When I signed up for an all-day designer cupcake decorating class at Bonnie Gordon’s School of Confectionary Arts, it was all I could do not to tell everyone who crossed my path. Her wedding cakes have been featured in countless magazines and Hollywood movies and I’d been drooling over her cakes for years.
While I can say I am confident with my baking abilities, I was always intimidated by decorating.
I did my best copying the finished product in my cookbooks, but I stayed away from pastry bags, and tips, and coloured buttercream.
No more! Not only did I come home with seven beautiful cupcakes, but a bag full of gel food colouring, a cupcake turntable, piping and decorating tips, and even fondant and gum traganth.
In this class, we learned how to make: spiced apple cupcakes, cappuccino cupcakes, coloured fondant, chocolate glaze, chocolate frosting, and of course, the ever-elusive buttercream.
We also learned how to decorate the cupcakes by colouring and preparing fondant, making a chocolate glaze, chocolate frosting, buttercream.
And at the end of the day, they let us loose with multi-coloured dragees, sprinkles, and all the piping and decorating tips we could handle.
The result? I’m happy to say I took a bite out of my fears, gained confidence in my decorating abilities, and also had the most fun I’ve had in ages.
- Use the lightest-colour baking tin you can possibly find, it imparts less colour on your finished product.
- Bake your cakes and cupcakes at 300-325 degrees because it’s a gentler heat, and thus easier to control.
- All the ingredients you use should be at room temperature.
- The softer the butter you use, the softer your buttercream.
- Buttercream is virtually indestructible. Even if you freeze it, once you let it adjust to room temperature and notice any separation, you can put it back over the double boiler and it will be as good as new.
Here are my top five tips on making and decorating cupcakes: