Yesterday, I attended a two hour Introductory Designer Cupcakes workshop at Whimsical Cakehouse in Malvern. I have done cupcake decorating classes before, but they are all different, and you learn new things at each one. I was also lucky enough to pick up a bargain by only paying $50 instead of $140 for the course as a special introductory offer.
We decorated 6 cupcakes in different ways with fondant. Our teacher was Michelle and our facilitator was Anita.
During the first hour, we prepped the pre-made cupcakes. First, we had to cut the tops of the cakes away to produce a dome shape and a dam around the edge of the cake for sealing the cuts with ganache. The trick was to "peel" away the cake like an apple until the desired shape was achieved.
Next, we sealed the cut cakes with white chocolate ganache. Whimsical's white chocolate ganache is 3 parts chocolate to one part cream, while their milk chocolate ganache is two parts chocolate to one part cream. After getting the ganache as smooth as possible using a spatula, we "hot knifed" them using a cranked spatula - ie dip the spatula in hot water for around ten seconds, then effectively press the ganache smooth with the warm knife.
Finally, we brushed the top of each cake with a mixture of apricot jam and water, and placed a circle of white fondant on top of each cake. The trick was to place the circle "good" side down in your palm, then place the cake in the centre of the circle. Smooth the fondant over the top of the cake so that it comes right up to the paper case, first using your finger tips to lightly massage it over the top of the cake, then using a thin piece of book binder's perspex or OHP transparency to buff the fondant on top and around the edges so that the fondant surface is smooth.
Having prepped our cakes, it was time to decorate them. One of our first decorations was to make an outline on the top of the cake using a small cookie cutter, then to paint the outlined shape with piping gel. The top of the cake is then dipped in silver cachous, and any gaps in the shape are filled in by hand with more cachous:
Our next cake had a quilted look. You start by making a faint line down the centre of the cake with the back of a small knife. Next, you make two evenly spaced lines to the left and the right of the centre line with the back of the knife. Next, you make a line from the top of the furthest left line to the bottom of the furthest right line. This then becomes your new "centre" line, and you repeat the process of marking two lines on the left and right of the new centre line. Your cake top should now have a faintly marked diamond pattern. Next, take a small pattern marking tool, and run it lightly down the lines you have marked. In each diamond intersection, use the handle of the paintbrush to lightly make a small indent, and pop a silver cachous into each indent. Tap the cachous in lightly using the side of the blade of a small knife:
Our third cake involved cutting out shapes from coloured fondant (in my case, hearts), and "gluing" them to the top of the cake by brushing the back of the shapes lightly with water. The silver heart was made by painting a white fondant shape with a mixture of lustre dust and cake maker's alcohol:
The little present cakes were made by taking small strips of fondant made by rolling fondant through the fettuccine setting on a pasta machine. Using part of a strip about 5 cm long, "good" side down, paint a small dab of water in the centre of the strip, then flick each end of the strip into the centre of the strip with the blade of a knife to just join. Then take another small strip of fondant and paste it with water parallel to the join, and cut each overhanging end of it off with a knife at a 45 degree angle to make the "knot" of the bow. Take another strip of fondant and paste it onto the top of the cupcake with a little water painted onto the cake, and lay the strip over the top of the water, and cut off the overhang at 45 degrees. Finally, glue the bow on top of the strip with a little more water:
The next cake repeated the same techniques from the last, but this time, we piped royal icing dots into the centre between two strips of fondant "ribbon":
Finally, pre-made flowers (cut from coloured fondant with a blossom cutter and rounded with a balling tool) were glued onto the cake using royal icing, and little dots of royal icing were then piped into the centre of the blossoms:
All of these ideas were simple but effective - just the kind of cakes I like to make. I also loved the flavour of the ganache against the fondant on the cake - it is a delicious addition to the cake flavour.