Sunday, 19 February 2012

Cupcake Decorating Course

A little while back, my Regional Manager and I discovered a mutual love for all things baked (making AND eating!), so on the weekend just passed we participated in a cupcake decorating course at Marg and Maree's in Heidelberg, Victoria. I had no idea they existed until quite recently, and I'm really glad that I stumbled across them. Not only are they relatively close to home, but they offer shorter, cheaper baking and decorating courses for those who are not so keen to spend several weeks running learning skills. From what I can see a lot of them are bite-sized classes (pardon the delicious pun!).

The course mainly focused on basic decorating techniques and provided us with ready-made icings, but also gave a bit of information on how to make those icings. I'd be lying if I said I would never be tempted to dive in and buy pre-made products, but I do like to learn to make things properly myself before resorting to the cheaty way.

We learnt about piping melted chocolate, baker's icing (which is similar to what you find on doughnuts or coffee scrolls) and American-style buttercream. It wasn't about the fine detail like you see with royal icing; it was about simple, effective, readily-replicated techniques.

First we were taught to pipe melted dark and white (with oil-based red/pink colouring in it) into shapes. We used templates for the dark chocolate ones but soon enough you learn to make them free-hand. As the instructor Maree said, once you take it off the template, nobody will know the difference anyway!

We were also taught to melt compound chocolate in the microwave - hitherto I have burnt it but I think I will be more confident about it in the future.

Next up, we glazed a cupcake with baker's icing, which was really easy and only requires a little judgement regarding how much icing to put on without it running over the edges.

We were also taught to make shapes with sugarpaste, including hearts and butterflies, which were placed between sticks to allow them to set with their wings up. Cute!

Then the piping began (I wish I had pics of the practice runs on baking paper, but I don't because I was - scandal - busy practicing piping! So you'll have to use your imagination) - big stars,

little stars and random squiggles (aka cornelli lace, which I have royally stuffed up in the past),

big swirls,

(notice the glitter? Special edible glitter, of course!)
leaves (I wish I could say I made the flower myself, but alas I did not... but the leaves were jolly well hard enough!)

and ruffles (which you'd think I'd be better at after attempting the ruffle cake, but no).

And then we put them all together in various ways, and they were so pretty.

I really wish I'd done this sooner! I still don't have much of a visually creative streak, but I am actually beginning to think that it's something I am capable of - once I know what's out there. I'm that way with most things - I need to understand the mechanics of it before I can freestyle, and I firmly believe that, whilst some people are naturals, most people require a lot of practice. And I'm one of them!

If you're a bit of a baking enthusiast I highly recommend getting a little guidance with decorating. YouTube and the interwebs in general are great for picking up information, but nothing quite beats a real-life instructor.


  1. They all look spectacularly delicious!

    1. This lot WERE delicious, and I'm kind of sold on using the professional cake mix you buy at decorating suppliers'. I'm doing another course this week, so hopefully they're just as pretty :)


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