Canned frosting, sprinkles and gels can make decorating cakes quite easy, even for the hobbyist.
Piping with design tips, rolling and shaping the fondant can be a bit tricky.
Maybe all you need is a little instruction, accompanied by a glass of “relax” wine.
Julia Harhai, owner of Frosting with a twist, offers Frost n ‘Sip classes for those who are curious about baking a beautiful cake, but can be a little nervous.
It’s also fun to get together with friends and tackle a somewhat daunting task together.
Harhai, 23, from Greensburg, teaches culinary arts at Fayette County Career & Technical Institute.
Take icing on the road
Since July, she has offered Frost n ‘Sip classes at places such as Eclectic in Latrobe and Bella Terra Vineyards in Hunker. It also offers private and children’s evenings (with juice to sip).
“I start with instructions and lead to the individual demonstration,” Harhai explains.
She explains the different icing tips at the start of the piping.
“Some people are a little frustrated looking at me. They say, ‘Mine is not like yours.’ Practice makes perfect, ”says Harhai.
“No two classes are the same. I never reproduce a cake, ”she says.
“In fact, I’ve always had this idea, even in high school. Because I teach now, I had time during the summer to run with it, ”she says.
Harhai typically charges $ 35 per person, $ 40 if traveling to the Pittsburgh area.
Wine and roses – or pumpkins
As tables fill up at Bella Terra on a recent Sunday, Harhai hands out “naked” cakes and the students sip their wine and chat.
“I have no artistic ability. I was quite happy with the result (my first cake). She will accompany you step by step. It’s relaxing, it’s something different. Even though it looks horrible, you can still eat it. My family is happy – I’m bringing home a cake, ”says Jennifer Pratt of Greensburg with a laugh.
Stephanie King of Youngwood and her fiancé attended a cake decorating class together at the Eclectic.
“We love to cook and I love to decorate. When (Harhai) explained the melting technique, I understood it, ”she says.
West Newton’s friend Katie Saul, who accompanies her to the most recent course, is, she says, “not a baker.”
“She (King) asked ‘Do you want to do this thing?’ It’s something fun to do. We spend time together. I’m a good taste tester and a guinea pig, ”jokes Saul.
Wine glasses filled with red and white, says Harhai, can help “go overboard and perhaps help inspire creativity.”
Garnish their cakes
“Work your fondant as if it were taffy,” Harhai instructed. Cornstarch, she says, keeps it from sticking to hands.
“The fondant has a crust on it. That’s why I always like to do it on the day of (use), ”she says.
Students roll balls of fondant and shape them into tiny orange and gray squash pumpkins, sliding toothpicks down the sides to make footprints. They twist tiny pieces into stems and leaves.
“There is no rhyme or reason. All the sheets are different. All pumpkins are different, ”says Harhai.
Find an icing comfort zone
“It’s pretty easy, the way she teaches. … I have already used fondant, but I have never done sculpture, ”explains Mariann Price from Rostraver.
“I came to learn how to work with fondant and to glaze cakes. It sounded like something I could do, and my family would be really impressed, ”says Leah Samuels of Greensburg. “She (Harhai) gives advice that is so good and easy to follow.”
Samuels is back for his second class and enjoys teaching different skills to each.
“I was really intimidated by (fondant) before. I am curious to try to do it. I think I could do it again, ”says Jessica Wuslich from Greensburg, attending her first class.
“That’s what is fun. We’re learning the same thing and all of our cakes will be different, ”she says.