I was delighted to manage to get myself a place on Heaven is a Cupcake's latest cupcake decorating workshop – a special Halloween themed one. I've enjoyed Lucy's cupcakes for a while now and am always admiring photos of her amazing works of art that she regularly posts on her Facebook page. Ever since my attempts to make Thomas the Cake for Little Miss C's 3rd birthday I thought I'd better do something to up my game before I need to make the next one.
Heaven is a Cupcake run regular evening decorating workshops here in St Albans and I've always heard good things about them so when I heard about this Halloween one I was keen to book myself a place.
To start with we were all given six plain cupcakes, a tub of butter icing and a piping bag and instructions from Lucy as to how to ice them. Now whilst this may not seem that difficult, it's still remarkably easy to muck up – as I've discovered before. What I did learn though was just how different the whole experience can be with different nozzles on your piping bag. Worth experimenting if you're having difficulties.
Then it came to the decorating and things suddenly became much more tricky, especially for someone with hands like mine it seems!
We started off relatively simply learning how to roll the sugar paste icing out using a mini silicon rolling pin onto a mat and then using different shaped cutters to form the seasonal decorations. It may seem simple, but this was the stage where I discovered that I seem to have very warm hands. Warmer than everyone else's, meaning that my attempts to handle sugar paste resulted in it quickly becoming very, very soft and therefore difficult to pick up without it going out of shape. Lucy's top tip was to have a bowl of ice to keep cooling my hands in. Not something I had to hand, but it did mean that I needed to work a fast as I could.
As we started on the 3D decorations Lucy gave us her theory that all you need to be able to do to make cupcake decorations is be able to make balls and sausage shapes from sugar paste. Oh, and have quite a bit of talent too! Yes, it's true that all the things we made did start off as either a ball or a sausage shape, but knowing how to turn that ball or sausage into something recognisable, and actually being able to do it is another level, and that's where people with Lucy's skill and experience come into their own.
It's also a case of having the patience and a level of calmness to be able to complete something too. These little spiders were adorable, but having to make 24 tiny legs and attach them all drove me mad. Hence that fact that when I took this photograph only one of them had legs in place!
The thing I probably enjoyed most about the course was just being able to have a go and try making things for myself, without there being any pressure. It's amazing how much more relaxed it felt than when I was trying to decorate LMC's birthday cake. Lucy taught us a range of skills and I came away feeling that I could actually have a go at Halloween decorations myself without too much difficulty. I will be looking to buy a little silicon rolling pin and will also try to pick up a new cutting mat to use, but otherwise you don't actually need much more than some sugar paste to use. Some small cutters could be useful, but not necessary if you just want to do 3D decorations. I think having the confidence to try and having seen someone like Lucy actually show you how to do it is far more important.
I thoroughly enjoyed the evening workshop and thought Lucy was a great teacher. There were just 12 of us on the course which I thought was just the right size for everyone to be able to get all the help that they wanted or needed, but also enough people for the room to have a bit of a buzz about it too.
I came home at the end of the evening with a box of cupcakes that I actually felt quite proud of. Ok, so they were no where near Heaven is a Cupcake's own standard, but they were still far far better than I'd thought they were going to be and I'd had great fun doing them.
I just hope the rest of the family doesn't expect this standard of decoration every time I bake!
I paid to attend Heaven is a Cupcake's Halloween Cupcake Decorating Workshop and wanted to write about to in the hope of encouraging more people to do similar. The two hour long evening course cost £30 and that price included all materials required. If you want to find out about future courses then make sure you're following Heaven is a Cupcake on Facebook and Twitter.