Cake Decorating Course – Epic Fail
I have been had. Duped. Played. Conned. All by my once favourite shopping establishment. Well, that might be a slight exaggeration. Michael’s craft store may not have been my very favourite place for shopping – after all, I do love my books. However, it was a place of inspiration and wonder until this past weekend.
Perhaps I should have recognized the signs earlier. Perhaps I should have known it was all too good to be true. But alas, I was naïve and now I have to pay with my innocence.
The tale rightly began a week past when I noticed a small add in the weekly flyer; 50% off cake decorating classes. That is great! I thought. I have been watching TV cooking shows for years – well, sort of. I was drawn to programs revolving around the art of baking than cooking. Baking is a joy to me, cooking is a necessity. Recently I thought it would be fun and highly educational to join a course and learn some of the finer arts of cake decorating. I like pretty things and wanted to create my own intricate designs.
So, with my mother for company (she also had a long standing interest in said arts), I signed us up for a four week course. There was a small struggle to find the appropriate paper work – a subtle sign that I completely ignored. At the time I was more amused to note we were the first people joining this particular course than concerned about it foretold.
Saturday we went back to Michaels to purchase the beginners, course 1 supply kit. The course fees did not includes supplies – something I stupidly did not price out at the beginning of this doomed venture. I was cognisant of the fact Michaels is not cheap, and the course kit was brand name. However, the 40% off coupon should have been applicable when purchasing regularly priced items. Except this week there was a promotion – buy 2 at regular price and receive a third free. Thus neatly invalidating the coupon and skyrocketing my investment. Not impressed.
I finished baking the dozen cookies we were required to bring to class Sunday morning. We then left the house in good time to arrive a few minutes early – arriving before the store even opened! Four people had been lured unsuspectingly into this futile endeavour; two mothers and their respective daughters. Even at that the other mother was absent. I guess we didn’t have to worry about workspace in the smallish-sized craft room.
One diminutive woman, with greying hair and a filthy chef coat introduced herself as our instructor. She did an extremely bland and not at all amusing introduction of her years of experience – at least 40. Then followed this up with a tedious preamble about paper signing and the personalized certificate you receive uponcompletion – how quaint. I thought this concluded the administrative aspects and we were going to launch into the mysterious techniques of sugar and piping bags. I was sorely mistaken.
Nope, another 20 min were wasted watching the monotone leader tell antidotal stories of her past exploits while showing us how to mix icing. Yup, shortening, sugar and an electric mixer make for some exciting times. But hey, the course books finally arrived after that and I got to examine glossy images while the tittering great-grandmother waxed and waned on the glories of Wilton products and their importance in the kitchen. I am not taking advice on how to bake a cake from a woman how believes boxed mixes are just as good as made from scratch! And uses Jell-O cups as cake filler.
But all was not lost, we eventually got to our own supply kits, icing and homemade cookies. Finally, the meat of the lesson, the reason we were all here, the actual purpose of the course was to be revelled. I straightened from the slouched stupor I had acquired over the previous sixty minutes. I dug through my shiny new tools expectantly. I opened the lid on my container of fresh, lemon sugar cookies cut out with round and heart-shaped moulds.
Icing was transferred into the crisp new piping bag. The tip was attached with eager fingers. The practice cards were readied and I waited with baited breath for the first lesson. The sum total of which was making stars. Yup, that was all we were going to do this lesson; talk about the endless products made by Wilton and pipe boring white stars onto flat cookies. 25 stars and two cookies later I was bored. While I passed the piping bag to my mother for her turn, I flipped through the pages of our student support guide for other techniques. I tried three on the next two biscuits to the nearly horrified gasps from the glorious cake coach. Who was ready to remind me there would be time later in the course for trying other things. Really?! Squiggles are too advanced for our first lesson? Seriously, we are going to just drop stars on a cookie?
Between the bland condescension, the vapid stream of dialogue, endlessly un-amusing jokes and the indeterminably slow pace, I would rate this as one of the longest two hours of my life. And it wasn’t even the full 2 hours as we finished early. Suprise, it doesn’t actually take 2 hours to make stars!
Since then, I have looked through the rest of the lesson guide – things don’t seem to pick up much over the next three weeks. However, the number of highly recommended supplies along with the required supplies (your own cake and several batches of icing) does get longer and more involved. So, do I venture back again on Sunday or do I cut my losses and save my sanity?
If nothing else, I have learned several really valuable lessons. Do not take courses through Michaels – more time will be spent pitching product than learning anything. In this area of things, basic is probably too basic for me and anyone else over the age of 8 years old. Before signing up, find out how much materials will actually cost in addition to the course fees. Finally, if the instructor’s name is Diane run far and fast least you be waylaid but inane chatter and dangerously dull comments.