Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Slattery's Chocolate Cake Course

Last week I did a three day course at Slattery's in decorating chocolate cakes. If you've not visited Slattery's for high tea or a gawp at their stunning cakes, I recommend that you get yourself to Whitefield pronto.

I am going to order this rose wedding cake from Slattery's when I marry Daniel Craig
Slattery's also sells a large selection of smaller cakes and all manner of novelty chocolates. Seriously, get yourself down there.

Our instructor was Julie Oddie, a lovely lady with a real passion for and knowledge of patisserie, cake decorating and chocolate. On the first day she taught us about the different ways of tempering chocolate and we made chocolate decorations - spheres, spirals, dominos and ruffles, much of which was piled on top of a chocolate cake through the magic of ganache.  
This cake was adopted by Lucy and Mark. I hope they look after it.
At lunch time we were given a tour of the kitchen by John Slattery and saw rows of cupcakes, chocolates, novelty cakes and wedding cakes in production.

The next day was spent making chocolate decorations, some of which adorned these little boat-shaped cakes. The cakes are layers of chocolate sponge and ganache with a couple of Maltesers hidden in the middle. Maltesers are a chocolate that I wouldn't usually give the time of day, but were surprisingly good tucked inside a cake.
Well done to Samuel (3) and Isabelle (2) for each polishing off one of these fairly substantial cakes
Stripy cigarillos; chocolate water lily; marbles
Day three was <gulp> making a chocolate wedding cake. We each chose a design from Slattery's lovely book and set to. I'll be honest: I found working with chocolate quite different from working with sugarpaste and while the professionals make it look a doddle, there is a real knack to it. The "peeled layers" and roses are made by smoothing chocolate onto a frozen marble slab, scraping it off and moulding it. Get it wrong and the chocolate is either too brittle or too wet to work with. It reminded me a bit of working with blown sugar, but without the burns. Luckily Julie has a good radar for when a student is ready to burst into tears and punch the cake in its face, and was ready to step in to help.
This cake went to North Wales for Angharad's birthday. Penblywdd hapus, cariad!
Three other ladies chose the same "peeled layer" design, but each one turned out very differently. 
The other three cakes were even more diverse - one was ChoccyWoccyDooDah style, a shop in Brighton that I visited last May but only very briefly on account of being with a dog; one was a lovely box style with leopard print transfers that I really hope made it back to Dublin in one piece; and one was the bubble cake, which I absolutely love.

I thoroughly enjoyed the course and learned a huge amount. I would heartily recommend Slattery's courses to anyone who wants to learn more about working with chocolate, particularly if they want to eat a lot of it after the class. Now I just need to practise practise practise (working, not eating, sadly. I'd be ace if it was just eating).


  1. They are all amazing but where was mine? - It was my birthday Monday but even though I watched & waited all day no spectacular cake was delivered here! So sad :-(