Cake decorating instructor Kimm DeLorenzo shows a mini cake she decorated in five minutes. A little cake like this, presented in a disposable storage container with the lid as the base, makes a great favor or gift for parties of manageable magnitude.

Piece of Cake

Frosting, coloring and sugar
sculptures go into creations
too pretty to eat ... but that
doesn't really stop anyone

In Kimm DeLorenzo's cake-decorating classes, students can have their cake and eat it, too. The joy of seeing others enjoy their creations is equal or perhaps greater than the students' joy in playing with icing and sugar sculptures.

Start baking

Classes in cake decorating are offered at adult continuing education classes at various high schools. Fall classes will be held at Waipahu High (675-0254) and Mililani High (622-1634).

The cake-decorating classes are held once a week for four weeks. The cost is $25. Course schedules can be found at the following Web address:

Kimm DeLorenzo also hosts private classes for four or more people. E-mail her at

Special occasions just wouldn't be the same without a cake. Weddings, birthdays, graduations and all sorts of events call for that magical combination of flour, sugar, oil and eggs beaten until thoroughly mixed, then baked to fluffy perfection.

But the process doesn't end when the baking's done. According to DeLorenzo, artistic details ensure your cake will be unique. Embellishing with frosting, food coloring, sugar sculptures and other edible treats add a personal touch that make people feel special, she said.

DeLorenzo started taking classes in 1997 because she wanted to make a wedding cake for her friend. "A caring Wilton instructor taught me the basics and I took off from there," she said.

"The bride was so thrilled and now a huge poster size photo of her and her husband standing next to the three-tiered cake, with fountain, hangs in her hallway. I forgot the green icing, so I wasn't able to make the leaves and vines that were going to complete the cake, but she loved it anyway."

DeLorenzo began teaching the art about two years ago through adult continuing education programs at various high schools and says she enjoys sharing her knowledge with others. "It's fun to watch people excel," she said. "When they become successful decorators, I can say I was a part of that and it makes me smile."

Castillo practices writing with buttercream frosting.

DeLorenzo's No. 1 rule -- no licking -- is easier to say than obey

THE NO. 1 rule in DeLorenzo's four-week class is "no licking icing from your fingers" for sanitary reasons. The icing that nevertheless appeared on the corners of one student's mouth was a telltale sign that this is not an easy task.

"Everyone learned how to slap icing on a cake as a kid," DeLorenzo told the class. "But, many people don't know how to make it look smooth.

"Presentation is everything. We don't want to see any crumbs."

Students absorbed the lesson, having arrived at the second class ready to go with cakes they baked at home and a bowl of homemade icing made from DeLorenzo's recipe, which they are given during the first meeting. Ready made icing and Styrofoam cake forms are options for those too busy to do the advance work.

Students also needed to bring in their own supplies, such as icing bags and tips, spatulas and food coloring, which cost $40 to $60 at stores such as Compleat Kitchen, Wal-Mart and Ben Franklin.

Using a practice board, students learned to make borders, leaves, hearts and roses from icing piped from a bag.

DeLorenzo's recipe results in firm icing, but its consistency can be changed depending on what is required for a design. Water or milk is added to change the consistency. If the icing becomes too thin or watered down, powder sugar can be added until the proper consistency is achieved.

A thin consistency is used to ice the cake; medium is used for petals, flowers and other flat decorations; and the firm is used to make roses and other sculpted forms that will sit on top of a cake. Royal flowers, made from a mixture of sugar and water, will last up to one year in an air-tight container. These solid forms are taught in an advanced class she also teaches.

DeLorenzo tells students to keep their spatula at an angle when applying the thin icing. If the spatula is kept flat, cake crumbs will flake off and mix with the icing to give the cake a lumpy appearance.

The spatula also needs to be kept clean and she advises students to keep a bowl of hot water nearby for quick rinses. "It melts the icing and makes it smooth," she said, while warning that too much water may encourage bacterial growth in the butter cream frosting.

At the end of their first hands-on day of class, students of Kimm DeLorenzo's adult continuing education cake decorating class at Aiea High show their first attempts at the art. Pictured are, from left, Pam O'Neil, Anne Hedani, DeLorenzo, Anna Cottrell, Mildred Chibana and Melanie Castillo.

STUDENTS SIGNED up for DeLorenzo's classes for a variety of reasons. Melanie Castillo wanted to be prepared for her wedding next year. She plans to make mini cakes as favors for all her guests and may even attempt to bake her own wedding cake. "I always have big ideas, but that doesn't mean it will happen," she said.

Pam O'Neil works as a Navy cook and dreams of landing a position in her ship's bakeshop. "I want to be known as the cake decorator, not the cook who makes the soup," she said. In addition to baking pastries and daily goods, she would make cakes for all special occasions, including retirements, enlistments and birthdays.

The idea of baking special occasion cakes for family members and friends is also what enticed Anna Cottrell to take the class. She especially wanted to learn how to make roses, her favorite flower. "I wanted something fun to do," she said. "I've always wanted to learn the professional techniques."

Anne Hedani worked diligently on the fine details of her cake. "My eyes water because I don't want to blink when I'm doing this," she said. "I appreciate the store-bought cakes much more now."

Mildred Chibana was driven by the need to economize, while still providing treats for her grandchildren. "I provide all the goodies for their school. It costs about $25 for two dozen cupcakes. I figured I would learn to decorate them myself," she said.

DeLorenzo also showed the class how to make mini "thank you" cakes to give to others as tokens of gratitude, she said. She decorated these with scrolls, leaves and flowers in about five minutes.

The mini cakes were made from a store-bought yellow cake mix in bread pans that allow bakers to make six or eight loaves at a time. DeLorenzo suggests using disposable storage containers of thin plastic, available at any grocery store, to stow the cakes. She finished by tying the plastic container with a dainty ribbon, demonstrating that "special" doesn't need to be expensive or exotic. It can be a simple gesture that comes from the heart.

The most difficult task was writing with icing, and DeLorenzo suggested practicing with a toothpick first.

"When I started classes, I was told to do my homework ... go home and practice," she said. "I never had time, but I always had fun."

Now she tells her students the same thing, "practice, practice, practice, and you will improve all your cake-decorating skills."

Of course, the best part of class and baking in general is that while learning you can always eat your mistakes, she said. The students agreed.

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