Last night I finished up Wilton Course 3 at Michael's. Check out my cake!I'm so glad I took this class because making this cake has taught me so much! I learned that I actually like making cakes. I always thought that I would infinitely prefer cupcakes but as it turns out, cake decorating lets you use some different skill sets that I find both fun and challenging. I also learned how much work goes into a tiered cake. I put about 15 hours into making this. I am much more appreciative now when I see a really beautiful cake because I can better understand what it takes to put something like that together.
And I'm pretty sure I learned some technical skills in there somewhere too.
On to the cake!
I went with lemon cake and almond buttercream frosting. I used a cake mix (eep!) for this since it was just a practice cake. I use two vanilla mixes and substitued the juice from three lemons for part of the water. I also grated the rind of the lemons and threw that in. It turned out yummy, lemony and not at all tart. Next time I might use one more lemon because I like some tartness. The bottom tier is two stacked 10" round cakes and the top is two 6" stacked cakes. One cake mix was exactly enough to make a 6" inch cake and a 10" cake so it worked out pretty well. I didn't make any fancy fillings, I just put buttercream between the layers.
I leveled the cakes, did a buttercream crumb coat, let that chill for a bit in the fridge and then did a thicker coat of the buttercream. Next I covered them in homemade marshmallow fondant.
With the leftover fondant, I punch out some tiny flowers and stuck them on the cake randomly with a bit of water.
The roses were all done in advance. My sister came over and we sat around making roses all day since she was making the same cake except that her flowers were yellow. It took about 8.5 hours for me to finish all of my roses. There are 20 large roses, 11 medium roses, and 8 little rosebuds and 40 leaves. I ended up having 5 roses left that I didn't use though. The Wilton method of making fondant roses is just to make a small cone of fondant, stick it on a tooth pick and then use a 5-petal flower cutter to cut out three flowers which you then stab through the toothpick and wrap the petals around the center cone. There are some great tutorials on youtube that can show you how to do this.
Next came the hard part: transporting the cake to class. I put the 10" cake on a 12" cakeboard that I made from cardboard and aluminum foil, and the the 6" cake on a 6"cakeboard (since it sits on a plastic tray when the cake is done) and held them on a large board in my lap, trying not to let them slide around when we went over a bump.
In retrospect, I probably didn't need to actually go to the class because I knew how to assemble the rest of the cake on my own and it was even tougher to get it home, but I guess it's good that I went because I got to see everyone else's cakes and pick up my certificate.
In class, the first thing I did was pipe the border along the bottom of both tiers. You start with a #18 shell border, followed by a #86 ruffle and then a #16 shell border along the top of the ruffle. Then I stacked the tiers using pillars that push straight through the bottom tier so that they can support the weight of the top tier (the parts came in the course kit).
The next step was to attach the roses. I found this to be the toughest part. I basically just set the roses on the cake and rearranged them until I found an arrangement that I was happy with before I actually started attaching them. The ones on top of the cake are attached with buttercream while the ones along the sides are attached with toothpicks since the buttercream isn't strong enough to hold them. I stuck the leaves in along the sides and in between the roses to fill any gaps. The very last step was to pipe little dots in the center of the little white flowers using a #3 tip.
Here is a picture of the top of the cake so you can see a little bit more detail. Overall, I'm happy with my cake, but if I was doing it again, there are some things I would do differently.
- I would stack three cakes for each tier instead of 2
- I would made a separate batch of white icing using shortening instead of butter for the ruffle border so that it matched better.
- I would try to get the petals on the roses thinner.
All in all, I definitely recommend the Wilton courses at Michaels. I learned so much by making the cakes that I did and it's renewed my interest in decorative work with different forms of sugar. And for under $30 per course, you can't really beat the price.
So I've got this huge cake now and no event to take it to. I think BF is going to end up taking it to work. Hopefully they enjoy it! I also have a whole lot of fondant left over so I think I may use it in some cupcakes this weekend. We'll see!