Sunday, November 28, 2010

So you want to learn cake decorating...

Years ago as a newlywed and new mom, I took my first cake decorating class from a local cake decorating shop in Glendale, AZ. My teacher was a male...very good at what he did...and it was the Kellar Method of cake decorating, which I'm not sure exists any longer. My goal was to be able to just learn some basic decorating skills so that I could make cakes for my family. It soon became evident that I loved decorating and wanted to learn more, so I took a beginning wedding cake class at the same place. The rest is history. I was able to make my little hobby into a business so that I cold stay home with my children, especially while they were small, which I believe has been a blessing to our family. It has also been a great outlet for my creative juices. Some areas of cake decorating I believe have changed since I took my first classes years ago. For example, I think that more decorators are decorating with fondant now than they used to. After taking my beginning classes, I basically taught myself everything else...and I am still learning new techniques every day. I strongly suggest that if you want to learn cake decorating, that you find someone other than a "Wilton" instructor...find someone that has been decorating for a long time, to teach you. I'm sure that some of my methods are ones that Wilton teaches, but others are not.

That being said, I have a couple of my nieces who are now getting into cake decorating. Even my daughter is finding out that she needs to learn how to decorate (out of necessity, since she now lives far away from mom). In this post, I will share a list of some basic supplies that someone would need to get started. I would not suggest buying a "kit," because there are just some things in those that you don't need, or won't ever use.

ü  8” round Magic Line or Fat Daddio's cake pans. DO NOT GET WILTON (You will need two to bake a double layer cake.  These pans are a little more expensive, but bake better and will last forever)
ü  If you are getting a 1/4 sheet (9x13), look for the same brand. Pans need to have straight sides (not tapered), and exact corners (not rounded).
ü  Spatulas (1 small and 1 large) I would suggest that the large one be an off-set(angled) spatula...easier to ice cakes with)
ü  Colors – red, blue, green, yellow (The liquid paste or gel colors are best, they are easier to use and last a very long time. Chefmaster and Americolor are good brands and they come in every imaginable color, but you can start with these 4 basic colors)
ü  10” or 12” vinyl decorating bags (2) (Wilton Featherweight bags are good)
ü  Couplers (2)
ü  Flower nail (#7 or larger)
ü  Tips – Nos. 3, 4, 7, 16, 18, 32, 48, 88, 104, 125, 352
ü  Tip brush
ü  Meringue powder
ü  Butter vanilla flavoring

Get good quality cake pans...Magic Line or Fat Daddio are the best. You have to buy these at either a cake decorating supply store or online.

This is an off-set or angled spatula. It is easier to ice cakes with. You can buy these at places like Walmart, JoAnn, Hobby Lobby, kitchen supply stores, or cake decorating supply stores.

Americolor or Chefmaster liquid paste or gel colors are the best to use. These can be purchased at cake decorating supply stores or online.

These are Wilton Featherweight decorating bags...they become softer and easier to use after several uses. You can buy these at places like Walmart, JoAnn, Hobby Lobby, or cake decorating supply stores. 

This is a coupler. It comes in two part...the large portion fits inside the decorating bag and the ring fits over the tip to keep it secured to the bag. The Wilton brand is fine. You can purchase these at places like Walmart, craft stores, or cake decorating supply stores.

This is a flower nail. It is used to make some flowers, although I usually make my roses on a wooden dowel rod. You can purchase these at craft stores or cake decorating supply stores.

These are cake decorating tips...each has a specific number. It is best to get a few individual tips at first until you learn some basic techniques, and decide which ones you really need. There are still some tips that I have never used. I also have several of the same tips because I use them so frequently. Wilton or Ateco are good brands. You can purchase these best at cake decorating supply stores. If you buy them at places like Walmart or craft stores, you sometimes have to buy them in groups that you don't need.

This is a tip brush. It is used to clean frosting out of your decorating tips. These can be purchased at places like Walmart, craft stores, or cake decorating supply stores.

This is meringue powder. Any brand is fine. It is used to make some flowers and other decorations that harden as they dry. This can be purchased at places like Walmart, craft stores, or cake decorating supply stores.

This is butter vanilla flavoring. Again, any brand will work. You usually have to buy this at a cake decorating supply store or online. It is my favorite flavoring to use when making buttercream frostings.

Because there are no decent cake decorating supply stores here in the Springs, I do most of my shopping at Cake Crafts in Denver (a great place!) or online. 

Friday, November 5, 2010

Yummy sugar cookies in honor of election day...

We had a friend whose birthday just happened to fall on election this is what I came up with...the big one for him and the others for some other friends.  Soft and yummy sugar cookies...these are the best...just eat them with a glass of milk or cup of hot chocolate.

The trick to making soft sugar cookies is not rolling them too thin, and not baking them too long.  All cookies should be taken out of the oven when just set, and let finish baking on the cookie sheet.