Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Learning from the Master, The Cake Master #BRMasterClass

I have a dear friend who is an awesome cake decorator. Like, she could easily give up her day job and do this full-time and make a great living at it. But she says it wouldn't be as fun then, so there you go. Regardless, having her as a very dear friend means I never have to decorate a cake, or a cupcake, if I don't want to.  I've piped a bit of icing haphazardly on a cake or two over the years, but nothing fancy by any means. Until last week.

Last week I attended a special event, hosted by Baskin Robbins Canada and led by their Cake Master, Kathy Soohoo. She was in town from her base in Burbank, visiting with franchisees, so they decided to take advantage and call in a few foodie types to learn some of her decorating tricks of the trade. Decorating an ice cream cake? And bringing it home to eat after? Heck yeah! Count me in! Let's write this one down as another in my list of trying new things in 2016.

Kathy Soohoo demonstrating the technique to decorate the Oreo Cookie Cake we'd be working on.

Kathy was an absolute inspiration and made everything look so effortless. Which is a good thing, considering she trains every new Baskin Robbins franchisee in cake decorating. So she really does need to know what whe's doing. She and her colleague, Anthony, walked us through every step.

They both made valiant efforts to help me master this poinsettia, but I need more practice.

That was actually the fanciest and most difficult thing we did, so it got easier from there! We got the poinsettia training because Kathy was introducing us to a brand new cake they are bringing out for the holidays, so new it doesn't have a name yet.

That's a Callebaut chocolate ganache on the top. Delish! And the cookie crumbs are holiday Oreos.

Another new item, the Polar Pizza! This will arrive in Canada on August 1 and comes in three flavours. We stuck with our Oreo theme and made that one, on a chocolate fudge brownie base. That's marshmallow drizzled over the top.

Instead of a regular cake box, these come in a pizza box :)

We learned some neat facts about the Baskin Robbins operations, including that all new franchisees must attend a three-week training session in Burbank, CA. They have a full week on cakes, another on all other products, and a full week in a local store. I was impressed at how serious they are about consistency and maintaining their brand. I did not realise that all of their cakes are made in-store, so every franchisee has to perfect the decorating, and presumably be able to train his or her own staff as well. Also good to know - you can have your cake made with ANY ice cream flavour you desire.

Our cakes were already put together for decorating, but we had to scoop out the ice cream for the Polar Pizza. Exactly 10 ounces worth. Each Polar Pizza is prepped on a scale. After the ice cream was smoothed out, we sprinkled crumbled Oreos on top, and that was weighed as well. Consistency is key!

I didn't take pictures during the cake decorating, because you have to move fast before the cake melts. Makes sense, right? In fact, the first layer of whipped topping has to go on and be smoothed out within 5 minutes, or you'll have big problems. Like I did.  Piping it on with a huge icing tip wasn't so bad, but I was slow with the smoothing, and sure enough I had melting ice cream coming through. Practice makes perfect though, so maybe next time :)

After applying and smoothing the whipped topping, the cakes go back in the freezer (this is when we did the poinsettias) to firm up before the fancy finishing touches are added. Here is my final product!

A photo posted by Deb Coombs (@raisingmyboys) on

What do you think?

I admit this is likely one of their easier designs; they were taking it easy on us newbies. But I think I did a pretty good job. It was a lot of fun, and I was super proud to bring my creation home to enjoy with my boys. Although I think they were more interested in eating it than looking at it. It was super yummy!! And Baskin Robbins sent us all home with a box full of cake decorating supplies as well. So I guess I'd better keep practising! I hope I haven't set the bar too high.

A photo posted by Deb Coombs (@raisingmyboys) on

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