I am passionate about learning. We should always be opening to learning new things and acknowledge the fact that none of us could ever hope to know it all. My love of cake decorating – which later became my vocation and means of paying my mortgage (!) – led me to take my very first classes back in 2007. I learned the basic building blocks upon which I have been building for years.
It has been a source of great joy to be able to now share the skills that I have learned through demonstrating, teaching, and writing but I have never lost the desire to learn more and to improve my own skills.
At the weekend, I spent a very happy two days at Squires Kitchen International Bakery School under the tutelage of Ceri DD Griffiths. Ceri is a renowned cake artist, known mostly for his skills with Royal Icing. Having known Ceri on the cake show circuit for a couple of years, I could think of no one I would rather learn from.
For those of you not in the know, Royal Icing is that hard white icing that was traditionally found on celebration cakes before the soft sugarpaste icing that is most popular today was readily available. If you are over 30, you will likely remember this icing being over a layer of marzipan and heavy fruit cake – being 32, I remember sucking on this icing (too hard for small teeth to chew) and happily giving the marzipan and cake beneath to my lucky parents! Cake designers now use Royal Icing mainly for decorative work, the flair and flounce on top of the soft sugarpaste – you can see this in most of my cakes! Ceri reminded us all of how controversial this ‘mixed medium’ was at the time and how many cake decorating purists were very unhappy indeed with this.
Personally, I am thrilled to be able to mix the convenience and pleasant taste of a good quality sugarpaste with the finesse of Royal Icing. I’ve always been fascinated by the designs and techniques used on Royal Iced cakes and Ceri was able to teach me so many new tricks that I cannot wait to use in my own designs. You know how I love anything vintage or retro!
Without further ado, here is the result of my own two days of hard work.
Three tiers of white on white Wedding Cake, covered in white sugarpaste with white Royal Iced details. Ceri taught me the art of English Over-piping, in which layers of icing are built up to dramatic effect. We could only have used a maximum of 6 or 7 piping nozzles to create all of these effects so I have a whole new appreciation for my cake kit, I can tell you!
I would urge you to check out Squires School if, like me, you love decorating cakes and baking and want to improve your skills. Whatever skills you are looking to improve, I am sure that there will be a class to suit you. The school is based in Farnham, Surrey, and is really easy to get to by car or train (the station is right outside!). You could also check out Ceri DD Griffiths’ own website for loads of tips and tricks if you cannot get to class.
I’ve not been paid or asked to write any of this. I was a genuine student. Look, here I am in the background with my serious working face on!