A weekend with Ceri Griffiths at Squires
Earlier this year, I went on a royal icing wedding cake course at Squires Kitchen in Farnham with Ceri Griffths, TV personality and author of Squires Kitchen's Guide to Making Icing Flowers. What an experience.
From start to finish, Ceri was honest, kind and helpful - a great teacher. And the techniques he helped us to master are incredible. I think I've got a long way to go before I get to his sort of perfection (although he did admit his exhibition and competition cakes take him the best part of a week to complete because of the level of perfection expected). The images of his cakes could be circulated for many many years to come so must be the absolute best. Saying that, I was pretty impressed with what I managed to master within two days.
The first day was all about covering the cake beautifully and piping the tiny roses that were to complement the cake. Doesn't seem like a lot, but when you've never piped roses using royal icing before, you need all the time you can get.
CERI'S TOP TIP: Make each stage of any cake as perfect as you can. If you cut corners at the start, you won't get the perfect outcome that you set out to achieve.
Covering a cake may not seem like it would take forever to achieve, but if you have never done it before it's harder than it looks. Brides want that perfect edge on their wedding cake so it is essential to spend enough time on getting it right. On a dummy - it's even harder.
CERI'S TOP TIP: Rub vegetable fat/shortening around the dummy to ensure that the sugar paste sticks.
The royal icing roses are exquisite and so beautiful - on their own, or evenly dotted around the borders. And once we were taught and got into our flow, we all produced some amazing looking flowers.
We had a lot to complete in one day (after all, we had only covered the dummies and made a load of mini royal icing flowers)! The exquisite piping had to be completed by 4pm - and we didn't even know the techniques yet. I'd say the real secret that Ceri taught us was templates. Make templates if you want perfectly even distribution of content around your cake. And he's right - it looks so much better because it's completely 100% symmetrical rather than attempting to evenly pipe freehand around the whole cake.
From draping to shell work, to scratch piping (which is so simple but so effective), we learnt it all. In a day!
If anyone is considering whether to do a class in baking or chocolate work (the most recent winner of The Great British Bake Off: Creme de la creme teaches classes in the same building) then in my opinion, give Squires Kitchen a go.
The classes are informative, small so that you can get one on one treatment if necessary, enjoyable, reasonably prices, and they have a gorgeous and well stocked shop selling all of the equipment and icing you used and could ever need.