Until MacroMixes you’ll know I’m far more of a cook than a baker, but my sister in law, Little Maryl, is a beast in the kitchen and is always baking up something very tasty for the family!
While we can’t smoke, buy alcohol or see family, some are rushing off to find the nearest slots available in South Africa while the rest of us are relying on online courses or free trials online. So I was thrilled when I was approached by Grace Stevens to try an online course. And knowing what a fan Mary is of baking, I asked her to take the reins.
So Little Maryl set out to give the “Buttercream Piping Techniques – Peonies” course a go and this is what she found. Take it away Little Maryl!
Buttercream Piping Techniques – Peonies
It’s been ages since I tried something like this – and failed so spectacularly! It’s a really good learning curve to keep persevering and I know once I have it right, it will be quite easy.
Here are my four attempts that I hope will help anyone else giving this a go!
Day 1 – Attempt 1
I followed Grace’s instructions exactly to make the icing, however, it turned out like perfect butter cream to ice a cake, but NOT to hold the form needed to make flowers. I should have used my instinct, but didn’t want to deviate from the quantities listed.
I then coloured all the icing as per the next step, putting in the flecks of colours and all was looking good. She does, however, use a special ’nail’, which wasn’t on the initial list of items, nor was the number of icing bags needed so I had to improvise.
I also had to use an upside down champagne glass instead as the cake stand as I didn’t have the required equipment.
Then I started to pipe and very quickly found out that the texture was completely wrong! I literally produced a coloured blob…
Day 1 – Attempt 2
I added lots more icing sugar (maybe a bit too much) and finally got a much better texture.
Again, I coloured all the icing and got it ready in the piping bags with the nozzles.
This yielded a much better result! I could really see how the actual making of the flowers wasn’t too hard, but it takes a bit of technique and practice.
I then tried to do some more and the bag broke because the icing was in fact just a touch too stiff! By then I gave up and tried a few days later…
Day 2 – Attempt 3
Made the icing again, coloured it all – wrong texture again! NEXT!
Day 2 – Attempt 4
Made it a 4th time, and although the texture wasn’t perfect I decided to push on with the video.
Up till now I had only tried making the first flower, but there are 3 on the video.
That’s when I realised I shouldn’t have coloured all the icing as each flower needed different colours! Again, obvious when looking at the initial picture, oops! Regardless, I used the icing I had and managed to make a vague replica of the second flower.
The third flower then required one to paint on colour, which was impossible as the texture wasn’t right and because I had liquid colouring when I needed powder (again not specified on the welcome page).
At this stage I had run out of icing sugar and decided to call it a day!
Little Maryl faced a number of challenges while trying out this recipe so please learn from her mistakes so that you can have a more informed start. Here’s what she found tricky:
- First, this is not for beginners! The main issue is getting the icing to the right consistency, which I did not manage to do (4 attempts and 1kg of icing later…).
- Some of the equipment used in the course aren’t easily accessible at the shops.
- Bottom line, you cannot do this without getting the icing right. Grace Stevens does say to make it like peanut butter (so I should have focussed on that rather than her quantities).
List of Items You’ll Need
Using the list on the welcome page, I went and bought the 4 nozzles the course indicated. I had to go to the Baking Tin and CAB Foods to get them and, unfortunately, neither stores had the ones Grace mentioned – so I got one as similar as possible.
- Baking Tin R36.80 for 2 nozzles
- CAB Foods R107.96 for 2 nozzles and 1kg icing sugar
Getting the Most Out of the Course
1. Watch the Whole Video First
Also, this may seem obvious to others, but one should watch the whole video first before going to the shops or starting. There are things that the course requires, that aren’t on the list on the welcome page, and also a few steps you don’t expect.
2. The Course Doesn’t Expire
For some reason I thought that the video would expire once I logged in or I’d have a limited time to watch it, but that is not the case. Seems like I can watch it again and again. Very clever as you can sign up to loads of her courses and make your own little collection of them. The site has a whole separate ’student zone’.
3. Check the Consistency First
Next time (and I will do it again as I am not being beaten by a silly icing flower!!!) I will not colour anything, but start piping to check the consistency is right.
I enjoyed watching Grace Stevens’ videos as they are shot quite well. She speaks really clearly and what she says makes sense – most of the time. She does use terms and reference things I had never heard of! Again why I would not say it’s not really for beginners.
I’ve since checked back on her page and see she has added a few more classes and indicated which ones are for beginners. Definitely a good move.
All in all I did enjoy it despite my failing. Like anything, once you have the basics in place, playing around with the actual piping, textures and colours will be loads of fun!
WIN a Grace Stevens Course!
If you’d like to win a similar course, please complete the following:
- Leave your e-mail address on this Facebook post (so I can contact you if you win).
- Tell me what the last thing you baked was.
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Winners will be announced on Friday morning (7th August 2020). Please see T’s & C’s tab above for further competition rules. Good luck!