Sunday, March 1, 2015

Craftsy Class Review-- Layered Embellishments: 12 Stunning Techniques

Layered Embellishments: 12 Stunning Techniques was taught by Faye Cahill, who does cakes that involve a lot of gold and silver. The class covers a lot of techniques that involve gold and silver leaf and metallic paints.

This is a timely topic, since metallics are trendy and decorators are putting metallic paints where they shouldn't be. If it's shiny, be really careful about making sure the paints that you're using are edible. For silver and gold leaf, make sure they're food grade. The gold leaf that you buy at the craft store in the metalwork section are NOT food grade, and that isn't what you should be putting on cakes.

I order my gold leaf from They have an edibles section, and that's what you should use on cakes. 

I'll say right off that there's some bad advice about using alcohols in the questions section of this class. She uses everclear as the base for her color washes because its high alcohol content evaporates and doesn't affect the gold very much. Everclear isn't legal everywhere because of the high alcohol content, but that doesn't mean that anything with a high percentage of alcohol is a good substitute. Isopropyl alcohol and methylated spirits that you get at the grocery store are NOT food safe, they're poison. So don't use those on a cake, for pete's sake. 

Just make sure that everything you use is edible and FDA approved and you'll be fine. The brand of gold dust that she uses is Rolkem, which is labelled as edible as a food coloring, but it's from South Africa, so I don't know if it's FDA approved. Just don't use regular gold spray paint to cover a cake. Really.

Now that I've said that, I will comment on the class itself...It was very educational. If you've never used gold leaf before this will show you how in excruciating detail. The only thing that I'd say is that she roughs the surface up to get a specific look to it, and when you apply gold leaf on a normal day that isn't what you want it to look like. But the idea of using color washes over it is really interesting, and it gives you a really pretty effect. 

She also goes over things like royal icing piping, painting the metallics on, stencilling and that edible lace junk that I think probably tastes like rubber. I'd pipe it on, but that's me.

There were a lot of tips to pick up in the class, and it will give you some ideas about stretching your skill set a little if you've never worked with gold leaf, and if you have it will make you not be as scared of it once it's on the cake.

My final review:

Skill level: Intermediate at least. A beginner is going to have some trouble.
Equipment you have to have: Edible metal leaf and paints, royal icing, paintbrushes, etc.
Sleep-inducing level: Stock up on your caffeine, this isn't the liveliest of classes. Watching someone paint color washes is pretty deadly.
What it assumes you already know: How to cover a cake with fondant.
Unnecessary Difficulty Level Of Methods Demonstrated: Not much, it's actually not stuff that's super hard to do, it just looks fancy.
Annoying Host Habits: Nothing much but she goes really slow, which makes me antsy.
Level of Helpful Hints Learned: You'll learn something whether or not you've used gold leaf before.

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 and


Eva Farragher said...

I actually bought this class out of curiosity as Faye is almost a neighbour (haha) and we do some similar cake styles. Having said that, she is a big time caker in the big smoke, advertises a lot in cake mags, she has quite a few employees and a Sydney-based clientele (one of the most expensive cities in the world in which to live, and get married) who are comfortable paying gold-leaf prices :-). I was most interested in the colour washing over silver leaf as I haven't played around with that much at all! Re: everclear...I don't know ANY decorators who use that in .au, we use Rose Spirit or vodka! I suspect Faye is suggesting everclear because Craftsy is US-based?
Great review Kara...and timely advice on using FOOD-SAFE, culinary gold and silver leaf and metallic products!

Kara Buntin said...

Interesting! I looked it up, because I've always heard that Everclear isn't even legal everywher in th US. It's illegal in some states in its 95% alcohol formulation, and other states sell it in a weaker form. I guess that the benefit of using it is that it wouldn't have a flavor that would taint the cake, but the downside is that if you drink it, it will probably give you brain damage, hahaha! If people use vodka for the washes I'd just stick with that.