San Rafael class turns cake decorating into an art form – Marin Independent Journal


People will say you can’t have your cake and eat it, but some will disagree. Especially, those who have joined a recent class of young and old, men and women, all determined to learn the art of cake decorating. Holding their pastry bags aloft, special metal nozzles attached to the ends, they deftly pressed colorful orange swirls along the white buttercream frosting of cakes that will be immortalized in photos, long after they were eaten. .

The array of tools used is impressive, as creations evolve under the watchful eyes of Maria Smithey, co-owner and cake decorating instructor at Cake Art Supplies at 1512 Fifth Ave. in San Rafael. Classes are available to everyone, from beginners to experts. You can learn how to decorate cakes, cookies, chocolate, candies and gingerbread houses. As the name suggests, the store has an impressive selection of tools, ranging from an angel food cookie cutter to baking tools, thermometers, decorating and baking tips, rolling pins and turntables. A colorful display holds food coloring, flavorings, and sugar decorations, and edible decorations are found in display cases, shelves, and along the counter.

Co-owner Kathy Collins bought the business in 1999. She said, “Cake Art was first opened in Marin in 1963, at a different location, by Maria Klopfer and her daughter. She sold it to Elaine Foster in 1990 and Elaine moved the store here in 1994. I took a cake decorating course with Elaine and loved it. When it decided to sell, I bought it in 1999. We see more and more young people taking an interest in pastry. They have great design ideas. Maybe it’s due to the British baking shows.

Smithey added: “It’s my love, my passion. I used to come to the store, even when I lived in East Bay. When I moved to Marin I started working here and to teach classes. When Kathy asked me to become a co-owner, I said yes. I feel so lucky and blessed. It’s been almost nine years and I still love her.

The store does not sell baked goods. They do not have an oven, but baked goods are provided for classes.

Cake Art is a family business. There’s something about mothers and daughters and baking. However, Collin’s daughter, who is now in college, and Smithey’s daughter help out at the store. Another mother and her daughter were present for the cake decorating class. Jennifer Schoner and her 11-year-old daughter, Lauren, came to class because Lauren kept asking. Jennifer sat to the side, while her daughter listened, followed directions and showed a flair for design. Schoner admitted that the minimum age for the class is usually 12, “but Lauren always wanted to learn that, so I assured them she could concentrate.”

Gabriel Speyer, one of two men in the class, said: ‘My friend Karen told me about it. We have been cooking together for 2 years and decided to find out more.

If you are interested in taking a course, register quickly. This is the store’s busiest season for cookie and cake decorating lessons. Their gingerbread house courses always sell out. Learn more about:

Help for the homeless

For two years, Homeless Aid hosted a concert and chose a nonprofit beneficiary in its efforts to end homelessness in Marin. They started small, with a gig in Lagunitas raising $10,000 and took a leap of faith last year, booking the 2,000-seat Marin Veterans’ Auditorium and raising $15,000 which they donated to Homeward Bound. On November 2 at 7:30 p.m., they will return to the auditorium hosting two great bands: SuperDiamond, the Neil Diamond tribute band and Petty Theft, San Francisco’s tribute to Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. Proceeds will be donated to the Ritter Center in San Rafael. “They do the heavy lifting for the homeless in Marin,” said PJ O’Connell. Click here for more information

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