It almost passed me by, but did you know that this week is National Cupcake Week? Yes, officially this is the week that everybody should be flicking on their ovens to get baking some of these scrumptious little morsels. Whenever I think of cupcakes, I am reminded of the course I took at Cakes 4 Fun over in Putney, London, which, in a funny way, sparked my interest in blogging.
I took the Ultimate Cupcake Course after a chat with one of my ante-natal friends about wanting to do something creative after a couple of years of being knee-deep in nappies and baby-talk. Shortly after taking the course, I decided to start writing about my adventures in food (though oddly I never did get round to writing about the course!) and here we are today.
Cakes 4 Fun are still going strong and their courses continue to be incredibly popular, selling out fast. As well as cupcake courses they offer classes in traditional cake decorating – mini and celebration cakes, macaroons, working with chocolate paste, as well as offering baking masterclasses, chocolate truffle workshops and the PME Professional Diploma. For most of the courses on offer, you don’t need any prior level of knowldge or skills. There are also evening courses available and you are provided with all the ingredients and equipment you will need for your course.
Held in a working cake shop, as I student I got to have a look in their kitchen and see lots of people decorating the most beautiful looking wedding and celebration cakes. It was a little bit like watching an episode of the American show Ace of Cakes, with some of the most impressive creations being decorated by hand to many different specifications.
The class itself was held in a teaching room separate to the main area of the shop and was large enough to fit six students and a teacher. Our teacher was called Rachael, and she showed us how to make vanilla cupcakes cakes from scratch and gave us a few tips along the way – use margarine if you want to produce cupcakes with a flat top (to decorate with fondant icing as below) and butter if you want cupcakes with a peak.
We were also shown how to pipe the cupcake mixture into the cases in the tin (you get a much more even finish and it is easier to gauge the quantity going in than if you use a spoon). Lots of people also recommend using an ice-cream scoop, but ever since taking the course I have used a piping bag, trimmed at the bottom once the mixture is in, no nozzle needed.
We then made a variety of decorations by hand using sugar paste, including using moulds and rolling the paste by hand into shapes, such as the teddy bear cupcake. We also used different types of icing – vanilla and chocolate buttercream icing as well as fondant icing and discs of icing to top in different ways.
I came home proudly brandishing a beautiful box of hand-decorated cupcakes and remember my husband and in-laws gasping at how impressive they were. I immediately uploaded the photos onto Facebook and had more comments than I’d ever received before, which is what made me start to think about sharing my adventures in food through writing about my foodie adventures.
If you are thinking of improving your skills then taking one of these courses is very enjoyable and you can learn a phenomenal amount even in just one day. The tutors at Cakes 4 Fun were all very friendly and knowledgeable and prices start from £40 for a full day course (the cupcake course is around £99 depending on the day selected.)
Cakes 4 Fun are also a member of The British Sugar Craft Guild.
Have you ever taken a cupcake course? If so, did you find that it helped you improve your skills?