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How I Faced My Cake Decorating Fears – Thank You, Craftsy

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Three Teired Cake


  • It’s been over a year since I baked a cake and probably six years before that one. I’m a cupcake gal through and through.
  • Prior to decorating the cake shown above, I had never decorated a tiered cake.
  • Prior to taking a course from Craftsy (more on that in a second), I’d only taken one cake decorating class. It was back in 2007 and I learned nothing in that class about supporting cake layers or using gum paste.

I say all of this so that you understand that, while I am an expert cupcake baker, I am not an expert cake baker. Cake decorating is not a piece of cake for me. When Craftsy offered me the opportunity to review their online Modern Buttercream course, I panicked at the prospect of creating a tiered cake and sharing the results with the world. I didn’t think that I could learn enough from an online course to be able to do it. I was wrong.

Meet Craftsy

Craftsy is a website that offers online cake decorating and other craft classes by world-renowned instructors. If you’ve ever seen a beautiful cake online or in the window of a fancy bakery, there is probably a Craftsy class that could teach you how to make it. I took the roughly 90 minute Modern Buttercream Class by Joshua John Russell, a finalist in Last Cake Standing and a regular on Food Network Challenge. As someone who has spent years teaching (I taught computer classes before I became a blogger), I was really impressed with Josh’s teaching style. He broke everything down in a way that a beginner like me could understand. Yes, I still talked to my monitor saying things like, “He wants to me do what??” and “You’ve got to be kidding me!” and “This is going to take forever!”, but I never felt like I was left without a support network. I knew that Josh and the other students in the course were there for me and that I could make a cake that looked at least a little bit like his.

Before I tell you anything else, I should let you know that the class I took is FREE. There is absolutely no reason not to sign up and check out how awesome it is. Once you try it, you’ll want to check out some of the other classes (I’ve got my eye on the Fondant Frills class). You can try any of Craftsy’s courses for 25% off with this link (about $30 for a class after the discount).

Why Craftsy Is Different than YouTube Videos

I expected my Craftsy experience to be much like watching YouTube video tutorials – both are in a video format and both are available to watch any time. But, my Craftsy class felt completely different; it was more like school. At the beginning of the class, you can print out handouts that cover the materials you need to buy and any recipes that you may need. There are several hours of content broken down into organized lessons, you can take notes online while you watch, and you can bookmark sections to watch again.

One of the best parts of Craftsy is the community. As you watch the lessons on Craftsy, you can see comments and questions from all of the students who have ever taken that class. The questions are time stamped so you know exactly which part of the video the questions were asked about. In the free classes, these questions are answered by other students. In the paid classes, however, the instructor monitors the questions and chimes in with answers. I found this feature to be super helpful. I also loved how the video automatically paused when I selected one of the questions and started reading responses.

Can You Really Learn to How to Decorate Cakes from an Online Class?

The proof is in the cake. Like I said, this is my first tiered cake. It’s not perfect, but it’s better than I expected from my first try – and I learned it all from my Craftsy class. I followed Josh’s instructions as best I could (I’ll admit that I skipped some parts that were a little tough for me; I’ll try them out on my second cake).

I won’t tell you that an online class is better than a live in-person class. I’m a firm believer that nothing beats someone standing right next to you providing instant feedback. That being said, there are some HUGE advantages to taking a Craftsy class over a live cake decorating class:

  1. I guarantee you that when I decide to make a cake again two years from now and don’t remember a thing Josh told me to do in the video, I am going to watch his class again. You can’t do that with a live class. Plus, there were several sections that I watched three times when I was making the cake just to make sure that I had the techniques right.
  2. In a live class, you don’t want to be that one person with the dumb question, so you might just keep your mouth shut. In the Craftsy class, you can see the questions of everyone who has ever taken the class. Someone has probably already asked your question. If they haven’t, it’s often much easier to ask a “silly” question online than to raise your hand in person.
  3. It’s unlikely that your local cake decorating course would be taught by a Food Network star. With a Craftsy class, you get to learn from and ask questions directly from true food celebs!
  4. You can’t beat Craftsy’s prices!

What’s with the Moose?

Since I had to make a cake anyway, I checked in with my friends to see if anyone could use one for a party. My friend Andrew asked if he could share the cake at the finish line of a charity bike ride / pub crawl he participates in called Tour de Moose. I have not yet taken the Craftsy course on cake toppers, but I did my best to give the cake a moose for the occasion.

So, How Do I Decorate the Cake?

Sorry, there is no way I can teach you to decorate this cake as well as Josh does on Craftsy. You’ll just have to take his course to find out. The only thing that I will tell you is that it is easiest to use a very dense cake recipe – especially when first getting started. Josh did not recommend a cake recipe (he does give a frosting recipe), so I’ll tell you that I used a recipe from Edna De La Cruz for chocolate stout cake and replaced the stout with Schlafly Pumpkin ale. The cake came out great!

See you on Craftsy!

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Craftsy. The opinions and text are all mine.

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7 comments on “How I Faced My Cake Decorating Fears – Thank You, Craftsy”

  1. Juliesays:

    Stefani… let me first say your cake looks great. I would have never known this was your first attempt in many years. I enjoyed reading your blog about Craftsy. I have signed up with them, but I haven’t taken the leap yet to try the classes. After reading your blog I think I have decided to take that leap. Your thorough description of your class inspired me that I too can learn from an online class. Thank you!

  2. Stefani These look amazing, definitely going to have to try these. I used to make little Creme brulees at whole foods that would stay crunchy for a couple days as long as they were torched well and thick enough sugar.

  3. Brendasays:

    That looks absolutely delish !! Going to try this very soon…your food photography is superb :)

  4. omesays:

    I just made these for a Coaches dinner! Wow! Delicious!! I followed everything to a tee. I have a ton of whipped cream left over. That is the only thing I would do differently. Not double the whipped cream. We will just use the extra on coffee and hot chocolate. Perfect recipe! Thanks so much for sharing! Oh and the ladyfingers recipe… perfection! And EASY! I will never buy ladyfingers when they are this simple to make.

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