Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Introductory Icing Course at TolleTorten.com in Berlin

Photo from Betty's Sugar Dreams Blog
Last week, I had the honour and pleasure of meeting Betty Schliephake-Burchardt from Betty's Sugar Dreams. Standing at 6'3 (1.92 m), she is the Julia Child of cake decorating in Germany. Warm, kind and genuine. Anyone who meets her will instantly fall in love with her down-to-earth personality.

That's her on the right and the lady on the left is Marion Michel from TolleTorten.com. They teamed up in 2013 to form Cake School International GmbH where they offer cake decorating courses from some of the best cake decorators around the world. Classes are available in Cologne (Headquarters), Berlin, Frankfurt, Hamburg and Munich.

I had registered myself for an introductory icing course in Berlin. I drove up the night before and stayed in one of the worst hotels that I have ever stayed in (but the service was friendly). The next morning, I got ready, picked up some breakfast and headed out to look for the school. Trying to find a parking spot wasn't easy. I ended parking about 700 m away, but didn't mind walking the distance - I was good on time.

As I approached the school, I saw Betty standing at the entrance of the school with a few colleagues. My heart skipped a beat. I never thought that I would ever see - let alone meet - her in person. It turned out (to my delight) that she was teaching the class that I was in.

Things started a bit slow for me that morning (I wasn't fully awake yet). As the It took me a while to get into the rythum of things. We learned some basics, such as, how to fill a piping bag, how to pipe simple lines, shells and swirls, how to write on a cake, and how to make simple sugar flowers.

The off-centered dummy cake pictured below is the final product that I took home. A little girlie and a little Italian-inspired. :-)


Mine was the simplest one in the class. The other cakes were so wonderfully detailed compared to mine (photo below), but I had concentrated more on technique rather than design. While everyone cleaned up their stations, I continued working on my cake (throughout the day, I was always pretty much the last one completing a task ... haha). Just as I completed it, Betty asked me to bring it to the front for a photo. She had reserved a spot for me in the center of the front row. I thought it was sweet. :-)


Piping lines and swags seemed fairly easy but I struggled a bit with shells and swirls, so I took pictures to record my progress. Below are some photos that I had taken with my cell phone. 

On a side note, I had taken my Nikon DSL camera with me the night before, but the battery died after I made a few short videos of myself practising my German (It's not as bad as I thought). Needless to say, I used up the rest of the memory on the stick and the battery ended up dying. 

I also forgot to bring the battery charger. Naja.

At least, my cell phone was fully charged. Here are the grainy photos I took:


When I started piping the shells, I wasn't giving enough pressure to make a full shell. Betty came by, grabbed my hand and said, "Drücken, drücken, drücken." Before I knew it, I had created four beautiful shells, which are located at the end of the top right-hand corner of the picture above. The ones I created afterwards turned out a lot better but I still need to practise a bit more on consistency. 

I really enjoyed these piping techniques. They these were the prettiest things we made that day. First, we learned cable piping. I was curious to see how it would close, so I made it into a circle (top-right-hand corner). I thought that this would be great for decorating cupcakes.

However, I had some trouble creating the over and under swirls. Again, I wasn't initially giving enough pressure to make a full swirl. Doing the over swirl became easier as I created them, but I struggled with the under swirl. Looking at the photo above, they didn't turn out as bad as I thought. 


Writing was a lot easier than I had expected. I found that for a beginner, it was better to use a tip with a larger hole, rather than a tiny one. You really need a steady, consistent hand to pipe the very thin letters. We first traced 'Royal Icing' on our practise boards, then we wrote our names, and then we had the freedom to write whatever we wanted. I wrote an uneven 'Happy Birthday' (no photo) but my all-time favourite was when I piped 'Amore'. I loved it so much that I had left it on my board for the rest of the class. I also got some compliments from some of the other girls. :-)


The cake above was inspired by the one Betty demonstrated in class (see her photo below). It's not something I would have created myself, but I wanted to try something different. When Betty piped the squiggly lines on her sample cake, I wasn't too crazy about them, but when I tried it myself, it was actually fun to do and it didn't look that bad either. The zigzags on the border of the cake were fairly simple to do, but I was inconsistent at piping them. I was supposed to count the zigzags but by this time of the day - mid afternoon - I was getting tired because I hadn't slept well the night before (the hotel was that bad). 

I forgot to take some pictures, but you can see some pink flowers that I piped, in the top-left-corner of my photo above. You can see them better in the happy birthday cake that I brought home. I used a Wilton Star Tip 16 to pipe the flowers and dotted some of the centers with candy pearls. I didn't like it as much, so I piped the rest of the centers with white icing instead. I was pleased with how they turned out, but Betty came along and said that I needed to practise a bit more (hehe). :-)

Photo taken by Betty Schliephake-Burchardt (found on  igbox.co)
At the end of the class, everyone placed their cakes on the table at the front of the class for a picture. As I was cleaning up my station, I noticed everyone standing around the table taking pictures. Something prompted me to pull out my cell phone and snap the photo below. :-)





The photo below is the one Betty had taken of the class, while we were working on our cakes. I'm at the back, hiding behind the girl with the red apron. The girl standing to my right was Sigrid Rosin, affectionately known by her colleagues as Siggi. She spent most of the day colouring and kneading fondant for another class (kuddos to her). 

Photo taken by Betty Schliephake-Burchardt (found on  igbox.co)

All in all, it was a great crowd to be around with and Betty did a wonderful job teaching the icing course. If you're interested in cake decorating, then I highly recommend taking the courses at TollenTorten.com. I'm definitely looking forward to the next class that I take. If you would like to, then you can read more about Betty here and here (both links are in German). She is also the author of a best selling cake decorating book on amazon

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On a final note, what had inspired me to register for this class was Ceri Griffiths, who is an amazing and talented British cake artist. I first discovered his work earlier this year on Craftsy.com, when I came across his online class, Contemporary English Over-Piping. I was taken aback by the stunning beauty, elegance and simplicity of the cake, that I immediately registered and purchased the class on Craftsy.

I was überglücklich when I found out that he was coming to Berlin to teach a Royal Icing class. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to attend because my oldest son had his Einschulung on the same day that the class was being held on. I didn't want to miss my son's first day of school. However, I found out later that the class was cancelled because there weren't enough participants. Schade. I will keep an eye out for Ceri, when he's back in Germany.

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This was a great experience for me and I'm looking forward to learning more. :-)

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