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!

Graduation Cookies

I wasn’t sure if I should call this post “Graduation Cookies,” or “Sugar Cookies I’m finally happy with.” My nieces preschool graduation was coming about and I made cookies for my sister and one of the other moms. I ordered Wilton Graduation themed cookie cutters and figured I would make simple diplomas and graduation hats. I tried to find something more “interesting,” but was really falling flat. Figured I would go with the simple design.

One of the things I was proud of (at least at first) was that I followed my schedule. The first day I made and refrigerated the dough, second day I cut and baked, 3rd the first coat, 4th finished the decorating, and 5th bagged to go. This was also the first time in a while that I didn’t have to cut or edit any of the cookies as I was cutting them. It took about 2 hours to cut and bake 65 cookies. I loved having the cookie cutters available. Made things much easier. I also put the tray of cut cookies in the freezer for a few minutes before I put them in the oven to help the cookies keep their shape. The only issue I found with that, is they should bake for another minute since the tray gets so cold. My cookies were all just cooked, I would like them a bit more in the future. ImageI thought the diploma and hats may be a bit boring so I wanted to try something fun. When I was searching I found this website (http://tinyurl.com/k6pz4ub). It had a cute tutorial for making children faces holding a diploma. I didn’t think I would be able to do it, but I figured it couldn’t hurt to try. Following the instructions I used the shooting star cookie cutter that came in the graduation cutter set to cut into the diploma cookie, and attach both cookies together. I squished them together when they were still dough. Luckily, the cooked into each other.                                    ImageLots of cookies made. I never really notice how many I make until they are all lined up. It filled my cookie bin up! I made some shooting star cookies just to mess around with since I had so much extra dough. Each batch of dough makes 15-22 cookies depending on size. I try to overshoot just to make sure I have more than enough. Plus, I can give away any extra.

ImageI have a problem where I need to constantly look at the picture to remember what colors I was aiming for and what order I want to go in. So this time I traced the cookies cutters in my book and wrote out what I wanted on each. This may seem like a silly step, but it actually really helped me.

ImageI started with yellow icing. I wanted to get the tassels on the hat set before I outlined the hats and color in the shooting stars. Once the stars were filled in I practiced writing “2014” onto them. I thought the wet/wet technique would look better. Below, is my first time actually using a rubber band to close my icing bag. All I can say is, holy bananas! Why am I so difficult? This really makes things much easier. The royal icing doesn’t dry out, I don’t have to worry about it leaking out, and it was much easier to save for the next day in the same bag.

ImageI practiced writing on 2014 multiple ways, but the wet/wet technique just didn’t look right. I decided I would save the black for the next day and write the numbers and sprinkle them in black icing. I hoped it would solve the problems. Practice is key with the writing. The more I wrote out the numbers, the happier I was with them.

My nieces graduation outfit is a shiny, navy blue. I used Wilton royal blue gel color. It came out a very brilliant blue, but not navy. I thought if I added a dash of black it would bring it up to a navy color. Well, my bottle of black is running low so I had to shake it out. Too much black came out and the color ended up a bluish grey. So then I added more blue. Way too much coloring in the small amount of icing I made. It ended up being this cornflowery blueish color. I wasn’t going to make any more icing so I just went with it.

ImageI outline and filled the graduation hats. I really wasn’t happy with how the icing looked on the hats. I had way too much dye in there. The icing didn’t dry flat either. In the future I need to add an extra day to make the royal icing. I think most of the problems I have with it is because I don’t let it sit. Even sitting for a few hours I can see the air bubbles rising out of the icing. If I make and color the icing the day before it should solve most of my air bubble problems. Right? Guess we will see next time!

ImageThis next picture is a little bit out of order (as you can see the hats aren’t filled in), but I wanted to keep my train of thoughts together. I had filled in the diplomas with white royal icing, and then I filled in the three “test” cookies in white as well.

ImageWith everyone set up with the first coat on the cookies I cleaned up and let everything dry 24 hours for the next and final coat.

ImageI started with finishing the shooting stars. Since I was making one tray of graduation cookies I figured I should have one or two of the stars in there with the year on it would be necessary for the graduation theme. Below, you can see my attempts at writing out “2014” on all the cookies. On the ones I liked, I added the black sprinkles. I did try adding some more yellow designs, like dots, or swirls to add to the shooting star thing, but it just didn’t work. They looked better leaving them plain.

ImageI spent a decent amount of time working on the ribbon on the diplomas. At first I did a simple string like design, and then I practiced making the ribbon shape until it looked right on the diploma (yay for making extra!). I ended up with this as the final design. I made the ribbon yellow since the tassel on the cap is also yellow. My own negative for the diplomas was not adding and extra layer of “swirl” to make the paper looked more rolled. I think next time using a #1 tip instead of a #2 would make this easier. I also didn’t go back and add an outline to the bow. It just wasn’t necessary.

ImageWith the diplomas done I moved along to the hats. I ran out of the same blue color that I used to fill in the hats, so I recreated it as best as I could and outlined the hats. The more I outlined the hats, the better they got. Again, practice is the key. After the outline dried slightly, I added the details to the tassel and connected the tassel to the top of the hat (#2 tip). Side note: I realized that when I type this out it seems like this would take so much less time than it does. Oh well!

ImageHere is a closeup of the shooting star with the numbers with sugar. They aren’t perfect, but they get the job done.

ImageNow for the final show! The big finale! The link I put at the start of this article had these cookies below. They step by step pictures really seemed like something I could follow. With how unsteady my hand is and how horrible my artistic talent (see: none). But here are my cookies! With each detail I added to the cookies the happier I was getting. I mean seriously, look how cute! I wish I made more! I only made three because I thought they would be throw away cookies! These are my favorite ones to date! Yay cookies! To make “boy” cookies, I would had added eyebrows instead of eyelashes, but I really wanted to make long hair and eyelashes.

ImageBelow is the tray ordered by one of the moms at my nieces school. I think the girl with the curly hair (made after the daughter of the woman who ordered) and the two 2014’s just added to the tray. I found the container at Christmas Tree Shoppe for $1.99. I love how this tray came out! I mean seriously. Am I ever this happy when I make something?

ImageThe rest I put in individual bags with a note attached. My niece is going to give these out at her graduation ceremony.

ImageSo cookies done! I think I would like to make all of the faces for another graduation gift. I also need to work on the placement. It’s supposed to look like they are holding the diploma up over their mounts (which is why they don’t have them), but if they are too low it may look weird they don’t have mouths. For now, I won’t nip pick because I liked these too much. But just one more picture of the cute cookies before I go!

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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.

Gender Reveal Sketch

I had someone e-mail me asking about doing a gender reveal cake. These always seemed fun to do. She was open to a few ideas. I spent some time looking online for a few different themes. Below, I copy and pasted what I sent in my response e-mail. I pulled a few images from simple searches trying to gather some ideas.

(1) “What will it bee?/What will baby bee?” – I found this picture of a cake with two bees on it (http://tinyurl.com/pwb7kgj). You mentioned you preferred pastel colors, so it could be changed to baby pink/blue, and still keep the bees on it. Bees could also be on the sides of the cake “flying” around. We could also keep the cake white, with yellow accents (flowers, bees, small yellow beehive decoration).
(2) “He or She? Open to see!” – This type of cake would be open to any type of theme you may want associated with it. It could be kept simple (http://tinyurl.com/nkezo3s), or maybe little animals added to it, or flowers, or birds. With keeping the saying general, it would be open to any color/themes you may want. (For example, you could have two elephants, one wearing a pink bow, the other wearing a blue bow-tie, with grey/pink/blue details on a white cake).
(3) “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star… How we wonder what you are…” – For this cake (http://tinyurl.com/ld5wa98), adding more stars, clouds for the sides would be cute, or maybe adding a small teddy bear to sit on the top.
(4) “Guess Whoo?/ Whoo wants to know? / Whoo will it be?/ Whoo are you?” Owl theme! For this, I would suggest having one pink owl, one blue sitting together on a branch next to the saying on the cake. Branches on the sides of a white cake, with a blue/pink boarder. I would think something similar to this layout, http://tinyurl.com/pr2al3a, but with some things moved around.
(5) “What the duck is it?/ Waddle it be?” – I found this picture with pastel pink/blue with little ducks to go with the funny saying (http://tinyurl.com/lepfp8m). This could be done like the picture with two tiers, or just as a single tier with either a pink or blue background and the opposite in stripes.
I wanted to give as many different options as I could, but wanted to try and stick with things that I thought I could do. I’m posting this because I think this is how I hope to run things in the future. I liked giving a few ideas, though I wish I was able to just think of things on my own. I spent hours making that simple list. I didn’t want to tell the client something that I didn’t think I could do.
After we narrowed it down I did something I didn’t think I would ever try to do. I sketched out my ideas! I have ZERO artistic ability. But, I figured this would be the best way to really figure out what I wanted to say. Not too terrible?

ImageIn the end, we didn’t go forward with the cake but I was glad to go through the process of picking out some ideas then deciding on one. It was a good learning experience!

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.

Practice and Messing around

I had to make an 18th birthday cake. I was told that the girl liked “girly” things, like purses, shoes, some specific brand names, and the colors pink and purple. I wouldn’t have the time to order a Coach or Michael Kors cutter, and I knew if I didn’t cut it out exactly right it wouldn’t look good so I just scratched the idea. I wanted to try and carve out a mini-purse for the top of the cake. I figured I would need a sturdy cake. I found a recipe (which I will not give because I don’t want to bash it), and figured I would try it out.

I set up my pans as I usually do now (Crisco spray and parchment on the bottom), and as you can see they came out warped as usual it seems. Very frustrating. But it was a test cake that I planned on chopping up so I tried to not be too upset over it.

ImageI also finally made edible “glue.” To make it I added small chunks of gum paste to water and let it dissolve.

ImageAnnnnnnd I can show you my greatest new purchase… A digital kitchen scale! A few recipes I found went by weight and it was extremely frustrating. I bought this scale from Target. So far I use it to weigh my powdered sugar, and I find it very helpful.

ImageI also got this fabulous new Wilton purchase from Michaels. In my very first post I showed the little pouch that came in the Wilton Ultimate Kit. The reviews for it were very poor. I used it myself once, and it was a pain to use (trying to open it and refill, and making sure it didn’t spill). So they came up with this new thing. So much easier. Easy to refill and store.

ImageMoving along, I thought it would be a good idea to try and make my own show without any molds or cutters. I printed out some shapes online and tried cutting them out. It was a bit difficult since they didn’t come out smooth. I also tried using a shot glass (see below) to form the show. I used the glue I made and tried to attach everything together to see how it would look. Bottom line? Meh… I wasn’t impressed. At some point I would like to get some things to shape and dry them. But since my funds are super limited, that won’t be happening for some time.

ImageI gave up on the shoe thinking it wouldn’t be a best idea if I couldn’t make it look good. I took one of the cakes I made and carved part of one of them into the shape below.

ImageOh a side note, the cake tastes horrible. Just nasty. I threw out the rest of it. I’m so glad I tested it instead of making it the day I planned on making the cake. I figure the shape above could work for a cake. We will see!

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.