B is for Baking: Cake Decorating Party
I have to admit that most home parties really just aren’t my thing. Sure they can be a fun way to get together to socialize with girlfriends, but I always feel pressured to buy (self imposed pressure perhaps?) and end up spending too much money or buying things that I don’t really need, use or wear. Recently I went to a totally different kind of home party and it was really a ton of fun. My sweet friend Amy opened up her lovely home and hosted a cake decorating party. I was excited to see the Facebook invitation as I have always wanted to take a cake decorating class. My grandma made and decorated beautiful cakes throughout my entire childhood and young adult years. I have all of her cake decorating tools and frosting tips and really don’t have a clue how to use them. Amy had connected with a Wilton at Home instructor who facilitated the event and taught us the basics of decorating a cake. Let me tell you a little about what I learned:
Wilton at Home parties are a relatively new opportunity. There are currently three different classes offered: cake decorating, cupcake decorating and fondant cupcake decorating. The benefit of hosting a party is not having to pay for your own class fee and the hostess was given her choice of a Wilton product as a hostess gift. This particular party was scheduled for a 2 hour time slot although many of us stayed a little longer to finish up. For a very reasonable fee, each participant got an 8 inch cake of the flavor and filling of her choice to decorate and take home. All the tools and supplies were provided. The guests were a combination of mother/daughter pairs and women who were interested in learning something new. Although this would be fun to do with my girls, they are a little too young for this kind of event yet. We all sat around Amy’s dining room table and the Wilton instructor took care of the rest.
Although I have done some of my own baking, I really have very little experience with putting together any kind of layer cake. We learned how to make sure a cake bakes evenly and what causes the top of a cake to sink or rise up. Did you know that chocolate cake takes longer to bake than white or yellow cake because the batter is denser? Who knew? We learned how to evenly slice (or “torte”) the layers of our cake and how to cut off the crown of the cake if it has risen too high. One of the most surprising things to me was that the top of the cake is place upside down on the cake plate so that it becomes the bottom. When you do this, the bottom of the cake that is nice and flat from the bottom of the cake pan becomes the top of the cake and is a much easier surface to frost and decorate. Mind blown!
We filled our cakes with pudding instead of frosting. A snack size pudding cup is any easy way to add a pudding layer to your cake. The instructor also suggested canned pie filling or jarred fruit preserves as alternative fillings to plain frosting. There are so many possibilities to consider!
We learned about different kinds of frosting as well as different consistencies of frosting and what each are used for. Some frosting can be left out at room temperature and other frosting need to be refrigerated. Another surprise for me was that we used a large piping bag with a really large frosting tip to frost the whole cake before smoothing it out with a small spatula. I had always believed that it was necessary to start with a thin crumb coat of frosting to lock down any loose crumbs, but with this technique a crumb coat was not needed. It was such a fast and easy way to frost a cake! And using a turn table really did make this step go much more quickly. Our instructor also had some amazing tips for getting a beautiful smooth finish to the frosting on the cake.
The instructor showed us how to mix colors to get just the right shade of frosting for our decorating. The color choices are amazing! We then were able to experiment with three different frosting tips. We learned how to make stars, dots, buttons, rosettes and other various patterns and designs. We were also able to practice writing words and phrases in frosting. For me, this was where I could really get my creative juices flowing!
As with many projects and activities having the right tools is important. This class taught us how to use some basic cake decorating tools and introduced us to some of the innovative products that Wilton offers. I have mentioned in other posts how much I love some of my Wilton products and the tools I used at this party were no exception. There was the opportunity to purchase some of the tools and materials that were used and discussed in the class but there was no high pressure to buy anything. I do not have any affiliation with Wilton other than I have had great experiences with their products.
So what do you think? Does this sound like something you would be interested in attending? Many local craft stores offer Wilton cake decorating classes in store – this can be a great option for learning too but isn’t quite as laid back and personable as a home party. I did learn that not all Wilton cake decorating instructors can offer the Wilton at Home experience – there are different requirements for the in home instructors. If you are interested in hosting you own Wilton at Home party you can email the Wilton company directly at WMISupport@wilton.com to find an instructor near you. If you happen to live in the state of Michigan, you can contact Kelli (the instructor at the party I attended) at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
I truly enjoyed this experience and learned a ton. My finished cake didn’t turn out too bad either! I feel confident that I can do a much better job decorating cakes at home now than I would have before attending this class. And the best part is that no matter how good or bad your decorating turns out, the cake still tastes delicious!
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