I showed that cake who's boss in my first class today! It was an interesting experience. There are 5 other ladies in the class - one my age, and the rest are probably between 40 and 50. Some do other creative hobbies, a couple others don't even bake... yet.
Our instructor, Gloria, is from Guadalajara, Mexico and the first thing she did was kick the buttercream icing recipe in the book to the curb. She explained also that she teaches the Wilton concepts, but isn't paid on sales of product and has found some better ways to do things and she'll show us her own helpful tips along the way. She noted that we're adults and this is an open class and we're welcome to experiment and share, as well.
Gloria gave us her recipe, which she's perfected over the years. As she was reading off the ingredients and showing containers, we noticed that the shortening the recipe called for wasn't an easily estimated portion of a container. The woman next to me started getting uneasy. She wanted to know exactly how to measure everything perfectly. Gloria said, "I'm Latina, we don't do exact," but showed us how to eyeball it. She explained that her recipe is more robust than the book recipe, which apparently has to be spot-on to achieve perfect consistency. After we made her recipe in groups, she demonstrated how foolproof her recipe is and dumped in an extra 4 tablespoons of butter and 4 oz of cream cheese. The result: same consistency, same taste. Pretty amazing considering she about doubled those two ingredients.
So then the woman next to me wanted to know how we can make the recipe with no sugar or fat, because she cooks gluten free and organic and is allergic to things. She must have told us 800 times how she makes gluten free cakes that everyone loves. She wasn't even actually decorating because apparently she can't touch wheat. Uh... hmmm. This is a cake class, cakes are generally full of sugar and fat. The instructor is there to teach decorating, not to know how to sub recipes for dietary restrictions. I get that food allergies require people to figure out alternatives and get creative, but this didn't seem to the place.
So we made our frosting (minus Gluten Free) and learned to level our itty bitty 6" round cakes. Then we had to stack them and ice the outside. We learned techniques for how to get our buttercream perfectly smooth. I thought mine came out really well. Next we had to make "shells" to hide flaws where the sides of the cake meets the top and at the bottom where the cake sits on the plate. Yeah, I'm not so hot at shells. It doesn't help that I don't like the way they look - they're the same finishing touch that most grocery store cakes have and I'm just not a fan. Gluten Free wanted to take pictures as we were working because she blogs. Otherwise, she just sat there and stared me and my wee cake down.
After finishing our cakes and cleaning up, it was time to go over homework. Gluten Free noticed that Gloria was giving us materials and instructions for the lesson 2 cake, not lesson 3, and brought it up. Gloria explained that the she was changing the order because lesson 3 requires a round cake like we'd just made, whereas lesson 2 allows the choice between round and a shaped character pan, and that switching the next two lessons helps us build skills for the final lesson. No biggie, right? Makes sense? Sure. Not so much for Gluten Free. She is a rules follower, the kind of stickler that makes me look tame on my freakiest day.
So I packed up my sugary, fatty, non-organic, glutenful cake and came home. Dan thought it was pretty awesome. We shared it, but I wasn't a fan of the 8.5 pounds of buttercream I'd put on it, so he got quite a bit of my half, too.
I'm really excited for my class on Thursday. I have to recreate a much bigger version of what we did today on my own and I'll end up with something I can take to work to share. I'm so glad that Gloria is willing to give us freedom to experiment while learning techniques - I'm hoping to let out my creative side and decorate a pretty fantastic cake.