Friday, November 4, 2011

Book Review - Wilton Method Of Cake Decorating: Course I

Title:       Wilton Method of Cake Decorating
Subtitle:    Course I (Cake Decorating)
Author(s):   Wilton Industries
Publisher:   Wilton Industries, Inc
Published:   1997

Format:      Paperback, 42 pages

NOTE: The book reviewed herein is now out of print and is only available for purchase via the second hand book market. Please note that The Wilton Method of Cake Decorating Courses has been revamped since this book was printed. For details on the differences between the old course books and the new course books, please visit Wilton's F.A.Q

It does not take long before beginners stumble across Wilton Industries with their numerous courses, products and books. To be honest I do like Wilton products. I use their decorating tips, own a couple of their books and have spent more than a little bit of time browsing their website.

I must admit, I have an addiction to books. It is hard not to buy every decorating book I see, especially if they were published in the 1970s. I have been stalking the three volumes of "The Wilton Way of Cake Decorating" for ages, but I have not been able to justify the hundred or so dollars it would cost to have one of these books arrive on my doorstep.

As a small substitute, and as a cheaper alternative to attending a "Wilton Method" cake decorating course, I purchased three Wilton course books: Course 1: Cake Decorating; Course 2: Flowers and More; and Course 3: Fondant and Tiered Cakes.

Today I will be reviewing "The Wilton Method of Cake Decorating Course 1: Cake Decorating."

Wilton Method of Cake Decorating: Course I

The 'Wilton Method of Cake Decorating Course 1: Cake Decorating' contains four lessons entitled: the fundamentals; starting to decorate; special touches; and, decorating with flowers. Before we dive head first into the lessons there are a couple of pages discussing the decorating equipment required for the lessons contained in this volume. As you would expect, this section contains a long list of Wilton products in addition to some basic tools found in your kitchen.

The first lesson begins with a glossary of decorating terms and recipes for stiff, medium and thin consistency buttercream icing. This is followed by how to use a piping bag and create parchment bags. The next step is preparing the cake i.e. levelling, torting, filling and frosting the cake. After a short discussion on: icing consistency and correct bag position and pressure; icing tip styles and uses (star, drop flower, round, leaf, rose and basket; and, colouring icing we are ready for the fun to start.

Lesson two introduces us to cake decorating using the star tip. The reader is taught to pipe a single star, which may be combined into star borders, star fill-ins, and borders using a tight zigzag pattern. Once we have finished using the start tip, the reader is introduced to writing and printing using the round decorating tip. The round decorating tip is also used to create outlines/pipe-ins, and dots. Writing and printing is then revisited using piping gel. Piping gel is also used for basic pattern transfer. Lesson two finishes with an introduction to flower nails and the creation of bases for roses that will be visited briefly in lesson three and used in lesson four.

Lesson three is where the fun really begins. ‘Special touches’ is a great name for the lesson because this is where the reader is introduced to wow factors such as drop/star/swirl flowers and shells for border use. Briefly, the reader revisits their rose bases to add two centre petals. Once this is complete, the reader moves into the addictive world of figure piping.

Once the reader has mastered pressure piping in the form of creating a string of pearls, the first figure created is a teddy bear face, after which the user moves onto the ever-popular clown. The lesson concludes on a romantic note with the creation of love hearts.

Lesson four is the lesson in which I was most interested - decorating with flowers. In this lesson, the reader finally finishes their roses. I must admit the descriptions given for the creation of roses is one of the most in depth descriptions that I have ever read and takes two pages to explain!

Once the reader has created their roses, the lesson progresses through the creation of stems and bows with the aim being to have created a floral arrangement by the end of this lesson. A floral arrangement is not complete without a few additional types of flowers and leaves. The reader is introduced to the sweet pea and three leaf variations i.e. basic, ruffle, and stand up. The lesson concludes by revisiting drop flowers and shell boarders.

At the end of the book, there are a few pages on how to bake a great cake, which contains both tips and a small trouble-shooting guide. There is also a glossary of terms as well as patterns for the each of the techniques /projects covered in this course.

All in all, the 'Wilton Method of Cake Decorating: Course I' is a good little book. Personally, I find it a little commercial, though I completely understand it. There are plenty of interesting hints and tips. The flower piping instructions in the book are clearer than the free instructions provided on the website. The main difference is that the book includes black and white illustrations in addition to photographs (the website only has photographs). To be honest I would not say that one would be at a significant disadvantage if they did not have this book and used the free content from the Wilton website.

If you already have a beginner’s cake-decorating book such as Toba Garrett’s 'Professional Cake Decorating', or are planning to buy something similar, I would give this book a miss and use the free flower tutorials from the Wilton website.

If you are interested in learning the Wilton method of decorating, but are unable to attend one of the courses then this book is perfect, after all the only thing missing is the instructor.

I hope this review was helpful.

Darkbyte xx

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