Last Sunday I spent a truly delightful afternoon over at April Delights in Bestwood (a few miles north of Nottingham city centre) taking part in a cupcake and cake pop decorating class.
I’d paid for the class about 6 months ago through groupon – the price of £23 seemed like a bargain for 4 hours of cake tuition. However by the end of the afternoon I’d realised you can actually book classes directly for the same price – you live and learn!
The class was fully booked, there were about 20 of us in total, and we all had a little workspace with a mat to roll the fondant, rolling pins, and access to all the cutters, tools, colours and glitter we could need.
The owner of April Delights – Adele – spent about half an hour taking us through 3 of the more complicated cupcakes – Rudolph, Santa and the Christmas Tree. Broken down into easy steps they seemed so easy! Then we were set off on our own to try to remember how on earth she’d gone from a big ball of white fondant into these perfect looking cakes.
First up was embossing a fondant topping for the cupcakes. We used pre-made vanilla cupcakes, which had a sugar glaze to help the fondant stick. After pressing in an embossing sheet to create the pattern, it was simply a case of using a round biscuit / pastry cutter the same size as the cake to get the perfect size.
I went for the reindeer first – on the brown base – which was largely a case of rolling and moulding brown fondant into the right shape for the head, before adding eyes, antlers and a nose also made of fondant. Sounds simple but took rather a lot of sculpting to get him right! Everything we made was stuck together with edible glue which is so easy to work with – it stays tacky for quite a while and dries clear, so was perfect for all the little details.
Next up was the Christmas tree. This was simply a brown based, topped with 6 green stars, in decreasing sizes (2 each of large, medium and small), staggered to give the branch effect. I love how simple this cake was – completely different to the Chocolate Brownie Christmas trees I’d made the week before, but equally as effective.
By this time I was feeling a little more adventurous and loved having an experiment on my other cakes.
The Santa that Adele had shown us was upturned in a big pile of snowballs – but I decided to do mine as “when Santa got stuck up the chimney” – as my mum is forever getting this song stuck in her head at this time of year!
It took a bit of time to shape the chimney and mark in brick lines, but the legs themselves were quite simple. A great tip to create the look of fur (around the edge of the boots) is simply to mottle the white fondant with a cocktail stick or edge of a small tool.
For the wreath I simply used a small leaf cutter, 3 different shades of green, and finished off with a few red berries.
For my 5th cake I went for some classic Christmas presents – relatively simple cubes of coloured fondant, with slightly more fiddly ribbon wrapping and bows. I love the black fondant base, but it needed something more to set it off – cue some gold lustre and soft gold pearls.
Finally – and I think my favourite – igloo and penguin. For the base I added some blue gel colour to white fondant, kneading through until it had just swirled into an icy effect.
I tried a number of ways to make the igloo, and in the end settled on chopping white fondant into small blocks and building it up. It certainly wouldn’t last long in the arctic, my construction skills leave a lot to be desired!
But the star of the show – my little penguin! Again he is entirely made out of fondant – a black body, orange beak and feet, white tummy and eyes. By the time I got to the eye pupils it was getting a little fiddly, so I used the end of cocktail stick to paint these on with a little gel colour. I sat him on a blue snowflake for extra icy look.
As if hours of cupcake making wasn’t enough (it took me 2 1/2 hours to make 6 cupcakes – how does anyone make a living out of this!) – we also whipped up a quick set of cake pops.
Using a pre-mixed butter cream/cake combo for the balls, they shaped remarkably well and dried quickly and well-rounded in the white candy melts. Why isn’t it this easy at home! I think my lesson learned here is to have a very thick, almost dry dough to make the cake balls with. They rolled really easily without sticking to my hands, and held their shape and form on the stick perfectly.
We only had time for quick decoration of the cake pops – some wintry snowflakes, red love hearts, and some gold sparkly sugar.
Overall I really enjoyed the course. Perhaps just because it was great to spend 4 unadulterated hours making cakes, with all the equipment on tap, or having 6 pretty cake pops and 6 cupcakes to take home, or picking up some new tips and meeting like-minded people along the way. I’d definitely consider going back and will be keeping my eye out on upcoming courses – they do large feature cake courses as well as cupcakes and basic skills.
Before I left I had a quick snoop around in the studio at some of Adele’s amazing creations – and wow!
Wedding cakes table:
Willy Wonka Golden Ticket Cake:
Giant Octopus – made by a colleague of Adele’s who runs airbrush courses at the same studio: