Frost n’ Sip classes tackle cake decorating with a side of wine | TribLIVE.com
Food & Drink

Frost n’ Sip classes tackle cake decorating with a side of wine

Mary Pickels
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Mary Pickels | Tribune-Review
Getting that first layer on, with a little Bella Terra wine to take off the decorating edge.
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Mary Pickels | Tribune-Review
Naked cakes are ready to be decorated.
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Mary Pickels | Tribune-Review
Frost n’ Sip students eye up their unfrosted cakes at a recent class chef Julia Harhai held at Bella Terra Vineyards in Hunker.
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Mary Pickels | Tribune-Review
Chef Julia Harhai, owner of Frosting with a Twist, gives her students their instructions.
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Mary Pickels | Tribune-Review
Some tools of the frosting trade — food coloring, frosting tip, bench scraper.
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Mary Pickels | Tribune-Review
Friends Stephanie King of Youngwood and Katie Saul of West Newton try out a bench scraper to smooth their cakes’ frosting.
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Mary Pickels | Tribune-Review
Almost there; students successfully pipe frosting onto their layer cakes.
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Mary Pickels | Tribune-Review
These tiny pumpkins and gourds are fashioned out of fondant.
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Mary Pickels | Tribune-Review
Leah Samuels and Jessica Wuslich, both of Greensburg, sit with their cakes, decorated in an autumn theme.
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Mary Pickels | Tribune-Review
Chef Julia Harhai leans in as she demonstrates a cake frosting technique.

Canned frosting, sprinkles and gels can make cake decorating fairly easy, even for the amateur.

Piping with design tips, rolling and shaping fondant, can be a little tricky.

Perhaps one just needs a little instruction, accompanied by a “take the edge off” glass of wine.

Julia Harhai, owner of Frosting with a Twist, offers Frost n’ Sip classes for those curious about making a beautiful cake, but who may be a tad nervous.

It’s also just fun to get together with friends and tackle a somewhat daunting task together.

Harhai, 23, of Greensburg teaches culinary arts at the Fayette County Career & Technical Institute.

Taking frosting on the road

Since July, she has offered Frost n’ Sip classes at venues including Eclectique in Latrobe and Bella Terra Vineyards in Hunker. She also offers private and children’s (with juice for sipping) parties.

“I start with instructions and lead into the one-on-one demonstration,” Harhai says.

She explains the different icing tips as they begin piping.

“Some people get a little bit frustrated, watching me. They say, ‘Mine doesn’t look like yours.’ Practice makes perfect,” Harhai says.

“No two classes are the same. I never replicate a cake,” she says.

“I’ve actually always had this idea, even in high school. Because I’m teaching now, I had time in the summer to run with it,” she says.

Harhai typically charges $35 per person, $40 if she’s traveling to the Pittsburgh area.

Wine and roses — or pumpkins

As tables fill at Bella Terra one recent Sunday, Harhai hands out “naked” cakes and the students sip their wine and chat.

“I have no artistic ability. I was pretty happy with how (my first cake) turned out. She will take you step by step. It’s relaxing, it’s something different. Even it if looks horrible, you can still eat it. My family is happy — I’m bringing home a cake,” says Jennifer Pratt of Greensburg, laughing.

Stephanie King of Youngwood and her fiance attended a cake decorating class together at Eclectique.

“We love to bake and I love to decorate. When (Harhai) explained the technique in fondant, I understood it,” she says.

Accompanying her at the most recent class is friend Katie Saul of West Newton, who is, she says, “not a baker.”

“She (King) asked ‘You want to do this thing?’ It’s something fun to do. We get to spend time together. I’m a good taste tester and guinea pig,” Saul jokes.

The wine glasses filled with red and white, Harhai says, can help “take the edge off and maybe help inspire creativity.”

Topping off their cakes

“Work your fondant like it’s taffy,” Harhai instructs. Cornstarch, she says, keeps it from sticking to one’s hands.

“Fondant does get a crust on it. That’s why I always like to make it the day of (use),” she says.

The students roll balls of fondant and shape them into tiny orange pumpkins and gray gourds, dragging toothpicks down the sides to make indentations. They twist tiny pieces into stems and leaves.

“There is no rhyme or reason. All leaves are different. All pumpkins are different,” Harhai says.

Finding a frosting comfort zone

“It’s kind of easy, the way she teaches. … I’ve rolled out fondant before, but I’ve never done the sculpting,” says Mariann Price of Rostraver .

“I came to learn how to work with fondant and learn how to ice cakes. It looked like something I could make, and my family would be really impressed,” says Leah Samuels of Greensburg. “She (Harhai) gives tips that are so good and easy to follow.”

Samuels is back for her second class, and enjoys learning different skills at each.

“I was really intimidated by (fondant) before. I’m curious to try to make it. I think I could reproduce it,” says Jessica Wuslich of Greensburg, attending her first class.

“That’s what is fun. We learn the same thing, and all of our cakes will be different,” she says.

Mary Pickels is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Mary at 724-836-5401, [email protected] or via Twitter .

Categories: Lifestyles | Food Drink
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