Lesson 100: The Final Wedding Cake Assembly

Wow, we’re at the last class. Crazy.

I came into class with a plan of attack on how I would finish my cake. I was so nervous about all the work I had left to complete that I came in an hour early to get in some extra petal-dusting time.

I knew I had to finish:

  1. Covering my board
  2. Petal dusting my roses, rose leaves, and peony leaves
  3. Attaching gumpaste ruffles to the outside of my cake
  4. Piping the borders of my cakes
  5. Attaching my peony to the cake
  6. Figuring out how I wanted the top of my cake to look


First up, covering my board, something nice and easy to get me into the swing of things. Then I would finish petal dusting my flowers, hopefully all of this could happen in the extra hour I had bought myself by coming in early. I hoped that by the time class was supposed to actually start I would be ready to ruffle my cake. I wasn’t really sure how I was going to achieve the look I wanted, so I knew I had to allow myself at least 2 hours to get it just right.

Continue reading

Lessons 93 – 99: Gumpaste Flowers

With only 7 lessons until the end of school, it was time to get down to business on our wedding cakes. We started off making generic flowers, everyone was required to make 1 full blown rose and leaf, 1 calla lily, 1 five petal blossom, 1 azalea, and 1 mimosa, regardless of whether or not we were going to use them on the final cake. This was also the time to start thinking about what our final wedding cakes were going to look like so we could make the required flowers in appropriate colors, should we choose to use them on the wedding cake. We were told to make lots of filler flowers and leaves, you always need way more than you imagined, plus they’re really helpful for covering up any loose wires or other flaws that you might otherwise see.

Instantly I knew I wanted to make a light green and pink cake. I love the color combo and have always wanted to use it on a cake, so now was the perfect time. I just had to figure out how to put that together into a nice looking cake. While I was figuring out what the design should be, I started on the required flowers, but made sure they were all made in green or pink so that I could use them on the final cake if they looked nice enough.

After searching for some inspiration online, I finally came up with a cake design and got to work. I knew I needed to make a lot of roses and wanted to make a nice, big, pink peony to be the centerpiece. Well, I found out that making peonies is quite a pain staking process. To make one, each petal needs to be individually rolled, cut, thinned, wired, and dried in a form that will give the petals some movement. Then, after the petals are all dry, they each need to be individually petal dusted. Once all of the petals, plus the center are ready, you can assemble the flower. To do this, hold all of the wires together and wrap together using floral tape.

Continue reading

Lessons 91 – 92: Styrofoam Dummy Cake with Chocolate Plastic Rose

Now that we learned all sorts of piping techniques, it was time to learn how to cover a cake! After all, in 2 lessons time we were going to start working on our final wedding cakes and we had yet to roll out a piece of fondant! We started by covering a styrofoam cake round in marzipan…this was really tough. The marzipan kept drying out and cracking and everyone’s cakes looked pretty wrinkly…you won’t see this girl covering a cake in marzipan again!

Then the next class, we finally got out the fondant and covered the same styrofoam cake round in fondant. Again mine kept cracking and ripping. I think I was rolling it out too thin, but with a lot of perseverance and a ton of Crisco to fix the cracks, the cake was covered! Next we learned how to make fondant ribbons and attached one along the bottom of our cake round. Finally, we finished it all off with chocolate plastic roses, leaves, and curls! By far my favorite part of the cakes! Even though at the end of class we had to flip the rounds over to use the Styrofoam as a base for our gumpaste flowers, I took my rose, leaves, and curls home and hopefully will find a use for them one day!

Lessons 88 – 90: Piping borders, rose buds, and full and half roses

After finishing up with our Marzipan fruits, we moved right on into learning how to pipe borders, rose buds, and full and half roses. So much time was spent on learning how to make shells, reverse shells, rosettes, fleur-de-lys, rope, garlands, ruffles, swags, bows and star flowers. After every class I would leave with my hand cramping from all the pressure I had been applying. But after two full lessons of piping, we were ready to attack the rose! I think everyone can relate to what it’s like to stare at a rose on a cake or cupcake and wonder how on earth it was created in buttercream. Finally, I was going to get to use a new tip in the large set of tips I had to buy at the beginning of the course.

We started learning the rose by learning rosebuds. These are actually deceivingly difficult! Because I had spent some time making roses out of marzipan and bread in previous lessons, I felt like these would be easy for me, but it turns out that making a rose bud is nothing like making a full blown rose, so I had no context for it. It took me what seemed like 100 tries to finally get a good rose bud created.

After we nailed the rose bud, we moved onto half roses. Half roses are just extensions of rose buds, but with two or three additional leaves piped. And then finally, onto full-blown roses!

Continue reading

Delicious and Juicy Peach Crisp

With Fall upon us, the time to pick Jersey peaches is quickly winding down. So last weekend, I set out to make sure I got my peach picking in before it was too late. After buying way too many peaches at the orchard, I was left with the dilemma of what on earth to do with them all before they went bad and so I quickly whipped up a peach crisp.

A crisp is one of the easiest and quickest fruit desserts that can be made and is so simple that you have no excuse not to try it!


Here’s my recipe:

Continue reading

Lesson 87: Marzipan fruits and roses

And just like that, the last course of school began, cake decorating. We started the course with a full lesson on marzipan. Marzipan is a paste that is made from almonds and sugar that is usually then formed into various shapes, including fruits, vegetables and flowers. A typical American recipe for marzipan consists of almond paste, confectioners sugar, light corn syrup and fondant. To make it, combine the almond paste with half of the sugar until the sugar is absorbed. Then add the remaining sugar while continuing to mix. Next add the corn syrup and fondant a little at a time. When a handful of marzipan can knead together without too much effort, it is ready. If it’s still too dry, continue adding the corn syrup and fondant until the right consistency is achieved.

Once we had finished making the marzipan, we divided it up and colored each piece so that we could make various fruits and vegetables.

Continue reading

Lessons 83 – 86: Our Chocolate Showpieces



After completing our lessons on molded, filled, and dipped chocolates it was time to move onto the conclusion of our chocolate module by building out our chocolate showpieces. We were broken out into teams of two and given basic instructions on the structure that our pieces needed to have.

The first class, we sat for a while and talked about all the different materials we could use in our showpiece. Tempered chocolate would need to be used for any structural elements because of its strength. Modeling chocolate could be used for any decorative items. Pastillage, isomalt, or marzipan could be used for additional, finer details.

The whole process seemed like it would be quite overwhelming, but as soon as we finished talking about our options, we got right to work. There was a mold that everyone needed to use which would give us the basic structure for our piece. We could place a variety of textured mats under the mold to achieve texture on the pieces, but other than that, the structure would be the same for everyone. While initially I was unhappy about this inherit structure, by the end of class I realized I would not have had a clue how to begin without it.

Continue reading

Lesson 79 – 82: Filled and dipped chocolates

Now that we had our feet wet a bit we moved onto filled and dipped chocolates. Whether filling or dipping, it is important to make sure that the chocolate shell is even or you make a stress point in the chocolate, which can sadly, lead to mold growing in the filling.

We started with dipped chocolates, which I found out were much more difficult to do than they seem from the outset. In order to make a filled chocolate, you start by making a filling and spreading it onto a sheet pan inside of a frame (so the filling doesn’t spread and has nice crisp edges). Once the filling has set, remove the frame and temper some chocolate. Then cut the filling into the desired shape for the chocolate and place it onto a chocolate fork. Using the fork, dip the filling into the tempered chocolate and set aside.

Although this sounds easy enough, turns out, it is very difficult to try and get a nice outer coating on the fillings, but after 4 hours, we were able to churn out a bunch of these chocolates.

Continue reading

Lessons 76 – 78: Moving on to chocolate – Chocolate tempering, clusters and truffles

Mod 4 was here, signaling our ¾ mark in the program, we only had 25 more lessons in the classroom and then we were off to our externships. I had been looking forward to this mod from the very beginning, considering that I am one of the world’s largest chocoholics.

When I was about twelve my parents decided to sell our house and my uncle came by to help fix everything up before the sale. He noticed a small hole in my wall and went to spackle it, but the hole kept cracking and expanding. He finally realized what the problem was – I had been stuffing chocolate wrappers into the hole and up the wall for years! As the hole grew and the wrappers flooded the floor, my family’s laughter began…and hasn’t stopped since!

Continue reading

Lessons 71-75 – Plated Desserts

Next we moved onto plated desserts. In these next couple of lessons we took some of the most successful recipes of famous chefs and recreated them in class.

We started class by discussing what some of the elements in a plated dessert are, things like color, flavor, texture, variety, seasonality and cost. Then we were given a production list to follow for the three desserts each team was going to make. And although at first it didn’t make any sense to me to make the ice-cream base for a dessert I was showing on the third day, by the end of the classes, it was all perfectly clear.

My group was going to make: gianduja parfait, crepes suzette, and raspberry mille feuille with ice wine granita and litchi sorbet. I couldn’t have been more excited!

Some of the other desserts that were being made for the first day included:

Chocolate Peanut Tart


Chestnut Parfait


Chocolate Caramel Tart (which my husband keeps asking me to whip up for him!)

Gianduja Parfait

We were making the Gianduja Parfait, with praline cream, hazelnuts, vanilla ice cream, and carmalized bananas. This was a fun dessert to assemble. We started by making the gianduja parfait recipe, which we put into a flexipan to form, and covered each with a sucree base. After these were frozen, we made a chocolate spray and sprayed each one to give it a velvety look. Then we made our vanilla ice cream and chocolate sauce, and finally got to caramelize some bananas using a blow torch. The dessert was delicious!

Continue reading