Monday, June 16, 2014

Craftsy Class Review: A Cake For Every Occasion

A Cake For Every Occasion was taught by Mary Maher, who is co-owner of Cake Girls in Chicago. You may remember that their shop burned down a few years ago, and they opted not to re-open, but they started a website to do tutorials and sell cake supplies etc instead.

I'll first say that I have no idea why they named this class what they named it, since it's basically a class about how to carve a sphere-shaped cake and decorate it like a teapot. I can think of many occasions when this type of cake would not work, such as my teenaged son's birthday. He probably wouldn't appreciate a cute little teapot cake, so the idea that this is a cake for every occasion falls a bit short. I showed him the "cakes for every occasion" that she made and asked him if he wanted one of them, and he said "um...no."

However, if you want to see how to carve a round cake, this class was very helpful. She shows how to build a base, measure out the cake layers, carve it and build the sphere in an easy-to-follow way that a beginner could do without stressing out too much.

Some caveats are that she uses a denser-than-mix scratch cake recipe and meringue buttercream in order to give the sphere more stability. She also uses fondarific, and the modeling chocolate component in that keeps the fondant from drying out as fast as other brands. If you use something else you might have trouble seaming the cake before your fondant dries out, so be aware of that. One solution is to mix some candy clay into your fondant so that it's more pliable and easier to work with for longer periods of time without drying out so much.

The only issue that I had with her technique is, like many other Craftsy classes, the dowelling of the cake. This isn't such a big deal since the whole thing will be covered in fondant and that will keep it stable, but she does the thing where you leave about a quarter inch of dowel above the surface of the cake instead of cutting them level with the surface. That means that the top section is sitting on dowels, not on the cake below. It's much more stable to make sure everything is level, and that the upper tiers sit flush with the surface of the lower tiers. But hey, if you want to live dangerously go right ahead. I prefer to minimize the risk of shifting tiers and that kind of thing, but whatever.

She shows the basics of how to do the round cake, and how to smooth out the icing on it using acetate, which has been used for ages but people don't seem to know about. It's helpful to smooth out weird shapes, though, so give it a try. (If you don't have acetate take some waxed paper strips folded in half to make them more stable and use those.)

She then demonstrates a few different ways to decorate the cake to look like teapots with different girly designs on them. You can ignore that if you just want to use the techniques to see how to carve the shapes, then decorate it like a globe, basketball, fish bowl, Death Star or whatever other round thing you need.

My final review:
Skill Level: Intermediate, or a beginner who's willing to take a chance on using fondant and skills that are a little more advanced.
Equipment you'll need: Modeling chocolate, fondant, dowels, styrofoam, etc. check the supply list for the class, but it's pretty basic stuff.
Sleep-Inducing level: Not bad, she moves it along.
What it assumes you already know: How not to cut your finger off with a knife.
Unnecessary Level Of Difficulty For Techniques Shown: Not a lot, it's all pretty basic decorating once you get past the shaping and covering of the cake itself.
Annoying Host Habits: Nothing much. She's good in front of the camera and doesn't "um" a lot.
Level Of Helpful Hints Learned: Very good example of how to carve the shape, which can be used for a lot of different cakes, not just the teapot.

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

2 comments:

Jenniffer said...

I always love reading your review of the Craftsy classes - I think most of the reviews are better than the classes! :-)

And I have been meaning to tel you that the succulents I ordered from you were absolutely the best! They were so pretty and went right in to the cake i was making! Thanks again!!

Kara Buntin said...

Glad to hear they worked for you!