You could have heard a pin drop in Capel Library at our June meeting! Glenda Price, a professional cake-decorating expert who has taught the subject for over 30 years in local colleges and evening classes, was “doing her stuff”! She told us at the start, in no uncertain terms, that when it comes to icing and decorating cakes, she is NOT one of the “lick and stick brigade”. No, she does it all PROPERLY! And she was certainly true to her word!
She had brought with her one of her round, rich fruit cakes, which she proceeded to marzipan, ice and decorate whilst we all sat and watched. She made it look so EASY!!! She recommended that the marzipan and sugar paste be bought from the supermarket, and the 2 in total should weigh the same as the 8” fruit cake to be iced. Brandy is used first to brush over the surface of the cake whilst it is still in the tin. The cake to be iced must be level, and if not should be flattened slightly using a board with a weight placed centrally on the top. Glenda recommended apricot jam rather than glaze to spread over the top and sides of the cake in a thin layer to help the marzipan stick on securely. Marzipan should first be kneaded and then evenly rolled with a rolling pin using a forwards and backwards motion, quarter-turning the marzipan and rolling again to give an even thickness. It is then laid on the cake and the top can be smoothed off using a clean J-cloth wrapped in cardboard to stiffen it. The sides can be gently eased down without any pleats forming and then cut vertically around the bottom to trim off surplus. Similar treatment is given to the sugar paste icing which goes on the top. Sugar paste has replaced Royal Icing for some cakes, being developed in South Africa and Australia where the climate is quite humid and it therefore tends not to get too sticky. If any air bubbles show, use a clean pin to prick them at an angle, and then smooth again with a stiff, clean J cloth. The finish should appear like polished satin!
The bottom edge of the cake is then piped with Royal Icing which gives a finish and also seals the fruit cake mixture inside, enabling it to be stored without drying out. Glenda then used a short length of “till roll” paper which she folded into 6 and then cut a curve in. When opened up and wrapped around the cake it created a coronet-style pattern, which Glenda then used as a stencil to water-brush a line along the edge. She then cut some “Garrett Frills” using a circular template and pink sugar paste. These frills she used to loop around the sides of the cake, repeating them again in white on a layer above the first ones. To finish, she made some flowers and leaves out of coloured sugar paste, which she wired to make them stand up in a ball of sugar paste placed in the centre of the cake, rather like the oasis used in a flower arrangement. The final touch was some tiny sugar bows around the sides of the cake!
There was a loud burst of applause at the end of this mesmerising demonstration!
Glenda told us she made her first wedding cake at the age of 13, and had 6 cake-decorating lessons at age 15. Otherwise she is completely self-taught! In fact, she has more certificates for floristry than she has for cake-decorating! Mind, you, these have come in useful as she is an expert in making her own flowers out of sugar paste! Unusual cakes she has made for weddings include chocolate cakes with different mousses and cream in, cakes with Maltesers on the top and a cake looking like an articulated container-lorry!
The finished cake from the demonstration was taken to Fun Day and raffled in aid of Guide Dogs for the Blind, which has raised £59.50. The owner of the winning ticket was Jane Parks from Colchester, whose family live in Capel. Congratulations to her! Enjoy!
Future meetings include Greyhound Racing at Romford, a Summer Social, a trip to Wattisham Airbase and a Barbeque! Come and join us – but check us out first if you want at www.capelladies.com