Friday, June 5, 2009

Wedding Cake Class at King Arthur Flour

The smoothest buttercream frosting? Uh, no. The best borders at the base of the tiers? Not so much. However, the texture of the Italian Meringue Buttercream (IMBC, or Mousseline Buttercream in The Cake Bible) is flawless. Flawless, I say! And that is an incredible feat.

This cake is the product of a wonderful class I took at the King Arthur Flour Baking Education Center. The class was Tiers of Joy: Wedding Cakes with Elisabeth Berthasavage, and I highly recommend it! Visiting the middle of Vermont anytime soon? Check out their class calendar, and learn about baking all sorts of things, from pizza dough to pastries. You will not be sorry.

(Hosted a small, impromptu cookout so people could come over and eat cake. They only ate the top tier. Co-workers got the bottom tier as usual.)

Among other topics, I broadened my cake education horizons by learning how to make and shape marzipan and chocolate plastic, pipe chocolate, and smooth buttercream frosting (still practicing that part). Oh yes, that is indeed a marzipan rose atop my cake class product. And it was darn tasty, if you like marzipan. Also, Elisabeth was kind enough to see my sketch of L&M's wedding cake, and offer professional tips and advice. She looked a little skeptical, but at least she didn't say it was doomed to failure.

I met some wonderful people in the class, and I especially appreciate Betsy's expert tips about carving L&M's wedding cake and decorating it. Here are some of the practice cakes from some of the other students:

All are a bit more ornate than mine, I was definitely the slowest in the class. I also had the least amount of experience, from what I could tell. So I guess that just meant I had more to learn, and learn I did.

Details of the cake:

One batch x 3, and adjusted for humid weather of King Arthur Flour's Butter Cake, one 10" round layer and one 6" round layer, each about 2" tall.

(No syruping or Magi-cake strips, sadly.)

Torted into 2 layers each.

Total height of each tier: about 2.5".

Used 1 batch of Italian Meringue Buttercream, no extra flavoring except a tiny amount of vanilla.

Marzipan, fondant, piped chocolate, and buttercream used for flower decorations.

Marzipan, fondant, and chocolate made a few days before decorating.
Buttercream made 2 days before serving.
Cake made 2 days before serving. Stored by Baking Center assistants. (Thanks Molly and Michelle!)
Cake layers torted and assembled 1 day before serving.
Cake decorated 1 day before serving.

Bottom line:
Give me a regular cake recipe and I'll mess it up. I believe that has become an immutable law of the universe. Even this cake came out dense and heavy. A couple of co-workers said they preferred it, but I'd like a not heavy cake. The cake was not crumbly, and it was easy to work with the torted layers too. The taste was pretty good.

Now that I know how to really apply buttercream, maybe I'll use that to cover more cakes instead of defaulting to the fondant. Must practice.

Also must practice marzipan roses and chocolate plastic roses. The latter was much easier than the former, but I like the taste of the marzipan. Both media did not quite solidify to cement after being molded and left out overnight. They were not malleable anymore, though.

Excellent class. Can't wait to take another one at KA Flour, if I can justify the time and expense. (It is 2+ hours away, and any multiple day class would mean I have to get a hotel room, probably.) Rumors of a marzipan class in December. Hmmm....


  1. Good Morning! I am so glad you enjoyed the class. I always have such a great time too. This was definitely my most advanced class. All the students (this means you too!) had great prior experience. It was a pleasure. Come again and take a look around mid Aug. for that Marzipan class coming in December. Elisabeth @ KAF

  2. This was a fabulous class, I concur! Thank you for taking photos of everyone's cakes and for sharing them here!