Monday, March 17, 2014

Craftsy Class Review: Decorating From The Inside Out

Craftsy Logo

This class was taught by Amanda Rettke, who writes the I Am Baker blog. It covers techniques on how to put a design inside a cake so that when you cut it, you see the pattern inside. She just put out a book with the same techniques, so I assume this was made as a companion to that.

I'm going to have a hard time reviewing this class because I'm not a fan of cake balls, cake mixes or tons of food coloring, and this technique uses all three. One of my friends refers to this kind of thing as "stunt baking," and I have no doubt after watching the class that these kinds of cakes sacrifice quality for the effect of having the pattern inside.

I'll say first that I've never seen the I Am Baker blog, so I went to look at what it covers. It's basically a home-cooking type of baking blog. You're not going to learn any professional techniques from watching this class so far as icing a cake smooth or making it level, but that's not the focus of her blog. She said that she's only been baking for 4 years, and her focus on her blog seems to be on lumpy-type cookies and chewy bars, know what I mean? Nothing wrong with that, believe me, but it's not a blog about professional-quality cakes.

So on to the class. She demonstrates a few different techniques to put the "pictures" inside of the cake, and good God almighty, yuck. The first one was basically making a big glob of mushed-up cake and icing until it's the consistency of playdough, then cutting stuff out of it and baking it inside another cake. Like I said, I'm not a fan of taking cake and icing and mushing them together to begin with, and I was horrified watching the process. My daughter came up behind me at one point and said "what is that? Ugh, that's so gross!" Yeah, it is. But if you're okay with that then go for it.

The one technique that doesn't use cake mush is basically cutting out the shape of a heart and then layering in the colored layers inside it to make a heart shape inside the cake. But when you cut it, it's a half a heart on the piece of cake, not a full heart. So that was odd. There are videos on youtube showing how to do a full heart that goes all the way through the cake, which I guess you could do with the cake glob method if you're into that.

She also did a cake that was made from triangular wedges of cake that were sort of held together with simple syrup, but for the life of me I can't imagine that a simple syrup would actually keep the pieces from falling away from each other. A thin layer of buttercream between each wedge would be more effective. If you've ever made a puzzle cake and tried to have it hold together with just the cake, you'll know what I'm talking about.

I had a problem with more than a few things in this class, but the two biggies were the cake mix thing and the "chilling" of the cake that she kept referring to. She didn't mean to chill it, she's talking about freezing it, which was demonstrated when she went to cut the heart cake and could barely get the knife through the cake. She really had to press with all her strength to try to cut the thing...Are you supposed to serve the cakes frozen like that? What the heck?

The implication was that to have them keep their shape and not fall apart, they needed to be that cold. There's a photo of the heart cake in the class promo that makes the white part of the cake look really gummy and under baked. After seeing that it was cake mix, and that's how it was handled, I saw why it looked that way. I assume that the ones with the shapes baked inside don't need to be frozen, but those are the only ones that wouldn't fall apart when they were cut...very curious.

My final review:

Skill Level: Beginner
Equipment You Have To Have: cake, knife, food coloring, cookie cutters.
Sleep-Inducing Level: It was really short, and I was so horrified for most of it it kept me awake.
What It Assumes You Already Know: Not a lot.
Unnecessary Difficulty Level Of Methods Demonstrated: Not much.
Annoying Host Habits: Nothing specific.
Level of Helpful Hints Learned: Ugh. If you're curious about this method it would be worth buying this if you really want to, but get it if it's on sale. If you're looking for a baking class, you'd be better served getting this one: Decadent Chocolate Cakes  or this one: Creative Flavors For Cakes and Fillings

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

1 comment:

Eva Farragher said...

In a country that shuns cake mixes and excessive food colouring, and bakes largely from scratch, this made my flesh creep.

Should've reviewed this one at Halloween.

Ewwwwwwwww!!!

Furthermore, I am never, ever, ever doing one of these for a client. Ever.