Thursday, November 18, 2010

RBI is THE MAN!!!!

Hello Cake Boys and Girls!

What an AMAZING 3 days I have had! As you all probably know, I have been in Pickering, Ontario (outside of Toronto) studying under the Maestro of sugar flowers – Ron Ben Israel. Ron is one of the most genuine, nicest people I have ever met! And I'm not saying that because he will be reading this – that's right, I found out on day 2 that Ron reads the blog!!!! I was stunned and amazed at the same time when I found out. It is unbelievable to me that one of my cake idols has seen this blog! He kept forgetting that I had no online access at my aunt's house, and kept asking if I blogged yet about class :) So Ron, this one's for you - I'd love to know what you think!

The class took place at Flour Confections, one of my favourite places to shop online! Lisa, her husband Scott and their terrific staff were courteous and made me (and the rest of class) feel welcome and at home. They gave us delicious lunches everyday along with Lisa's delicious cookies – one of the best chocolate chip cookies I have ever had! Lisa if you ever want to share the recipe.....

Day 1 brought the introduction to working with gum- oops I mean flower paste. One of the first things Ron established was that “gumpaste” is not a nice sounding word and we should refrain from using it. Ron taught us his recipe for making the best paste I have ever worked with along with a bunch of secret tips for developing the colours! I will not be sharing this with you, for the simple reason that if I do, Ron will come to Montreal and kick my butt! In all honesty, Ron's class was well worth the money and I will definitely take the secrets I learned to my grave! We started with the Peony petals and closed centres. From there we worked on the pistil of the Calla Lily and the Stigma of the Cattleya Orchid. We also made Sweet Peas using Ron's custom cutter! At the end of class, Ron made time for a short Q&A session where we learned some tips about structure and stability in stacked cakes.

Day 2 was INTENSE! It started out with a discussion on molding techniques for making our own silicone molds (a 3 day class in itself). We made the throat, sepals, and petals for our orchids, and frilled without a ball tool! Instead, Ron had us frill our orchids using a special technique – again, very top secret! This brought us up to lunch, and then the orchids were followed up by completing our Calla Lilies and making rose leaves. We were then treated to a demo on how to actually make the flowerpaste, followed by another Q&A session that lasted almost an hour and a half. We talked about delivery, refrigeration, and various tips for running a successful business.

Day 3 was no joke! Ron told us that there would be tears on day 3.....he was right. They were tears of laughter though – Ron is truly an entertaining instructor, providing us with funny stories and anecdotes. On day 3 we started with the rose – the JFK rose to be specific. We learned various stages of the rose and how to make it using Ron's “rose making machine” which can be seen on Youtube. That filled our morning. In the afternoon, we dusted our flowers and steamed them. We also learned how to assemble them. The colours we used were very vibrant and well enhanced with dusts. My favourite is probably the sweet pea – I really like the way they turned out! The class ended with an autograph and picture taking session. It was definitely sad to leave the class and all of my new friends behind. I am looking forward to Ron's potential return next year!

This was such an unforgettable experience that will resonate with me for a very long time. Stay tuned to the blog for a Baker's Dozen segment with Lisa of Flour Confections, as well as one with RBI himself! That's right! Ron has agreed to do a Baker's Dozen as well. He is a very busy guy though, and it may be a little while before he gets his answers back to me.  For now, I have to get cracking on this week's orders and I have to finish dusting the flowers we made in class so that I can photograph them.

Stay tuned for a new Baker`s Dozen and giveaway in the next few days. Until then, Happy Caking!


  1. Sounds like a great class! Would love to see more pictures of the flowers. Am I allowed to use the term 'gumpaste' when making figurinesvs. flowers? :)

  2. Thank you, Mark, for such a positive review of the class.
    I'm grateful to Flour Confections for organizing this get-together of such talented cake artisans, and for the supportive environment of the classroom and shop.
    I'm looking forward to seeing the photos of your completed SUGAR flowers!

  3. Hi Mark! Thanks so much for your post! We heart RBI here in LA and rarely get to see him. Such a treat to hear all about your class.

  4. So what other term should we call gumpaste?

  5. Stephanie - I will post once they're all dusted...Anonymous - he wants us to call it flower paste :) (sugar paste also works)

  6. Excellent..glad it went so well!

  7. Sounds like an awesome class & great synposis! Can't wait to see the final picts.

  8. Great blog post Mark. Still so coughjealouscough here LOL. Looking forward to your pics!!!