But who has the time? Earlier this year I took Wilton's Cake Decorating Courses I. & II. at a Michael's close to where I work. I was super excited and bought more stuff than I really needed for the class. I had a special bag that I prepared and used only for my class. The first evening I showed up a good ten minutes before class was to start, I took my seat and with paper and pencil in hand I was ready. You can imagine my excitement when I found out that there was only one other person taking the class with me!! I was thrilled, thinking of all the one on one time I was going to get! Things didn't go as I expected and certainly not as I had hoped. First, my instructor was late. Not only was she late she came with children in tow and because of electrical issues at home was not prepared for our class. The first class was supposed to be a demonstration of all that we were to learn in the next three classes. By the end of her demonstration she should have had a beautifully decorated cake. Not happening. After bemoaning the fact that she was having a difficult day, she also proceeded to tell us that she did not have our instruction manuals and that she would need to leave to make copies of hers for us at the local office supply store. Can you believe? It didn't get any better as the classes progressed. The following week, still no instruction manuals and her baby granddaughter was added to her entourage. I have to admit though she brought her twin daughters (9 yrs old) with her they were actually very helpful and supportive, cheering on Wendy and myself. It soon became apparent that our instructor was not as proficient at cake decorating as I had hoped. There were instances when I had read the lesson only to have the instructor give conflicting information. After four weeks Wendy and I agreed that we barely knew the basics and that we were uncertain about continuing on to the next course with her as our instructor. During the four weeks we developed a relationship with her. She was a personable lady and outside of being a poor instructor she was someone we generally liked. Having a misplaced sense of loyalty, Wendy and I decided to give her another try and signed on for Course II. Bad move. Course II. showed us she clearly did not know enough to act as instructor. She verbally admitted to not knowing how to do certain flowers and to a lack of proficiency at others. Her roses were beautiful and she could whip them out in seconds but that was all. Quite a few times my flowers surpassed hers and mine were not that good! Another four weeks and I wasn't much further along in skill and was disheartened. My enthusiasm for learning to decorate cakes was depleted. It wasn't until last week and my purchase of set of Ateco's tips that I finally picked up a pastry bag.
The cake recipe I used was one I saw on the Taste of Home website. I receive newsletters from them and followed a link over to the recipe. It was actually one for cupcakes. Instead I made two 8 inch layers. My mail box is FULL and can't find the email right now. When I do I will update with a link but it is just a doctored up cake mix. It called for buttermilk but I used sour cream as I didn't have any. I also added a generous splash of almond extract. The cake was surprisingly good and obviously easy. I split each layer into two and filled two of them with seedless raspberry jam. The "middle" layer I filled with buttercream. For the frosting I just "winged" it. I made a double batch using two sticks of butter and 1 stick of shortening. ( I know some of you are cringing right now but I wanted to use my new tips and needed a frosting that would hold up to piping) I also used a combination of almond and vanilla extracts. I'd like to try and make Swiss meringue in the future but didn't feel now was the time. The components individually weren't anything to write home about but all together it was quite good and there were no (valid) complaints.
*The two links that are attached show my "graduation". cakes.
**I added the link to the recipe I used. (12/17)