Monday, March 25, 2013

Craftsy Class Review: Intro To Isomalt


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Intro To Isomalt
This Intro To Isomalt class was taught by Charity Pykles-George, who is an obvious sugar freak. I say that in the most admiring way, because if I could find a job where all I did all day was pour sugar and mess around with isomalt I'd be super happy.

The first thing I liked about this class was the lack of a time-waster right at the beginning where the instructor blah blah blahs about who they are and how Craftsy works. This one started out with the cooking of the isomalt and got right into it.

She covered the basics of sugar safety, and went over different types of equipment. The class covered the main methods of working with isomalt, including pouring into molds, pulling the sugar to form flowers and ribbons, and blowing sugar globes. It was thorough in covering the techniques that you need for these basic skills, and you should be able to come away with a working knowledge of what to do to get certain effects.

She does mention several times that it isn't as easy as it looks, and that you shouldn't expect perfect results the first time. She made it look a lot easier than it is when you try it for the first time... She was working really fast, which is something that you don't realize you need to do until you're actually hands-on with the sugar.

I was curious to know how her sugar stayed workable for so long without being under a lamp, because when I work with isomalt it seems to cool and become brittle a lot faster. I suspect that there was a lot of warming going on the we didn't see in the editing, but I could be wrong.

The one thing that made me nervous was the use of a lit torch that was just sitting on the counter firing away. If you've never worked with a torch before you should be really careful about lighting a torch and sitting it on the counter with the flame coming out of it. This isn't an activity that you should do if you have little kids around. You might want to watch the torch skills basics class (it's free) before you use one, too.

Just remember that sugar work holds a much higher level of danger from burns than other cake techniques, and you should be fine. Charity obviously has experience dealing with the heat from the isomalt and also knows how to handle the lit torches, but if it's the first time you're doing it it won't be as simple as she makes it look!

My final verdict:

Skill Level: Beginners okay, but you'd better be ready to experience a lot of trial and error. It would probably help if you've messed around with isomalt before just so that you would have a point of reference while watching the class.
Equipment You Have To Have: Silpat mat, warming equipment (at least a microwave), gloves, molds.
Sleep-Inducing Level: I made the mistake of watching this when I had only had 5 hours of sleep the night before. At one point I dropped my iPad on the floor when I fell asleep sitting up. There was a lot of repetition and quiet airtime but that's the nature of this subject, so it's a trade-off. It's hard to talk and pay attention to what the isomalt is doing at the same time.
What It Assumes You Already Know: Not much other than assuming you're aware of basic safety issues.
Unnecessary Difficulty Level Of Methods Demonstrated: Not much, it was pretty straightforward.
Level of Helpful Hints Learned: Extremely useful if you've never done sugar work before. I had done enough that I was kind of familiar with what the isomalt would feel like while I was watching her work with it, but it clarified a lot of things that I'd kind of figured out on my own just from messing around with it.

This class would be worth full price if you've never done sugar work before. I've messed around with it enough that I'd consider myself a technique-less amateur, and I picked up enough tips to refine my own crude methods, so it was worth a buy.

Click here for my Craftsy pattern shop, which has a bunch of freebies in it: A Cake To Remember On Craftsy


Kara Buntin owns A Cake To Remember LLC,  online cake supplies at  www.acaketoremember.com and www.acaketoremember.etsy.com

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