I do love a good workshop! Over the past few years I’ve learnt to make felt, weave, sew my own pyjama bottoms, spray paint, and learn how to use my proper camera. I’ve also had a go at biscuit decorating, but not much else baking related. Now that I have years of birthday cakes ahead of me, I figured it was about time to give cake decorating a go!
I’ve been following the wonderfully talented Vanessa of The Sparkling Spatula on Instagram for a while now. Also based in Oxfordshire, Vanessa creates beautiful layer cakes completely coated in buttercream, a style that I have tried (and failed) to recreate at home. Last year Vanessa started running workshops and I was gutted to miss the Christmas one (as H was only a couple of months old, the timing wasn’t great), but luckily new dates for 2018 were announced, and a course falling at the Easter weekend worked perfectly for me. I booked my place as a treat to myself to mark the end of my maternity leave.
The class size for the workshop was small, with only 4 other lovely ladies joining me. After a quick cuppa and intro we got straight into the decorating. Vanessa was a wonderful teacher, demonstrating each part of the process before letting us loose on our own cakes. Along the way we picked up so many tips and tricks to help us achieve our own professional looking cakes at home.
As we layered up our cakes, we nibbled on scraps of cake and buttercream; an essential part of the baking process is quality assurance after all! Even with just a crumb coat, it was clear that as well as tasting delicious our cakes were going to end up looking like real masterpieces.
One of the most enjoyable parts of the workshop was learning how to create buttercream roses using just a piping bag! This was not a skill that came easily to me, but after a lot of practise, I found myself producing flowers that would at least look half-decent on my cake.
Once we’d completed the flowers, it was back to the cake itself, and applying the final coat of buttercream. As a bit of a perfectionist, I was worried about how easy this would be, but armed with the right tools and a lot of encouragement, I managed to get a relatively clean finish on my cake without too much foul language on my part (one of the many reasons why I’ve never applied for the bake off…).
After the final coat of buttercream had cooled in the fridge, we were able to start assembling the finishing touches. As Vanessa brought out our trays of buttercream flowers, I held my breath slightly, worried about how rubbish mine had turned out. I was pleasantly surprised, they didn’t seem to look as bad as I’d first thought especially when paired with real flowers, macarons, and gorgeous sprinkles!
In just a few hours, I’d managed to create a beautiful cake of my very own! It also reignited my love for baking, something that’s admittedly taken a back seat to sewing over the years. I soon found myself online ordering all sorts of goodies ready for my very own cake-decorating project, Harper’s Christening Cake! I’ve already shared a picture on Instagram, so you know it wasn’t a complete disaster, but I’ll be writing a separate post on how I got on going it alone!
I’d always encourage anyone to have a go at a workshop to learn a new skill; it’s such an enjoyable experience. Cake decorating is no different; I learnt so much from the session that I’ll be using for years to come.