I arrived early to my last cake class in order to have a heart to heart with the instructor. "I know this is supposed to be stress-free and fun. It's cake decorating, after all. But I suck!" I told her. A pathetic but exasperated sigh followed my admission.
Carole's look was earnest. "Now, are you speaking like a beginner? Or are you comparing yourself to me?" she asked.
I looked around the room for Jessica, the girl whose cake was two layers of perfection, crumb coated and iced smooth, an elegant, flat, perfect blank canvas. I pointed: "Her."
Jessica had worked in a bakery a few years ago, so, though she's enrolled in a beginner's class, she's, technically, a pro.
"See?" my cake teacher asks. She's not quite sure what's wrong with the way I frosted my cake. It's clear I don't have icing towels, but it's a fine start. But she does locate a problem: my cake plate. "This is flexible," she says. It will make my icing crack.
Once again, having the right equipment is essential. So I turned around and marched into the Cake Cottage with my credit card, where I racked up a tidy sum on a Wilton cake holder. I didn't spend the dollars on a lazy Susan; however, I found some nifty cookie cutters and a gigantic offset spatula. (I'm dying to try those cookies on the cover of Family Circle!)
And the evening didn't turn out too bad. I don't, as I had originally thought, suck. I do lack patience, but some of the patterns (I have wanted to call them "moves" or "stitches" since this whole thing began) are easy. I practiced my sweet pea about forty times before commiting it to caketop, and I didn't do such a bad job. The rosettes are nearly perfect. The rosebuds are fine. My hyacinths are pretty nice. My leaves are inconsistent, some looking like natural beauties, others resembling penises. They will come. (The leaves, I mean.) I'm still not comfy with borders, but my garland around the side of the cake was pretty nice.
I feel much better about my skills now that I've seen some improvement.
And I've also learned an important lesson. I'm not too fond of the recent batch of frosting, and the Betty Crocker cake mix I used (some Moist Deluxe white thing) is absolutely VILE. It's been sitting on the countertop for nearly a week, and I've had exactly a bite.
Carole says a time will come when I will see buttercream as nothing more than a sculpting medium. I'm afraid that if the time ever does come, my passion for cake will have drawn to a close. So, while I vow to make blech-tasting cakes and frostings for practice, the cakes I make for celebration will themselves be worth celebrating.