On Monday I had the first class of my cake artistry course and had a great time. A lot of the ladies are obviously regulars and have been attending the classes for a while so I felt a little intimidated at first, but luckily there was another lady of a similar age as me starting too.

The tutor, Eddie Spence MBE, was very friendly from the start and explained everything clearly to us. After a quick Google search it seems he is somewhat of a ‘celebrity’ in the cake world and has decorated cakes for several royal weddings and the Queen’s golden wedding anniversary. I feel quite privileged to be learning from one of the best in the country :-) One of the benefits of being one of the ‘new ladies’ is that we got a lot of one-to-one tuition and encouragement.

This week we started by learning about royal icing – how to make it and how to pipe simple lines and patterns. The recipe he gave us seems very easy and he told us you can make up a big batch and freeze small portions, which I didn’t know before. The recipe you use depends on whether you are using fresh egg whites or dried albumen as using fresh requires you to add some lemon juice or white vinegar to change the pH. Apparently it is preferable to use dried albumen so I shall head off to the cake shop later to see if I can find some.

Piping was quite tricky at first but the knack is to lift the nozzle high above the surface you are piping onto. I soon got into it and piped a variety of lines, patterns and letters. Unfortunately, I forgot to take the camera so there is no photographic evidence but I am going to have a practice over the weekend, so I’ll post some photos then!

Am looking forward to next week when we are doing pressure piping to make flowers, birds and other designs.

Here is the royal icing recipe for those of you who fancy giving it a try:

1/2 ounce driend albumen (reconstitute overnight if possible)

3fl oz luke warm water

1lb icing sugar

If you are using fesh eggs then they need to be separated the night before and 5-7 drops of lemon juice or 4-5 drops of white vinegar need to be added to the egg whites.

It is essential to make sure the equipment you are using is clean and grease free. The best way to make the icing is to mix it in a machine, taking care not to overmix. If you overbeat the mixture it will become fluffy with airpockets, which would cause breaks in the flow when you are piping. You can also beat it by hand or start it off with an electric whisk. Once mixed you need to keep the bowl covered with a damp cloth to prevent the icing from drying out while you are using it.