Recently Sister Rhi and I went to a Cupcake Decorating workshop at The Make Lounge in London. The teacher came armed with two boxes of cupcakes and what must have been at least six litres of buttercream in a gigantic plastic tub.
I'd not beheld a sight so beautiful since the mega Nutella of 2006. So rich and fluffy and apparently bottomless. As the teacher slowly ripped off the lid, Rhi and I growled in unison, Awwww yeahhhh lookit thaaaat.
It took us awhile to remember it was supposed to be a fun day. It's that Perfection Or Death mentality so often found in the offspring of school teachers. Who knew it was so freaking stressful to make a piping bag?
"All you have to do" is take a triangle of baking paper. Then "simply" hold one point of the triangle, wrap it around your left hand, then make it meet the opposite point, then gently pull your hand out and wriggle it back and forth until it makes a very pointy point. Got it? Right. EASY.
Mine was utterly rubbish. Rhiannon's looked perfect first go. I was overcome with resentment and would have stabbed my eyeballs with my bag except the point wasn't pointy enough to do so. Then Rhiannon's bag sproinged open and she got cranky. Then came ten minutes of rustling and rolling and swearing until we finally realised everyone else was having just as much trouble and the teacher had to demonstrate the whole process again, except slower.
"I guess we should relax," said Rhi.
"Yes," I said, "They can't expel us from Cupcake School, surely."
We loaded the bags with buttercream and I resisted the temptation to squirt the whole lot straight into my mouth because we had to practice piping. If you are thinking of quitting your day job to make cupcakes, just hold it right there. This shit is not easy. I've always prided myself on neat handwriting but when your pen is made from paper and the ink is 90% butter it's very hard to make it smooth. My letters looked like little farts of mashed potato.
Next we were allocated seven cupcakes each (six to keep, one to screw up and scoff). Then out came the wacky food colourings and our own! individual! tub! of! icing! I managed not to lick it straight off the palette knife. Oh baby.
Then we loaded up fresh piping bags and got ready to cover the cupcakes. Again, this is not as easy as it looks. It is really hard to make a neat circuit of the cake. You get one side looking decent then your hand cramps up so you miss the edge of the other half. But that's okay – you can just photograph them for their good side!
Here's my wee fellas all iced and waiting to be adorned.
Next we learned some jazzing-up techniques, such as colouring bits of marzipan, making shapes with little plunger thingies, and how to shower your mistakes with edible glitter.
(You're supposed to dust the icing sugar off your marzipan shapes but I couldn't bloody do it without crushing them.)
The aftermath of our marzipan shapes…
So glad I took this photo as an hour later me and my cupcakes got wedged between a wall and an overloaded Christmas shopper outside the Tube station. Splat!