LAST week, my daughter got invited by one of her dear friends, who happens to be the son of the owners, to a fun cupcake decorating class at Monster Kitchen (MK) near the cathedral. My daughter looked forward to it, and her enthusiasm was contagious. She had taken other MK classes such as basic cakes, pastries, and macaroon making. All of those lessons were really worth it because it has made her more comfortable and proficient in the kitchen at such a young age.
I brought her to class and was pleasantly surprised that there was a parking slot in the normally jampacked area. I was set to wait for her, but she mentioned her teacher, who is my friend, Ms Olwen would be joining them. That really piqued my interest, so I dared to ask if I can watch what they’re going to do. And as luck would have it, the owners, Jan and Maggie Uy, were gracious enough to make space for me and let me participate. Thank you for the warm welcome.
The ever patient Chef Maggie, with her soothing and calm voice, was the one who instructed us on basic decorating using the Wilton Method. It wasn’t really a super formal class, typical of MK workshops, but more of a chill type activity amongst friends. Nevertheless, we, the participants learned so much. They actually have a full Wilton class if you’re interested in pursuing the basics of cake decorating. The MK culinary classrooms are well-lit, clean, and fully equipped, so students can maximize their learning experience.
Chef Maggie taught us how to make American buttercream and demonstrated how to hold the icing bags. Apparently, in the Wilton method, the way to pipe designs is 90degrees and 45degrees angle of the icing bag. She also showed us various types of icing tips that make different patterns and instructed us on how to change icing tips using a crafty device called a coupler. The coupler is a small gadget that makes changing tips easy, without changing the whole icing bag, because you just need to screw it at the edge.
We started with white icing and were tasked to place it on our cupcakes with a small spatula. Let me tell you, I thought it was gonna be easy like spreading Nutella on bread, but putting icing on chocolate cake was tougher than I thought. Even my daughter concurs! We are used to making muffins, but ours are typically naked (meaning no frosting). It was good to learn new skills that day. And as with anything, we are reminded that practice makes perfect.
Making sure the white icing covered the entire surface was nerve wracking because crumbs were just everywhere. The goal was to have a pristine white canvas. My daughter had fun teasing me that mine already looked like cookies and cream. We had a good laugh! But the fun thing about playing with your food is that you can eat your mistakes. We made five Christmas designs: wreath, poinsettia, Christmas tree, Santa hat, and frosty the snowman.
Chef Maggie was really very encouraging as she hopped from one participant to the next to make sure we are all doing it right. Piping takes skill! Applying the right pressure and forming your designs need a lot of patience and finesse. It also requires consistency in strokes and perseverance. It is definitely not easy! We were dealing with such small cakes and it took us quite a bit of time, with truckloads of effort, to finish.
My daughter, who had a faster progress than mine, said that it was really lots of fun, but it was also tons of work. After having gone through this experience, I now believe making and decorating cakes with ease and flair is a special gift. I have new found appreciation for bakers and designers. Never underestimate their talent. Don’t ask for a discount. Making beautiful cakes for a living requires skill, passion, precision, and dedication.
Taking a class like this, especially for children, not only teaches them the essentials of cooking but it also stimulates their imaginations. Although we were given a basic design to follow in our cupcake decorating class, many of the participants innovated and added their own personal spin or touch to their cakes. It was really a fun and unique afternoon filled with good camaraderie. I recall one of the Santa hats ended up looking like a Sorting Hat from Harry Potter. We were all laughing so hard and just having a great time.
Attending a class like this is something we should all consider because it is a good break from routine and it helps de-stress. On top of that, participating with a loved one makes it all the more special because we get the chance to talk, laugh, and learn something new together.