I travelled out to California this week to take an amazing cake decorating class to learn how to work with intricate sugar flowers, molds and sugar paste. Who better to go to than, Melody Brandon, and her wonderful staff at Sweet & Saucy Shop, in Long Beach? Some people window shop looking at shoes, purses and jewelery but I go online and I love to window shop for cakes and cookies. I absolutely love Melody’s blog. Her cakes have beautiful clean lines, gorgeous accents, amazing sugar flowers, and a wonderful sense of style. So a couple of months ago I reached out to her about coming out for a class. In six hours I gained more knowledge on certain aspects than months of reading.
So I started off the day working with Sara, she was super nice and knowledgable. She taught me how to make peony’s. I adore peony’s! When I got married my bouquet was full of them. The fact that they are considered the poor man’s rose in England is funny to me. One of the coolest things that I learned is which tools are really worth buying. Many times when you decorate cakes, you wonder is that tool really worth it? Should I get it? I have many tools in my bin that I never use. The first tool being added to my “must have” list is a motorized pasta roller. I had always thought what would I use a pasta roller for since you can never get a piece big enough to cover a cake. But it’s not used to cover a cake. It is used to make smaller pieces, like flower petals (light bulb goes on). Sara walked me through step by step how to use the different tools and what products work the best. I furiously wrote notes but it is always fun to read your notes the day after.
Molds have always been mystifying to me. I bought one a while back because I was so excited about the detail in buttons and broaches that could be put on cakes only to end up frustrated. Sara helped end my frustration of sticking molds and gumpaste coming out with a lack of detail. I used to stare at Sweet & Saucy’s cakes, saying to myself, how on earth do they get that detail? Well, my friends, they use CHOCOLATE!!!! It all makes sense now. Chocolate comes out beautifully with the lines and details of the mold. So, tool number two that is being added to my “must have” list is mold making stuff. I learned a couple of different ways that you can set it up to make a successful mold with broaches, jewels, and baroque pieces. Look at how beautiful the chocolate comes out and then you can apply different luster dusts for color. Look at the difference in the picture below of the two gold pieces. One was made with sugar paste and the other was made with chocolate. What a difference?
The next part of the day I worked with Irene on buttercreaming and stacking. It’s always good to go back over the basics because there are new things you can learn to help refine the process. I had always learned to pop air bubbles in my fondant but I had not given much thought to air bubbles in my swiss meringue buttercream. I would do my best to smooth the cake but I wouldn’t worry about the air in the buttercream because it would be covered with fondant, right? Well I found out this is probably the culprit of my pockets that would develop after my fondant covered cake would sit out for awhile. It was air from the buttercream. Well, I found out that I am in good company. Cake pro, Irene, has to smooth out the buttercream many times with a scraper as well. Sometimes, I wonder, am I the only one who has to go around a cake 50 times to get it smooth? Once again, I learned don’t believe everything you read. Just about everything you read about fondant tells you not to refridgerate but I learned that refridgerating the fondant after it is put on the cake helps it set. Make sense to me!
The last part of my day, I worked with Melody on different techniques with fondant on my dummy cakes. For being a dummy cake, they sure smell delicious. All the way home in the car I could smell the sugar in the fondant! Yum! I have been dying to learn how to ruffle. Many tutorials have you use a tool that looks like a pencil and I would just end up tearing it. She showed me how to do the simple ruffles with the ball tool. We went over ruffling, crimping, lace molds, and different quilting patterns to put on cakes. She shared with me many ways you can take the same idea but dress it a different way to give it a new look.
Well my 6 hours of training flew by yesterday. Melody and her staff were phenomenal. They are a great team, so if you are in California and are looking for an amazing dessert studio, Sweet & Saucy is awesome. Ok, so down to the yummy details, right? Of course I am not leaving the shop empty handed. I brought home a variety of cake pops and cupcakes for friends and family.
Cake Pops– Red Velvet, Peanut Butter, Lemon
Cupcakes – Caramel Apple Cupcake (wish I could remember the exact name), Candy Bar Cupcake, Pumpkin with Cinammon Cream Cheese Frosting and Salted Caramel, Vanilla Cupcake (of course for Jude, my vanilla freak)
So her cakes are not only beautiful but they TASTE AMAZING! The caramel apple cupcake is phenomenal! My husband loves caramel apple cake, so I gave him the cupcake. He let me try it, and then couldn’t pry it out of my hands. He looked at me and laughed, “thanks for the cupcake.” So I sheepishly said you want the pumpkin one?
So the only bad part about my trip? Here it is….I always do better when I have no idea about something. I really would like another caramel apple cupcake but I can not exactly jump on the freeway and drive 7 hours to get it!