June 4, 2009

Lesson One - Shortening?? Really??

Last night was my first class for the Wilton Cake Decorating Level 1. I wasn't sure what I was expecting, but the class certainly was entertaining. The instructor, Laura has been teaching the class for a year and loves decorating cakes. For her decorating is her hobby. Some people like scrap booking.. Laura likes cakes. I guess I'm in the same category. I'd rather bake something than cut out paper and pictures and stick them in a book.

So the first thing we do is go through the materials needed for the class. I guess there is no such thing as just buying the lesson kit and being done with it.. Oh no... Now you need Meringue Powder to use in the icing instead of eggs (don't want to kill anyone with raw eggs!), you need piping gel for one little detail in the first cake, you need a turntable to put your cake on and you need a cake caddy to bring your cakes to class. On top of the icing colors, the vanill flavoring, the rose cutter, the cake icer tip, etc etc etc.. Now I suppose I was expecting to have to spend money on extra things. And since I am planning on taking all four courses, it was a lot cheaper for me to buy the creme de la creme - a 100 Piece Tool Caddy Decorating set. How much did that set me back??
Before or after the 50% off Michaels Coupon... (Can I just say I love those coupons!)

So 100$ later, I had my Caddy kit, and thankfully the kit has everything I will need for all four courses and more, so I don't have to buy the lesson kits, which cost about $20-40 after coupons.

Anyway, back to class..

So Laura runs us through what we need to have, and begins showing us how to "torte" and "ice" a cake. I know what icing a cake is, but I had never heard the term "torting" before.
Well who knew people actually made a cake and cut them in half to put filling in the center? Here I was always making two separate cakes and trying to pile them on top of each other! Needless to say my cakes always looked like crap.
Laura assures us that we can still make two cakes and slap them together, but we have to make at least one cake where we "torte" it. So I will play by the rules and torte my cakes. Least it gives me an excuse to buy a new cake pan since mine are all 2 inches tall!

After torting and adding some vanilla pudding to the center, and putting the top layer back on the cake, we are now ready to "ice" the cake.

Of course, we are in a Wilton class, so we can only use a Wilton recipe for making buttercream icing. And I must say, when I make cakes on my own, I will be looking for another recipe!

Class Buttercream Icing (stiff consistency)
1 cup solid white vegetable shortening (can you say blech??)
1 teaspoon Wilton Flavor (Vanilla, Almond, or Butter)
3 tablespoons milk or water
1 lb pure icing sugar
1 tablespoon Wilton Meringue Powder
Pinch of salt (optional)

I don't think I have ever had shortening in my house. I know my grandmother still uses it, hence why I cannot eat many of my grandmothers pies.
But in icing???

Of course, this is the recipe we have to follow for class. And because I am such a good student, I will follow.

Laura proceeds to show us gadget #1 which is a large cake icer tip and piping bag. This way you put the icing on the cake in a nice, easy fashion and then spread it out evenly, rather than taking your cake spatula and doing the same thing..

I, however am lucky enough to get this in my creme de la creme caddy. No spatula slathering for me!

Within a few moments she has iced the cake. It looks very plain.. a white icing on a white cake..
Yet I know hers looks 10 times better than mine will!!

Before we know it, lesson is over. For all classes, we must bring in a cake that has been torted and iced and ready for decorating.
Then Laura spouts off all of the essentials we need to bring into next class. My head starts spinning with the amount of stuff I have to bring. So much for being able to walk every week to class! I think I need a new vehicle just to carry everything in it!

Overall, I am looking forward to this adventure. I am going to get my cake baked and ready for icing on the weekend, and I will be all ready for my next class. Hopefully my decorated cake will look like it is supposed to!


  1. I was wondering how it went! Whew... sounds like there is a lot more involved than one would guess. As for walking... just pile all your cake supplies into your stroller and cart it down to Michaels!

    Have fun!

  2. How can it be "buttercream" icing when there is neither butter nor cream in it?

    I agree shortening is gross in icing, but I have to ask, if you don't use shortening in pies, what do you use?

  3. Lol, you imply I bake pies Deb!!

  4. A tip for you - freze the cake before you ice it! t will go on better.

    And I use butter in pastry. Shortening is nas-tay!