Making your cupcake and eating it at St Albans academy

A LIGHT and fluffy sponge cake slathered in icing is my idea of the perfect afternoon pick-me-up.

So you can imagine how I jumped at the chance of sampling a class at the new Dixie’s Cupcake Academy in St Albans.

The prospect of spending two hours learning how to pipe and decorate six Christmas-themed cupcakes had certainly got my sweet-tooth raging.

And my fellow Herts Ad reporter, Monique Hall, couldn’t resist a slice of the action and joined me when I visited Luisa Zissman’s 1950s-inspired workshop in Verulam Road.

Much like the fairy cake but larger in size and generously covered in icing or frosting, the cupcake has become quite the trendy treat in recent years.

But despite their delicious taste what is making these little showstoppers sell like hot cakes is their beautiful appearance.

And until you give it a go yourself you do not realise just how many different techniques you can use to spruce up the simple sponge cake.

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“They appeal across a board and they are so versatile, you can do so much with them. You can make them look very classy and very elegant, or you can make them look very kiddy and fun and stick loads of sweets on them,” explained Luisa, who has been baking since a young age and also runs Dixie’s Cupcakery in Market Place.

During our Introduction to Cupcaking class we were given a basic sugar craft lesson using ready-to-roll icing, which we shaped into festive decorations including a miniature snowman complete with scarf and carrot nose.

It was very reassuring to have Luisa making the decorations alongside us, and her simple step-by-step instructions were easy to follow.

I would say, however, when crafting these intricate cake toppers having a delicate touch and an eye for detail was the recipe for success.

Next we were shown how to ice our cupcakes like a professional using a piping bag to create elegant buttercream spirals.

This was a hard technique to master and required a steady hand, but thankfully Luisa was there at all times to offer guidance and pass on helpful tips.

To give our cakes extra sparkle we dusted them in edible glitter and got creative with some colourful candy pearls.

For a few minutes I reverted back to my childhood and got a bit overexcited with the glitter, which Luisa warned me I would be covered in for days.

But she said it was worth it because it makes them look so “gorgeous, cute and sparkly”.

“Cupcakes just make people happy, you just look at them and you can’t help but smile. They are very on trend and I don’t think it is going to slow down,” she added.

I was buzzing after my cupcake class, and that was not due to the sugar rush I experienced from shamelessly tucking into one of my scrumptious cakes as soon as I left the workshop.

Monique, who displayed real artistic flair throughout the class, exclaimed “That was so much fun” as we walked out the door, and she too could not wait to try one of her creations.

Receiving a goodie bag filled with cake decorating supplies to take home really was the icing on the cake, and I cannot wait to put on a pinny and try out my newfound skills.

For more information on the classes at Dixie’s Cupcake Academy call 01727 857797 or visit