Thu | Jan 21, 2021

Lessons on the ‘art of cake’ with Sweet Mischief Ja

Published:Thursday | September 10, 2020 | 12:07 AMKrysta Anderson/Gleaner Writer
An elaborately decorated birthday cake.
An elaborately decorated birthday cake.
Sweet Mischief Ja anniversary cake.
Sweet Mischief Ja anniversary cake.
Sweet Mischief
Sweet Mischief
Unwrap the sweetness.
Unwrap the sweetness.

They say life is what you bake of it, but maybe decorating cakes is your superpower. Allison Balfour is challenging novice and veteran creatives to unleash their artistic side by offering cake decorating classes.

The co-owner and culinary creative behind Sweet Mischief Ja has been considering and planning this initiative for almost two years now. Her passion for providing beautiful and incredibly delicious cakes for every occasion has translated sweetly with every client. And now it’s time to take her talents to the next level, as she shares some design tips with eager students. “Our previous location was too small to host classes. One of the reasons we moved to our new location in January of this year is to be able to offer these classes,” Balfour shared.

Her expansion plans got delayed with the arrival of COVID-19, but despite this setback, she is pushing forward and adapting to the new norm. “We do believe that now is as good a time for people to develop a new skill or improve on the existing skills that they have. Not just as it relates to cake, but a real opportunity for everyone to improve themselves,” she revealed.

The Sweet Mischief Ja classes are designed for persons who are interested in learning or mastering the art of cake decorating. It matters not if you’re a first-timer, a complete beginner or experienced. These courses are geared towards bringing your skills to the next level.

During the beginning phase of the new cake art programme, Sweet Mischief Ja will be offering three course modules. “We will provide you with all the necessary equipment needed to complete each course. A certificate will be awarded upon the successful completion of each module. And a professional master’s certificate will also be awarded when all three modules have been completed.”

So get out your pen and paper and let’s discuss the cake courses in greater depths. The three modules will feature course one: the foundation series. Here, students will learn how to level and round and square cake, tort, fill and stack a cake, trim the sides of the cake so they are straight, crumb coat the cake, frost the cake to achieve a smooth and level product.

Frosting techniques

Course number two focuses on frosting techniques. This is where students will learn how to use the one-metre tip to rosette a cake and imitate rosette ruffles, use a round tip to make ‘fish scales’, create ruffles using a rose tip, use a cake comb to texture and stripe a cake. While the third course is all about fondant 101. Students will have the opportunity to learn how to condition, colour and marble fondant, learn how to determine how much fondant is needed to cover a cake, rollout fondant and cover a cake with fondant, and troubleshoot fondant issues.

Living by her company’s mantra, “It’s not just cake, it’s art,’ the young entrepreneur decided that instead of paying attention to the baking of cakes, she would zone into an area that is overlooked by many the artistic aspect. “There are many other places that offer courses in baking, but I feel that more could be offered on the decorating side of it.”

And for those who might be wondering if this is her first time teaching in the creative classroom, let’s put that answer to rest. Balfour has done classes in the past for the Sweet Art Cake Expo, the Hope Institute and for a career day at St Mary’s College. Her students have ranged from ages eight to 45.

Although the global pandemic is pushing virtual learning experiences, it would be difficult to provide such services since cake decorating requires a hands-on approach. “While online education is an amazing tool, we feel it is best to have classes in person, as the students will benefit more from having hands-on tutelage,” she explained.

The class sizes, she says, will be small, limiting the number of persons per class to comply with social-distancing protocols and, of course, sanitisation requirements. “We want to give our students the attention they deserve, which can be hard to do in the virtual environment,” she added.