the drop and swirled flower I’m not happy with. As you can see in my blurry photo, they do not look great at all. I had more success with these in class last week. They seem very easy. Hold your #2D tip on the page/cake/whatever, squeeze, release, move bag away. For the swirled, turn your hand 90 degrees as you squeeze. I foresee more practice in my future.

ImageI practiced a rose with my leftover icing. This is a bad rose. Better luck next time bucko.

ImageMy final flower of the night was another attempt on the pompom flower. I have to admit, I think this is the ugliest flower I have ever seen. Maybe if done with some nice sprinkles on each layer of a cupcake I can see it, but it is just ugly. I broke out the flower nail and flower template. Used a #12 tip to build my base. Then I used a #16 dark blue icing to make long stars that went straight up. Then, I took the light blue icing with a #18 tip and made larger, long stars from the base and pulled out straight. It may be my icing, but this just turned out horrible. I say I’ll practice this again, but I doubt that. Until I see a need to actually do this flower in the future, I plan on promptly erasing this from my memory.

ImageSo I have a ton of left over icing from last week. Even after decorating cupcakes last week, and practicing tonight, I have at least a full batch of buttercream left over. For lesson 4, we’re supposed to bring in 4 different icing colors at the minimum. Now, I may regret this decision (and you may want to avoid my next blog post), but I thought it was pointless to bring in all those colors. You cannot bring in a separate container for all the colors since there is not enough room, and planning ahead and putting them in piping bags backfired for me last week when I had to use different sized tips than the couplers I had. So! Why not combine all the left over buttercream, and use it for all the decorations? Excellent idea! Ain’t it purdy? No, not really. But no one is seeing this cake except for myself, and whoever stumbles upon my hostile rants here. Why not? I’ll have more time to practice in class than worrying about coloring my icing, or running out of room. Man, I hope this doesn’t blow up in my face.

ImageI made a new batch of buttercream. I followed the directions exactly this time and whipped the crap out of it on high speed. I added 2 extra tablespoons than needed. This could be the cause of the problems I have been having with my current buttercream. It breaks all the time, and already is a soft consistency. I’ll have to check it out.

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So here we go! Below, you can see how I got ready for the cakes. I actually bought a cake board, a 16in featherweight bag, and the #789 icing tip. The instructor for the class suggest against it, but it seemed so much easier I figured I should try it. You do have to cut the 16in bag to comfortably fit the extra large tip. After that was done, I put some icing on the bottom of the cake board to hold it in place.

ImageNow it was time to break out a new toy! My cakes were defrosted, and slightly lopsided. I didn’t plan on trying to level it since they do freeze pretty flat, but they weren’t sitting on the cake board right and I wanted to make sure it was done correctly. Now, I want to point out that it is extremely easy to use the Wilton leveler.

ImageThe leveler sides right through the cake and all you need to do is keep it on the table. Somehow, I messed this up. The cakes looked all nice and even, but they were not. Either I messed up leveling it, or they were so uneven to begin with that cutting it into two pieces just made it worse. I didn’t think it was so bad (I was wrong), so I decided to ice the two pieces together with my buttercream. I saw this awesome thing on youtube where you can put the icing into some saran wrap, spin it together, then pop it into the piping bag. There is basically no clean up! So yeah, I decided 1:30AM was the best time to try this out. You can see my little ball of icing all ready to pop into a bag. Now… I didn’t think it looked tight enough… So I spun the bag again… and it opened. And icing went everywhere. I’m pretty sure I still have some in my hair. EVERYWHERE. I think this is the point I began to snap. Can you tell I have zero patience yet?

ImageOnce I got the icing into the piping bag I iced the two pieces together and stacked them. And then this shit appears. Look below. How uneven is this?! This has to be a joke. The cake wasn’t even that uneven to start. How can I possibly manage this? It looks like I planned it. A standing ovation was needed. Around this point, I was boiling. (Oh, fun. I just took my hair down and glob of icing fell on the keyboard. Awesome.)

ImageI decided to throw the other cake on top and hope for the best. It was so horrible lopsided I debated throwing it all out and decorating a blank piece of cardboard in class. Instead, I cut about an inch off around the entire cake, mixed it with some icing, and shoved it under the cake to level it. Yum, tasty.

ImageIt is one ugly looking thing, but it is as level as I am going to get it. I did use the icing tip to get the buttercream on it, and it worked amazingly well. I was pretty angry at this point, so I forgot to take pictures. I only used one batch of buttercream because this this tip, you seem to waste less. Get this tip. Seriously. Easy peasy. I was happy with this tip. I hope it serves me well in the future. Because I did a hack job on the cake, there were crumbs everywhere. I didn’t have enough icing to do a basic crumb coat, so my final cake has crumbs. So be it. The cake gods have spoken. This is just for practice right? I’m positive I will regret this and be embarrassed tomorrow in class when I pull it out, but right now so be it.

ImageIt is now 4:15AM. My feet hurt. Pandora’s “Summer Hits of the 90’s,” is the only thing getting me through this post. Banging out this angry post has calmed me down a bit. I’m sure I’ll get angry again as I go to Viva that horrible, dog licked cake and clean the kitchen. I’m just going to clean up, and worry about the rest tomorrow. We’re supposed to bring in flowers and a cake design, but I’m just going to wing it. Only person eating this cake is going to be me, and apparently my ninja-like dog.

Edit: After using the Viva method the cake (it crusted over as I wrote this post), it did not smooth out like it should have. I’m wondering if my struggles are coming from the icing itself? Maybe I should try buttercreams I used in the past.

I then tried to put the cake into my carrier. Turns out, the cake was just too big for it. So the icing is all ruined in the sides, and I had to move the entire cake which took out all the cake I had shoved under it to level it. So now I’m back to my horribly lopsided cake. Just now it is missing icing in patches. Seriously, the joke is on me right now. Where is my bed?