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.

Wilton Course 1, Lesson 4 (Final): Done!

Two days ago, I completed my final class for Wilton, Course 1: Decorating Basics. I’m extremely happy that this class is over. I have high hopes for the next 2-3 courses, but this one I was slightly disappointed in. As I mentioned in my last post, for this class we had to bring in a complete level and iced cake, along with all the icing colors/decorations we wanted to add on to it. I showed up with the cake, and my bowl of frosting. Fair warning ahead: My friend that I took this course with left her cake in the car at work, and the entire thing broke apart and melted. So we shared my cake for the final decorating.

So as usual, there just wasn’t enough room for what we needed to do. Part of the reason why I’m looking forward to the next course is because we’re just working with flowers. No cakes or cupcakes (I think?), so there will hopefully be more room. If a few people drop, then maybe we can spread out more as well. c1l4pic1We started practicing on the lesson board with writing. I was sure it would end up looking horrible, but it actually wasn’t so bad. I didn’t take any pictures (I forgot). As long as I can copy/trace something, it’s much easier. The instructor said script was easier if you free handed it. This was true. Print was easy to trace, but script makes more sense to just freehand. Now, my handwriting is absolutely horrible. Sometimes I can’t even read it myself. But, it was surprisingly easier to write in script on a cake. I would suggest to practice at it. I bought a word impression kit from Wilton. There are preset words (Happy Birthday, Best Wishes, Congratulations). I think this would be easier to use since you can trace directly on the cake and fill it in from there. All the writing was done with a #3 tip.

At this point, the instructor said we could start decorating our cake. We spent a lot of time practicing writing because a few people showed up without their cakes leveled/iced, so we waited until that was done. I decided to flip through the lesson plans within the book and saw this basket weave pattern.

c1l4pic2I gave this a try, and it was pretty easy. I was never a fan of how these looked on cakes, but it seems like something I want to try on a complete cake in the future. If done correctly, I’m hoping it makes the sides of the cake neat. After looking at some images of different cakes with a basket weave, I may want to try making a chocolate cake with this weave. It looks a bit better with a chocolate frosting. We’ll see. Below, you can see my super sloppy attempt at the weave on the side of the cake. I think with a stiffer icing, it would have worked better.

c1l4pic3Anyway, we were allowed to do whatever we wanted on the cake for our final decorations. As I mentioned in a previous post, I only brought one color icing to save some space. My friend didn’t color her icing. We both had the same mindset: mess around a bit, and get out. Most people spent a long time making flowers, boarders, used a ton of different colors, and so on. I probably shouldn’t post the picture below, but it find it kind of funny. We really just messed around with the cake for about 10 minutes.

c1l4pic4I plan on making a cake in the next few days to give to a friend, so hopefully that goes well and I’ll post a picture of a better cake.

I think that final picture shows how done I was with this course. I’ve complained (a lot) about how much space (lack of) that we’ve had. We glossed over most things. But, I tried to practice at home. I think that is the key to this entire thing. Gather any tidbits you can in the class, and work with it at home. Plus, at home you have more space and a sink to actually clean things instead of having dirty bags and tips everywhere around you. I found out that the instructor plans on starting a course two (which I’m happy about). So far, it hasn’t been put up on the Michaels website but hopefully soon. She said she wanted us to take the week off, so the next class wouldn’t be until April 14th. I was a bit disappointed in this but as long as the second course goes forward, awesome.

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?

Wilton Course 1: Lesson 2, Complete!

Lesson 2 is complete! I got to Michaels early to pick up a few things. We needed piping gel, and Wilton sells a container of it (more on the gel later). I also bought a cake leveler, a cake lifter, and a rose lifter (looks like a pair of dull, plastic scissors). Remember to get coupons before you buy anything to save as much money as you can. All of these things add up! Anyway, the class was packed today. The people that missed the first class all showed up so we couldn’t spread out much. Below, this is a picture of the space I had to work with. After we started working with the cakes, I had hardly any room to move. I had to drag an extra chair over just to hold all the supplies. I didn’t take many notes because I ended up having no room for my notebook. The instructor said it gets worse by Course 3 when you have to roll out fondant. We’re going to try and figure something better out next week.

ImageWe started the class by working on the lesson boards again. In the top left picture, you can see that we started with lines and zigzags using the #18 tip. The class book said to hold the tip onto the surface for these two designs, but I had more success holding it directly above. We then switched to the #12 tip (top right picture) and worked on our pressure with the piping bags. With this design, for the larger balls you just keep consistent pressure on the bag. When you’re finished, stop the pressure then pull the tip off to the side. The practice boards come with a stand to keep the board upright. The bottom two pictures show the board upright. I thought it would be good practice since it would be similar to decorating a cake, but it was more problematic than helpful.

ImageNext, everyone leveled their cakes. I actually did not have to level mine, so I don’t have a picture of it right now. Turns out, by stacking then wrapping up my cakes in the layers of plastic wrap, they flattened out. This was something I’ll keep in mind for the future as it made things easier. Also, a slightly frozen cake was much easier to put frosting on.

The picture below shows putting the icing on the cake, and then stacking the two cakes. As you can see in the picture on the left, there is a solid line around the inside of the cake. I did this using a #12 tip. This is the buttercream “dam.” This will keep the filling from spilling out of the middle of the cake and mixing with the outside buttercream. This is important if you are using a filling other than buttercream. I used the same filling/icing throughout the cake to make it easier in class. I made two circles around the cake to ensure that everything stayed in place. I made the buttercream a medium consistency and smoothed it on the cake, and topped it with the second cake. Important note: the bottom of both cakes will be the bottom, then the top of the cake when they are put together.

ImageAfter the cake is put together, we covered the cake with buttercream. Having a turntable for the cake made this much easier. This was my first time using it and I can’t imagine how I iced a cake without it. Oh! Funny thing happened. When we were icing the cakes, I heard the instructor talking about how she buys out all the mixes at the store. I was confused, and asked what she meant. Turns out, she makes all of her professional cakes with cake mix. Also, everyone else in the class made their cakes from a box. Needless to say… I was a bit baffled by this. Honestly, it never occurred to me use cake mix. I feel that when you’re making something for someone, you should make it from the ground up. I spent 6 hours baking cakes this week, and I could have used a box I guess. I could consider it in the future when I’m in a hurry for class, but shouldn’t it be from scratch? Or am I completely off base?

Moving along, after the cake was fully iced (top picture below) I smoothed it out with cake as best I could. I waited until it crusted slightly and used the Viva method to make it as smooth as I could. Remember, the Viva method is just using a Viva paper towel and a fondant smoother and rubbing the cake lightly. The only fault with this step today was I did not have enough icing. I only made one batch and had to keep the icing thin on the cake (which led to some crumbs mixing in the cake). I think making triple the recipe would have been better.

ImageThe main purpose for this class was the Wilton Piping Transfer. This is almost the exact opposite of a buttercream transfer. With a buttercream transfer, you copy the design with buttercream, freeze it, then transfer it to the cake at a later time. With this system, you take piping gel and put it in a piping bag with a #1 tip (I purchased a container of piping gel from Michaels. You can see it in the very first picture at the top of this post). We could bring in any picture we wanted, but I stuck with one of the designs in the packet we received. We also ran out of time after we outlined our image. So we rushed to finish. Outlining with the gel was very easy. To put it on the cake, you simply flip the wax paper onto the cake and smooth the lines with your finger tips.

ImageBelow is the final result of my cake, and my friends cake. It is honestly the sloppiest thing I have ever done. I’m sure there is a way to make this look smoother, but piping within the lines of the gel is a bit strange. The gel was sticky and tasted horrible. I think its something to keep in mind if you have a very simple design you want to add to your cake, but I wasn’t a huge fan of it. I think there is too much room for error. At least with a buttercream transfer, you can fix your errors by wiping them off the wax paper and starting over.

ImageSomeone commented that everything in the class felt very basic. I agreed, even though that’s the reason why I signed up (have to build on the basics!). The instructor said if we could get past this first course, we can get through the next three easily. Everything we learn in this class, is build upon in later classes. For example, today we covered icing a cake in buttercream. Before you put fondant on a cake, it needs a layer of buttercream.

The class felt a bit rushed. I think it could use another 30 minutes. I’m excited for next week. We’re working with cupcakes so there will be much more room! Overall, I think the class was more structured than the first.