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First steps to Star Baker: Baking & Cake Design

First steps to Star Baker: Baking & Cake Design

It’s funny how the contestants on TV baking shows like the Great British Bake Off always seem to have plenty of creative ideas and expert baking skills. The results on the day vary – otherwise there wouldn’t be a show – but they all seem to have been studying, learning and baking like crazy before getting on the show and receiving their first challenge.

They are presented as amateurs – but seem to possess some professional skills. Well, most of them. There are always one or two who are just hopeless, but they are only on the show to make the others look good. Most contestants claim to simply have an enthusiasm for baking and regularly do it at home, but there’s always one in every episode who turns out professional-quality results that could not come from raw enthusiasm alone. This suggests he or she may have been taking courses to get ideas and skills.

What skills do you actually need to create cakes that have the ‘wow’ factor for birthdays, weddings and other events?

First the baker – star or not – needs to evaluate the occasion and come up with a concept that suits the style, number of guests, and personalities of significant people at the event. It also needs to be clear how the cake will be cut into pieces, and with what, to reduce embarrassing fumblings and ghastly misshapen slices at the moment of truth. The design needs to take this into account, for mishap-free confectionery distribution.

Then there are the actual techniques, like making buttercream, piping methods (star or petal tips? That eternal question), making fondant to just the right consistency and texture and then decorating with it in simple or complex patterns, then hand-painting (if necessary in the design) and embellishing the cake.

As if that wasn’t enough, there are the crucial stages of stacking cakes (if this is part of the design), adding further design elements, transporting it to the venue without catastrophe and presenting it once it gets there.

A course like Sophisticated Baking & Cake Design could set you on the path to cake stardom. Spatulas ready …