I visit the Ace of Cakes' studio to learn how to make a pretty cake topper for any occasion.
Duff's Cakemix, Duff Goldman's L.A. cake decorating studio, is like Willy Wonka's workshop and the Project Runway studio rolled into one sweet package. Pick out one of Duff's delicious cakes or cupcakes, and you're given all the tools (plus a helping hand from the skilled pros on staff!) to turn it your own masterpiece. It's a fun way to spend a day with the kids, and is an absolute hit for parties - Jade had a birthday party here a few years ago and adored it!
I visited the studio for a lesson in crafting fondant roses, an elegant cupcake topper that looks way more complicated than it is. Fondant is a professional pastry chef's secret weapon, the way to get perfectly smooth cakes without stressing over crumbs in your buttercream and make all kinds of 3-D decorations. Think of it as edible Play-Doh! You can find it at big craft stores like Michael's, or even Walmart, but if you're in a pinch, you can use this trick Duff's crew taught me to make your own using a grocery store basic: marshmallows. See the tutorial here.