Essential Buttercream Piping Techniques Workshop

On Saturday, I attended a wonderful 3-hour Essential Buttercream Piping Techniques workshop in Waalre, a suburb of Eindhoven.   It might sound far but it was about 1/2 hour from Den Bosch – so no biggie.   Lucky for me it was given in English.  Last year I took a Royal Icing course in Dutch, which was fine and I followed along perfectly, but when it’s given in your mother tongue, it’s just that much easier.

I found the course being advertised on an Expat Facebook group I belong to a few months back and after reading the description and seeing it was on a Saturday morning, I knew it would be perfect for what I wanted.  The course was €65 for 3 hours.

In this class you will learn to decorate cupcakes beautifully using buttercream and a variety of piping nozzles. You will create a classic swirl, rosettes, dots and frills.  This class is the perfect start to cake decorating.

During the class you will learn:

  • About the different types of buttercream
  • How to pipe using various piping nozzles
  • Techniques using essential Wilton 1M and 2D nozzles
  • How to pipe a rosette
  • How to pipe a classic swirl
  • How to achieve a 2-tone effect.

You will take away a set of 6 decorated buttercream cupcakes, 2 wilton piping nozzles and piping bags. You will leave with the confidence to decorate your own cupcakes at home.

I already new about the traditional American style buttercream as that is what we grew up eating and making.   But Italian Buttercream and Swiss Meringue Buttercream were new to me – in that I’ve never made them but I watch Preppy Kitchen making them so I knew how they were made.   He is a very talented baker by the way is funny so if you are looking for a new one to watch, John is your man.  We didn’t actually MAKE the icing but worked with it and got to enjoy it during our coffee break.

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There were six of us in total and we each had practice trays and our own supplies where we learned how to use the different tips.  We were given step-by–step instructions on how to do a classic swirl, rosette & how to create a 2-tone effect and so much more.   She even gave tips to each of us on how we could improve though out the course.  After each newly learned technique, we self practiced a bit until we were confident to do our real cupcakes.

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We all had individual work areas set up where we had space to practice the techniques we were learning … then when we were confident enough, we were able to do the real deal on our cupcakes.

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foto cedit: KMCakes

The six cupcakes which we decorated and took home were made using Swiss Meringue.  My kids were not the biggest fans of the taste but I’m sure it was only that they are not used it it and never had it.  They only ever had American Buttercream.   It’s the same with fondant – not fans.  It might grow on them – we’ll see… as I’ll make Swiss Meringue buttercream next time.  They tasted yummy to me.  But I normally don’t eat my own treats so I shared one with my SIL and will share the rest too….  They are just too pretty to eat.

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We even left  with a goody bag containing some piping bags, two tips, a recipe card and a yummy home-made cookie.

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Co-incidentally it is my son’s 12th birthday Monday and I’m making cupcakes for his traktatie at school.  Originally I was going to do Royal Icing cookies as that is my passion but as I did them for Sint and Kert Dinner, he wanted something different so we are doing cupcakes.

 

So perfect timing to use some of my new piping skills.   Here are the final cupcakes I whipped up last night quickly after hosting a family birthday party for my son at our house yesterday later afternoon with 6 kids & 6 adults.   Today during lunch when my kids came home for lunch, my daughter told me that a girl in S’s class said to her “tell your mom, she makes the best desserts”.

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I’ve already recommend the workshops to my friends on Facebook, but the host, Kate, from KM Cakes  is so personable and professional.  The whole experience was just so lovely – it was really a great time.  I’ll definitely keep and eye out for future workshops.  She really knows what she is doing, is very clear at explaining – HIGLY recommend!  Her work is amazing  – just have a look at her site.  If you need a cake for an event like a birthday, party or even a wedding cake or just love treats – she has a cake club too – check out her site  and see her gallery for yourself.   Trust me, you won’t be disappointed!

Let me know if you’ve tried Swiss or Italian buttercream varieties before? Any tips? I know they are tricky to make and have a lot of steps, but I’m up for the challenge.  What about another interesting cooking/baking course in the Netherlands? I took a sushi making course and Korean kimchi making course, so I’m always up for learning how to make new dishes.

*NOTE:  This is not a sponsored post – all opinions are my own and I received no compensation.  It is simply me, sharing my experiences about this workshop. 

Royal Icing Cookie Decorating Workshop

Today I FINALLY was able to attend a Royal Icing Cookie Decorating workshop.  I’ve been wanting to do this for YEARS and for one reason or another I have not yet attended.  So when I saw this one being advertised in Eindhoven during a weekend morning, I jumped on it.   Most of them are located well over an hours drive and are often at night – I hate driving late in the the dark, light drizzle and alone.

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The course was 100% in Nederlands but I was able to follow along just fine.  The printed directions for the cookies and icing – I’ll use google translate one time and I’ll be fine.

So glad I attended – it was the kick I needed to confirm I’d like to do more.    As it was a 3-hour course, we didn’t get the make the icing nor bake the cookies, but those were supplied.  We got to mix up the colors, so we could feel the correct consistency.   We learned about different nozzle brands and tip numbers – i.e. Wilton vs PME.  Learned the correct way to fill the piping bags and were given demonstrations on how to decorate each of our cookies and then set off on our own.

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We all had the same cookies but in the end, we all left with different styles – some were very VERY very detailed and meticulous… others a bit more creative and easy going.   I loved it and loved each person’s creativity!

These are mine – not 100% professional looking yet but hopefully you agree – not too bad for my first time!!

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For years now, my daughter and I have been watching so many amazing cookie designers in awe and our favorite Hani from Haniela’s and of course, Sweet Ambs and TheFlourBoxBakery!  Of course, now I follow some local Dutch ones too. Do you know any I need to follow – let me know!

They typically have to dry for a good 8 hours, but I did let my #1 fan and cookie lover, try the smallest cookie and her opinion was reassuring and gave me a yummy thumbs up!

REQUIRED SUPPLIES

So, now we just need to buy a few additional supplies and then we are now going to give our best at Royal Icing Cookie Decorating as a hobby.

MUST HAVES FOR BAKING COOKIES

Flour
Sugar
Baking powder
Butter
Eggs
Flavoring such as vanilla
And of course the needed tools like an oven, rolling pin, sheet pan, stand or hand mixer, extra large bowl, parchment paper, cookie cutters and a spatular.

MUST HAVES FOR ICING

3 or 4 couplers
3 nozzles size 2
1 or 2 nozzles size 1.5
Piping bags (disposable are handy)
Food coloring (gel)
Confectionary Sugar
Meringue powder
Needle tool
Extra bowls & spoons to mix up small batches of food coloring

HANDY BUT NOT NECESSARY

Edible food markers – ideal when you want to draw faces
Tip cover set
Icing bag ties
Stand Mixer – my #1 most wanted Christmas gift.  I just bought a hand mixer as my last one broke and this will work just fine for now!

Some addition helpful information:

SUGAR COOKIE TIPS

  • Sift all your dry ingredients
  • Use room temperature butter
  • Chill the cookie dough for at least 30 minutes (if you are using a chill-required recipe)
  • Roll it on a non-stick surface to avoid a mess
  • Use a straight rolling pin
  • Line cookie baking sheet with parchment paper or silicone pad for baking
  • Once they’re baking, do NOT open the oven door for a peek
  • Let cookies cool completely before icing them
  • Store cookies in a cool, dry place

ROYAL ICING TIPS

  • Sift powdered sugar
  • Mix until the shine is gone
  • Add water gradually to mixture
  • Cover icing with a damp towel
  • Use toothpick to add color to the icing
  • Color icing in small batches
  • Put icing immediately into piping bag
  • Always test icing stream before decorating
  • Give icing 30 mins to dry on cool, flat surface

FAIR WARNNG:  All friends and family should be prepared to receive cookies from M & I for every holiday and occasion from now on! 🙂 

Once I have all our supplies here  and we do our first set of cookies together, I’ll post about it and share photos… hopefully this week as we’re on herfstvakantie – if not, soon!  We are both very much looking forward to it!

UPDATE:  I still do not have a stand mixer so I’ve made a couple batches of cookies with a hand mixer – while it works somewhat – truthfully – it sucks and I NEED a stand mixer ASAP!  Here are some photos of the cookies I made.  Still far from professional but I’m getting the consistency better and experimenting with the cookie recipe – some are chewy some spread more but they all test yummy.  Oh and I desperately need more cutters… the ones I have are quite boring 🙂

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Today I had one mom turn down a cookie as it had too much colouring on it. I thought for a minute she sounds like me – but at the same time, I know the coloring in the EU is much better than US, but still – Okay.  I’ve done s each and founds some natural solutions which I may try.   I’ll post them here for a “book mark” and in the future I can refer back.

Ways To Make Natural Dyes:

  • Pink: Add 1 to 2 teaspoons strawberry powder for every 1 cup of royal icing. You can dissolve the powder in 1 to 2 tablespoons water before you add it if you want to minimize the risk of clumps.
  • Red: Add 1 to 2 teaspoons beet powder for every 1 cup of royal icing. Dissolve the powder in 1 to 2 tablespoons water before you add it if you want to minimize the risk of clumps.
  • Orange: Add 1 to 2 teaspoons carrot powder for every 1 cup of royal icing. Dissolve the powder in 1 to 2 tablespoons water before you add it if you want to minimize the risk of clumps.
  • Yellow: Bring 1 cup of water and about 1/8 teaspoon (1 small pinch) saffron threads to a simmer over medium heat. Remove the mixture from the heat, and let steep for 15 minutes. Strain, then return the mixture to the pot. Reduce to 3 to 4 tablespoons, then transfer to a small jar to cool completely. Add 1/2 to 1 teaspoon yellow color for every 1 cup of royal icing.
  • Green: Add 1 to 2 teaspoons matcha for every 1 cup royal icing, dissolving the powder in 1 to 2 tablespoons water before you add it if you like.
  • Blue: Combine 2 cups shredded red cabbage and 1 1/2 cups water in a small pot. Bring the mixture to a simmer over medium heat. Remove the mixture from the heat, and let steep for 15 minutes. Strain, then return the mixture to the pot. Reduce to 3 to 4 tablespoons, then stir in a small pinch of baking soda—this will turn the color from purple to blue! Transfer to a jar to cool completely. Add 1/2 to 1 teaspoon blue color for every 1 cup of royal icing.
  • Purple: Combine 2 cups blueberries and 1/4 cup water in a small pot. Bring the mixture to a simmer over medium heat. Simmer until the berries burst and begin to break down. Use a potato masher to mash the berries, then strain the liquid, discarding the solids. Return the juice to the pot and bring back to a simmer. Reduce to 1/4 cup, then transfer to a jar to cool completely. Add 1/2 to 1 teaspoon purple color to 1 cup of royal icing.

Donal Skehan Cooking Demonstration at Avoca

Today a friend and I attended Donal Skehan’s cooking demonstration at Avoca at Malahide Castle. 
 
 

I love the Avoca store and nearly and all the items inside, but  I love him so it was a perfect combo. As I follow him on social media, I feel like I know so much about him even though I don’t know him.

During the two hour session, he demonstrated seven recipes in his new book, Eat. Live Go.

One Pan Singapore Noodles
Moroccan Crispy Chicken Salad
Chocolate Hazelnut Filo Cigars
Five Ingredient Cookies
Chocolate Quinoa Cake with Avocado Mouse
Turmeric Sweet Potato Stew
Thai Omelet

All were so easy to make and looked so yummy!  Going to make some of them asap. He was funny, charming and has such a great personality.  Being so used to being on tv, he knew how to keep going and keep us interested.  He is Ireland’s Jamie Oliver!

In the end, we both bought and had signed and of course, a photo!
Afterwards, we popped around the shop drooling over all the items we wanted to buy including a black Ilse Jacobson raincoat [3/4 in black]at the top of my list.  And ate a yummy lunch  – which was a recipe from his book.   Great day!
A brief glance through the book and so far I’ve really enjoyed it.  It is full of photos from around his travels including food.    I’m going to be making a few of the dishes asap.

Vietnamese Summer Rolls Cooking Course

Yesterday I attended a great cooking course at The Design Yard in Dublin – a luxury kitchen showroom.   This place is great – two great kitchen islands and a perfect location for a cooking class.

Not knowing anyone at first I was thinking it would be groups who already knew each other but went along anyway as the subject was great – Vietnamese Summer rolls.  Thankfully it wasn’t that way… apart from a group of four ladies who did, the rest were individuals, along with a couple from the US who live here now.  So it was a nice social event too.

Part of a new meetup group, Dublin Cookery Club, hosted by a lovely South African chef, the class was great.  We first learned how to skillfully work delicate rice paper wrappers (clearly I do better with the larger papers).  We learned how to make delicious fillings and all ingredients like shredded chicken, shredded pork, vermicelli rice noodles, small prawns, organic five spice tofu, herbs, and tons of veggies.  And we learned to make three dipping sauces.  It was so yummy!


The girl across from me took my photo, which was nice offer – not often I take a photo of myself but for this case I had to do it.
Days after the course, I visited the big Asian Market again as the family LOVES  me to make these.
I loved the class and will be doing another soon – I’m going to sign up for the SUSHI making class next – just waiting for the date to be confirmed.  For €35.00, you eat what you make and take home the rest you made, plus you learn a skill/dish – I think it’s a great value!