Sunday, December 29, 2013

Craftsy Class Review: Creative Flavors for Cakes, Fillings, and Frostings

Craftsy LogoCreative Flavors for Cakes, Fillings, and Frostings continues the baking lessons, and concentrates on pastry, which will be pretty helpful for a lot of cake mix users. If you don't have a basic grasp on how to make meringue buttercreams, curds, mousse, or a real cake, this might be a good one for you.

Creative Flavors is taught by Jenny McCoy, whose bio says has ten years experience working in pastry, and who has written a cookbook. She goes through the basics of mixing cake batters and making fillings while giving tips about what to do and not to do, and if you pay attention and don't fall asleep like I did you might learn something.

I'll be the first to say that every long instructional video puts me to sleep, but watching someone mix cake batter really knocks me out. I mean a put-the-computer-away-admit-defeat-and-lie-down-on-the-couch-nap kind of knock out. So make sure that you have a lot of caffeine in your system if you're prone to the same kind of thing, because this one will kill you.

There's lots of mixing, explanations of ingredients, explanations of how to infuse flavors, etc etc etc. There's a lot of explaining. It's mostly all good information, although there are a few things that are done in a way too complicated manner. Since there are a lot of different ways to do things I may have either been taught them differently, or picked things along the way, so there were some things that could be simplified.

I'll add that I'm not a huge fan of using herbs and savory ingredients in pastry flavors, so I'd just skip over all that mess that she includes. It's a little too precious for me, and I find that most people (not chefs, but they're a different breed) find herbs in desserts either weird or just gross. The only thing I like in pastry is rose water, and if you do that wrong you might as well go suck on a bar of soap, so it's a delicate balance. Usually not a good one.

The other things to be aware of is that based on the questions that people have posted, some of the recipes are missing steps, or missing information. Read everything over before you start.

My final review:

Skill level: Beginner to Intermediate
Equipment you have to have: Stand mixer, baking stuff, bowls, etc.
Sleep-inducing level: Oh it was bad. But the parts that I stayed awake for were informative, so fight the urge to nap.
What it assumes you already know: Not much. The recipes are explained step by step.
Unnecessary Difficulty Level Of Methods Demonstrated: A few techniques were weird, like the Italian meringue and the lemon curd. It's very possible to make a curd by adding everything at once to a pan and bringing the heat up without a water bath. I know because I do this all the time, although if you take the class's word for it this will result in disaster. Not so, my friends, not so. Some of the recipes are also a little off balance-wise, but for fillings that isn't such a big deal.
Annoying Host Habits: She's a massively hyperactive hand talker, which I also do, but she's a synchronised hand talker. This might have contributed to me being hypnotised and falling asleep. Beware.
Level of Helpful Hints Learned: There's a lot of information about basic ingredients, mixing techniques, etc. This would be really, really good for someone who wanted to learn more about pastry techniques.

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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