With the proliferation of cupcakeries around London of late, you could certainly be forgiven for taking the easy option and ordering a boxed dozen of goodies to be delivered to your door, rather than getting out the weighing scales and preheating the oven when you fancy something sweet. Of course the basic recipe is important but really what sets the professionals apart is the decorating skills they bring to the party. You might ask - what's the point in labouring over a hot stove if your creations end up looking like they've been iced by a four year old? Arianna Halshaw can help.
Now running her own business, Bittersweet Bakers, Arianna has been baking professionally for more than a decade. Although they'll deliver anywhere in London, if you fancy learning the right techniques to make your own cakes stand out, you need to sign up for one of her classes.
Within an informal setting, complete with pint mugs of tea and slivers of cheesecake brownie, a Bittersweet speciality, Arianna demonstrates various different methods and then supervises cheerfully as you have a go yourself. Starting off with writing in royal icing, you copy a number of different alphabets to learn how to manipulate the icing to where you need it, to ice initials or messages on to flat-top buttercream frosting which makes the perfect canvas for decoration. Next it's a case of going to town with a vast selection of sugar sprinkles, shaped like gingerbread men, jumbo hearts, lipstick kisses, multicoloured stars. Not all on one cake, naturally. Once the edible glitter came out, it was like a free for all with iridescent sparkles everywhere, on the cakes, the tablecloth, the participants.
Moving on to different types of icing we piped swirling mounds of ganache to create what came to be known as 'giant iced gems' and everyone gradually got more excited by all the sugar in the room, mostly consumed by osmosis. Each participant left bearing at least a dozen cupcakes, boxed up and ready to give as gifts. Or, perhaps to be hoarded and consumed at home. Londonist couldn't possibly reveal what happened to the three boxes they took away.
Email Arianna Halshaw on firstname.lastname@example.org to enquire about classes.