When I was in New York this summer, I decided to indulge and take a class I’ve wanted to do for a while – a Carlo’s Bakery Cake Decorating class. I love the Cake Boss show and while I spend very little time actually baking and decorating myself, I have done a good number of Wilton classes at my local Michael’s store and I do love to browse Pinterest’s constant flow of inspiring cakes.
The Carlo’s Bakery classes are held about a 10 minute walk from the Hoboken store, in the same location The Next Great Baker is filmed. There are different levels of expertise you can choose from, Easy, Moderate and Pro, and the price of the 2-hour classes range from $125 through to $225. I decided on the Easy class because I just wanted to immerse myself in the experience – turns out I probably should have taken an intermediate class, simply because I finished really quickly and it wasn’t very challenging, even though I still did learn lots. There were 20 people in the class, and many seemed to be more tickled to be in the location rather than learning about cake decorating – a higher level class might be a little different.
The class began with a short tour through the factory area (no pictures allowed) with Michelle, our instructor. Her behind-the-scenes stories were fun, and we saw a cake through the glass window that was part of current filming, as well as the new consultation area. Then it was time to decorate!
After signing our waivers, we donned our aprons (retail cost is $25 for the apron alone), were each given a cake which had already been covered in buttercream, and gathered around to watch Michelle make the fondant covering look like so easy it could be done by a 2 year old. If you’ve covered a fondant cake before, you know this is definitely not true – Michelle was careful to give some great clues and tips on how to make it easier, and she almost apologetically shared that she can cover 150 fondant cakes in an hour (she’s been doing this a lot). I was surprised to learn that Carlo’s Bakery uses Satin Ice fondant on its cakes – they don’t make their own. This was the first time I’ve used Satin Ice as the only other commercial fondant I’ve used was Wilton rolled fondant and that stuff is unpalatable – nobody in their right mind would eat it. I tried a tiny bit of Satin Ice, and believe me, it tastes great! I won’t be making any more of my own marshmallow fondant now. The Satin Ice also rolled beautifully, and molded extremely easily.
Because it’s a professional location, there were no rolling pins in sight – we used the sheeters to roll the fondant out. I had a few fails but of course you can just throw it through again, making the whole thing pretty painless. (It’s fun, too!) When the cake was covered, we were set free to decorate it with the fondant, cutters and a few extra decorations. I decided to just go with the usual that Michelle had shown us, and themed a Bondi Beach cake as a hat tip to my home. The sand is brown sugar, and instead of waiting for the piping bag I used some white Satin Ice fondant and rolled little snakes to make the Bondi lettering. Satin Ice also bonds beautifully with water, so I will be getting a water brush in my next shopping trip instead of using the usual brush and water/gum paste glue I’ve used before.
Two hours later it was time to pack up, and our cakes were boxed ready to take home. I had a great time and I really do think it’s worth the price, especially as you get to keep your apron, and the cake (which is made by the bakery), and Michelle’s expertise was great to watch. She was also ready to answer any questions about cakes you could think of. I ended up bringing the cake back to Colorado with me (oh yes I did), and we shared it at the ATLAS orientation picnic – it was a hit!
If you’re going to New York and are a fan of the Cake Boss, make sure you book in for one of the classes – far more fun than standing in line outside the store (but close enough you can do that too if you like). Bookings are made online, and children over 10 can sign up if also accompanied by a paying adult (check the details before you enrol).