Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Cupcake Decorating Class by Crabapple Cupcakes


Just like the recession we had to have, pictured above are the cupcakes I had to have, given the circumstances I found myself in. 

My colleague Susie kindly gave me her voucher to attend a cupcake decorating course run by Jennifer Graham of Crabapple Cupcakes last night, as she could not attend.  The course started ordinarily enough, although rather more politically than most, as Jennifer has some very strong beliefs about the cupcake industry that she shared with the class.  However, by the end, the course had disintegrated into  something akin to a Boxing Day sale in a mad grab for icing, piping bags, edible glitter, cachous and flowers. 

Jennifer's course teaches techniques for decorating cakes using buttercream and ready made sugar decorations.  Her cakes are undeniably pretty and taste very good, and I have often professed my admiration for her recipes for Very Vanilla and Dinosaur Rock Chocolate Cakes fom the Crabapple Cupcake Bakery Cookbook, which are my basic cake recipes of choice.  She does have some very good tips for how to hold cupcakes, knives and  piping bags while decorating, which differ in some respects from the more conventional wisdom that was espoused to me at other cupcake decorating classes.  However, the key course disadvantage is that Jennifer shows you all the techniques before letting the class loose to decorate their own, which means that some things are easily forgotten before you get a chance to practise them.  Apart from the aforementioned grab for supplies, other drawbacks included the small size of the room (on the first floor of a city restaurant) for the number of students, and an absence of damp cloths or a readily accessible sink to clean your hands and utensils of excess frosting, sprinkles and other detritus between cupcakes, leading to cross-pollination of cake decorations and a messy benchtop. In the end, I used whatever supplies were easiest to access and used my apron as a cleaning cloth to wipe my hands.

My cupcakes are decorated with (clockwise from top) chocolate ganache, "the proposal" buttercream and ganache design, a woeful attempt at the "signature swirl" design, a freeform swirl, a chrysanthemum and a topiary design.  There were other designs demonstrated to us, but we only had six cupcakes, and I wouldn't have wanted to attempt any more in the class.  I have taken notes and I bought a basic piping kit that included all the tips Jennifer used so that I can go away and practise Jennifer's designs in the peace and sanity of my own kitchen.

I have a milestone birthday coming up soon and I plan to make cupcakes; however, I will be going with one of the elegant and simple Whimsical Cakehouse designs atop Jennifer's Very Vanilla cupcake recipe rather than a buttercream swirl.

12 comments:

Kayte said...

These are all very pretty but after seeing the other ones, these wouldn't be my first choice for the party either, one of the others would be definitely. They just looked so elegant and simply stated, loved that...these have a bit more going on, a little overwhelming...no wonder you were overwhelmed in the class..."the peace and sanity" of your kitchen sounds like a fine place to be. All that said, these are really pretty and you did a good job on them!

Guru Uru said...

That would have been so much fun to end these cupcakes look gorgeous :D

Cheers
CCU

Susan said...

Well your cupcakes look great even if it was a mad scramble for materials! I have the crabapple cupcake book too but have never actually made anything from it. Sounds like it would be worth a look.

Lizzy said...

I haven't mastered the buttercream swirl either...I think I need that class :) Such fun!

Blond Duck said...

Whimsical Cakehouse sounds fabulous. :)

Kari said...

These do look great but I agree that the elegant ones are, well, more elegant. These would be perfect for a children's party though, and I suppose in lighter colours even for an elegant occasion - but the others kind of hit that so perfectly!

yummychunklet said...

Your center cupcake looks very tasty!

Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella said...

I'm interested to know what she thinks of the cupcake industry. I didn't know that you could hold strong beliefs either way (maybe I'm naive but I love them because I didn't think that anyone could go political about them really). :P

Johanna GGG said...

what colourful and pretty cupcakes - you must have lots of ideas for decoration in your head after two classes - good luck with milestone birthday cupcakes

mireia badia said...

Glad you enjoyed the class!!

Kathy said...

These look amazing!! What a fun thing to do!

Mary Hirsch said...

This Post made me laugh. Out loud. Since I am still in Las Vegas where it is 111 degrees and haven't been able to leave for Aspen yet, I needed something to laugh about. Ohhhhh, I have been in cooking classes like that but you will be surprised how much info you retained. And, you have a good food memory story to tell.