Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Diary of an Online Sugarcraft Student

I have always had a real interest in sugarcraft as well as baking and, last year, completed a City and Guilds Level 1 online course in Sugarpaste (Confectionery). This particular course appealed to me as there were no deadlines involved so I was free to complete the modules as I wished and as time allowed. I was assigned a tutor(based in the UK) and she was incredibly helpful and encouraging throughout (as well as very patient when I let weeks go by without submitting anything!)

The course was assessed via a series of photos(up to six were required for each step such as making buttercream, marzipanning etc). However, I did find it a little difficult to remember to record every step when in the middle of something and 'caught up in the moment' as I tend to be in a warm kitchen!. A Q & A test page was also completed for each unit.

The first part of the course was all about gaining an understanding the basic principles of colour, line and texture and below are a couple of the images I submitted as part of that.

A collage of Blue shades with a suitable accent colour

Whilst I really enjoyed the course overall, some of the exercises did seem a little bit tedious. I definitely yearned to get stuck into the sugarpaste when drawing these lines with different materials.

But this study in texture was more fun

Hygiene was also prioritised in the course and knowledge of this was examined fairly extensively. Vearsed well enough in the three principles of design, I was unleashed on the icing!This is a 6 inch round cake that has been marzipanned ready for the sugarpaste.

We were permitted to use shop-bought cakes for decoration but I decided to make my own (not least because it was harder to find an uniced round fruit cake in Dublin than you might think!)

Sugarpaste on

And pre chosen design traced out(I used a mini cookie cutter here)

Throughout each stage of the course, we were encouraged to go back to the first module on design, keeping in mind the principles of colour, texture and line. I did get some (justified!) criticism here for my too-thick sugarpaste)

I wasn't so happy with my marzipanned square cake but the tutor assured me it was fine (as it would be covered with royal icing!)

And so it was (though you will agree I lost it a little on the piping at the bottom!)

I also found it really useful to learn how to make secure icing bags from baking parchment

Then, it was onto Gateaux, where we learned about masking

And feathering

before moving onto little tea fancies

Our final test was to decorate a cake that showed off our newly acquired skills

This was my effort

I really enjoyed the course but I have to say I did underestimate the amount of work that went into it by quite a bit!I was required to have the kitchen super sparkling (and rightly so but still....!) and to bake cakes in a range of specific sizes (yes, the option was there to buy them but that wasn't always possible or cost effective).

But I did learn how to do a whole series of wierd and wonderful things like colour desiccated coconut and got a tremendous sense of satisfaction from it all, so, all in all, it was well worth doing.


  1. Really beautiful looking cakes the gateaux looks amazing and never knew you could make an icing bag out of baking parchment!

    1. Thanks Edel.You can indeed! I think I still prefer the plastic ones though (being lazy and that!)

  2. finally I get to see what I'm missing out on :)

  3. The flowers look as real ones!
    Well done you!

  4. Hi. The cakes are great, well done. Can you tell me who you took the course with? I have found one but I am worried it is not legit. Thanks Tracey

    1. This is ridiculously late Tracey but it was with City and Guilds