by Sharon Wee
Welcome to my first Ask Me Anything post. A couple of weeks ago, I asked all my Facebook likers to send through or post any questions they’d like to know the answers/ my opinion on.
This will be a weekly post and I will try and answer as many questions as possible.
What cake decorating courses did you complete to help you learn the amazing skills you currently have?
I get asked this question quite a bit so I think I will answer by giving you a more specific list.
I started with a 8 week community college course – the ones where you go one night a week and that’s when I discovered how much I loved sugar art. The techniques thought in those classes are a little bit old school. They were worth learning, but to be honest I do not use much of those skills today although I am sure they are a solid part of my foundation.
Then after that, I practiced by myself for a couple of years and mainly relied on Cake Central for all my information.
After those couple of years, I signed up for a series of intermediate and advance classes at Planet Cake which really helped to hone and sharpen my skills and most importantly gave me the confidence to start my business and charge what I really needed to charge to stay in business. Classes I attended at Planet Cake – Basics Springtime, Topsy Turvy Masters, Novelty Teapot, Hamburger, Bear and Dog.
Since then, I’ve also taken classes with Savour Chocolate School (Chocolate and Pralines Level 1 and Chocolate Flowers), Handi (Advanced Styrofoam Figurines), Jacqueline Butler (Sugar Flowers), Marina Susa and James Rosselle (Glamour Wedding Cakes) and most recently Kelvin Chua (Insane amounts of Piping).
Although these are the classes I have chosen for myself because of general interest or betterment of my skills, everyone is different so my advice is to look for classes with learning outcomes that interest you. Work on the skills that need improvement and sharpen those that you are naturally talented at.
I truly believe that no one is ever done learning and it’s one of the best investments you can make. Sometimes students seem really surprised that I still attend classes. Of course I do, how else can I better train and inspire myself?
What do you think is best to use to paint on my cake?
When painting on cakes, I use a combination of liquid food colouring and rose spirit.
Rose spirit is a cake decorators alcohol (someone else asked this question). It’s 90% pure alcohol so it can be used to thin out the colours but also dry out really fast so it won’t melt the fondant.
Don’t use gel pastes as they don’t dissolve in the alcohol. I have also heard of people using water and lemon juice to dilute the colours. I have not tried this myself but people I know swear by it.
I seem to always have trouble with white choc ganache and it separating and going all oily. Usually I can fix it with a little more cream, however it never sets hard enough then?
White chocolate contains mostly coco butter which is why it is so temperamental and gets oily so easily. It separates because it’s too hot which causes the ganache to ‘split’. The easiest way to fix it (I have found) is to put the ganache in a fridge for a little bit and then when it’s a little cooler, take it out and combine the oils back with the chocolate by mixing by hand or with a hand mixer. If the chocolate and oil is cool enough, it will recombine.
Try not to add more cream as this (as you mention) effects its ability to set. In summer I usually also add 100g or so more white chocolate to make sure it sets.
If you’d like to ask a question feel free to email me (creations_at_sharonwee.com.au) or send me a message through Facebook.