The Recreation Department of the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community held the seventh installment of its “special-interest” classes for 2012-13 on Monday, February 25. These classes are designed to offer new and exciting topics every month. The first was held in October, and the last class will be held in May.
The two-part class in February, instructed by Recreation Department Social Program Supervisor Teresa Masayesva, taught people how to create a beautiful homemade decorated cake. Seven women attended.
Masayesva began by showing examples of different icing consistencies and explained how you want a smooth frosted cake to serve as the background for your decorations.
“The most traditional form of icing [in decorated cakes] is the butter cream, because that is [substantial enough] to hold the best decorations, such as the flowers and borders,” said Masayesva. “Nowadays people like the whipped-cream icing, which is tasty, but [it] won’t hold your decorations very well, or it melts,” said Masayesva. “The thin icing, which feels light and fluffy, the thin icing is what you use to write [messages] with and ice your cake with. The medium icing is for [making] the borders of the cake. The stiffer icing will be used for your flowers, such as roses. It needs to be cold and stiff, but as [you work with it and] it gets warm, it gets difficult to make your flowers [because] they start to melt.”
Masayesva prepared round cakes for each student and showed them how to prepare their cakes for decorating. First, the students removed a thin slice off the top of their cakes to make them nice and level (see sidebar).
If you simply want to frost a cake with icing, you can do that with a spatula and any prepared icing. Then if you want to be fancy in decorating your cake, it’s good to use a pastry bag (decorating bag) filled with your icing and fitted with a special decorating tip to squeeze the icing through. Masayesva demonstrated how to prepare a decorating bag. She cut off the tip of the bag so the icing could flow through and fitted the end with a coupler, which is a device that lets you switch to different decorating tips without having to change the bag. She selected a decorating tip and showed how to lock the tip in place on the coupler. Then she filled the bag with the icing and showed how to gently squeeze out the icing.
When icing a cake, Masayesva recommends positioning the bag and starting at the outside edge of the cake’s top layer. After icing the edges, place a scoop full of icing on top of the cake and use a spatula to spread it toward the edges, working your way out from the middle.
The next step is to ice the sides of the cake. Masayesva said that you can use a regular or offset spatula on the sides, but you have to be careful about pulling crumbs from the cake into the icing. Using a decorating bag with a tip does the job while preventing crumbs in your icing.
For a nice, polished cake you can put decorations on, Masayesva showed how to smooth out the icing. First, let the cake sit for a while so the icing hardens a little. When you can touch the icing without leaving an imprint, place a piece of parchment paper on top of the cake and glide a spatula over it with gentle pressure. Work across the top and continue with the sides.
With their frosted cakes all prepared, the students were ready to move on to the next step: preparing icing in their choice of color for the cake’s border decoration. After figuring out which color they preferred, the students practiced how to make a shell border. Once they mastered that, they tried making some flower decorations including stars, swirls and roses.
In the second session of the class, the students ventured further in learning how to make different flower decorations and how to decorate cakes with fondant, a type of covering made from icing.
Past special-interest classes have included making greeting cards, 15-minute meals, grilling, keychain beading, loom beading, hip-hop dancing and cupcake decorating. The class schedule continues through May, and the remaining classes feature cartooning, tumbling and hair braiding. Students may sign up on a first-come, first-served basis; some classes have limited space available.
For more information, call the Recreation Department at (480) 362-6360.