We run roughly 6 classes a month and although we get asked a huge amount of different questions (which we’re always happy to answer), the same ones do come up fairly regularly, so I thought a FAQ might be a good idea for a new blog post. Below are just a few of them……..
What made you think of setting up The Cake College?
It was an idea I’d had at the back of my mind since my husband and I bought the farmhouse in 2011. I’d always been interested in baking and decorating, and had done cakes for friends and family, but never really wanted the pressure of making them professionally (hats off to those that do – including my tutors!). I’ve been to cake decorating classes all over the UK and every time I went to one I’d think of something I would change, whether it was a nicer teaching environment, not feeling rushed by a pushy tutor, or learning different skills that I would use more. So when we ended up with a lovely big kitchen, it seemed just the right place to set up the kind of classes I’d always wanted to go to myself but had never managed to find. And so in 2014, The Cake College was born!
Where do I buy our supplies?
I have a trade account with Cake Stuff, and that’s where I get most of our class supplies from. I also get bits and bobs from Ebay or Amazon when Cake Stuff don’t have them in stock. If I need something locally, then I’ll pop to the Cake Decorating Shop in Bracknell (Fiso has been known to save me just before a class on more than one occasion!).
Cakes for our classes are supplied by our gorgeous tutor Natalie at Cuppies ‘N Cream, and Sweet Success, who we get cakes from when Natalie can’t oblige due to other commitments. Our cookies are supplied by the lovely Michelle at Brown Bear Bakery.
What brands do we recommend?
For sugarpaste, we use Cake Stuff Couture, which is the best sugarpaste we’ve found. It’s far better than anything you’ll find in supermarkets or more cake shops, and minimises many of the common problems when covering big cakes, such as tearing or ‘elephants skin’. It can be rolled much thinner too, so although it is pricier than other brands, it does last longer. For flowerpaste, we use Satin Ice Gum Paste, which we find the best for making flowers as it doesn’t dry too quickly so gives you plenty of time to play around with them, which is particularly important when you’re a beginner and learning a new skill.
How do we get our cakes so flat?
Well, you have to get a bunch of unicorns dancing around the oven, and some fairy dust, and then your cakes will be perfectly flat and ready to ice too. Or you could just turn your oven down! Our cakes are baked at a much lower temperature than most recipes (approximately 140-160 degrees C, depending on the cake, and the oven and whether or not it’s a fan), which will stop a cake ‘peaking’ and rising too much. Another tip that our tutors give is to put a tray of water in the bottom of the oven to create some steam, which also helps.
Why do classes get booked up so far in advance?
I wish we could do more classes! Unfortunately, my tutors also have day jobs as well as their own cake businesses (and families), and so squeezing more classes in is very tricky. If you’re interested in a class, then it’s always best to book it as soon as you can, particularly if it’s one of our super popular classes such as our Christmas ones, as they tend to get booked up incredibly quickly.
Whose kitchen is this?
Yes, I’m lucky enough that The Cake College ‘classroom’ is my home kitchen! It does make it slightly tricky running family life and The Cake College alongside each other sometimes (dinner the night before a class is always on laps as the table is laid up ready for the next days teaching!), but I love running my business from my home and having a 30 second commute. The farmhouse was completely derelict when we bought it, and we had to live in a caravan for the first 9 months as it was uninhabitable until we’d done some essential works. It’s taken us 5 years, but we’ve finally finished the renovations and it’s lovely to share our home with our fantastic TCC students.
Where can I see the cakes your tutors make?
To check out the amazing cakes that our tutors make for other people (or just for fun, or for competitions), have a little look at their websites. Jenni is Nightingale Cakes, Natalie is Cuppies ‘N Cream, and Debs is Debs Makes Cakes. A super talented bunch aren’t they?!
I’m okay just charging friends and family for cakes right?
Erm……..no! It’s one of those things that many aren’t aware of, but unfortunately even if you’re just a hobby baker charging ‘mates rates’ or even just money to cover your ingredients, you must be properly registered to do so without risking a rather large fine! Registering with your local council is free and usually very easy, and absolutely worth doing if you plan to take any money at all for your cakes. We are currently working on a section for online downloadable classes on our website, and one of them will be a ‘How to Run a Cake Business’ guide, which will cover all of this and more. Stay tuned!
Favourite flavour of cake?
A very difficult question. I would probably say carrot cake if I really had to pick, but a good coffee and walnut cake comes close, and you can’t beat a really good Victoria sponge. And then there’s lemon drizzle, and……..oh, it’s just too tricky to decide!
Any other questions you’d like to have answered? Do feel free to quiz us in the comments and we’ll do our best to help!
Happy baking and caking everyone,