Thursday, June 6, 2013

a piece of cake

diana has been interested in obsessed with cake wrecks ever since i added it to my blog roll last year.  she loves the sense of humor about things that make you cock your head slightly (or completely sideways) and ask, "what were they thinking?"  she also drools over/jumps up and down about/squees at a high pitch over the sunday sweets.  she's picked out a large number of them already that she'd like to have for future birthday parties.  she should be set until she's at least 30.

diana's an artist and a maker, though, so she's not content to just study the art (and the oops) of cake decorating by looking at pictures.  she wants to learn how by doing.

all righty then.  we signed up for a wilton basics class at our local michael's craft store.  unfortunately, there weren't enough students signed up to run the class, so it was cancelled the day before it was to start.  fortunately, the very nice employee at michael's indicated to us that the course instructor was at that very moment in the store and offered to introduce us.

that's how we met olga.

olga agreed to come to our house to hold a private lesson for diana.  we love it when teachers are willing to do that - to share their time and expertise with a curious young person and engage at their level. her warm russian accent and demeanor while working with diana reminded me more than a little of when my yia yia would instruct me regarding some aspect of cooking some greek delicacy, like how to handle phyllo dough for spanakopita.

they worked very well together.  the two hours passed quickly, full of instructive demonstrations, opportunities for practice, effective feedback and hands-on corrections of technique, and plenty of input from diana regarding her preferences for color and aesthetics.

what i especially liked about olga was her understanding that basic skills needed to be approached first but didn't need to be entirely mastered before moving on to another skill.  she was surprised at some points how quickly diana picked up one technique but struggled with another, but calmly reassured diana about having reasonable expectations and emphasized that practice would lead to improvement.  as an experienced wilton instructor and cake decorating professional in her own right, she easily accepted that diana has her own ideas about how she wants her cakes to look and doesn't necessarily need to follow a plan predesigned by others, just apply her own creative instincts and preferences.

needless to say, olga will be coming back to teach a second time.  there are flowers to be made!

preparing a featherweight bag

trimming the edge to fit the coupler

filling a disposable decorator bag

leveling the layer to make it flat

oooh - snacky cake extras!
diana doesn't care for preserves as filling, so we just used icing

applying the crumb coat

starting stars

angles are important. see, math applies to everything, even cake decorating!

dots are difficult to do without having tips. the frosting has cornstarch, which makes it pull up like that.
adding the final layer of frosting over the cooled crumb coat

vines & stems

the emergence of a flower

hand-over-hand, gently guiding the start, stop, pull away points

waxed paper makes a useful, disposable practice surface

by the time olga left, the cake had been put back in the refrigerator awaiting its adornment.  diana practiced some more, then took a break and came back feeling refreshed and inspired.

her original idea was to have a pale peach-colored frosting with a white star border.  when she looked unhappily at some of the imperfections on the surface, rather than despairing, she decided to draw attention away from them by adding a lovely sprig of lavender flowers.  the effect was cheery and subtle.  it reminded me of creations she had made in monart classes years ago - clean, simple, calm, balanced.

her first cake
ander watched with rapt attention as she frosted and decorated the second cake entirely on her own.  it has a more natural, casual, free-er quality about it.  i definitely recognize diana's sense of style in it.

her second cake
 as it turns out, she did a lovely job slicing and serving for tonight's dessert, too.

1 comment:

  1. Lovely, lovely, lovely -- all the way around : )

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