Cake Decorating Class 101 at Torrance Bakery
For those of you who aren't from the South Bay, Torrance Bakery is an institution in this Los Angeles suburb. Kirk Rossberg purchased the bakery in 1984, and it has grown to two locations and over 80 staff. He is generous to the community, and you can see him here celebrating Torrance's centennial with a large "cake". Kirk, who started working in bakeries in high school, teaches this Cake Decorating Class two or three times a year. If you are the area, I highly recommend taking this class.
And, if you are keeping track...yes, I do seem to be eating my way through family-owned South Bay bakeries! King's Hawaiian Tour and now this class from Torrance Bakery. I do like to surround myself with carbs!
challah, yellow cake and entremets together. She's my friend Helen's daughter...I've known Rosie since she was three years old! Rosie is attending the prestigious Johnson & Wales University in Providence, Rhode Island and was home for a trimester. Having spent time in France making fancy plated desserts, Rosie says it was fun to make some shaped cakes and practice piping and icing.
Class #1: Basics
During the first class, you receive a packet of tools! Ateco spatula, off-set spatula, scraper, two tips, decorating combs, and a rose maker thingy (I'm sure that's the exact term). We crumb coated the cake, piled on the frosting, decorated it with the comb, and piped some shells.
Readers of the blog will know that I hate frosting (which is why the Bundt Cake is the greatest cake on the planet), so I don't have much experience. I definitely need to practice my decorating skills!
Class #2: Fondant
I've never used fondant...and, like 99.9% of people, I don't like to eat it. Assistant Chef Dale led this class. After frosting and crumb coating our 7" cake, we covered it with the fondant. I think I spent half the class rolling out the fondant. We decorated with colored fondant, and Rosie used the play-dough toy to make a border (bottom right photo).
The class is $175 plus $25 for materials. So, it's $200 for five classes from 5:30 - 7:30 pm. Sure, Wilton classes at Michael's are less expensive, but let's break it down. It's only $40 per class and you walk out the door with a fully decorated cake every week! Your friends, family, and co-workers will love you (in fact, Rosie's co-workers would have chauffeured her to class if it meant getting a cake the next day). Plus, you get instruction, tools and you don't need to make, bring, or clean up anything (for me, that is sooooo worth it!) At $20 per hour, it's delicious culinary art therapy. Since I missed Class #3 and always need more practice, I'm probably going to take the class again next year (there were repeaters in the class).
Class #4: Pumpkin Cake
I've never made a shaped cake so this class was a blast. Just in time for the upcoming holiday, a cute whimsical pumpkin filled with a chocolate frosting layer was just the ticket. The pumpkin was two 7" cakes (in the middle) and 1/2 of a 6" cake on the bottom and top.
Class #5: Turkey Cake
We had such a good time making the pumpkin cake, Chef Kirk let us make another one. This week, for our final class, we made a Turkey Cake. We had two 7" cakes, and the back was cut. Then, another gold cake plate was cut and decorated with frosting. The head? A cupcake. So freaking cute. We also used the air brush machine - that's the kind of tagging I can get into.
Here are some hints I picked up:
- Freeze and use cold cakes for decorating.
- Use hella frosting. (As a frosting hater, this killed me...but I totally get the point. You need to cover that cake so you can pull ribbed decorations, make shapes, etc.)
- Cut the edges from the cake with scissors - so much easier!
- Place eyes high up on a shaped cake and make them big. I should have made my bigger to be more expressive.
- Have fun!
All the photos were taken with my Android Samsung phone so they aren't that great...but you get the idea. And, I still hate frosting (personal preference), but I like playing with it. The vanilla cake we made each week? That was delicious!
Thanks Rosie for taking the class with me!! Thanks Chef Kirk and Dale for a fun class!
Torrance Bakery (opens to music) Locations in Old Torrance and Gardena (Los Angeles area, California). The bakery has seating for coffee breaks, and they make a zillion wedding and decorated cakes.
El Camino College Community Education (this class is listed under Culinary Arts)