Monday, 11 August 2014

Cupcake decorating class at Konditor & Cook



If there's I like, it is cake. And with Great British Bake Off having returned to the small screen, my love for the delectable baked treat has grown as strong as Mel and Sue's interest in whatever they can steal off the contestants' baking areas. So when an invite arrived for a Cupcake Decorating Class, I RSVP-ed as quickly as Mary Berry can spot a soggy bottom!

The course was to be held at the special cake school location of London-based baking heaven Konditor & Cook on Stamford Street, near Waterloo station, which I didn't have the pleasure of visiting before. Still spotting the shop's iconic Willie Wonka purple exterior and a range of cake examples on display, the shop was otherwise especially fitted for classes with a big table in the middle of the room and space for about ten seats around it.


When I arrived, the cupcakes for the night were already laid out for us baking enthusiasts. We received three chocolate cupcakes and three hazelnut cupcakes each. One of the other attendees on the night had a nut allergy, which she called about in advance but unfortunately it wasn't catered to on the night. Our friendly instructor fixed the issues by substituting the three nutty cakes for another three filled with chocolaty goodness, but I couldn't help but wonder why this wasn't organised better given they'd received advance notice.

Nibbling on the divine brownies and parmesan & chilli shortbread (Savoury shortbread! Why have I never thought of this before?) that was laid out for us, we watched how our instructor mixed a huge bowl of mascarpone with another huge bowl of icing sugar and a vanilla pod. She did it all manually, which seemed like a lot of hard work, and while she was mixing we chatted about a lot of things, most of which involved eating cake. Once the two were properly mixed she added butter and split the mixture, leaving one cream-coloured and adding a nutty chocolate flavour to the other half for a nutella-like frosting.


With the two flavours of frostings now ready to be used we were given piping bags and the choice of a lot of different nozzles that would create a variety of shapes and sizes on our cakes. A few of the options were demonstrated, making it look oh so easy but when I got to try it for ourselves it turned out to be a little harder than we thought. My first efforts weren't the greatest but I managed to cover it up with even more icing. With the cupcakes all frosted they went into the fridge to set and we got to the next stage of the decorating process: marzipan.

This was the part of the class that I unfortunately felt somewhat let down by. First of all there was no glitter or any other type of cupcake decorations I was hoping for, it was just the marzipan. This would've been okay in itself but there were hardly any demonstrations to show us how we could make interesting shapes and creations for our cakes. We were asked if there was anything in particular we wanted to see, but as we're not the cake experts we came up blank. Eventually the instructor did show us how to make a rose, before we were let lose on the table now set up with cutters, shapers and a lot of coloured marzipan.

If it wasn't for our own creativity (or in my case, looking at the clever constructions of my fellow attendees), we wouldn't have had much inspiration for the creations that ended up gracing our cakes. In the end we all had a wonderful time, despite the seeming lack of organisation or instruction. For me, most of this stemmed from how proud I felt that our cupcake concoctions didn't end up falling in the 'Nailed It' category, but actually looked pretty good. See below.


The seemingly unorganised atmosphere doesn't quite make the class worth £50. Yes, the cupcakes themselves tasted divine (you definitely don't want to be sharing those!) and the ingredients were clearly of a high standard, but for a class that advertises cupcake decorating, I'd been expecting to learn some actual techniques and tricks of the trade, rather than be given already baked cupcakes, watch the instructor make icing for the better part of 30 minutes and be given a plethora of different colours of marzipan and cutters to make what we please.

Regardless of this, if you go to the class with a group of friends you're guaranteed to have a wonderful evening; drinking wine, devouring delicious baked goods and getting your hands stuck into cake is never a bad thing. A little more in the way of demonstrations would have been nice though, so I could've transferred our new-found decorating skills to my own kitchens and bake up a storm in anticipation of the next episode of Great British Bake Off.

Konditor & Cook holds a variety of classes, from Flower Topper Modelling and Intro to Cake Decorating to Cake Tasting (this is definitely one for me!) and Masterclasses. The cake school is located on 63 Stamford St, London SE1 9NB.

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