Monday, July 1, 2013

Craftsy Class Review: Contemporary English Over-Piping

This class covers the basics of overpiping techniques that are the basis for the Lambeth style of decorating. It was taught by Ceri Griffiths, who has obviously taught a lot because he's totally at home in front of the camera and is able to talk and work at the same time without doing any "uh...uh..."mumbling.

I'll preface this review by saying that this technique isn't something that will be used a lot by most American decorators. It's a very traditional look, and people here just aren't going to be familiar with it. Having said that, it IS a traditional technique, and working with royal icing is a cake decorating basic skill. If you want to be a well-rounded decorator you should at least try it at some point. It can come in handy if you need to make piped flowers or leaves up ahead of time, too.

This class was excellent to get the basics of royal icing...I think that we must have done a lot of royal icing work in culinary school, because I kept experiencing deja vu flashbacks. The topics that are included in this class are royal icing, how to make it and store it, how to make pastillage, the basics of making the forms for the overpiped shapes, and differences in what types of bags and tips to use for the technique.

If you've never worked with royal icing before, this class would be well worth buying. It takes the mystery out of overpiping, and makes it look very accessible. Of course, it doesn't mention that the piping part isn't as easy as he makes it look, but it's all a matter of practice. Watching the class will give you a very good idea of how to do basic overpiping, and once you get the hang of that you'll be able to try more complicated techniques.

Craftsy is apparently too cheap to pay for the batteries in the wall clock in the studio, too, because it was stuck at the same time for the whole class. I was hoping to time a couple of things to see how long it took in real time, but I couldn't due to lack of a battery. I know that there are a few things the he did that look a lot quicker than they really were, but that's the magic of editing.

Also be aware that piping with royal icing can be really hard on your hands. It's stiffer than buttercream, so you need to use more pressure, and that can take a toll on your hands and wrists. I had a client recently send me a picture of some giant Lambeth-style monstrosity, and I took the physical difficulty into account when sending her a quote. Strangely, she didn't call me back, so I guess she's still passed out from the shock of how much a giant overpiped cake for 200 people would cost.

So my final review:

Skill Level: Beginner
Equipment You Have To Have: Piping bags, tips 1,2,3, forms to dry the pastillage forms.
Sleep-Inducing Level: I stayed awake until the third section where he was piping tiny lines over and over.
What It Assumes You Already Know: How to get a decent controlled pressure on a piping bag
Unnecessary Difficulty Level Of Methods Demonstrated: Nothing at all.
Annoying Host Habits: Not a thing...He's very comfortable in front of the camera and I'd buy another class that he taught because of his lack of annoying habits.
Level of Helpful Hints Learned: An excellent class for people who want to learn the basics of the overpiping techniques and royal icing. Also good as a refresher for people like myself who haven't done this kind of piping recently, but who have some experience with it.


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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