I took the Wilton's Course 1 Cake Decorating class.
I learned a whole lot. Apparently. I mean, I couldn't make roses and now I can make cabbages that resemble roses.
Also, I learned that the best decorator's frosting is made with vegetable shortening...with trans fat. So don't use Crisco, folks. It contains zero trans-fat and that makes it not as good as your store brand vegetable shortening when making pretties for a cake.
An additional lesson learned is that you should always put on a crumb coat (very thin layer of icing) before you ice your cake. Basically, this coating of icing will contain the crumbs so that when you go to put the icing on later none of those nasty cake crumbs will be showing (well, hopefully). You can add Meringue Powder to your icing and it will set up nice and firm, not so sticky as without. Meringue Powder can be added to any frosting you choose to ice the cake. I wouldn't suggest the vegetable shortening icing...only because it seriously tastes just like powdered sugar added to vegetable shortening, but that's just me. I hate it.
Be sure that when applying the crumb coat that you do not put your spatula back into your icing. It probably has crumbs on it and once you get one crumb in your clean icing, you get a million crumbs (they multiply like rabbits, y'all). Use a clean spatula to get icing out of your bowl.
Here is the official buttercream frosting that Wilton uses for their cake decorating class. Note that there is no butter in the frosting: butter melts at 80 degrees and guess what temperature your hands are? Well, hopefully they are 98.6 degrees! That would melt your butter into a nice mess.
1 cup solid white vegetable shortening
1 teaspoon Wilton Flavor (vanilla, almond or butter - our instructor used 1/2 tsp. each of vanilla and almond)
2 Tablespoons milk or water (use water unless you plan to refrigerate)
1 lb. pure cane confectioners' sugar - approx. 4 cups (10 x powdered)
1 Tablespoon Wilton Meringue Powder
Cream shortening, flavoring and water together in a large bowl. Add dry ingredients and mix on medium speed until all ingredients have been thoroughly mixed together. Blend an additional minute or so, until creamy.
There are three basic consistencies for this icing: stiff, medium and thin.
Stiff icing is what you get with the basic buttercream recipe.
Medium icing is what you get when you add 1 tsp. of water for every 1 cup of (stiff consistency) frosting.
Thin icing is what you get when you add 2 tsp. of water for every 1 cup of (stiff consistency) frosting.
Now, if I had just gone to Wilton's website and watched their little rose video, I would never have figured out how to do a rose being all left-handed and such. With that said, I would recommend taking a Wilton course near you...otherwise just watch the video on their website and Godspeed. Seriously, you will need some help from a higher power because this rose making business is not easy. I'm still making cabbages.
In Course 1 of the cake decorating class, you learn roses, sweet peas, shells, leaves, bows, etc.
So enjoy my cake images (she gave us about 15 minutes to decorate our iced cakes) from my final class...I still have a lot of work to do!!