Mary, returning from her holiday in Japan, extolled the craftsmanship of street vendors who drizzled a liquid, sugary substance resembling caramel into exotic, delicate shapes.
Obsessed with the images of candy dragons rendered in translucent, amber-coloured confection, she set herself to researching that ancient craft. She discovered that they fall under the broad heading of ‘sugar arts’, a designation that includes cake decorating, among others.
Now determined to become a sugar artist, Mary started looking for a cake decorating class that would open the doors to her becoming prolific in the craft.
Maybe you haven’t been to Japan; after all, not everyone is enchanted with the Orient.
Maybe, for you, it was Harry and Meghan’s cake or, a few years before, William and Kate’s classic fruitcake, covered in fondant and decorated with gum paste flowers that got you thinking that you, too, could be a cake decorator.
You can! All you need is the right course, the right mentor and the right tools and ingredients.
For all of that, your Superprof has got you covered, starting right now, with where to find the best cake decorating classes.
Adult Education Centres
While many would head to their local cooking school to look for pastry chefs who give lessons – we’ll do that too, in a mo, you cannot discount the wealth of sugar arts courses offered by your city’s adult education centre.
Some offer beginners’ courses while other classes address decorating a specific type of cake: cupcakes (or fairy cakes, their more common name), cake pops, a two-bite cake on a stick, like a lolly... the list goes on: celebration cakes, mini cakes...
You can also take a class that addresses certain cake decorating techniques such as airbrushing, creating edible photos, how to make rosettes, techniques for rolled fondant...
We were particularly taken with the course listings at the Adult Education centres in Kent.
They have courses for everyone, from those who have no idea what a piping bag is – let alone how to use it to season-specific themes, such as their Christmas wreath course, which incorporates sugar flowers cunningly woven in with berries and foliage.
Your holiday parties would be especially cheerful with such decoration!
Everywhere we looked, from London to Leeds and beyond, we found intriguing adult education courses in the sugar arts; if there are no such classes where you live, maybe you could suggest them.
After attending such a class, you may want to know where you can buy cake decorating supplies so you can get started with your own cake decoration enterprise...
Cake Decorating Classes at Local Cooking Schools
We Brits love food.
We don’t just love our bangers’n’mash and our pasties, our haggis if we’re Scottish or the uniquely Welsh laverbread; we tease and tempt our palates with exotic imports: curries and Chinese, Thai and, of course, American.
When was the last time you had a hamburger?
Not for nothing are the country’s cooking schools doing brisk business these days. Through short courses and masterclasses all the way to degree programmes, they teach everything from how to create an enticing plate of nibbles to an entire, 5-course meal.
For such offerings, dessert must necessarily follow. That is why you’ll find cooking schools across the land teaching courses in dessert-making: beautiful cakes, covered in decorating icing and sugar paste artistry.
In keeping with our foodie love affair, virtually every major city has at least one cooking school:
- Manchester: Wilmslow Cookery School, Try My Kitchen Manchester
- Birmingham: Try My Kitchen Birmingham, Harborne Food School – theirs is more of a seasonal programme
- Leeds: Leeds Cookery School, Get Cooking
- Glasgow: Cloud Nine Cake Centre, Tennent’s Training Academy and more
- Edinburgh: New Town Cookery School, Edinburgh School of Food and Wine (among others)
- Cardiff: Cornerhouse Cookery, the Culinary Cottage...
- Belfast: Forestside Cookery School; Belfast Cookery School and others
- London: too many to list; too many to choose from!
The names listed above offer courses specifically in cake decorating but, often, those sessions take second place to food preparation and service.
In some cases, cake decoration classes have seasonal themes; Christmas being right around the corner, many of these schools offer day-courses in preparing seasonal treats.
What if you have no cooking school nearby?
You have the option of travelling into the big city closest to you for courses or, more fortunately for you, perhaps your town has a bakery.
We’re going there to look for classes now...
Ask Your Resident Baker
It might seem counter-intuitive that your local cake decorator, who perhaps has cornered the market where you live, would want to teach others their craft.
Phoebe, from Friends, knows all too well what could happen: she taught all of her clients a self-massage class and they stopped coming to her for their massages.
Fortunately, most cake artists see the matter less as depriving themselves of business than teaching others how to create art. In light of that, there is no harm in asking if s/he could teach you a few decorating tricks.
The cake artists at Chitty’s Cakes in Birmingham are an excellent case in point.
Not only do they come up with gorgeous creations but they set time, baking tools and cake decorating tools aside to host classes for anyone who wants to know all about buttercream icing and how to use it.
They are not the only cake decorating enterprise so generous with their time and knowledge.
The more we looked around, the more we found talented and inspired cake decorators, keen to share their skills and ideas.
We can’t think of a better place than a friendly, homestyle baker to learn the art of cake making from.
Supermarket and Library Bulletin Boards
We are living in uncertain economic times; our imminent divorce from longtime trade partners and the protections they afforded us is causing ripples in our financial outlook, on a national and individual level.
Even before the current turmoil, it wasn’t easy to launch oneself into a business in our country; more often than not, independent artisans would break into the business world by advertising their services on bulletin boards, conveniently provided by supermarkets and libraries.
Even community centres reserve a place for such notices. Would it hurt to scan the message boards where you live and where you shop to see if some intrepid sugar artist is currently seeking students?
Join the discussion: what is the best way to become a professional cake decorator?
Cake Decorating Classes Online
Unless you’ve been living the life of a hermit for the past 20 years, there is a good chance that you know of video websites such as YouTube and the lesser-touted Vimeo.
True, the videos you might run across are not cake decorating classes in the true sense; there is no instructor present to advise you, guide you or answer your questions. Still, there are entire channels dedicated to step-by-step cake decorating, most filled with amusing commentary and sidebars.
One such channel is called How to Cake It, hosted by master cake decorator Yolanda Gampp.
From her kitchen studio in Canada, she produces instructional videos – and delicious, remarkable-looking cakes in video segments that last anywhere from just over 10 minutes to more than 20 minutes for her more elaborate creations.
If you want to know how to decorate a lobster cake, a cake loaded with artfully placed sprinkles or a fault line cake (this week’s upload), you only need to follow Yolanda.
With more than four million subscribers, she certainly would be one to follow!
If you were looking for a more interactive online experience, you may direct yourself to My Cake School.
Melissa has been conducting a lifelong love affair with cake and decorating them. Now, she has set up a web page that offers tutorials, step by step videos on working with modeling chocolate and meringue buttercream, gum paste and fondant and how to make cakes for any occasion.
Finally, if online classes are your preferred method of learning, you cannot overlook the Blue Door Bakery.
Located in Worcestershire, they produce full tutorials in downloadable PDF format as well as videos for the beginner and intermediate cake decorator (for a fee). What a great way to pick up cake decorating tips!
There is still one more option for learning how to make cake decorations...
Learn Cake Decorating at Home
For some, learning how to decorate a cake is best done in their own kitchen, where they feel the most comfortable. For them, inviting a tutor into their home for weekly or bi-weekly sessions is preferable to going to class.
Does that solution appeal to you?
If so, you may be happy to know that Superprof has more than 120 tutors scattered all across the UK, ready to give home lessons in cake decorating, either in your kitchen or online, via webcam.
From cluing you in to the tools you need – spatulas, piping bags, decorating tips and more to how to use them, your Superprof tutor is available to you as your schedule demands.
From cake design to decorating ideas for the standard layer cake... please pardon the pun: Superprof has you covered.
Now discover the best books, websites and social media accounts that will inspire your cake decorating...