Monday, December 15, 2014

Craftsy Class Review--Fresh Arrangements: Buttercream And Beyond

Craftsy Cake Decorating ClassFresh Arrangements: Buttercream and Beyond is so named because it covers buttercream flowers on cakes and cupcakes, then throws in a couple of modeling chocolate flowers. For me this class was kind of a mixed bag since it had a lot of tips on how to do buttercream flowers, which is a skill that is sorely lacking these days, but it also showed some really bad habits and some random weirdness.

So let's get the bad habits out of the way...The class was taught by Sonya Hong, who owned Butterfly Cakes before moving to New York. Her bio says that she now concentrates on teaching and blogging, so I guess she wised up and figured out that selling cakes is not a perpetual sunny day and teaching is a lot less stressful. Smart woman. She also has a resting smile face, which was slightly disconcerting to me, because I have a resting exhausted face. The constant smiling throws me off, but it's great if you like a lot of cheerfulness with your classes.

The main bad habit that I shuddered to see is the way that she holds the piping bag. Now I realize that it obviously works for her, but she spends a lot of time pushing icing back down into the bag after it's oozed up through her hand while she's piping. That's a good way to waste a lot of time and to get icing all over your hands. If you're not experienced with piping, don't get into the habit of holding the bags like she does, just learn the right way at the beginning and save yourself a lot of trouble.

The second thing is that the icing she's using is too stiff, which you can see when she pipes her roses and they all have raggedy edges. I know that the reason she uses a stiff icing is that roses are a $&%*^ to pipe, but there's such a thing as too stiff and when the edges of your petals are ripping, the icing is too stiff. Don't go for that look.

Having said that, I'd say that the basics that she shows as far as how to pipe flowers are useful, if not thoroughly explained all the time. Watch what she does and you'll be able to make some decent flowers if you practice. And with piped buttercream flowers, the only way to get good at them is to practice. And practice, and practice.

She shows how to pipe flowers onto cupcakes and a cake, although the big one that she piped on the cake was a little iffy. She showed how to build a structure that you could use to make a cupcake bouquet, and then she moves on to cake pops with modeling chocolate flowers, which is where the general weirdness comes in.

I have a feeling that Craftsy told her that they needed more material for the class so they added the cake pops thing in. It has nothing to do with buttercream flowers, and the cake pops that she uses to make modeling chocolate flowers are the size of the cone you'd use for the inside of a gumpaste rose. I'd estimate that the finished products are 85% modeling chocolate and 15% cake pop, and I can't imaging anyone wanting to eat that. Other than maybe a group of hypoglycemic 6 year olds who are trying to build their blood sugar up to normal levels and who can take that amount of candy all at once.

I'd say that the class would be good for anyone who wants to learn to do cakes with buttercream flowers or learn about color mixing and buttercream in general. I'd ignore the modeling chocolate flowers section, or treat it as a separate class, because it's not something that's going to enhance the eatability of any cake. If you want to look at that as a class on making modeling chocolate flowers have at it, but don't do them on cake pops because that would be nasty.

My final review:

Skill level: I'd say either intermediate or advanced beginner because she doesn't explain the basics really thoroughly.
Equipment you'll need: piping bags, buttercream, flower nails, the basics.
Sleep-Inducing Level:Fairly snoozy. They spend a lot of time watching her do repetitive tasks.
What it assumes you already know: Basic piping skills.
Unnecessary level of difficulty for techniques shown: Not a lot, these are pretty basic techniques that will give you a good result if you practice them.
Annoying Host Habits: The bags! The bags! Twist the bags!
Level of Helpful Hints Learned: If you don't know how to pipe flowers and you're willing to put a little effort into it, it would be useful.

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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