17 June 2011

Buttercream, Royal Icing, and Gum Paste, Oh My!

It has been awhile since I've talked about my cake decorating classes. I'd like to first apologize for that; life has been a wee bit insane lately. So much to do and so little time to do it.

The second class of three is flower decorating. I am thoroughly enjoying this class. The first lesson we got a little taste of fondant and gum paste, but we'll be using much more of that in the third class. Right now we're working with royal icing, which is super easy to work with and dries hard. This allows for the flowers to keep their shape. Examples of both this and the gum paste are at the end of this post.  

Moving right along... I finished up the last of the beginning class a few weeks ago with this cake:


Before anyone thinks I was being snarky with the "Eat Me" written on there, it's actually an "Alice in Wonderland" reference. I just adore those books and when given the assignment to write something on there I couldn't help myself.

Also, please ignore the not-so-great photos. I was having one of those days if you know what I mean.

The cake itself was a lavender flavor, with lemon curd filling and lavender frosting. It was good, but not great. Lavender is hard to work with I've found. Not enough means you can't taste it but too much makes it soapy. Yuk.

So those ribbon roses up there aren't so great for two reasons. The first is that my frosting was a little dry; oops. The second was that my instructor admitted that they never, ever look as nice as the photoshopped ones in the book.

You see, the roses are supposed to look, as the name suggests, like they are made from ribbon. Well, when using the #104 tip the edges come out ruffled. That's great for real looking roses (coming up in my next post) but makes it impossible for these ones to look smooth. One of my classmates put a little piping gel into her buttercream and that helped smooth out the petals a bit so if I ever want to make these again, I'll try that.


Hmm... no idea what I did to that leaf, there. My poor, lovely leaf.
Just for fun, this is what the cake looked like inside. It wasn't as moist as I usually like my cakes, but it was still pretty good. Like with those lemon cupcakes, the lemon curd may have been one of my favorite parts.

The first lesson in the second class introduced us students to gum paste and fondant. It doesn't taste great, but it's really enjoyable to work with. Check out these gum paste flowers we all made.

Precious, right? The first flowers, the button flowers, were made by sticking the gum paste (colored with fondant) into a mold that we pressed together to cut out the shapes. You can see the little raged-edges on some of the petals. That can be cleaned up once the gum paste is fully dry.

Also, you can see that I didn't quite press hard enough on the large purple flower. It was my first time and I didn't realize how much pressure you really have to put into that mold.
Next were the pansies. I felt pretty good about these. They're rolled out really thin, cut out with a cookie cutter, then placed on foam. When on the foam we used this little ball-roller to give the edges that wave.

Lastly, the second lesson of this class was our first introduction to royal icing. Well, I'd worked with it the weekend before when I tried out real roses on some cupcakes, but I'll show you all those later. As far as classwork goes, it was the first time using royal icing.
I did a better job with the flowers at home.

When I got to class it was discovered that my icing was a little on the runny side. I made some apple-blossoms and primroses with it anyway. I had the motion down but they were not exactly pretty enough to take pictures of. Sorry.
I did take pictures of my rosebuds! I finally had to borrow some powdered sugar from a classmate to thicken up the icing.

These are the oddest little things. They really don't look like much of anything until you add the greenery (see what I was talking about? Runny icing for those.) Until you add that they just look like lumps. I've seen them look beautiful so I'm going to keep working on them.


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