Saturday, 11 December 2010

Cake decorating with Mich Turner

On Wednesday I answered a tweet out from Sarah, Maison Cupcake, for any cupcake loving food bloggers that could be in the Islington area yesterday, and was lucky enough to get a spare place on a cupcake decorating masterclass with Mich Turner MBE, founder of the Little Venice Cake Company, which was arranged by Tesco Real Food.

So, after booking a day off work I pootled off to the Make Lounge in Islington for the event. Before we got down to the hard work the organisers piled us with champagne and we got to have a quick chat with Mich. She was really friendly, asking about my blog, what I liked about cupcakes, most unusual baking experience etc, and what I hoped to learn from the day. We also talked about her lovely cakes which were on display, and of course I forgot to take pics.

Once everyone arrived, and I finally got to meet Sarah, we donned our cupcake aprons and took our seat, ready to learn.

We started with a brief introduction round the table. Mich asked me if I thought the cupcake craze would ever end and of course I stood up for them, and when I mentioned the whoopie pie fad I could tell she wasn't a fan by her face! She also announced to everyone that my blog was "one of the longest running" which was a shock to me (I'd told her I'd been writing my blog for nearly 3 years), and she also mentioned my brussels sprouts cupcakes which got a few eughs from the others! I also got told off by Mich when I happened to mention that Sainsbury's sell a large range of big cupcake cases, completely forgetting the event was organised by Tesco! Ooopps. Must've been the midday champagne!

After everyone had introduced themselves, Mich got down to business. First she showed us how to make sugarpaste roses. She made it look so easy and quick but was a very good teacher and answered all questions we had, and happily posed for photos etc. 

Next up she showed us how to make a simple candy cane decoration. These were adorable and perfect to top your festive cupcakes. The twisting of the two colours wasn't as easy as Mich made it look, but I got the hang of it eventually.

Mich's perfectly formed roses
Mich's frosted and decorated cupcakes
Mich then showed us how to use royal icing to add details such as leaves or swirls to the frosted cupcakes, or LVCC signature lined fondant toppings. She also showed us how to use cutters and embossers, and how to use lashings of glittery to make your cupcakes even prettier!

my cupcakes frosted
Then it was our turn to try our hand at sugarpaste and decorate our own cupcakes. The cakes and frosting were both made the night before by Megan, from Tesco Real Food, who had stayed up to the wee hours baking a hundred plus cupcakes!

First up we made some decorations using sugarpaste, which wasn't as easy as Mich made it look. My rose petals kept sticking to the punched pocket thing (we used one sliced open to put the blobs of paste between to smoosh out to make the petals) and then it looked more like a party of lady that I shalln't mention than a rose so I started again!

Then we got hold of some buttercream and naked cupcakes and frosted them. I tried a zig zag style that Mich suggested, but I think I prefer the swirls!

so glittery and pretty - my lovely rose
soooooo pretty - yes I'm proud of myself
I'm quite proud (well a lot proud) of my green glittery rose and my leaf piping, and my red glittery rose (below). I'm really not an artistic person, I'm good at frosting and that's it (and that's taken quite some time!),  so I am rather chuffed with myself that I made something that is actually recognisable as a rose!! And I managed to pipe some leaves onto my cake as well!

cupcake and my chubby candy cane
I also managed to master the twisting and twirling required for the candy cane, although mine were a little chubby and bent a little in my frosting!

all my cupcakes decorated
Time flew by really quickly and before I knew it the class was over and it was time to box up our cupcakes and head into rush hour with our box of pretty, glittery goodness! Alas my cupcakes didn't make it home looking quite so pretty. As soon as I put the lid on the roses got a little squished (they were a bit big for cupcakes but its my first time!) and by the time I'd gone on several buses to collect Manny from St Thomas's my cakes were a bit of a squishy mess. BUT they tasted lovely, well the vanilla ones I got to try did - really tasty and still moist today! And the buttercream was ever so tasty too. Talking of buttercream, Mich said we should stick to a 60/40 icing sugar/butter ration to always get tasty, easy to pipe frosting. She also suggested making ganache, then making vanilla frosting and mixing the two to get ultra chocolate'y frosting! Like I said she really was full of hints and tips!

You can arrange a masterclass with Mich on the LVCC website. They are quite expensive but so worth it I'd say. She was a very good teacher, and herself and her assistant were there to answer any questions we had and help us out with any problems we were having! She was also really funny and down to earth and genuinely in love with cake decorating. 

This post is a bit photo heavy already so I've put some photos of the other decorators cupcakes on my Flickr page. They're all so pretty!

Thanks again to Sarah and Tesco Real Food for the opportunity. And Mich for being such a great teacher. If you want to learn some of her techniques she has several books on cake decorating, with a new one, The Ultimate Step-by-Step Guide to Cake Decorating Perfection, due out in February. 


Archies Mum said...

Sounds like you had a really good day. Your roses are perfect, I don't blame you feeling chuffed with what you made.

Sarah, Maison Cupcake said...

Great post! I haven't even downloaded my pictures yet! I'm really pleased it was you who got to come since if any knows about cupcakes it's YOU!

Hope Manny is ok?

Sarah, Maison Cupcake said...

By the way, I thought your roses looked fabulous. I think Mich might have squashed mine a bit in the glitter!!!

Katie said...

It was such a great afternoon wasn't it?! I felt like I picked up some great tips and really upped my confidence to try new techniques. Mitch was really inspiring!
It was lovely meeting you and hopefully we'll catch up again soon! Katie xxx

Sarah-Jane - said...

sounds like a super afternoon. Love your sugar roses

The Caked Crusader said...

Your roses are amazing - I would be sooooo proud if I'd made those!

I heart cupcakes said...

@Archies Mum - It was a lovely way to spend an afternoon. Thanks for being so nice about my roses :)

@Sarah - Thanks again! I thought I'd best do it now or never get it done! I thought yours looked fabulous - I have no idea where the day went, I only had time to do a couple of things.
Manny's fine, taking a load of eye drops every couple of hours bless him but nearly back to normal!

@Katie - it was a great afternoon! I do think Mich was great at putting everyone at ease. It was lovely to meet you and congrats again at raising so much for the school funds with the cakes xx

@Sarah-Jane - thanks very much. Definitely much more fun than being at work

@Samantha - thank you ever so much :) I'm still drooling over your cake from earlier!

Manny said...

I'm so glad the day turned out so well :) You should be very proud of your decorating, those cakes look so professional. They were really tasty too - I seem to have eaten most of the ones you brought home, lol :)

It's great that your blog is getting well known in the cake world, it deserves to be. Your passion for cupcakes comes through so well in your writing - I never tire of reading it :)

I heart cupcakes said...

Manny thank you - you really are a great encouragement with my baking, and also a fabulous tester!

Manny said...

My pleasure, it really is :) I am so proud of you for your amazing baking and all the passion you put into this blog, I love reading your posts xxxx

Robyn Clarke said...

Your cupcakes are gorgeous! I did Mich's Christmas Masterclass and enjoyed every minute of it

Nicisme said...

Lovely post!
It was great to meet you, and see you in action with the cupcake decorating - yours are fabulous!

I heart cupcakes said...

@Manny - thanks sweetie

@Robyn - thanks ever so much. I shall check out your blog - Mich is a fabulous teacher isn't she!

@Nicisme - thank you. Was lovely to meet you too - was such a lovely day!!

Baking Addict said...

Wow I'm so jealous! I saw Mich demonstrating at the good food show last year and she was amazing. This course definitely looks worth it. Great job on the your rose and piping!