Walking the quaint, winding Beattie Street in Sydney’s Inner West suburb of Balmain, we pass a great looking pub, The Exchange Hotel, on the way to class. Mental note…dinner and drinks after class perhaps?
Our attention quickly shifts to the famous pink and chocolate awning that is now in plain view. The pearly gates!!! We have arrived at the mecca that is Planet Cake to begin 8 days of serious cake decorating and intend to walk out the door as the super, huge, mega cake rock stars! OK. So we are getting carried away a little but we are here to improve the skill set after all and a girl is allowed to dream!
All systems go. We were ready and rearing to make the fabulous vase cake in Planet Cake’s Basics 107 class, and with PC’s most seasoned teacher, Anna Maria at the helm, we felt nothing but confident…until we looked at the class notes that was!
The vase starts off the same as any extended cake – trim, split, syrup, ganach and stack onto centre pole. First challenge complete.
Our second challenge was to shape the cake. From the photo’s it may be hard to tell but the vase cake is tapered, inverted and angled. Keep in mind that before this we thought the square was a difficult shape and that has only straight sides! Should this shape really be Basics 107…
A few hours into the class and the cake seem to be shaping up – quite literally… until
Da da daaaaa
One cake hit the deck! And unfortunately it was one of ours. But Paris always says if there is anytime you want a cake to fail it’s in a Plant Cake course because you will have the undivided attention of the ever experience teacher to help guide you through the cause and solution to your cake problem. For this particular cake the “issue” was the centre pole and a soft cracked base cake. Because this cake starts from smallest cake at the bottom and moving to the largest cake at the top, if you mix I unsecured centre pole with a less than idea foundation you may just end up getting a cake looking like the leaning tower of pisa… and that is exactly what we had.
But not to worry, Super Anna Maria (who, by the way, should now wear her underwear on the outside) literally yanked the cake off the base board put it to one side and started the “re-build”. In no time at all the cake was back standing straight (well, angled, but in the right places). Yay!!!
After the traumatic experience of getting the cakes ganached and looking as they should we were rewarded with a delicious lunch and of course some cake on the side for dessert. Yum.
After we had calmed down and our tummies were full we moved onto intensive flower making. Petal, after petal, after petal, after pe…. You get the idea. A few hours later and we had made it to the end of day one.
Challenge: Cover cake
We are still, quite literally, speechless regarding covering this cake. The difficulty in placing the icing over the obscure angles of the cake even had Anna Maria saying a small prayer before she demonstrated the technique. Please consider yourselves warned; covering this cake is a 2 - 3 person job. But cover we did, and after some petal dusting we had the opportunity to airbrush our cakes.
Airbrushing is one of those decorating tools that can really change the look of your cake, be it in subtle or more dramatic way. But it’s also a skill that needs practice to perfect otherwise its effect on your cake can be, well, less than desired. Please refer to exhibit A.
Once applied, airbrushing can be difficult to change/fix. But some subtle over spraying and a coat of shimmer spray later and the cake colour looked more toned down.
Time to decorate. After two days of preparation, stress and praying to god, we had reached the day of pure fun and imagination. Yay. At this level of the basics series students are given the freedom to design their cake. For us, we wanted to do something really different and because this cake shape had not been taught before, the options were endless.
Along with the fun and excitement of choosing your own design comes the pressure of fulfilling your initial vision the way that you had planned.
Although each and every design was unique, we were lucky to have the extensive skills of Anna Maria at our disposal, and, with each tip and trick that she demonstrated to not only ourselves but our class mates, we learned and were inspired by a myriad of new techniques.
So, as the day came to a close and we had all finished our cakes, it was time for the customary group photo. We all smiled proudly in front of our works of art as the flashes triggered. Ahh yes, we were rock stars!
A special thank you must be given to our amazing teacher, Anna Maria and our facilitator for the day, Kylie Dumas for an awesome 3 days.