I have a confession: I don’t celebrate Valentine’s Day.
Ever since my Grade 11 boyfriend recited the “it’s not you, it’s me” speech on this supposedly romantic holiday (don’t worry, buddy—I’ve moved on), it hasn’t sat well with me.
So, when I got invited to a cupcake decorating class at Le Dolci in Toronto my initial excitement was clouded by one thought: it’s on Valentine’s Day. The day when I normally hide out in my apartment, avoiding the clash of red and pink.
But stronger than my personal dislike of V-Day was my love of cupcakes. I’m no pro, by any stretch of the imagination, but the whole Faze team seems to dabble in creating (and consuming) the classic treats. I think it might be a prerequisite for working here. So, I gave in to the craving.
I arrived at Le Dolci bakery and studio in the Dundas West neighbourhood with a boy (Riley) in tow, ready for my first Valentine’s Day celebration in years. The owner, Lisa Sanguedolce, greeted us warmly and showed us around the space. A long table was set up with all the tools and ingredients we would need to be in decorating heaven. We both grabbed aprons—Riley especially loved their pink hue—then walked around the shop, further examining the couture cakes on display while we waited for the rest of the class to arrive.
Le Dolci all started when Lisa was living in the UK, working in PR and freelance journalism. But she was searching for something new. “I resigned at the beginning of the recession,” says Lisa. “My friend was like, ‘What are you going to do? You’re going to have so much time on your hands!'”
Not sure what the next step would be, Lisa offered to make her friend’s wedding cake. It was a hit and she immediately had people inquiring about her business.
So, she moved back to her hometown of Toronto, getting her friends and family on board to help. “We started with one class and now we have about 12. And we want to add more,” she says. “People don’t want the commitment of going to college—like George Brown—or somewhere for six weeks and spending a lot of money. So, this gives them a taste of that, with the same type of professional instructors.”
No prior experience is required; just a good sense of fun and a love of food. “People from the age of four to the age of 80 have been in classes,” says Lisa.
Most of the those classes—everything from that night’s Intro to Cupcake Decorating, to Chocolate Truffle Techniques, to Perfect Parisian Macarons—are about two hours long and cost $80. We hadn’t even begun the class and already I was planning which ones I would sign up for next.
As soon as everyone got settled at their stations, Lisa explained what we’d be doing for the night: decorating 12 cupcakes (six with buttercream icing and six with fondant). She gave us tips on colouring the fondant, working with molds, layering shapes for depth, proper piping and more.
We were all excited to get started. Contrary to what I thought might happen, there was no cheesy romance going on around the table. A mother and daughter worked in front of us; two friends laughed together at the end of the table; more couples on all sides of us decorated their cupcakes, dancing and singing along to the love-themed playlist that looped in the background. We shared ideas, icing colours and an overall amazing experience.
The time passed quickly and, before we knew it, we were saying goodbye. We both left with a box of 12 cupcakes. I left with a Valentine’s Day memory to replace the bad one. It’s light, sweet and fun—just like the perfect cupcake.
Check out the Le Dolci class schedule here.