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Getting More Instruction on Cake Design

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Getting More Instruction on Cake Design
Used with Permission from Michelle Anderson

If you love to decorate cakes and think you have some real skill in this craft you still might find yourself wondering how to pull off a certain design technique. Cake design has come such a long way in a very short time and many designers find that there are many techniques they do not know such as airbrushing or using the SugarVeil technique. You might need to take some instruction in order to produce the types of cakes you envision. There are several good ways you can get cake decorating instruction :

  • Hobby Stores: A relatively inexpensive way to learn basic cake decorating techniques is to take classes at your local Michaels or any hobby store offering instruction. Many of these classes come from Wilton and last about an hour or two depending on the skill being taught. You might need to bring your own equipment or supplies or purchase a kit from the store for the class. These classes are not meant to turn out professional cake decorators but rather brush up on techniques like gum paste flowers or basic piping.
  • Online Courses: Many types of skills can be learned with online courses including cake decorating. These courses are relatively inexpensive and are surprisingly comprehensive in their content. Online courses can be found from online educational schools such as Universal Class as well as internet sites dedicated to these types of courses such as Crafty.com. Online courses usually utilize step by step videos, downloadable content and forums that let you interact with the teacher and other students. You can even join a membership site that allows access to all the courses available on a subject (such as cake design). The benefit of most online courses is you can do them on your own time in the privacy of your own home. The downside is you might procrastinate and not do all the various steps in the order recommended by the instructor and miss important skill practice.
  • Self-Instruction: One of the methods many beginner and more advanced cake designers swear by is simply teaching themselves through the many internet and print instruction available. Reading cake decorating books that offer step by step pages can be wonderful for learning a new skill. This method of learning requires a great deal of practice to achieve success but some of the best cake designers in the world are self-taught to a certain extent. There are also many free videos online from celebrated cake decorators such as Sylvia Weinstock and Ron Ben Israel on their websites. Take a look and try whatever technique they are showing. Practice your skills as much as possible to become proficient. Even the most passionate decorator needs to put in hours of piping, rolling and molding to have the skill to create cakes that look professional and finished.
  • Culinary School: If you have the time and money the most comprehensive way to learn all the basics of cake decorating is to attend a reputable culinary school with a program dedicated to the craft. Some schools have good pastry chef classes but not those specific to cake decorating. It is important to do thorough research before committing to a course of study and ask the right questions. You should:
    • Decide what you Have Time For: Many of us would like to study skills that are important to our career or hobby but simply do not have the time. The first step to learning about cake design is looking at your daily schedule and seeing if a particular program fits into it without making you miss work or travel extensively.
    • Look at the Programs Offered: A good rule of thumb for any education venture including cake decorating is the longer you study the better equipped you will be when you graduate. For example, one of the more well-known trade schools The Wilton School of Cake Decorating and Confectionary Art has programs that range from three hours to twelve days depending on your level of expertise. You also should find out if the course of study you want to take provides a certificate or accreditation. If you want tangible put-on-the-wall recognition then make sure the program provides this documentation.
    • Compare the Cost: Schools can be several thousand dollars and becoming a certified pastry chef might be the first step in your cake decorating career. Specialty schools such as the French Culinary Institute have programs that are as little as six months long, and then you can specialize in cake design techniques after graduating.
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