Monday, June 10, 2013

Craftsy Class Review- Cake Design Made Simple: The Wedding Dress

Craftsy LogoThis class was taught by Rachael Teufel, who owns Intricate Icings in Denver. It had a lot of material in it, and would probably be helpful to people who have no experience in sewing since she shows you how to use a lot of techniques to mimic fabric effects.

I used to design costumes for the theater, and I worked in a costume shop for a while after college. One of the women I used to work with now owns a custom wedding gown shop in Boston, and when she heard that I was doing cakes she said that she thought that it was funny how many people she knew who had either done cakes and switched to dresses, or vice versa. Knowing fabric techniques can be really helpful when you're working with fondant, so I totally agree with her. (Check out her website, it's Seams Couture, she does beautiful work.)

So anyway, if you don't have any background in sewing and you don't know how fabric works, this class would be helpful in figuring that out. She goes over ruffles, lace, burlap (of course), sequins, flowers, pearls and what she refers to as rhinestones but which are just pearls with disco dust on them. (Step away from the disco dust...) There's also a section on carving the cakes to mimic the shape of a wedding dress, and how to make a lace mold.

Most of the class is devoted to showing how to do a direct copy of a specific dress, but she also talks about the design process of deciding what to incorporate into the cake, how to use elements from the dress without totally copying it, and that kind of thing. She hits on all the major points that are important, and I had no issues with any of that part of the class. It's unusual that you'd make a complete copy of a wedding dress, since that's kind of a design cop-out and most brides don't want something that obvious, but for the purposes of this class doing that covered a lot of fabric effects.

The problem that I had with this particular class is more of a heat-specific thing. She starts by saying that you can use fondant, gumpaste or modelling chocolate depending on which you prefer, then she does pretty much the entire class using modelling chocolate.

Now don't get me wrong, I think that modelling chocolate is great. It's easy to work with, doesn't dry out the same way that fondant and gumpaste do, and it's easy to manipulate. But if you have a cake that has to travel in heat at any point it's not the best choice, and it also tends to behave in a weird way if it's humid outside. I don't even use straight modelling chocolate during the summer months because it doesn't handle the same way that it does in the winter.

If I'm going to use modelling chocolate when it's hot outside, I mix it with fondant to give it a little less meltability. I once saw a wedding cake (actually, the one that made me coin the term "monkey-iced") that had modelling chocolate roses on it. It had been put outside for a summer wedding, and every single rose had melted into a gooey clump. I also had a display cake that had chocolate ribbons on it, and when I took it outside I watched as the ribbons started to sag and melt just during the short walk to the car. So just be aware that it's not necessarily the best choice for every weather situation, and plan accordingly.

There were also differences in how I would do certain things (and I've already shown how to do them on my blog) and how she does them, but that's to be expected. The main question that I have about her techniques is that she uses water to adhere a lot of the things to the cake, but modelling chocolate is oil-based, so water won't stick things to it that well. That's demonstrated in a couple of spots when the things she's sticking onto the cake fall off. I use water to stick gumpaste onto fondant, but I wouldn't use it to stick anything onto chocolate.

My final review:

Skill Level: Beginner
Equipment You Have To Have: Boards, dowels, fondant, modelling chocolate, rulers, mold making stuff, impression mats, luster dusts, etc.
Sleep-Inducing Level: I fell asleep once but I also skipped through a lot of it.
What It Assumes You Already Know: Not much other than basic fondant skills.
Unnecessary Difficulty Level Of Methods Demonstrated: She has over-dowel-itis if you look at the number of dowels in the cake tiers. Also the method of making the lace molds is unnecessarily complicated and gives you a really shallow mold that you have to cut out with an exacto, which is just an extra step.
Annoying Host Habits: If she said "no worries" or "the beauty of this is..." one more time I was going to have a fit.
Level of Helpful Hints Learned: There was a lot for people who don't know much about fabric. If you don't know a pleat from a dart from a gusset, this class will give you half a clue about how to make them. The design tips were kind of on the light side, but for someone who's just starting out and doesn't know how to approach a cake design it might be helpful to narrow down options.

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 and

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