First Time Cake Decorator – What was your first time like?

Today was the day – my first cake decorating class and I was so excited I couldn’t sleep the night before. I felt I was graduating from the Women’s Weekly School of Birthday Cakes to the big league.

I arrived in plenty of time and I presumed that like me, everyone there had no other decorating experience – after all it was decorating for beginners. OMG how wrong I was.
Julie...the ganache belongs on the cake......

Before long we all had our aprons on, met our lovely instructor and had a gorgeous plump cake plonked down in front of us. (Stupid me thought we were also going to be taught how to bake the thing – apparently not).

Quickly jostling for position we all head to the front bench where we are shown how to cut the cake and ganache it. Realising that I would like to see that in slow motion – it’s too late, people have bolted back to their assigned stations and are off and running. Cutting and ganaching like they have done this a million times…. Seriously? I’m still looking for the knife… (It’s going to be a long day).

I cut the cake with the precision of a surgeon. I’m so damn proud of myself I want to shout to the teacher “look at me, look at me!!”. But then with a sickening thud I come back out of my cutting coma, and realise that OMG they are all at the front again and are onto the next step. I literally run. What did I miss?? WHAT DID I MISS????…….. RUN !!

Colouring fondant… Ok, how hard can that be I think to myself? So back to my bench. I look around. I’m now two steps behind. I’ve not only not ganached my cake, but with the exception of two, everyone is up to the fondant stage. How on earth?? 

I start ganaching. OMG this tastes really yum. I keep thinking…. Less in the mouth, more on the cake. It’s not working – I’ve never tasted anything this good before.  With what isn’t going into my mouth, I’m slapping and slopping on to my precisely cut cake with abandon.  I’m starting to forget what the instructor said about getting smooth edges. I think I want to cry now. Panic is rising. My mind is blank.

Ok, time to get a grip and ask for help. As the instructors, (yes there are now two of them – I think they called for backup – perhaps they saw my face?) approach me with trepidation, I’m sure they just want to take over and fix the hideous mess that is now in front of me. Politely they ask me, “Have you coloured your fondant yet?”. At this point I clearly haven’t and want to scream. “I thought this class was for beginners – you’re going too fast!!!” But I keep my inside voice on the inside and instead just look like a deer in the headlights. (All whilst trying to get the incriminating ganache off my face).

Before I know it, somehow, my cake is ganached. I’d like to say I did it. I would be lying. 

Phew, I’ve almost caught up. I’m busy colouring that fondant to the sickest green colour you’ve ever seen. It wasn’t meant to be like that, but I no longer care.  I’m also realising at this point I have zero upper body strength. Zero.

Oh dear god, they are back out the front again. This time, like a 4-year-old kid, I literally push to the front. We are shown how to roll the fondant and cover the cake. We have been here for just over 2 hours by this point.  I go back to my bench and knead and knead that fondant until that sick green colour is completely through it. I stupidly look around. Big mistake. Pretty purples, pinks, lemons and blues all around me. Happy smiling faces, laughter, chatter. Seriously people, tell me you’ve all done this before. I want to shout out LIARS!! But I’m too polite. They look way too relaxed for my liking. 

I cover my cake. I’m really rather proud of it by this stage. I make the mistake of adding purple stars to it. Rookie colouring mistake I wont make again. It’s a cross between Shrek and a swamp at this point. 

Finally, with a wave and a thank you and with finished cake in hand, I schlep back to the car, totally and utterly exhausted. Several hundred dollars poorer and feeling like I could do with a nap. I take the cake to my husbands work on the way home – within seconds it was demolished and gone. But, here’s the kicker. It got amazing reviews. They all loved it. So sure, I didn’t actually finish ganaching it, I didn’t choose the best colours, hell, I didn’t even make the actual cake. But no one else knew this. They just thought I was the cleverest person EVER.

And that’s why I’ve continued. My cakes are no longer green and purple. I can ganache a difficult cake with ease and on most days I love it. You see this cake decorating game to some extent is all about being able to pull off a great cake and not show anyone what you went through to make it amazing. 

Happy decorating. x

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