Good morning, crafty folks!
Have you ever seen those really adorable cakes and cookies in the bakery and thought, “Those are the coolest, I wish I could do something like that.” Chances are, YOU CAN. Just like everything, learning how to do something requires two things; desire and hard work. A lot of the time, the hard work part is just finding the right teachers to help you learn. So today, I’m going to share a few things that I’ve done in the past to learn and further hone my cake and cookie decorating skills.
I feel like I had a bit of an unfair advantage over a lot of people. My mom worked in a Hy-Vee bakery and as such, taught me some of the more basic techniques at quite a young age. But if you are starting from scratch and have no idea what to start with, your best option is to start with a decorating class. Even if you don’t learn your best in a group setting, this is the best way to get a strong base for your technique. The teacher is not only going to be knowledgeable but also probably have done this for years already. And if you live near a Joann Fabrics or Michael’s, both of these craft stores offer cake decorating classes for reasonable prices. Check with your local bakeries as well, some offer small group classes to the public and this can be a fun way to find a local bakery to support also. Groupon is especially helpful in this endeavor and you can get some really great discounts on the classes. This also will give group ticket options so if you and a friend or family member want to do something new and fun, this is a great (and delicious) option. (You get to keep the items you make/decorate). This is also a fun birthday or bachelorette party idea.
In our internet era, another really fabulous resource at our fingertips (literally, because you can do it on your phone) is YouTube. All sorts of wonderful and easy to follow tutorials are uploaded to YouTube and the best part of this (that you can’t do in a class setting) is the pause button. Having trouble figuring out that one little flick to end a buttercream leaf? You can rewind and re-watch as many times as are needed to get it is just right. This resource is the best for those of us who are very visual learners.
Then there are books and magazines. Wilton Baking Company puts out a number of step-by-step guides that are cheap, easy to follow, and you can own for repeated reference. There are also a number of popular bakers from TV shows (think the Cake Boss and Ace of Cakes’ Chef Duff) that put out cookbooks that contain great tutorials and tips.
But one of my favorite things to do is to watch the TV shows I referenced above. Things that air on The Food Network and PBS are a great way to see different techniques and get ideas for your own piping adventures. I personally always loved Ace of Cakes but they aren’t on the air anymore. Cake Boss was another great one but sometimes the best way to learn from these shows is to watch the competitions. Things like The Great British Bake-Off are wonderful teachers because they are inspiring as well. The contestants aren’t always professional bakers, which I always found to be really motivating to others who may really want to bake but think that they can’t. YOU CAN. These people are proving you can do it if you want it bad enough.
I hope that these suggestions help anyone who is on a baking journey to learn strong technique and try new things. Remember, take chances. You may end up inventing a new piping technique of your own.