I am incredibly lucky. My parents hold a strong belief in education and its value in changing one’s life for the better. Regardless of what we wanted to do in life, my dad was always keen to support our further education. And unlike many of my uni mates, I came out of a degree with no debt thanks to my kind and long-suffering parents.
To this day, my brother and I continue to further our education. My brother has chosen the path of hard work and crazy hours to complete some incredible qualifications, while I have chosen the path of sugar and baked goods to get some better looking products coming out of the Pig Palace kitchen! As Mom says, whatever floats our boats…
When we first moved into the UK edition of the Pig Palace (Pig Mansions), I was keen to teach myself how to make things. When put to the test, I think we humans have the capability to learn anything. I managed to teach myself how to make sushi rolls, but there was one skill that continued to elude me: working with fondant/sugar paste/plastic icing. I came home one day with a packet of blue fondant and a manky old sponge cake, and told Frank that I was going to teach myself to cover sponge like a master. When looking at the disastrous result, Frank couldn’t keep the laughter out of his voice (and he is normally very good at keeping a straight face), it looked utterly ridiculous. We took a photo, and when I find it I will post it for you all to have a good chuckle over. I think sometimes we have to admit defeat and call for professional help.
And cue the Essential Ingredient!! As I spend many a free hour in this store, I noticed they had cupcake decorating classes. As the classes work with fondant, I thought I’d sign up and get rid of the mystery of fondant. As the class books up quickly I had to wait over a month to get stuck in! As yesterday dawned I eagerly packed my apron (not the fake Masterchef one, Boss-man said that might come across as slightly arrogant…) and my camera and hit the road.
Arriving at the store I was welcomed into the classroom by Sandra, the fondant guru. Our tables were layed out with three un-iced cupcakes, piping bags and lots of little tools. As I was early I whipped out the camera and started setting up so I wouldn’t miss a thing – until I realised I hadn’t put the card in the camera. And I had no spares. So all the photos on this post were taken with my new devil-phone (still getting used to the “smart” phone, I am resisting technology) and aren’t of the same quality as normal.
Sandra showed us the way with buttercream, taught us how to cover cupcakes with fondant, how to colour fondant and how to pipe leaves and letters. For a 2-hour-long class I learned all the skills I was looking to master, and it left me wanting to learn more. Sandra was a fantastic teacher and made everything look simple.
AND I came away with a mini piping set and three rather snazzy-looking cakes! (Which were promptly consumed by my defacto niece. She loved the flowers though, a girl after my own heart)
Wanting advice on a cake I was making for Ferret’s birthday, I was guided by Sandra after the class to the decorating isle and given lots of good advice (and I spent lots of money on fun decorating thing). If you’re looking to learn the basics of buttercream and fondant, I would highly recommend this class. It is great for rookies and intermediates alike!
Details of all classes can be found and booked on their website.
The Essential Ingredient
731-735 Darling Street
Tel: (02) 9555 8300