Truth be told, I wasn’t looking forward to my second cake decorating class. No, that’s not entirely true. I was looking forward to it, but the class fell on the last day of a course I was taking at work, and I was exhausted from dancing and shoving information into my brain. Various icings in different colours and consistencies had to be prepared and supplies had to be tracked down and purchased. I struggled to get my cake baked and crumb coated before bed on Tuesday evening. August, for your information, is not for homework.
When I arrived for class, I grabbed a table at the back of the room. I like to sit solo when possible — I’m a spreader. I heard one of the women at a table in front of me turn to her friend and say, “I’ve been so nervous about tonight’s class.”
Nervous? I looked around as people unveiled their uneven cakes in various shades of blue. My classmates looked positively terrified. Now, I’m a graduate of a prestigious ballet school, so I know true terror, and cake decorating class isn’t it. Plus, my cake wasn’t looking so bad. I felt a little more confident. (Yes, genius, that’s foreshadowing.)
Class Instructor began the class with a lesson on how frost cakes using techniques to make them look smooth and elegant. She demonstrated at the front of the room. Her cake was perfect. Then we were told we had 20 minutes to complete the task. This seemed like plenty of time (far better than the 5 minutes we had been allotted in the previous class to decorate six cookies), but it was way harder than Class Instructor made it look. My icing was bumpy. It wouldn’t go where I told it to, it had divots and ridges. I could hear Class Instructor making rounds. She stopped at a table up front. “Did you beat that frosting on medium? Your icing has air bubbles,” she said. “Are you positive? Low speed? Because it looks like you went higher than 2 on the mixer to me.”
I stared at my cake and wondered if I’d get busted for using speed number 4 on my mixer. I frantically tried to smooth my uneven frosting as Class Instructor neared my table, but as the 20 minute mark reared its ugly head, things weren’t looking good for me.
Class Instructor was standing next to my table.
Class Instructor: When you take more than twenty minutes to ice your cake, things will not work out well. The icing becomes difficult to work with and nearly impossible to fix. You have to work quickly, otherwise the icing will start to set, get too difficult to spread, and begin to pull.
I looked up from my cake. She was kind of gesturing to my table. My classmates were nodding and looking at my cake. That’s when I took a good look at the other cakes. How the hell did a bunch of people who claimed that they didn’t know how to bake a cake manage to get their icing so smooth?
Class Instructor: (whispering to me) We can probably fix it a little later.
Class Instructor: (to the class) Now the icing needs to set. I’ll show you how to give your cake a final smoothing effect later.
Class Instructor then taught us how to make dots, poofy lines, zig zags, rick rack borders, and some other fancy stuff. We honed our skills on our practice boards. Then she showed us how to further smooth our awaiting cakes with parchment paper. It’s supposed to make the cake look perfectly smooth but I think that’s based on the assumption that your cake is somewhat smooth to begin with. She gave my cake a good rub with the parchment paper. “See,” she said, “it’s much better now!”
Next, we learned how to use piping gel to transfer patterns, and outlined cupcakes on our cake-tops. Cupcake patterns which I thought were ice cream cones. The cherry on top threw me. A cherry on top is, in my opinion, reserved for sundaes, milkshakes and perhaps an ice cream cone. Placing a cherry on top of a cupcake design can be very confusing for some people.
We were then allotted TEN MINUTES to decorate our cakes. I slapped tips onto my icing bags, managed to draw the base of the cupcake design on top of my cake (using none of the techniques we had just practiced because I was in panic mode), and made a half-assed attempt at creating the cupcake’s upper floof. I didn’t get to the cherry. I didn’t get to the border.
Class Instructor stopped by my table.
Class Instructor: You know what this needs? Confetti. It needs confetti.
She shook some colourful confetti sprinkles over the cupcake. I was totally grateful. I mean, Class Instructor was probably thinking that my cake looked like crud but she didn’t say so. Exhaustion paired with frustration made me feel like crying. But then I remembered I was decorating a hideous cake with an ugly cupcake on top and snapped out of it. I mean who puts a cupcake on top of a cake? Jesus.
So, our cakes were supposed to look like this:
And mine looked like this:
Kinda like a hairless cat. You want to love it like a soft, floofy cat, but you can’t.
The woman at the table next to mine set a cake on my table as she cleared her things away.
movita: I like your cake!
Next Table Lady: Um, that one’s not mine. It’s my friend’s. Mine’s over there.
I turned to look at her cake. The situation wasn’t good.
movita: Wow! Yours has… a border!
I could tell she wasn’t convinced by my fake enthusiasm.
When I arrived home, 2.0 met me at the door.
2.0: How did it go?
2.0: Not good?
movita: (shoving the cake carrier toward him) I had fun, it’s just that it’s really hard. And I only had ten minutes to decorate my cake. So I don’t have a border. And I don’t have the cherry on top — just some eyeball goop where that’s supposed be. And my icing is bumpy. And we don’t get enough time for the projects. It’s like they WANT US TO FAIL. And… hey! Where’s that pie from?
2.0: I made it.
movita: Okay, don’t tell me.
Turns out my friend Heather had dropped off a blueberry pie for us. I don’t think I’ve ever been so happy to see a baked good in my whole life – especially one I didn’t have to decorate. And I was starving. Starving for anything that didn’t have icing on it. And I guess the sight of it must have soothed me, because I fell asleep before actually eating any of the pie. You see, that’s the magic of pie. It can almost make you forget what a failure you are.