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Kids learn techniques of decorating cakes

Smoothing a thin layer of icing on the top and sides of her two-layer cake, Autumn Williams, 15, prepped for fondant embellishments.

“I’m out here because it’s summertime, and if you’re out of school there isn’t much else to do, so cake decorating sounded like something really fun to do,” Williams said.

Williams and other students attended a “Learn to Earn” cake decorating class, which featured marshmallow fondant decoration, at the Dallas County Extension office.

Marshmallow fondant, a thick, paste icing made from melted marshmallows, water, powered sugar and shortening, is used as a top layer for decorating cakes and cookies.

“I’ve seen it on TV and it just looked so fun and pretty, so I had to come see what it was like,” Williams said.

Kyler Nordin, 10, signed up for the class as an alternative to watching TV and playing at home.

“I wanted to come here because you get to do something instead of staying home all day,” Kyler said.

Before she finished icing the middle layer of her cake, she had drawn up mental images of the next cake she wants to make — a Fourth of July cake, complete with red, white and blue icing or fondant.

“You can save money baking your own cakes,” said Janice Hall, regional extension agent specializing in food safety, preservation and preparation. “It’s pretty easy and simple. Just a few techniques.”

She explained techniques like using icing as the adhesive to make the fondant stick to the cake and how to properly estimate the diameter the fondant needs to be to completely cover the cake.

Hall began cake decorating as a hobby, later choosing to add it to her repertoire of food preparation programs.

The Dallas County Extension office and the 4-H club offer “Learn to Earn” programs twice per year for young adults 9 to 18 years old.

“It’s to help teach kids a skill where if they’re interested in generating income for themselves, they are developing a skill,” said Callie Nelson, Dallas County extension coordinator.

The Extension office had extra funds in the budget that were used for this program which made it no cost for the students, but other “Learn to Earn” programs usually charge a $5 registration fee to partially cover the cost of materials.

The next “Learn to Earn” program will be in the fall. Contact the Extension office at 875-3200 for more information.