Wilton Cake Decorating Class 3: Cupcakes Galore

Today’s class was all about decorating cupcakes. We practiced a number of techniques including shells, drop flowers, leaves, rosettes, shells, shaggy mums, and Pom Pom flowers. We also learned the proper cupcake “swirl”.

I made a double batch of icing yesterday using the Wilton recipe and it turned out perfectly! Thank goodness I did, we needed a lot of icing today. Unfortunately I didn’t check the stiffness carefully enough before colouring my icing and putting it in the icing bags during class, so some of the techniques weren’t working well because the icing was too stiff. But after sitting out for a while and adding a bit of water, they were much easier to work with.

I’m quickly learning they I need to let go of my OCD tendencies when decorating, otherwise I’ll never be happy with my work. I also need to be patient with myself and practice as much as I can. The more I play, the better I get!

Below are the final results from today’s class. Some of these definitely need some work but considering where I was a month ago, I’m feeling pretty good! The Pom Pom flower is quite hard, I can’t seem to get it right. I’ll have to keep practicing that one.

Next week is our final class and we will be decorating a cake. So over the next week I need to bake, level, fill and ice a cake so it’s decorating ready for class. I also need to make icing in a bunch of colours and consistencies. Lots of homework, good thing it’s fun!

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Easter cupcakes (I’ve caught the baking bug!)

Clearly I’ve used Easter as an opportunity to go on a baking rampage. Hubby and DS1 aren’t big sweet eaters so I like I bake for family functions because my Inlaws ARE!

I baked a batch of sprinkle cupcakes yesterday and used a scoop to transfer the batter into the liners – a great tip from a salesperson at Golda’s Kitchen who said it was the best way to ensure they were all the same size. I then put them in the fridge overnight to harden them. They seem easier to work with when they’re cold (plus the icing doesn’t melt as fast when decorating).

As the tops were a bit uneven, I took a sharp knife and sliced the tops off so they would all be even and flat.

Then came the fun part! I still had a lot of icing left in my Wilton bucket so I put it in the stand mixer to work some magic. First I added water to thin it out (it was medium stiffness already but hard from being in the fridge) then whipped it for about 30 seconds. Then I added a small amount of Wilton green colour gel (a little goes a long way) and whipped it for about a minute to make sure it was evenly coloured. In our course book it said to colour more icing than you’ll likely need because if you run out, it’s almost impossible to match.

Then came the decorating! I had a box of Peeps marshmallow rabbits and some extra Eggies from the brownies. I put a toothpick up the rabbits bum (sorry bunny!) to stabilize him on top of the cupcake. And then I piped icing all around the edges and built it up so it looked like he was peeking out from the “grass”. It was a little time consuming but my turntable made it go a lot faster! I also added some green sprinkles to the grass to give it a little *sparkle*.

Then I used the rest of my icing and a different tip to create some simple Eggies cupcakes.

My fridge is now full of sugary goodness and mini works of art. I can’t wait to see how they taste!

I think I’m getting the hang of this!

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Easter two bite brownies

I made these a week ago and they were a hit so I made another batch (this time I took pictures!).

I used Quaker brownie mix and mini muffin liners. Then decorated with a flower of French vanilla frosting and an Eggie in the centre. Last time i found it difficult to transfer the batter to the baking sheet so I put it in a disposable decorating bag and snipped off the tip. What a difference that made!

The package said to cook a normal brownie pan for 25-30 mins and thankfully I had enough sense to realize that would be too long. So I started with 15 mins and kept checking in 3 minute increments after that – and they were perfect at 18 minutes!

Once they were cooled, I added the icing and DS1 helped add the Eggies to the centre. Then we popped them in the fridge to harden the icing.

So easy and so yummy!

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Wilton Cake Decorating Class 2: Decorating My First Cake

I knew cake decorating would be tricky, but I never expected that icing the cake would be the hardest part!

Our prework for the second class was to bake and ice a cake. I baked the cake and refrigerated it overnight (suggested by the teacher) so it would be less likely to tear when icing it. I also knew I would never be able to complete both steps in one afternoon – the challenges of looking after three boys!

I used Wilton Decorator Icing (bought with a Michaels 50% off coupon for my first class – I still had lots left) and added some water to bring it to a thin consistency so it would spread easily. I put the cake upside down on my turntable (the teacher said it was easier to use the bottom as the top to have the flattest surface) and grabbed my angled spatula.

I dumped all the icing in the middle (as instructed) and began to spread it out to the edges and down the sides. It took me about half an hour to complete the “crumb cover”, the first completed picture below. I put it back in the fridge and added a second coat half an hour later once the icing could harden a bit.

Then I was ready for class! I was pretty proud of my cake, and to be honest mine looked the best out of anyone’s (the other two people’s cakes were really messy and the icing was full of crumbs). That made me feel pretty good!

Then the teacher pointed out that my top had a slant and the corners should be flat/straight instead of rounded. So we proceeded to spend the first hour of class fixing our cakes. She showed us a few techniques for cleaning up the edges and evening out the top. In the end it looked pretty good! Definitely not perfect but better for my first attempt!

Then we got to do the fun part – decorating. First we put parchment paper over a black and white cupcake outline, then traced it with piping gel. Then we turned over the tracing on top of the cake so the gel could transfer and leave a pattern, tracing over it lightly with a brush.

Then we filled in the cupcake base using the dimensional technique and the top using assorted swirls. I was pretty proud of mine! I asked the teacher to show me how to do the shell border around the bottom, and then thought I would use the star technique from the first class for around the top.

You can see my finished cake below. I’m very pleased with my first attempt and I know I will only improve with practice.

And as you can see from the very bottom pictures, it tasted as good as it looked!!

Next week we’re onto cupcakes and flowers, I’m excited for that one!

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Practice makes perfect

When I baked my class cake, I had extra batter leftover and decided to make cupcakes. I also had some Quaker brownie mix on hand and decided to make some two bite brownies – both for a family gathering last night.

I thought it would be a great opportunity to try out the star tip technique we learned last week!

I baked the cupcakes as usual, and followed the brownie package instructions, but used my mini muffin pan and liners instead. I also cooked them a little less and checked them often to make sure they didn’t overbake and dry out. I completely forgot to take a picture of the brownies when they were done – rats! I put a single Eggie/Mini Egg in the centre.

They turned out great! And it was a good test run for Easter baking next weekend. And my star technique is quickly improving. This hobby is definitely about practice, I just hope I don’t gain too much weight with all these yummy treats!

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Baking my first cake

I’m not sure why I’ve been so intimidated to bake cakes, it’s actually really easy!

One of our assignments for Sundays class is to bake and ice a cake. I thought I’d tackle the baking part today so I can chill the cake overnight and ice it tomorrow. Sadly when you have kids you have to do everything in phases!

I used a Betty Crocker golden cake mix, a brand new Wilton 6 inch pan (michaels had a whole pan set on sale for $14 a few weeks ago – from $45) and the Wilton Bake Easy spray (bought today at the McCalls warehouse sale in Mississauga – thanks to Stephanie B for the tip, I had some great finds!).

I combined the ingredients in my KitchenAid stand mixer (my favourite toy), preheated the oven and sprayed the pan. I filled it just about half full and popped it onto the middle rack (which I lowered after last weeks class when I realized I had my oven racks set all wrong!).

The box said to bake it for 28-30 mins so I set the timer for 25 so I could check it and avoid burning. The toothpick came out wet at 25 so I put it in for 4 more minutes. Then it came out perfectly!

The only negative of my cake is the crown on top (which apparently is common and can be avoided using Wilton bake even fabric straps you wet and put around the pan to keep the outside from cooking till the end). The teacher warned us of this, but it’s really not a big deal.

The teacher told us to remove the cake from the pan after about 10 minutes by putting parchment paper and a cooling grid on top, and flipping it over gently while holding them steady.

Once the cake was relatively cool, I broke out my new turntable (purchased with last weeks 50% off coupon at Michaels) a cake circle (I found a pack at winners for $6 – they have lots of Wilton gear for a little less than Michaels) and a serrated knife. I used the technique the teacher showed us to carefully cut off the crown. Then I flipped the cake over on the circle so it could finish cooling and be ready for icing. She told to ice the bottom as the top for the flattest surface possible.

Tomorrow I will tackle icing the cake. I’m also going to ice the cupcakes I made with the leftover batter for a family gathering tomorrow. I’m going to be very popular at parties with my new talents!!

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