This weekend, I was making the Class Buttercream icing for the first time, as per my "homework" instructions for class 1. I made all 3 icing consistencies. I also decided to bake the cake I need for the next class this weekend, and I opted for the 9-inch cake, yellow. I decided that I could get away with only one layer for class, so I popped it in the freezer, and I decided to play with the other layer and the extra icing that I made. So I leveled the cake off (the first time I ever bothered to do this before), and then split the cake into 2 thin layers. I piped the medium consistency icing around the edge of the bottom layer, and then spread Hunt's chocolate pudding in the interior, before adding the top cake layer. Not my filling of choice, but this cake wasn't about eating, it was about experimenting.
Then, I covered the cake in thin while frosting using the mega-icing tip (#789) that I also picked up from the store this weekend, and it worked great!
Using medium consistency icing, I piped my approximation of a shell border using tip #21 around the bottom and then the top of the cake. The cake turntable I bought really came in handy for this part.
My handwriting is pretty sloppy, so I invested in the Wilton Script Message Stencil Set -- which has basic messages like "Congratulations" and "Happy Birthday" -- and I chose "Happy Anniversary" because it was long, and because my parents' anniversary was last week. I pressed the stencil into the top of the cake, off-center so that I would have room for decorations. I then took a little of the thin icing, and used the royal blue icing gel to dye it, and carefully traced the imprint left by the stencil with a #3 tip. Not too bad, although I was squeezing too hard on the bag, so the icing flattened out towards the end of "Anniversary." Since I had some leftover thin blue icing, I used the same tip to pipe dots between the shells on the top border.
Next came something I had been anxious to try -- the roses. We aren't supposed to do these until class 3, but I couldn't resist trying to make them. I dyed some stiff icing pink, and got to work. I used tip #12 to create a central cone, and then tip #104 for the petals, trying to follow the Wilton method for rose-making as best I could -- namely 3 petals high on the base, 5 below that, and 7 below that. I had 2 main problems: 1) my base cone did not stay put on the flower nail; and 2) my petals did not have smooth edges -- they were jagged. I have not explored the reasons for each of these yet, but I plan to ask my teacher. I will guess, however, that maybe putting a little powdered sugar on the nail will help with the sliding issue. I will have to ask and try this. As for the jagged edges, I thought that maybe the icing was a little too stiff, so I added a few drops of water. Didn't really take care of the problem, so I need to ask this question too. I know my teacher will probably give us lots of helpful hints when the time comes to learn.
Finally, however, I managed to get 3 roses that, although still somewhat jagged, didn't look that bad (if you looked at the cake from across the kitchen. I used my flower scissors to lift the flowers off of the nail, and place them as best I could.
Since I still had the #104 tip on the pink icing, I decided to try my hand at some 3-petal flowers, mine were supposed to be sweet peas, but they don't look like an identifiable flower to my eyes. I had the tip at the wrong angle, but I followed the instructions, and they came out rather spiky no matter how I held the tip.
For the leaves, I dyed some thin icing green, and used a #67 tip. The leaves were easy to form, but not easy to finish -- my leaves broke off instead of coming to a point when I moved the tip away. This is another problem I need to address with my instructor. Because I didn't feel like changing the tip, I used the same tip to make a "vine" connecting the sweet peas. Doesn't look the greatest, but this is my first ever attempt at cake decorating like this, so I'm not that fussed about it.
All in all, I was pleased with my cake, I don't think it is a bad first attempt. Really paying attention to which icing consistency is used for what decorating element is probably the single best technique I have learned so far. Now I know why my other attempts to decorate with tips have always ended as epic failures. Next time I decide to experiment and practice, however, I am definitely going to plan in my head how I want the cake to look beforehand. I'm not very artistically inclined, and planning what should go where is hard for me to do on the fly -- resulting in a rather haphazardly decorated cake with elements that don't really mesh well. I am looking forward to practicing my skills, and coming up with some great looking (and tasting) cakes!