Thursday, September 8, 2011
Last night I went to my very first cake decorating class and made my very first frosting stars on some sugar cookies (I realized later that I should have tried a new recipe for this, since I had the opportunity, but I have found that very few recipes provide truly flat cookies to decorate and so I went with my tried and true unleavened holiday sugar cookies). It was an interesting experience, one designed to get me out of the house and among other living, breathing human beings (the people in my TV set apparently don't count). It was also designed to teach me a few things about decorating cakes, which I did, though I also had to sit through a lot of babble about things I already knew and resist the urge to snark about the decorating frosting being called "buttercream" when it contained no butter (except the Wilton butter flavoring) and choke when the instructor said things like "I don't put salt in any of my food" and "I'm not an icing person, even if it's really good icing."
Needless to say, this class was not at Le Cordon Bleu. It was in the break room at Michael's. I had five classmates, none of whom would speak (except the two college girls who whispered incessantly to each other), forcing me to be the nerdy kid who reads the instructions as the teacher demonstrates. But, like I said, I did learn to make little frosting stars. I also learned a couple of interesting things, some of which I have to take the teacher's word for (until I get a chance to test them) and some I saw in action.
1. Many off-brand powdered sugars are made with beet sugar (I believe that), which changes the consistency of frosting (needs testing).
2. When filling cakes, make a dam out of frosting to keep the filling in. (So simple, but a lightbulb clicked on!) This means you should pipe a thick line of frosting around the bottom layer of the cake, then fill inside that, then add the top layer.
3. Shortening used to contain Trans Fat, but it doesn't anymore. This means older shortening-based recipes might need adjusting with the new product.
4. When filling a piping bag, here's a very handy technique: make a "sausage" by putting the frosting in plastic wrap and twisting the ends. Cut off one of the ends and place that end toward the tip of the bag. This makes for super easy clean-up and no frosting on your hands!