If you have read my previous posts or seen my photos on Instagram or Twitter (or on this site) you will know that my style in quite simple. My focus has always been on taste and simplicity in decoration rather than anything ornate. However, as my plan is to meet potential customers’ baking requirements, I have had to rethink what I can offer. I don’t think offering cupcakes with a simple swirl or a carrot cake/loaf with cream cheese frosting is going to cut it so I have decided to up my game when it comes to decorating cakes and bakes.
As part of my Diploma in Professional Patisserie, we did sugar craft for a couple of days, which I thoroughly enjoyed, but have not done since. We made sugar craft roses, leaves, ivy, honeysuckle and jasmine, if I recall correctly. With my renewed interest in developing my decorating skills, I decided to scour the Internet for suitable courses. Let’s just say that there are a lot of courses out there, the majority of which are too expensive, too long, not long enough, too far away or not the right subject matter. At this point, I want to develop my skills in two areas: sugar craft and buttercream. Despite many of the courses on the Internet not being what I was looking for, I came across the Rock Bakehouse and a 1 day course called Modern Sugar Flowers. The course met my brief. Being in London it was not too far away (as well as was an excellent opportunity to visit our eldest son, who has recently relocated to London from Glasgow); being a 1 day course it was long enough, but not too long and as I was the last person on the course, I even got the course at a slightly reduced rate.
So, on Friday, on what was supposed to be the hottest day of the year in London, I arrived slightly early to the course (we were told not to arrive more than 15 minutes early as they would be setting up) to be ‘greeted’ by a very unassuming, partially shuttered building, with the small sign in the window, identifying it as Rock Bakehouse. I can’t lie, I honestly felt that I had made a mistake booking onto the course as the first impression was definitely not a good one. With a quiet word in my own ear, I reminded myself not to judge a book by its cover and then went for a short walk around the block in search of a coffee and to while away a few minutes until 15 minutes before the course started.
Let’s just say that I was right to have a quiet word in my own ear, as once I got inside the rather unassuming building, I was met by a light and airy, well set up teaching room, all ready for a day of sugar flower making.
I could take you through 6 hours of tutoring step by step, but I am sure I would put you to sleep very quickly, so I will recap what we covered in a few points:
- wiring stamens
- inserting and gluing florist wire into petals and leaves
- colouring sugar paste
- cutting and shaping petals for roses, peonies and hydrangeas
- cutting and veining leaves
- enhancing sugar flowers with lustre dusts
- assembling sugar flowers
- arranging sugar flowers into a display safely and securely
- key equipment you need to make sugar flowers (I will post a list separately, not only to assist anyone who wants to get into sugar flower making, but also so that I have my own shopping list)
The result of my day’s work was a beautiful peony, a rose and rose bud, five hydrangea flowers and some leaves. Was the result of my toil a perfect display of sugar flowers? In a word, ‘no’. Was I pleased with the result? In three words, ‘in the main’. Am I glad I did it? Most definitely, ‘yes’. Did I set out what I set out to achieve? A vehement ‘yes’. And finally, would I recommend the course to others? A definite ‘yes’. Anyway, as always, you can judge for yourself by looking at the photograph which accompanies this post.
PS, I should mention that the tutor on the course was excellent. Highly skilled and very good at explaining what to do.