I’m always scouring the internet for cake forums. I love reading about baking, cakes, buttercream, whipped cream and the like. It’s awesome. Just last week I found out you can make buttercream from boiled flour. Boiled flour! Or, instead of buttercream (which I have been having such a problem with at the moment), you can make a luscious, light cream cheese icing. Cream cheese in icing? Erm. Yes! It really works.
I came across a forum thread about cake decorating classes. Oh yes. One of the many cake decorating class questions.
Is it worth it to pay a large sum of money and attend a class ‘in person’, or will it be better if I pay for a cheaper class that is online?
I signed up to a class nine months ago. It’s once every week, and lasts for two and a half hours. For a once a week class, I wouldn’t call it cheap but would definitely call it worth it. I know that people who haven’t attended a cake decorating class are curious as to what it entails. So, I’ll enlighten you.
Before this class, I had only ever used buttercream as a medium for icing. I mainly used American buttercream to ice my cakes. I had used Swiss Meringue buttercream, and liked using it, but didn’t really appreciate how buttery it was. And my Italian Meringue buttercream failed completely; it was more like soup. I knew how to pipe roses with a #104 tube. I could cover a cake with rosettes, although I haven’t done that in about a year.
In the past few months of my course, I’ve been introduced to sugar paste (fondant, for my American friends), learnt how to cover a cake with it, coloured up sugar paste properly, made my own embossers, learnt how to pipe equal sized shells, made low relief designs, used food colouring as paint, made and used royal icing for the first time, stencilled the side of a cake with royal icing, made run outs, and covered a cake with royal icing with the smoothest, cleanest edges of all time. And that’s only a part of it.
The thing about my class is that it isn’t ‘specific’. It’s not a flower making course, or a buttercream introduction. There’s level 1, 2 and 3. Level 1 and 2 are each a year long. I think Level 3 is two years long. I’m in Level 1. And you learn everything. Well, not everything. But it equips you with the skills needed to carry on with other things. We made run outs for the top of our Royal icing cakes; by doing that, we can decorate cookies. We also learnt how to use food colouring as paints, so we can literally paint anything we want. It’s the basic skill we learn that is the foundation for everything else.
It makes learning ‘kind of’ stress free. I could have spent months and months trying to figure out how to cover a cake with fondant. I was terrified of it a year ago. Seriously, the fear had such a strong hold that I wouldn’t touch it with a barge pole. After a demonstration by our tutor, I covered my cake in twenty minutes or so. Sure, we didn’t do sharp corners, but even so. It takes away the fear and replaces it with confidence and the surety that there’s someone completely experienced to lend you a helping hand.
One of the things I was sort of intimidated by before the course started, was that I would be the least experienced and not ‘in the know’. I haven’t had decades of experience. Maybe only a couple of years, and even then it was just baking. But once I got there I was completely at ease. Everyone is friendly. The class is not large, there’s about twelve of us. But I needn’t have worried. It’s not a competition and everyone is ready to help.
So to answer the question “online or in-person class?”, I’d say ‘in person’. That is, if it’s affordable and something you really want to do as a serious hobby or profession. I like the experience. I like meeting other bakers. I like sharing what I’m working on, and also seeing what other bakers are making. And I appreciate not struggling.
I found that there’s a limit to learning online because I couldn’t ask questions. A lot of the time I was confused about something, mainly because the camera can’t capture everything. Online classes, to learn all the skills of my trade, are not for me. Like I said, it’s the experience I enjoy.
I’m sure I’ve missed something. There’s so much I could write about, this post would be way too long. Have you ever attended a cake decorating class? If so, what was your experience like? Or maybe you’ve had better experience with online classes. Let me know your thoughts in the comments!