Monday, April 1, 2013

The Amazing Galloping Gus

I was just recently in Sydney for 3 weeks with my boy, J and part of the trip, had to be a cakey one too. I organised to join 2 cake courses whilst I was there and one of them was at the Whimsical Cakehouse in Sydney. I knew I just had to do it when I saw it. It was taught by the uber talented cake artist, Kaysie Lackey from The People's Cake Bakery in Seattle, USA. She's a regular competitor in the Food Network Challenge, and has won 3 battles. Her brand new cake class was called, "Galloping Gus" and the class in Sydney would be her very first time, teaching it. Kaysie did also mention that this was one of her toughest projects to date, to teach.

I was one of the lucky few, to be one of her "guinea pigs". It ran for 3 days, from March 15 to March 17, from 9 a.m. to "finish".

This is was the image that was used to promote her course.

Isn't it insane????

Boy, was I in for some cakey nightmares, or what???!!

Day one. The hardest day of ALL. I seriously struggled and didn't think I could get it done. We had to build the skeleton of Gus, from metal piping and tubing, nuts and bolts, using all the tools that you'd find in a hardware store.

This immediately was trouble. My brain does not work when it comes to engineering and using boy tools. Kaysie would yell out, "Take the male connector and screw it onto the 2", then take one nipple and insert that into the 3" and then hand tighten. Make sure this one is tight, the other loose. Use a wrench if you need to". 

Me: "Is this it?", I look at her blankly.
Kaysie : "No hun, that's the 2 1/2", this is the 3".
Me :"Oh. Ok. I knew that."

I think it must have taken at least 4 - 5 hours for everyone one of us to complete the skeleton, prepare and drill boards, and cut bases out of foam core, for the cake to sit on.

Once the first half of the class was complete and we all had lunch, it was a HUGE relief for me. I could finally see a horse skeleton and the image of Gus was looking clearer in my mind.

Kaysie didn't have any reference material for us, and this I found very difficult. It was like working blindly. Hopefully in her future classes, she will have these ready for her students.

The next stage of the class, was carving the cake into a horse shape. This I found a little easier but again, we had no reference material, and had to walk back and forth to her demo cake. 

The shape of the horse itself was very well defined and quite complex. Then, it was time to ganache. No problem here for me, and I even had time to help a few of my neighbours with the ganaching.

That was the was the end of the first day, and we were done by 6.30pm.  I still had an hour's drive ahead of me, back to the apartment.

Day two. We played around with modelling chocolate and fondant, and using modelling chocolate was great fun. It opened up my world into it's endless possibilities and capabilities to a "seamless" way to finish decorations.

We created the neck and prepared all the limbs, made some horse shoes, and most importantly, we worked on Gus' head.

Check out her cake tattoo on her wrist :)
Once all of that were done, we had the most daunting task of icing the ENTIRE horse, in ONE piece, except for the head.

"It's doable", Kaysie says. "Let me show you how".

Ok, you do that, Kaysie.

Lo and behold. She did. It was just a matter of strategically cutting a few seams in the horse, to make it look like it's part of the horse.

While she was smoothing the icing out, I was nervous at the task ahead of us. I certainly did not want to be ripping the icing of the cake, and having to re-roll the icing, patch up the ganache, and clean up the mess. Everyone in the class were gasping and oohing and ahhing over the way Kaysie handled the icing. We were all on edge! Suddenly I had the urge to pee. "Excuse me, I need to go pee", I casually announced to the class. 

LOL! Everyone burst out laughing. 

I felt better after, and ok, I admit it, I psyched myself up in the toilet before opening the door.

It was time. Time to show the icing and the cake, who's boss.

I cleaned my bench meticulously, organised all the tools required, and made sure I would be ready to tackle the horse, once the icing was draped onto the cake.

Knead, knead, knead, roll, roll, roll. I was good to go.

I picked it up in one piece, and carefully draped it over the cake. And there was no turning back now. Smooth, smooth, smooth, cut here, snip there, tuck it in there, tuck it in here, smooth, smooth, smooth. I was FOCUSED and determined to get it done properly. Nothing could distract me at this stage. I worked on it, and eventually, I got there. Gus was iced in one piece, with no tearing or ripping, and he was a smooth looking horse. 

I was well chuffed.

Day two was almost done. The last task of the day was to put on his ears, so they would dry overnight. I was done by 7.30 p.m. that night and completely exhausted and drained.

And there he is, smooth, and looking slick.

The class in action
Day three. 9 a.m. sharp. I arrive and all is well. Gus is still standing and is waiting for his grey coat to go on. This is definitely the most fun part in cake decorating.

Kaysie demonstrated a technique called "dappling" and this was used to create that smokey effect of the horse's coat. Since I chose grey, it didn't have an undercoat like the others. I had to start from a white base and slowly build up the colour.

Kaysie's horse, before the dappling.
After the dappling. Doesn't he look great?
I think I must have spent a good 3 - 4 hours alone, just on the dappling. It was so much fun putting on the finishing touches. Then we created his blowing mane and tail, added on the saddle and blanket, and by that time, it was late. Very late. And I was T.I.R.E.D.

I didn't manage to put on his mask, but I was still very pleased with the entire project in itself. I finished at 8 p.m. on the last day and there were others who were there till 9 p.m. at least, I had heard.

Here's my finished Gus!

Kaysie and I, with our horses.

Kaysie, thank you for sharing your knowledge and being such a wonderful teacher! I am truly, truly grateful that I managed to attend your course. Looking forward to more brilliant projects in the future! xx

And to all the fantastic ladies I met during the course, it was SO nice to meet you and I had such a good time working with you all! xx

Next up....a private wedding cake class with the amazing Faye Cahill of Faye Cahill Cake Design.


  1. Hi. Beautiful job on your horse. He looks great! I am taking Kaysie's owl cake class in October. I am seriously thinking about taking Galloping Guns as well. I am nervous though. It seems like a lot of work. Thanks for posting your thoughts and step by step pictures. At least now I know what I will be in for if I sign up for this one. Kathy

  2. Hi Kathy, thanks for reading. I'm glad my blog post was beneficial to you. You really should do the galloping gus course. It was amazing and i learnt so much! Well worth all that effort! Jessica

  3. Can't view pictures