Friday, May 13, 2011

Wilton Cake Decorating

I finally signed up for the beginners course through my local JoAnn's store. I searched the Internet for a complete review of the course and what I should expect upon my first class but I didn't find anything detailed enough for me. So my goal here is to offer as much information for any new students who are interested in taking the course and any tips I think will be useful prior to and during the course.

     Before signing up:
I recommend that you scour your local craft stores for coupons or sales for these classes. Personally, I don't think it's worth paying full price unless my schedule just couldn't jive with the instructor's schedule. Every couple of weeks the classes go on sale offering you several different options such as a percentage off pricing, or buy one, get one free type deals. Some stores even throw in a military discount if you're close enough to a military base so definitely ask if you're associated with the military.

     Info about the course:
The Wilton Method courses consist of 4 sessions with each session being roughly 2 hours long. You will need to purchase the student starter kit and the coordinating lesson plan book for whatever course you've signed up for. Being a novice baker myself, I have majority of the tools that are in the student kit but the few essential items that I didn't have added up to be about the same price as the entire student kit itself. So I just went ahead and bought the student kit, which is around $40 but I had a coupon so I think I got mine for maybe $34. The lesson plan book is only $5 and I actually use it a lot while decorating to jog my memory about different techniques.

     Starting the course: Decorating Basics

Day one of your course you should bring the student kit, lesson plan book, and 6 flat undecorated cookies.
I also suggest that you bring a small tub of ready to use decorator icing in case you have a large class, although it's not really necessary. My instructor demonstrated how to make basic butter cream icing (using shortening instead of butter, it's Az after all) and then it was divided among us to use later. We covered the different types of piping bags that are available and how to fit them with a coupler and a tip. After all the technical instruction we filled our piping bags and were taught what designs each tip made and different methods for piping icing. Finally, we got to practice on our cookies!

Basic whole wheat vanilla shortbread cookies

*You'll need to make your own icing following the recipe in the lesson plan book and bring in a single layer baked cake (along with your student kit and lesson plan book) for day two.


Day two: You will learn how to torte your cake using two different methods, create a dam for the filling, and ice the cake. Your instructor will then cover different strategies to successfully decorate your cake, including how to properly color icing and how to do a piping gel transfer.

Whole wheat yellow cake with sugar free raspberry
preserves and iced with rum butter cream 

*You'll need to make a double batch of icing to bring along with un-iced cupcakes for day three. Also, I suggest you make a bunch of 2 inch squares using parchment paper at home instead of buying the pre-cut ones. It's super simple and way cheaper.


Day three: I think this was the most fun class overall. Tons of hands on learning which is always nice and we covered so many different techniques and design options that I constantly have to refer back to the lesson plan book as a reminder of all the things I know I could do to enhance the look of my cupcakes. This day seemed super short because we had so much material to cover and there just wasn't enough time. So I definitely suggest getting in a nice cup of coffee before class. =)

Mocha cupcakes iced with peppermint butter cream

*For the final class you will need to make a double batch of icing in several colors and consistencies to bring along with a cake already iced and your design template.


Day four: This class also went by really quickly because we had some anxiety about the 'final' cake like it was being graded or something so we really wanted to practice as much as we could before we had to decorate our cakes. Along with all the skills we've learned so far we were finally taught how to write in both print and script. Our instructor also taught us how to make one variation of a rose. After all the essential information was discussed we were encouraged to decorate our cakes using as many methods as possible without the cake looking overdone and chaotic.

Checkerboard cake filled with hazelnut ganache and iced with vanilla butter cream

My thoughts on the course:
     Overall I think it was definitely worth the price that I paid (less than half off). Although I baked and decorated a lot before taking the course I was finally able to create not only delicious cakes but cakes that also looked really good. I use the skills that were taught in class every single time I decorate now and the reactions I get from people about how the cakes look also prove that the course was worth it.
     I do want to point out that if you have the choice between a new instructor or one that has been doing these method courses for a while, I would suggest going with an experience instructor. Simply because the time allotted for each lesson is only two hours so a new instructor might not be very good at time management due to all the material that has to be covered.
     Also, before signing up for a particular class ask how many students are signed up so far and avoid a class that has more than 8 people. You'll get more one on one time this way, which is way more beneficial for you in the end.
    Lastly, have fun with it! It's a cake decorating class after all. =) Go in with an open mind and the willingness to learn and you'll walk away with tons of cool cake prettifying skills!

I hope this gave you a detailed run down of what to expect from a Wilton Method Cake Decorating Class.
 If you have any questions at all just comment below.

OH! BTW- I'll be posting some pictures of the cakes I've done recently. It should be up within the next couple days. So be on the look out for that!

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