Wilton is the baking company who makes all those wonderful cake pans, decorating supplies and accessories. Last week I was invited to go to their headquarters in Chicago for the Wilton Food Blogger Workshop and take a tour, learn some decorating tips and even compete in a cake competition!

They have a great facility filled with talented people who work hard making all the props for those treat ideas you see in stores year ’round’.

As with most companies, Christmas product is worked on in the early summer, so the rooms were filled with gingerbread and holiday decor.

The prop room was awesome, I need alllll those plates in my house.

Lots of fondant, frosting and so many beautiful gumpaste flowers. There were also lots of decorated faux cakes – the decorations were real, but underneath was a hard shell. Not so yummy, but very sturdy.

We got a tour of the test kitchen, a Wilton history lesson and even got to see the one and only Colette Peters in action.

During the workshop we learned the basics of cake decorating. Whether you’re a beginner or an expert there’s always room to learn more tips and techinques. I love working with fondant and it was nice to get a lesson from an expert in the basics.

We made lots of fondant roses, which was so much easier than I thought it would be! I loved how fun these were to make.

We also learned about a lot of new product such as Punch! Cut! Decorate! which is a cool, different way to decorate your treats.

My favorite part of the day was the buttercream lesson. For years my mom took cake decorating classes (probably from Wilton) and she always made our birthday cakes. I always marveled at how she worked with the bags and piping tips. It was a big influence on me because I just taught myself from watching her and never had any formal training.

It was exciting to finally learn some new techiniques AND I was thrilled that I learned a proper basketweave!

After that I guess they thought we could handle a little friendly cake competition. It was stressful, let me tell you. To come up with a concept as a team and then decorate it all in under an hour…now I know how those tv competitors feel cause t was a lot of pressure.

They gave us faux cakes covered in buttercream, basically blank canvases. My team of Jennie from In Jennie’s Kitchen and Julie from Mommie Cooks! were a perfect match. We all seemed to have the same aesthetic sensibilities and we all knew we wanted a simple, modern, elegant design.

We talked about doing a cake that incorporated what we learned in the workshop and that was simple enough to do in our limited time. I drew up a quick sketch based off of all of our ideas…

…then we all went to town.

Flowers, buttercream, tinting, piping, pearls. Whew! In the end we finished our cake right when time ran out.

Every team had a unique design – so many techniques and colors. It was awesome to see what everyone came up with in just an hour.

At the end of the day we had an awards dinner, where yes, everyone was a winner!

And we won ‘Best Design!’ Yay, us! That is another mini faux cake, but the frosting is allll real and man did it smell great!

While all that was fun and games, let’s get down to business. Once a year Wilton holds Tent Sale where they have over 3000 items all 75% off. Basically, a baker’s heaven. The only thing holding me back was my small suitcase. How was I ever going to take it all home??

With $5 cake pans and all other supplies hovering around $1, it was tough let me tell you. I got some very cool things that I can’t wait to use! This sale is worth flying to Chicago once a year, believe me!

The trip was amazing and it was so nice to be with people who have the same love of baking and blogging. Big thanks to all the other bloggers and especially to Wilton for all their generosity!