Filigree Box Class with Dawn Parrott
Piping was the norm to the older generation of cake decorators but today, most cake decorators begin working with fondant and have yet to learn the art of working with buttercream or royal icing. Dawn Parrott’s filigree box class introduces students to piping on a template, allowing the piped pieces to dry and then assembling those pieces into a three dimensional design.
Dawn’s cakes have revived interest in stringwork and filigree piping through her gravity defying designs that test the capacity of royal icing feats. The time consuming art takes a medium that is simultaneously fragile and strong to elevate piped designs on top of fine strings and suspend filigree pieces from the edge of a floating collar. Her designs are inspired by architecture and the royal icing work of a previous century.
Yet, the modern cake can incorporate an element of royal icing’s past; introducing filigree work to your cake design does not necessarily mean the entire cake needs to be piped. The filigree box can top a cake to bring that delicate, airy element, perhaps revealing gum paste flowers, an engagement ring, or a secret message inside. Students can even customize their templates to turn their pieces into an original design.
The photos of Dawn's cake that follow were taken at a recent show, That Takes the Cake in Austin, Texas, where she took first place in the professional division.
The key to successful filigree piping is creating many points of contact to make the piece stronger. If the lines don’t connect, the piece is more likely to break. The most common mistake people make when piping is not moving their hands in coordination with the speed the icing is coming out of the bag. If you pipe too quickly, curves will be straighter. If you pipe too slowly, the icing will curl up in one spot. It takes practice to know how fast to move your hands and not everyone has the strength in their hands to pipe really stiff royal icing. It’s a balance between using a stiffness that will hold up and pacing your piping to get a smoother finish.
Allowing the filigree pieces to dry overnight is your best bet, but for the purpose of students completing a filigree box, Dawn provided the royal icing panels to her students so they could assemble them.
The techniques learned in this class can be applied to design original pieces. There are many ways to incorporate filigree work into a cake once students understand how pipe, how to correct their mistakes, and how to ensure their pieces are strong.
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