Have you ever wondered how cake makers turn out those intricately decorated creations? Have you pondered whether you could learn to do it yourself? Cassie Black in the New Hope community believes there is every chance you can. As Cassie’s Cakes, Black has been taking orders for cakes, cupcakes and cookies for all occasions since 2006, but she also offers to teach cake decorating to anyone interested. It’s a craft she’s been interested in ever since a high school job with Baskin Robbins in Columbus in the mid-’90s taught her how to make roses out of icing.
“It was about 11 years later that I saw in the newspaper about someone giving cake decorating classes in Starkville,” the mother of four recalled. Her curiosity had her signing up; she completed the Wilton cake decorating courses 1, 2 and 3. Wilton is a premier supplier of cake baking and decorating products. Black is a certified instructor in the Wilton Method of Cake Decorating and is a former cake decorating instructor at Michael’s in Columbus.
On Saturday, she put finishing touches on a cake to take to a luncheon the following day at Immanuel Baptist Church, her church home.
“I just figured out on my own how to do it,” she remarked as she demonstrated making tiny pumpkins to top of her Thanksgiving-themed dessert. After rolling a clump of orange-colored fondant icing into a ball, she used a decorating tool to put indentations in it to resemble the “ribs” on a pumpkin’s surface. That finished, she used a bag of ocher-tinted icing to add a delicate, miniature stem.
Black enjoys working one-on-one with others who want to learn or improve their skills with buttercream frosting and fondant. Fondant, a thick paste made from sugar, water, gelatin, vegetable fat or shortening and glycerol, lends itself to decorative sculpting.
“Fondant is stiffer to eat, but a lot of people like it,” said Black while working with a selection of bags filled with frostings in autumn colors. She likes working on a variety of designs that reflect a theme or the recipient’s favorite things — whether they be sharks, baseballs, cameras or airplanes.
“I enjoy watching cake decorating videos on YouTube,” Black said, noting that Wilton offers plenty, on everything from how to use specific icing tips to how to make a mermaid tail cake. Additionally, local arts and crafts stores like Michael’s and Hobby Lobby are handy for quick decorating necessities; they can also inspire some ideas.
For Black and other bakers who take orders for custom goodies, the oft-busiest time of year is soon upon them — the holidays. It’s a time to celebrate with festive seasonal designs, whether for cookies or a three-tier cake. And for aspiring decorators, maybe it’s the time to check into honing new skills.
“It’s pretty easy once you learn it,” Black said. “I’m still not perfect and try to practice more all the time.” The best reward is often the reaction.
“I like making people happy with the cakes I make, to be able to surprise them with them,” she said. “Sometimes I even surprise myself.”
Editor’s note: See more of Cassie Black’s cakes at facebook.com/cassie.cakes2006/. Reach her by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by phone at 662-352-1926.
Jan Swoope is the Lifestyles Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.
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