I have a deep-seeded desire to own a bakery someday. So, in an effort to sort of test my abilities, I signed up for a cake decorating class hosted by the Learning Exchange based here in Sacramento. Sure, I’m no stranger to the boxed mixes and canned frostings. Funfetti, anyone? Once, I even prepared chocolate frosting from scratch. I know cake decorating isn’t rocket science, though Duff and his Ace of Cakes crew turn out some breath-taking edible creations, but I wanted to learn some tips and tricks of the trade.
Believe it or not, but a cake’s crumbs can be held hostage and barred from infiltrating the frosting! All it takes is a protective crumb coat.
It acts like a primer before a coat of paint. An initial, light frosting of the cake (bald spots are allowed), followed by a 15 to 20 minute time-out in the fridge keeps those crumbs suspended and, hopefully, unable to sneak into the final layer of butter cream.
The entire class kept a close, competitive watch on their neighbor’s crumb-coating skills.
“Oh, yours looks very good.”
“Oh, no. I don’t know what I’m doing. I’ll probably feed it to my dog later.”
Once the crumb coat sets, the rest of the frosting gets loaded onto the cake. This is the time to go overboard, apparently, as I ended up with a three-feet thick layer of butter cream. It was too much by my standards, and I have a borderline addiction for frosting.
I suppose I could have shaved more frosting from the cake, as our instructor expertly demonstrated for the class by holding her spatula in place while spinning her cake stand. On my first try, I just couldn’t trim my cake to perfection using this technique. Surprisingly, the sides were decent while the top became decidedly domed and dimpled. I twirled and I twirled that cake so it would flatten like a pancake, but it stubbornly remained bulbous. Perhaps, subconsciously, I gave up so I could move onto the piping and rosettes.
Overall, I am proud I frosted a cake with more diligence and precision than I ever have in my life. As for the cake itself, I’m not especially fond of it. Its crumb is dry, the frosting is not paved as smooth as I would prefer, and it looks like it should sit on top of a prim and proper wedding cake.
The class and my cake convinced me that if I ever open a shop, I want to offer a product that is as appealing to the stomach as it is to the eyes and taste buds. Most people leave a considerable amount of frosting behind, anyhow. Patrons should leave my store strolling merrily, free of any side aches, and their plates left with only a tidbit of crumbs.
As for recipes for the cake and frosting, I’m not going to post them. I wasn’t all that impressed with either. Go frost your favorite cake, instead. Or, get started on that pie…