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!

Wilton Course 3, Lesson 2: Complete!

A couple of days before the second lesson I had to make the 18 loops for the bow we were going to make in class. I also wanted to remake the carnation base that I didn’t like in the first lesson.

In the picture below, you can see how gross the 50/50 was. Fondant, gum paste, 50/50 picks up every particle of dirt that floats by. This ball in the picture went to and from the Michaels store so I expected it to get a bit snarly, but this happens all the time. Aside from getting a air proof room that is vacuum sealed, I have no idea how to keep dust out of this. Especially when its white. Dark colors can hide the bits of dust that float around, but not white. Look how obvious the bad things are in there!

course3lesson2pic1But anyway, I made everything I needed before class. Again, I really like how I’m able to spread out more. I think it has to do with how the tables are set up.

course3lesson2pic2From this angle you can see how the tables are set up and the size of the room. It is made for small groups of people. In my opinion, it should always be no more than 7 (8 maximum) in each class. It makes it easier for the instructor to go to each person. This also helps if someone is late. They can at least catch up faster.

course3lesson2pic3Moving on, I’ll start with the big bow that we had to make the 18 loops for. Since Wilton did the overhaul of their lessons they changed how they did this big bow. Now, after doing this bow it seems clear to me that they really rushed this new program. What they tell you to do is to take a big ball of gum paste and stick all the dried loops into it. Really? Just stick them in? Well that doesn’t work. Well, it does, kinda. You stick the loops in (I eventually had to add edible glue to make them stay), but then the other loops start to move out as you move the gum paste ball around. I made the 18 the said but you can clearly see the large ball of gum paste in the middle. It just looks sloppy. Maybe if I added 10 more loops it would distract it, or if it was in color? I don’t know, but this is a bad way of teaching this. The “old” way was to make two circles. You would place the circle on the bottom, then the loops all around the edge. Then take the next circle, put it on top, and add more loops. I’m sure you would see the edges of the circles, but at least not this huge ball of gum paste. I hate to be a Negative Nancy, but I can’t help but think this is their way of making you go through gum paste faster so you have to buy more. This was just horrible looking. I threw it out.

course3lesson2pic6The first flower we worked on was the calla lily. To be honest, I wasn’t very interested in making this flower but it’s so easy, and it looks so awesome when it’s done. I like the idea of putting sprinkles on the center to help it stand out. I would definitely make more of these. To make them, all you need is a heart shaped cookie cutter and a cone shape. Wrap the heart around it, and then fluff up the edges. Very simple, and very cute! As I write this I’m considering making step-by-step photos of the gum paste flowers. It would be easier to do a tutorial of these than with buttercream or royal icing. I think everyone should know how simple it is to make these!

course3lesson2pic4The next and last flower that we made was the rose. We had to use the rose base that we made in the first lesson (tear drop shape). One of the things that bothered me was they had to make the base in white, not referencing that it would show in the center of the rose. So as you can see below, my white center is showing. I would suggest you make sure they match, or you make the base very small where it is completely covered by the petals. It pretty much looks like a rose, but only because of the color. I think adding the calyx to the bottom helped.

course3lesson2pic5So that was it for the second lesson! I took a picture of my two completed flowers and the new carnation base I made before class (much more fluffy).

course3lesson2pic7 One of the things I mentioned previously was how we never went over cake designing. We don’t do it in this class either. Well, the instructor does talk about the pictures in the books which technically you should be able to do after finishing the class, but that’s about it. Again, so far I like this class much better than the previous Wilton ones!

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.

Wilton Course 2, Lesson 2: Complete!

Another class of flowers. The instructor pointed out that the last 3/4 classes were royal icing flowers. She found it funny that the first course used fondant and gum paste but no more until Course 3. But that is beside the point. We worked on royal icing flowers today. I was a bit hesitant with this. In the past, I was not successful in keeping my icing stiff enough to hold a shape like a flower. To make sure it would work, I poured powdered sugar into it. Dumped it right in and kept going until it was actually hard to mix in the color. Only issue (as you will see in the pictures) was I drove 50 minutes to get to the class, and the classroom was very warm. The icing was stiff but the heat from the room began to melt the royal icing.

With less people in the class there was some more room to spread out. But it is still a messy class to take. Things are much easier at home (obviously). If you look close, you can see the rose I made already started to melt in the room. For the final class we’re supposed to decorate an entire cake. Not sure about that since everything melts, but I’ll worry about that when the time comes.

ImageWe’ve done the rose a dozen times now so this would be different flowers to make for once, and ones I could save. As I sit here and type this it reminds me that I really need to practice my buttercream flowers from Course 1, and really practice the ones I learned so far in Course 2. If I can master all these simple flowers it may help my in the future. Not sure why I’ve dismissed it. But anyway, not practicing right now.

The flowers below were supposed to be primerose flowers. I think the reason why I don’t like them is because I was too lazy to change my piping bags and use a pink color. I think with some work, in the right colors, and adding some yellow into the center would make it complete. We also worked on the apple blossom flower. Most of these flowers are very similar to make. Again, I need to practice more.

ImageThe pink flower on the nail was supposed to be the apple blossom.

class2pic7

The final flower for the class was the rosebud. I really liked making this one. Probably because it was the one I could actually do easily. I get so frustrated when I see other people doing the more complicated flowers with easy. But those are my own issues. But anyway, this flower was pretty easy.

ImageSo that was all we learned in the second lesson. We finished in about an hour. Simple lesson, but I really liked the rosebuds so I was pretty happy with it.

Wilton Class 2, Lesson 1: Complete!

So I FINALLY started Wilton Course 2 at Michaels. I really should be finishing up with course 2 if everything went they way it was supposed to, but I need to get over that. So anyway, course 2! I signed up, and it looks like there is a sale right now on the courses since Wilton is re-doing all of their marketing. Basically, most of the things they currently sell are just getting their packaging redone. But, I did look around and see some really awesome silicon molds that I can’t wait to pick up. They also had some new cookie/fondant cutters I just need to buy. I need to hold myself back when I go into the store.

Anyway! After signing up, this is the list of materials they want you to bring with us:

ImageMost everything that I needed to bring came in the big Wilton ultimate kit thing I bought the first time around. The only thing I had to buy was the second course book, gum paste, and the neon fondant. Inside the book, we were also told to bring vegetable shortening, corn starch, powdered sugar, and adhesive (I normally use royal icing, but apparently you can dissolve gum paste in water and use that, or piping gel).

There was only five people in this class which made things much easier. You could ask more questions, and spread everything out. I took a few general notes at the start of the class. An issue I had was the course 2 books were given out for free, yet I already got one and marked it up. Blah. The instructor show us the new Wilton silicon mats that came out, and told us the new Wilton fondant is very good. If the price is right, I may give it a try. She said it was very pliable and tasted just as good as the fondant I currently use. The only other tip I got in class that I felt was very important, was using coco powder to deepen red/block when mixing fondant. I’ll try this in the future.

Moving on! So even though there was more room overall in the room where I can throw all my stuff, my actual working space was the same.

ImageWe started with mixing gum paste and fondant together. Gum paste cannot get wet, which is something I need to keep in mind. I wasn’t a huge fan of mixing it together and then sitting around and talking. Adding gum paste makes the 50/50 mixture dry out very quickly. We rolled out the fondant using the “workbook,” from the previous class. Apparently it can store the fondant to help it not dry out when we’re talking, but it wasn’t very successful for me.

ImageI used the dusting pouch to prep the “box.” The first time I tried to do the impression on the fondant, it didn’t work. You really need to push the box closed and use the rolling pin to shove it down. Below, you can see the result. I think they came out too thick. In the future, I think after they are rolled out evenly, they should be rolled out a bit more. My completed flowers were too thick to put on a cake, or cupcake, or any sort of baked good. But they did look cute!

ImageThe next thing we made was a pansy flower. I couldn’t use my course book since it was the new one, and they now do it differently. That being said, I like the old way better and I will practice the old way in the future. So the old was is rolling out two kinds of fondant, and rolling it together in a straight line (two petals a different color). To do this, slightly overlap them before you roll it out. I had a very difficult time with this since the fondant dried so damn fast. I’m not sure it would be wise to use the 50/50 in the future unless you will immediately be making a decoration.

ImageAfter you make one flower, you cut out another, remove two petals, and attach them to the top of the flower. I didn’t take any pictures because it was just coming out horrible, too dry. I really need to try this again at home and see how it comes out. It also hardly looks like a pansy, but I figure if I could try using real pansy colors, and maybe painting on some details to see how it comes out.

ImageI really need to find some time to practice at home this week. I also need to bring in royal icing. I’m excited for the next class since we will be making royal icing flowers. I have not been successful with this, and I hope I can figure out what I am doing wrong so I can mass produce flower for the future.

Cake Preparation

For a little bit of background, the person who ordered a cake from me needed it for her twins birthday party. She asked if I could do a Mincecraft cake. Now I have a vague idea about what Minecraft is. I play some video games, but never Minecraft. I know it has to do with building things with boxes. Some people take the game very seriously. I know there is a Mincecraft convention. So I quickly googled “Minecraft Cakes,” and sent her the first easy thing I found. I have no idea who the origional source is. Google images led me to a Pinterest page, and that link just let to a picture of the image. The woman ordering the cake liked this one, so this is what I decided to try and copy. Image

Originally, I considered using royal icing to make all the squares. To date, I have not made decorations with royal icing in advance to decorate a cake with and I was concerned how it would turn out. I also didn’t know how the icing would hold up when it was cut. So I decided to cover the cake in fondant squares. I’ve had some minor practice with fondant. I made a cake for my nieces birthday last year, and had to work with fondant. I went to Restaurant Depot and bought a 15lb tub of it. My only issue is getting the fondant out of it. I literally stabbed it with a knife and ripped it out of tub with my claws. If anyone would have passed by and looked into my kitchen window, they would have been concerned for my mental health.

cakesale2

Now one of my biggest issues with fondant is rolling it out evenly. I didn’t want to use the paint strips for this one so I started looking for pasta rollers. The attachment for the KitchenAid is $200, so that was completely out of the question. I like that it is motorized, but $200? Nope. So I checked out a few online stores, but the most I found for decent reviews cost about $70. While running some errends, I went into Williams-Sonoma and found one for $60! And then, when I checked out, it was only $30! My indecisiveness paid off! The machine was simple, but looked like it would do the job. It attaches to the side of the counter easily, and the fettuccine/spaghetti attachment could be removed and kept in the box.

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When I was reading up on the pasta makers, many people complained of “dirt” coming out of the machine and onto the pasta, so I grabbed some old fondant I had sitting around and ran it through the machine a dozen times to make sure it was clean. I thought it would be difficult turning the hand crank and pulling the fondant/pasta out of the machine at the same time, but it was very easy.

cakesale3The next step was making all the squares for the cake. I estimated I would need about 40, so I figured making 65 would be safe. I knew I would break some. The best part about making this cake is the squares can be all different colors. I didn’t have to make a huge batch of fondant, or worry about running out and trying to replicate a color. I bought all the Wilton green gel colors, and just went to work. I use brown in some of the colors to get it a deeper shade of green. This was monotonous work. It took about 4 hours to get the fondant out of the box, color it, roll it and cut it. The good part? Because it is so brainless, I could zone out to some TV and not worry about messing it up. The bottom right picture was the letters I needed for the cake board. I bought the small letter cutters that I found at Michaels, but after using them I was not happy with them at all. They are not all the same thickness, and some letters just looked awkward. At this point, it was too late to worry about it, so I just had to swallow my panic and move on.

cakesale4I originally planned on baking the cakes the same night, but I didn’t expect the fondant to take me as long as it did. I put all the fondant covered in a tubberware and decided to let it firm up overnight.