Torrance Bakery - Cake Decorating 101 Class

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Cake Decorating Class - Torrance Bakery - El Camino College Extension
Cake Decorating Class 101 at Torrance Bakery

Guess what I did for a few weeks? I took a great Cake Decorating class with my friend, Rosie. Coordinated by El Camino College's Community Education program, the five-week class was held at the Torrance Bakery  in Gardena with instructor and owner, Kirk Rossberg.

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!

Cake Decorating Class - Torrance Bakery - El Camino College Extension
You remember Rosie, right? We've baked 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.

Cake Decorating Class - Torrance Bakery - El Camino College Extension
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!

Cake Decorating Class - Torrance Bakery - El Camino College Extension
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).

Kirk Rossberg (Owner - Torrance Bakery) - Cake Decorating Class - Torrance Bakery - El Camino College Extension
We missed Class #3 that covered making roses, leaves and other decorating techniques...bummer. Here are photos of Chef Kirk Rossberg demonstrating the shaped cakes. It's amazing how fast and effortlessly he can pipe frosting. Actually, I'm in awe of how fast he can make a parchment pastry bag...I felt like I was making an origami contraption every time! Chef Kirk was awesome - very helpful, high energy, encouraging and gave excellent pointers. Although the class can hold up to 30 students, I never felt the class was too big. Chefs Kirk and Dale were able to help all the students. Also, the large production kitchen easily fit all of us.

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).

Cake Decorating Class - Torrance Bakery - El Camino College Extension
Rosie's full pumpkin on the left and my Jack-O-Lantern with candy on the right. Oh, these were soooo cute!

Cake Decorating Class - Torrance Bakery - El Camino College Extension
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.

Cake Decorating Class - Torrance Bakery - El Camino College Extension
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.

Cake Decorating Class - Torrance Bakery - El Camino College Extension
Rosie finishing off her cute turkey...and my little guy peeking out from the box.

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!

Links of interest:
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)
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dorism6220 said... [Reply to comment]

Your turkey cake looks waaay better then Just Jenn's Baskin Robbins cake!

Fork and Whisk said... [Reply to comment]

Good for you. Cake decorating is very tough for me. I was never very good at piping in culinary school. I hope you had fun in class. Probably one I should take again.

Loretta E. said... [Reply to comment]

That looks so fun! I should do a little research and see if there's something like this in my area. I know they have classes at Michael's and Joann's, but it would be fun to do something a little more 'involved.'

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