Cupcake classes - a series in posts - there has been an upsurge in the
number of cake decorating classes available in the East Midlands in
recent months. This series of posts is a review of some of these
classes, as I enjoy going to them!
When the Strawberry Cupcakes groupon class appeared on groupon, me and
my cupcake-decorating class buddy bought a voucher straight away.
Cost - £36
Original cost - £84
Number sold - 264 (in the round I purchased in)
== Booking ==
After buying the voucher I went to check out the website. I was
surprised at the design, as it would have probably put me off
purchasing the voucher if I had looked at it first. If I am wanting to
commission somebody for a design job (such as, say, cupcakes for a
wedding) then I am going to check out their website first. I struggled
with trying to find information about how to book groupon classes
(largely due to the unreadable text and background images), so I sent
them an email. I got a fast response back and the classes were booked
very quickly. I hope they are planning an overhaul of this in the
future, as an out-dated design of website can really impact on first
impressions of a business.
Note: The address given on the groupon voucher was actually different
to the venue location. I took note of this and made sure to write it
down, as I usually just look at the groupon voucher the day before to
get the venue details. Something to watch out for as my
cupcake-decorating buddy went to the wrong address this morning by
== Arrival and Venue ==
When we arrived at the venue we were greeted with complimentary tea,
coffee and biscuits. An excellent start! The organisers were running
slightly behind schedule, but when you see how much they have to put
together for the classes this is perfectly understandable.
The venue was Grange Hall in Radcliffe on Trent, which worked really
well. It looked like it had some kind of catering-standard kitchen in
the back, and the room we were in was spacious enough. Some tables had
been arranged in a U-shape, and it didn't feel too crowded. Strawberry
Cupcakes are opening a cupcake bakery / shop / café near here soon, so
keep your eyes peeled for this.
== First session ==
First of all we started off the day by baking our own cupcakes! In
other classes I have done this has not been a feature, so it was an
interesting concept. Some classes buy in pre-made cupcakes, but they
are preservative-laden and everybody knows what they taste like. We were able to
choose the flavouring of our cupcakes, and the tutors explained all of
the methodology which goes into a cupcake recipe. I chose strawberry
for my cupcakes (ooh subliminal?), but the flavouring wasn't very
strong so I added some raspberry to help boost it. Flavouring was done
using coffee syrups (the kind you see in Caffe Nero), which I hadn't
seen done before. I have yet to sample one of my cupcakes, so I will
report back on the taste/texture when I do!
The cupcakes were then swept off to be baked whilst we moved onto the...
== Second session ==
In this we learnt how to colour our sugarpaste, and use cutters to
make butterflies. We were also taught how to make a "form" out of tin
foil, to help make it look like the butterflies had just "landed" on
our cupcakes. I forgot to "print" the image of the butterfly on my
icing, so had to re-do them but this wasn't the end of the world.
== Third session ==
In the third session we began to learn how to create sugarcraft
flowers, and do them for ourselves. We started with a rose, something
which has never gone well before. We heard the tutor say "you'll need
to create 12" and took her seriously, wondering how we could avoid
this horror! Turns out she was joking, we thankfully found out in time
;) There were a variety of cutters available to create the "cut and
stick" type sugarcraft decorations, and colours to change the
sugarpaste to suit. I gave up on the roses after 2, and switched to
daisy and rose moulds to use up my sugarpaste.
== Forth session ==
In this we created, from scratch, our own buttercream and learnt
different piping styles. Firstly we started with the medium-sized
nozzle (I'm sure it has a proper name, apologies) and learnt how to
pipe roses. We then did 4 of our 12 cupcakes in this style. I'm not
one to brag, but mine were proper lush.
Then we used the largest nozzle to create two-tone swirls. I cheated
and did more roses, too excited over my new piping abilities to
actually attempt the piled swirl. Another 4 cupcakes were done in this
style. The two-tone is completely obvious, once you know how. Such a
lovely and simple technique, definitely a new skill learned from the
Last, but no means least, we learnt how to pipe buttercream flowers.
By this point my buttercream (and patience) was running low so I
panicked a bit for this part. I can see how this would create a nice
effect, but mine were very floppy and the colouring wasn't fantastic.
These issues were *my* fault, and not a reflection on the
effectiveness of the teaching.
I could see how the piping tutorials had been tailored according to
how much buttercream is left, accounting for the buttercream to have
been coloured in the second batch of 4 by the two-tone and time. This
session was definitely my favourite, as I have had a long-standing
hatred of working with buttercream ;)
== Fifth session ==
In this part it was time to put all of our acquired skills and
sugarcraft decorations to use, and decorate our swirled cupcakes. I
think if I had known what the final result was to look like I would
have definitely made different sugarcraft decorations. I nearly took
my own moulds along for the day (simply because I had a PLAN for these
cupcakes, and wanted to kill two birds with one stone), but decided
instead to throw caution to the wind. This paid off though, and I'm
pretty happy with the results! :)
== Overall ==
I found the class to be very interesting, and the four hours went by
very quickly. The class did overrun by an hour, and I am not sure of
the reasons for this. I think a lot was tried to be crammed into three
hours, and it might be better to treat this as a four hour course. I
imagine the full-day course is able to cover everything at a slower
pace, but the half-day class didn't feel rushed regardless.
Best part - we actually got a cupcake to eat with the break time tea!
What a lovely addition, and totally unexpected. I had been taking
photos of the cupcake stand, thinking they were an advert for a future
class. Then got handed a cupcake and told to eat it. Bonus!
The quality of materials and teaching were excellent, no expense was
spared. Strawberry Cupcakes effortlessly know their stuff, and it
shows in the classes.
I think my only, minor, suggestions would be:
- A finished product to look at before we began. A picture of a
previous student's finished box would have been fine, just so we knew
what we were aiming for. It was quite difficult working "blind", and
the cupcakes didn't turn out as nicely as they could have done if I'd
have known the types of buttercream swirls we were going to use.
- More cutters available, as there weren't really enough to go around.
- A larger variety of cutters. If Strawberry Cupcakes are hoping to
make sales on these at the end (or in their shop) then it would be
ideal to help people "fall in love" with them during the class. I have
ended up with many new cutters this way!
- More colour sets available, as people ended up fighting over the
popular (red/blue) colours.
I would happily sign up for another Strawberry Cupcakes class, so will
be keeping my eyes peeled on their new shop/bakery venture!
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