May 26, 2011

Cooking Class with Jennifer Graham from the Crabapple Cupcake Bakery

Firstly, a little bit of house keeping. I wanted to let you know that I'll be organising a competition to celebrate my 50th post. I know I'm still new at blogging, and that I haven't been running this blog for long but I thought it would be a bit of fun and a way to get people involved. So keep an eye out! It's not far off - this is my 48th post I believe.

For my birthday earlier this year I was given a voucher by my family to do a cooking class of my choice. Lucky me! I did a bit of research to see what was available around Melbourne, and there was a lot to choose from. I finally found out about a cooking class run by CAE in the Melbourne CBD, and taught by Jennifer Graham the founder of the Crabapple Cupcake Bakery. Jennifer is also the author of a great cookbook which I'd seen in various book stores and considering my love of cupcakes I decided to sign up for the Cupcakes Galore class. There wasn't much of a description on the CAE page, but I knew that whether it was making cupcakes or decorating them, I'd still be interested.
The class was held in what is usually the Journal Canteen restaurant and ran for about 2 and a half hours. There was a good sized group of people there - I think about 15 people ended up coming. I came in nearly last and was welcomed by Jennifer, who seemed very nice, and asked what brought me to the class. I felt a bit silly, because I explained how I loved cooking and my family had paid for me to have a class for my birthday. I have a feeling most of the other people there were planning on using their cupcake decorating skills professionally.
But anyway, Jennifer started off by teaching us how to hold a cupcake properly, something I'd never thought about before. She then went on to teach us how to spread the icing so it was evenly over the cupcake, and so that each cupcake would turn out the same. We then had to make a C shape on both sides of the cupcake to make this Freeform Swirl design. This is my attempt, which I decorated using sprinkles around the outside and a rose:
Jennifer then showed us how to do a Signature Swirl design, which you use for rich icings, such as ganache, where you don't need a lot of it. The instructions were the same as the Free Form Swirl, however instead of making C shapes, you wave your knife over the top of the cupcake to smooth the icing. This is my attempt, which I decorated with one of Jennifer's roses and my attempt at making leaves with icing:
We then learnt how to ice using thicker cream cheese type icings, which you need a lot of. You would use these icings for cakes such as hummingbird or carrot cake. The process was the same as above, smoothing over the icing at the end like you would with the ganache, only with a lot more icing. You can then cover the icing in coconut by filling one hand with the coconut and then rolling your cupcake in it with your other hand. This is my attempt, with the rose and leaves to decorate:
We then went on to using the piping bags, which I haven't had a lot of practise with. We started out with an easy design, which I'd done before with my tupperware piping ball called the Soft Serve Style. This ends up looking pretty much like a soft serve ice cream, hence the name, and I like the look of this design. It's simple, yet effective. This is my attempt, using a little bit of glitter, a flower and some little balls to decorate:
Jennifer then taught us how to create leaves using tip 68. She created what looked like a little topiary on  top of her cupcake, which looked fantastic! I did a little bit of this on one of my cupcakes, but didn't cover the whole thing like she did. On this cupcake I also used the Lattice Design that she showed us which you create with a star tip (number 16). She taught us that when you create lines with icing, you touch the piping tip down at the start, then lift it and pull until you can touch it back to the cake at the end. This is my attempt at the Lattice design, which I wasn't sure about - I thought I did a little bit too much with this cake because it was the one I added the topiary design too as well, plus two flowers on top:
She then taught us, using a similar method to the Lattice Design, to write using the piping bag. I didn't do any writing on my cupcake, but I did do a design using this method with a ganache icing. I struggled a little with this one, as the icing kept stopping and the lines were breaking. So it's not the neatest attempt. I also added a couple of flowers which I added icing leaves to:
Jennifer then showed us how to create a rose on top of a cupcake. This one turned out amazing looking, although I was a little too intimidated to try that one. I'd like to try it one day at home, but I didn't want to mess it up too much in front of everyone!
And here are my 6 cupcakes again:
I enjoyed doing this class, and I'm glad I did it because I learnt so much that I'll be able to use in the future. I did feel that I was maybe ignored a little bit, as Jennifer went around the table and helped what seemed to be everyone else out and didn't say anything to me. I'm not sure if this was because the others were there for professional reasons whereas I was only there for fun, but I wasn't very impressed by that. I'm not saying it was intentional, but it was just how I was left feeling. I was so proud of the cupcakes I'd created though, and I intend to design my cupcakes like these in the future - not just the same way I have been doing all this time!

Teacher: Jennifer Graham
Location: CAE, Flinders Lane, Melbourne
Crabapple Bakery Cupcake Cookbook

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