Baking appeals to me because I like creating with my hands. This is the same reason why I enjoy crocheting, pottery, and book making. All of the crafts I enjoy have one thing in common: I learned them from family members, teachers, and peers in a physical, not digital, classroom.
In today's world of online tutorials, you can acquire new skills from the comfort of your home. YouTube teaches you for free, but what about classes you have to pay for? Are they worth your hard earned money? I can't tell you what your learning style is, but I can tell you what I prefer. I understand processes and crafting more if I learn in-person. After the basics are understood, it's easy for me to find a video tutorial and pick up new techniques, but I need someone to look at how I'm holding the piping bag, tell me I have it upside down, and help me physically correct my grip.
As a kid, the more frosting on the cake, the better. Ninety percent of the time I didn't eat the cake; my mom gave me her frosting and I gave her the actual cake. All I wanted was the sugary goodness. For birthdays, extra frosting roses covered cakes. My mouth stained with food coloring from an icing overdose, I ate my cake for breakfast.
My love of frosting is why I decided to take Wilton Course 1: Building Buttercream.
Sometime in January, I received an email from JoAnn's–they always have coupons and deals on crafting supplies–telling me that classes were on sale. For $20, I could register for a number of craft classes. I didn't bother looking at any topic besides cake decorating. I've never taken a cake decorating class and although my cakes are tasty, they often look like a five year old got into the frosting. To take my cakes to the next level, I needed this. The $20 cost didn't seem like it was going to break the bank; however, the true cost of the course and the misleading class supply list left me perturbed.
I immediately went to JoAnn's to buy the supplies. The supply list on the website doesn't list prices, but I assumed the cost wouldn't be astronomical. It wasn't too bad; $40 for a kit and a few extras was manageable, but I would've preferred if JoAnn's charged me for the materials at the time of registration and I received them on the first day of class. That way, I would've known the exact cost of the class and all supplies at time of purchase.
The supply list itself was a bit frustrating. Students are given a list of required supplies to buy as well as bring from home. The "what to bring from home" section includes six un-iced cupcakes, but it was unclear whether you needed six un-iced cupcakes for one class or for each class. I made a double batch of marble cupcakes a few weeks ago and put them in the freezer. They were ready for buttercream flowers.
The supply list also said pre-class preparation: none. If you have to bring cupcakes, how is there no pre-class prep?
The first class, we learned about some of the different tips and how to make a sunflower. It was relaxing piping sunflowers onto cupcakes.
Normally, the class is four sessions, but we all agreed to do two longer sessions. The first class felt a bit slow; I had to remind myself that not everyone knows how to make buttercream or that your butter has to be room temperature to make frosting. At the end of the class, I felt good about what I learned, but found myself frustrated; the instructor said we needed a cake for the last class.
I triple-checked the supply list; nowhere did it say unfrosted cake. Normally this wouldn't be a problem–any excuse to bake a cake is welcome–but between baking cupcakes for a tasting and applying for jobs, I didn't have time. I opted to bring more freezer cupcakes.
The instructor didn't mind; she just wanted us to have something to put flowers on. I still believe the supply list should've been clearer.
Despite my minor frustrations with the class, the second class made it worth it. I learned how to pipe buttercream roses.
Several times I attempted to learn from video tutorials, but I couldn't get the rose quite right. It took being in a classroom to understand how to hold the piping bag and where to place the petals.
Understanding how I learn continues to be crucial as I attempt to improve creative skills.