Ever walk past a window display at a bakery and think…’how’d they do that?’ Or say, ‘I can do that’! Elaborate cake decorating is one of the hottest trends in cooking these days. Cake competition shows and decorating demos flood the Food Network. For some, it’s a calling. For others, a passion. For me, it’s something I’ve never even attempted. Too intimidated. Some things are better left to others. But when one of the best bakers in the world, Colette Peters, offers you some one on one time to talk about how she creates her incredible confections…you gotta take her up on it.
Famed cake decorator to the stars, reality show pioneer, and decorating school founder, Colette Peters, of Colette’s Cakes, paid a visit to Cuyahoga Community College’s Hospitality Management Center this weekend. She offered her time and expertise to students and amateurs alike.
I sat in on a fondant class where novices and budding cake queens learned tips and tricks from the woman who has baked and decorated for the likes of Sting, The Rolling Stones, Whoopi Goldberg, Kanye West, Yoko Ono and even The White House.
Peters spent the beginning of the day trouble shooting and helping students answer questions about what they were doing wrong. Most of the time, she told me, bakers don’t work fast enough and the fondant gets too dry, and often cracks. The fix? Simple. Rub it down and smooth it over with some shortening. Who knew?!
Sisters Robin Wilson and Debbie Hartman were there looking for ways to be more efficient, and turn their weekend hobby into a legitimate business. Right now, they’re picking away at every cake they make, in the spare time they can find. But each cake takes about 10 hours for them.
Nancy Bolzan works in the family business: Gentile’s Bakery, Catering and Deli. She can knock out a fondant-topped cake in about two hours. But she is looking to expand her repertoire, so she came to the class to pick up some new techniques.
Students at the Sunday class learned marbling techniques, and Peter’s own buttercream recipe. They also tackled questions like when to frost, and at what temperature.
Peters comes to the table with two degrees in painting, and a background in design at Tiffany & Co. where she worked on things like stationary and china. She was also a competitor, and winner, on Food Network’s original baking competition. Peters even helped them write the rules for subsequent shows.
To those like Robin and Debbie, looking to make some more of their baking hobby, she says…take classes! There you can learn in a hands on manner, and ask practical questions. Or, she says, take advantage of the resources of your state’s chapter, and conventions, of the International Cake Exploration Societe.
What’s trending and on the horizon for this innovative baker? Right now Peters tells me she is working on a collaboration inspired by Cirque de Soleil, and edible cages around her famous cakes. Can’t wait to see how those turn out!
And incidentally, it was just her 65th Birthday, so to celebrate, the team at Tri-C launched an international sugar collaboration in her honor. Check it out:
www.happybirthdaycolette.com Fans and students are leaving messages and sharing pictures of cakes made just for her!
Peters is doing a FREE “Painting on cake” demo for the public on Monday, February 1st, from noon-1:30pm at the Hospitality Management Center, 180 Euclid Ave. Cleveland, Ohio.