Posts Tagged DC

Where To Take Cake Decorating Classes In The DC Area

Crumb Coat

The crumb coat. No, it still doesn't make my finished cakes look any better.

I’ve been hunting around for cake decorating classes lately, mostly because I’ve become increasingly frustrated with my inability to frost a cake. All I want is a cake with smooth, straight sides, like the cakes I see in bakeries, and yet this simple result eludes me. I’ve tried to do a crumb coat, and that helps a little, and I’ve tried using different types of frosting, but my cakes always look very . . . well, “rustic” is a nice way of saying it.

Class prices range quite a bit – from $20 for a Wilton Class at craft stores out in the ‘burbs, to $95 for a two-hour course at Fancy Cakes By Leslie in Bethesda. And it’s interesting that all the cake decorating classes are out of the District – like, are we too hip and cool to decorate some cakes in DC?

Also, did I miss anything? Any other cake decorating classes that you want to share?

  • Cake Love – Cake Assembly/Decorating
    Description: This class will cover how to put a cake together using the simple, rustic feel we are known for here at CakeLove, no fussy piping bags or fake flowers here. You will learn about buttercream and ganache as well as terminology and basic tools. Best of all you’ll have the opportunity to put your new skills to the test, assembling your own 6 inch cake.
    Two hour participation class
    Cost: $60
    Check the Cake Love calendar for dates, locations, and registration info.
  • Fancy Cakes By Leslie – Beginning Cake Decorating Workshop
    4939 Elm Street, Bethesda, MD, 20814
    (301) 652-9390
    Description: This is a two-hour hands-on class starting with a discussion on which type of cake to use for decoration — box mix cakes/icings vs. scratch cakes/icings. Workshop participants will learn about torting and filling cakes. The workshop will end with a finish icing in buttercream and piped pulled borders. All materials will be provided.
    Two hours, participation class.
    Cost: $95.00
    Check web site for dates and times, and registration info.

    Note: Fancy Cakes by Leslie also offers Buttercream Piping Workshops and Beginning Fondant Workshops, which are also two-hour, $95 classes. Check web site for dates and times, and registration info.

  • L’Academie De CuisineCake Decorating 201
    5021 Wilson Lane, Bethesda, MD 20814
    (301) 986-9490
    Description: Fondant icing gives you a beautiful satin covering to cakes and it also makes beautiful roses, ribbons and other decorations. Cake and icing will be provided. Cakes & Icing will be provided for students who have basic cake decorating skills.
    Participation class – 2.5 hours
    Cost: $75
    Check web site for dates, times, and registration info.
  • Sur La Table – Cake Decorating Basics
    Pentagon Row, 1101 South Joyce Street, Suite B-20, Arlington, VA 22202
    (703) 414-3580
    Description: Learn cake decorating from an expert. In this class you’ll learn to turn an ordinary layer cake into a true masterpiece. A beginner’s cake decorating set is included in your class registration fee. (Note: the January class date has already past, and looking at the calendar it looks like another basic class hasn’t been scheduled yet.)
    Cost: $69.00
    Check the web site for dates, times, and registration info.
  • Wilton Cake Decorating Classes
    Wilton, the big cake decorating supplier, holds cake decorating classes at various craft stores around the country.
    Four classes, 2 hours each
    Cost: $20
    To find a class in your area, and for specific dates, times, and pricing, visit the Wilton Class locator.


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New Cupcake Classes and Blog At Hello Cupcake

Hello Cupcake Decorating Class 8

Yes, you - YOU - can learn how to pipe those perfect swirls.

Coming in February, Hello Cupcake is unveiling a new series of cupcake design classes. Participants will learn will learn the tricks of designing and decorating cupcakes – from piping the frosting to rolling and stamping the fondant. Best of all, you’ll leave with a dozen of your own personally decorated treats.

Hello Cupcake Decorating Class 2

Emily Macel, one of the Hello Cupcake staff, gives piping tips.

I was invited to a preview event tonight,* and got to see a sneak peak of some of the techniques they’ll be teaching. Hello Cupcake’s Executive Pastry Chef, Todd Miller, showed us how to roll and stamp fondant, while Emily Macel, who works in the kitchen, showed me how to make frosting carrots (mine were . . . interesting). And Penny Karas, Hello Cupcake’s owner and founder, demonstrated the secret of those perfectly piped swirls (constant pressure and a steady hand).

Hello Cupcake Decorating Class 1

A sample fondant cupcake - we got to stamp flowers out of fondant.

The Hello Cupcake staff was very friendly and knowledgeable, and I’m sure the classes will be a hit with DC cupcake fiends. Classes are two hours and cost $50, and each one is centered around a different holiday theme. The first class will focus on cupcakes for Valentine’s Day, and is scheduled for February 13 from 10:00 am to 12:00. Sign up in-person at the Dupont store, or email

Hello Cupcake Decorating Class 3

This teddy bear cupcake demonstrates Lauren DeSantis' (of Capital Cooking) mean piping skills.

Hello Cupcake also unveiled their new blog –, which they’re launching just in time for Valentine’s Day. Just post your worst (or . . .best?) pick up stories and get a chance to win a free cupcake. Given that this is DC, land of bad pick up stories, I’m sure competition will be stiff.

Hello Cupcake Decorating Class 6

Another sample fondant cupcake - this time with a fondant flower. I love the purple fondant on the chocolate frosting.

*Blog disclosure – this was a free “preview” event for the media, so I didn’t pay for my cupcakes (nor for the pink champagne).

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Where Do You Get Your Knives Sharpened in DC?


My knives are dying a slow death.

My chef’s knife really needs to be sharpened. I’ve known this for a while – it’s been getting progressively harder to slice an onion, let alone a tomato. But I knew things had gotten really bad when it was having problems cutting through an eggplant the other night. It’s one dull blade that won’t slice through an eggplant.

I have a sharpening steel (God only knows if I actually use it correctly), which hones the edge, but I’ve never actually gotten this knife sharpened. According to Martha Stewart, the steel is good for removing scratches and realigning the edge, but knives still need to be sharpened on a whetstone. And yes, in case you want to learn how to do that yourself, Martha will tell you how – but I think I’ll leave my sharpening to the pros.

I put the call out to the Adams Morgan listserv, and the good people of AdMo suggested the following places for knife sharpening. The Sur La Table got the most recommendations, but it looks like several of the local hardware stores sharpen knives as well.

Logan Hardware
1416 P St NW
Washington, DC 20005
(202) 265-8900

Pfeiffer’s Hardware
3219 Mount Pleasant Street Northwest
Washington, DC 20010-2137
(202) 462-1431

Sur La Table – Friendship Heights
5211 Wisconsin AVE NW
Washington, DC 20015

Sur La Table – Pentagon Row
1101 South Joyce Street
Suite B-20
Arlington, VA 22202

True Value on 17th
1623 17th Street NW
Washington, DC 20009
Phone: 202-462-3146
Fax: 202-387-4503

I’ll be making a trip to one of these locations this weekend – but does anyone else have any place to add? Where do you get your knives sharpened in DC?

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David Guas Talks About His New Cookbook, New Orleans, and Desserts With The “Granny” Factor

David Guas, Pastry Chef, author, stove-top pudding lover. Photo courtesy of simoneink.

David Guas’ new cookbook, DamGoodSweet, practically drips with sugar. The down-home, unfussy New Orleans style desserts like sweet corn cake with root beer syrup, lemon doberge cake, and pecan and brown butter ice cream are sure to satisfy any sweet tooth. But Guas’ book also overflows with memories; each recipe is accompanied by a story of his life growing up in New Orleans. The recipes don’t just give directions – they document the bakeries, stores, and local food vendors of Guas’ youth, a landscape that hurricane Katrina permanently altered.

Guas moved to the DC area from New Orleans 11 years ago, after working as a pastry chef at Windsor Court Hotel, to open DC Coast. He served as the Executive Pastry chef for Passion Food Hospitality restaurants until 2007, overseeing the desserts for Ten Penh, Ceiba, and Acadiana. Guas left to form his own consulting company, DamGoodSweet, in 2007. Faithful readers will remember that one of his consulting projects was developing the cupcakes for the Red Velvet Cupcakery. Guas is currently looking to open his own bakery – appropriately named the Bayou Bakery – although he has yet to find the perfect space.

Guas sat down with ModernDomestic last week, where we talked about nostalgia baking, desserts with the Granny factor, and what he likes to cook with his two sons.

MD: How did you end up working in pastry?
DG: I’m an “accidental” pastry chef. I applied in the kitchen at the Windsor Court Hotel in New Orleans, and all they had open at the time was in the pastry department. After some persuading, the master pastry chef decided to hire me, but only if I wouldn’t make him regret his decision.

MD: Once you got your foot in the door – at any time did you think you’d move back down into the kitchen?
DG: That was my mindset in the first couple months. But the next thing you know, I started getting pushed around shift-wise to a lot of different shifts, and I was always finding something new and interesting to learn in that department. The executive chef at the time was Jeff Tonks and he took an interest in me. Before I knew it I was collaborating on the menu with the executive pastry chef and playing around with desserts at home. Jeff offered me a position to open his restaurant – DC Coast in the summer of ’98.

MD: How would you describe your approach to cooking?
DG: The way I cook in the book is the way I like to eat – you can dive into a bowl of pudding, or a not-so-sweet, nontraditional red velvet cake. It’s a pretty true marker of how I consider myself as a person – these are down home and any-day-of-the-week kind of desserts. They’re not overly fussy. It’s a break from that à la carte mentality of component desserts – where you got your main dessert with a sauce and a crisp and a tart. The style of the restaurants I came from was fussy.

But with the economy, more people are cooking at home, and they really don’t cut out desserts because they’re trying to save money. If anything you need it more so now than ever, because it tells you that everything’s going to be okay. I call it the granny factor. There’s a lot of desserts that have the “G” factor.

MD: “Nostalgia” desserts are pretty trendy these days – do you think they’re here to stay?
Nostalgia never went anywhere. It was masked by other fancy things. That’s the beautiful thing about what those type of desserts are – they’re going to stand the test of time. The restaurants that aren’t struggling as much right now are those ones with mid price points, that know where their products come from. A great example is Elevation Burger – they fry their fries in olive oil, and the burgers are delicious. You know where the beef comes from. I don’t mind paying for that.

MD: Do you ever bake with your kids?
DG: All the time. We’ll do the simple things, like cookies and brownies on the weekend. Anther thing I do is stove-top puddings. They actually adore my chocolate and banana pudding.

Banana pudding, a favorite in the Guas household, from DamGoodSweet. Photo by Ellen Silverman.

MD: How did Hurricane Katrina influence the book?
DG: That was the motivation – I wanted to get the stories [of New Orleans] down for my two sons, and to document the restaurants and the sweet shops.

MD: Are there any bakeries in the book that aren’t there anymore?
DG: Lawrence’s Bakery [also called Mr. Wedding Cake], and McKenzie’s Bakery. Mr Wedding Cake – that was right near my dad’s office, and McKenzie’s was pretty much everywhere around the city. McKenzie’s closed, but not because of the storm – but Lawrence’s did.

MD: Do you have a favorite bakery in DC? I ask this partially for my own purposes – I really want to find a good bakery in the DC area.
I don’t go to a lot of bakeries, I really don’t. If I want brownies and I don’t want to make them myself I’ll go to Artisan Confections. Saturday only he makes these Valrhona brownies that are the bomb. And he does chocolates too.

But my entire neighborhood wants me to open a place. We have Randolph’s and Heidelberg’s, and they are what they are. They’re not going to change, and they’re not going anywhere. But I bring a youthful energy to desserts.

MD: So what’s the current plan for the Bayou Bakery?
DG: Bayou Bakery plans haven’t changed, it’s just a matter of finding a space. I talk to my broker every day now. I’m looking for a turnkey operation, and those are hard to come by.

MD: Any recipes from the book you plan to sell?
DG: One hundred percent of them. We’ll have king cakes during carnival – everything. It’s my opportunity not to do the à la carte stuff.

MD: One more question – where do you like to eat in DC?
DG: I love Brasserie Becks – I love going there and getting a beer and some mussels. I love the salads. I love sitting at the bar at Ceiba or Ten Pehn. Black Salt – Jeff Black’s restaurants, is really close to our house – just across the chain bridge. Phenomenal food, great product, great menu.

Cup custard (yum), from DamGoodSweet. Photo by Ellen Silverman.

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Weekly Roundup: Pre-Thanksgiving Edition

Swedish Embassy

The Swedish Embassy, decked out for the holidays. We're in the thick of the holiday season.

I’ve loved reading the Thanksgiving posts and articles that have gone up this week. It seems like everyone is preparing for the big day. Except me, of course – I’ll be attending the Thanksgiving celebration of a friend from my bookclub, and I’ll leave all the difficult turkey-cooking to her. I’m a little sad that I won’t be cooking the meal myself, but I’m excited to share the holiday with my friends in DC. And it gives me more time to concentrate on pie – my true obsession this month.

Recipes I want to try, as found on the Internet this week:

  • Homemade vanilla extract, from Mango and Tomato. I’ve been meaning to do this forever – I go through vanilla extract like water.

And in other pre-Thanksgiving news;

  • Find out which  Starbucks baked good is worth buying at The Tipsy Baker.
  • I’ve been having a ton of fun watching the tweets from DC’s first Cupcake Cart, Curbside Cupcake. Now if they’d only come up to Tenlytown.
  • 6th and I is holding a potato cookoff. Mango and Tomato is already signed up as a contestant!
  • Crumbs Bake Shop is coming to DC! Actually, I’m pretty happy with our current cupcake offerings. Do we really need another? Via Metrocurean.

Happy Friday!

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Weekly Roundup: Dreaming of Pie Edition

Apple pie

You haunt my dreams.

I can’t stop thinking about pie. All day I’m distracted by the the thoughts of the pie I’m going to make this weekend. Will it use a pastry crust? A crumb crust? A cheddar crust? Will it be a fruit pie? Or a pudding pie? I don’t know why I didn’t start baking pies months ago – they’re just so fascinating.

Maybe this means I need more hobbies. Or, um, friends.

Recipes I want to try:

  • Parmesan popovers from Adventures in Shaw. Popovers are an excellent holiday feast food – they’re easy, tasty, and impressive.

And in other news:

  • The Arugula Files reviews the bar menu at Bourbon Steak, which is both decadent and reasonably priced.
  • Lemmonex reviews Masa 14, the hot new tapas restaurant on 14th Street. She is tired of tapas.
  • NPR has a good primer on quinces, which I’ve been wanting to try. I looked for them at the farmer’s market last weekend, but didn’t find any – anyone know if they’re available in this area?
  • The Tipsy Baker, aka writer Jennifer Reese, has a thoughtful, tough, review of Jonathan Safran Foer’s new book, Eating Animals over at Double XX.
  • Gradually Greener previews a promising new social networking site for foodies, Smörgie.
  • The Internet Food Association is tired of cupcakes. I, personally, am tired of people who are tired of cupcakes. You’ll notice I tried to defend them in the comments, but, alas, the majority of comments are firmly in the anti-cupcake camp.
  • Capital Spice has google-mapped out all the restaurants on Tom Sietsema’s Fall Dining Guide (from the Post), Tim Carman’s 50 Best Restaurants (from the Washington City Paper), and the Washingtonian magazine’s 100 Best Restaurants. Now if only I could read maps.

Happy Friday!

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Halloween in Photos

Bake Sale - Unicorn Pegasus 2

This was my favorite - I love that unicorn Pegasus!

I had to share some of my photos from Halloween – these costumes are just too cute to keep to myself. Most of these are taken from the Halloween costume contest at the 14th and U Farmer’s Market – and a couple are from my own night out later.

Bake Sale - Superdog


Bake Sale - First Cupcake

This was a special moment - a duck's first cupcake.

Bake sale - Ladybug

I love this dog - I mean, ladybug.


A tortured 1950's housewife and The Lady In Red.


Pippi Longstocking.


Swine Flu.

Halloween - Costumes

Mark Sanford and his Argentinian mistress. DC does political costumes well, no?

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