Lessons 87-90: Practice Makes Perfect

The time has come to trade our plastic aprons and gloves for pastry bags and star tips.

As you can imagine, I was quite excited to leave the world of chocolate behind and delve into a new world of marzipan fruits and vegetables and piping techniques for cake decorating. It is the final stretch of the classroom portion of our Pastry & Baking Arts program.

If you walked by our kitchen the past few lessons, you may have thought we were easing into some sort of meditative phase. One lesson we colored and shaped marzipan into everything from apples to asparagus to pigs. That day, I remember wishing I had played with Play-Doh a bit more when I was a kid. I promised myself that I would sit with my niece and nephew the next time I saw them and make oranges, pears and bananas with them out of clay. Maybe it will help them one day, if they ever decide to take a pastry program!

The next few lessons, sitting while we worked, in almost complete silence, with no sign or smell of anything baking in the oven, we were each concentrating hard on working our hand muscles to pipe stars, flowers, small shells, large shells, rosettes, ropes, garland or anything else we could create with controlled movements of our buttercream-filled, star-tipped pastry bags. I had another flashback of my childhood as we went through countless exercises, practicing the different techniques Chef Kathryn demonstrated for us. I remember watching my uncle pipe borders on a cake with such ease and effortlessness as he filled order after order at his pastry shop. I wish I could pick up a pastry bag and do that. It’s like those people who can hear a song once and pick up a guitar and play it perfectly.

Some of my classmates are like that. They can watch Chef Kathryn demo a design once and pick up their pastry bag to mimic it perfectly. But for others, like me, it’s practice, practice and more practice. With all the practice I need, it wasn’t great timing for me to be absent. But with the weather these days, I was sick and had to miss the class where we learned how to pipe full roses on cupcakes. Luckily, my talented classmate Kristi captured some photos of the lesson which you can see in the slide show. Those cupcakes look great, don’t they? Now if you excuse me, I have to go and practice some piping techniques.

Next up: More marzipan, pastillage, royal icing and… chocolate. I guess it’s back to the plastic aprons and gloves!

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