Kathleen Lange

Kathleen Lange

When you browse the line-up of cakes at a cake competition, the exquisitely piped cake that drops your jaw often belongs to Kathleen Lange. The attention to detail, layers of intricate design and heart motifs are captivating features of her signature style.

The international instructor and master cake design artist has been instrumental in reviving the traditional European methods of piping with her own modern twists by adding hearts and making the decorations more delicate. Kathleen works with smaller decorating tips than Lambeth Method inventor, Joseph Lambeth, did; the smallest tip he used a #3, but Kathleen takes the traditional 5 layers of piping down to a tip #1.

gondola lambeth cake

Gondola Cake Traditional Style Lambeth with Betty Newman-May Influence, 1984

Kathleen is now the only instructor in the United States offering classes in the Lambeth method, teaching both mini-classes and intense 8-hour a day boot camps to help students grasp the techniques and wide variety of piping methods. While Kathleen makes executing her royal icing poofs seem effortless, her steady hand and eye for detail were honed over 34 years which included a 150 hour course in the Lambeth Method. Even the very experienced piper will learn many new things and complete Kathleen’s classes with a greater discipline in piping accuracy.

victorian ruffles and roses lambeth cake

Victorian Ruffles and Roses

Kathleen is now the only instructor in the United States offering classes in the Lambeth method, teaching both mini-classes and intense 8-hour a day boot camps to help students grasp the techniques and wide variety of piping methods. While Kathleen makes executing her royal icing poofs seem effortless, her steady hand and eye for detail were honed over 34 years which included a 150 hour course in the Lambeth Method. Even the very experienced piper will learn many new things and complete Kathleen’s classes with a greater discipline in piping accuracy.

victorian rose lambeth cake

Victorian Rose

Like many long time cake decorators, Kathleen’s love of baking began with an Easy Bake Oven at the age of 4. At 16, she became the youngest Wilton instructor. Twenty years later, she was inducted into the Wilton Method Teacher’s Hall of Fame, The President’s Club and The Imperial Club. Her teaching has extended well beyond Wilton to pastry chefs, business owners, bakery staff, Girl Scouts, various clubs in San Diego and to classes throughout the world. Kathleen’s cakes have been featured in many publications including ICES, American Cake Decorating, Russian Tort Deko Cake magazine and the San Diego Union-Tribune newspaper. She has also made television appearances on the San Diego Channel 10 News, San Diego Channel 8 News and participated on “Get Crafty,” an info-commercial segment for a local craft and floral supply store.

Kathleen has owned and operated her own bakery, cake and candy supplies store and traveled extensively. Since 2006, she has offered classes through Confectionary Chalet, a business dedicated exclusively to teaching.

I had the great pleasure of taking Kathleen’s classes at the Florida ICES Mini Classes event in Orlando, Florida, recently and welcomed the opportunity to learn more about Kathleen’s journey in the cake decorating world.

When did you begin decorating cakes?

I’ve been decorating since 1980. I started when I was 15 and turned 16.

What are your favorite types of cakes or designs?

I like Victorian, Lambeth, buttercream and things that have stringwork. I like anything with antiques or having a history.

What would you still like to accomplish?

I would like to finish working and producing my DVD’s, spread the word about original techniques since cake decorating began with students to get them more excited about it and reach some of the countries that may have seen cake competitions on television, but, have not done cake decorating. I would like to help them understand there’s more of a history to cake decorating than just fondant; introducing them to piping and using a pastry bag.

Aside from Lambeth, what other techniques have you incorporated into your style?

I’ve done sculpturing, airbrushing, gum paste and cocoa painting, to name a few, and try to use some of all those techniques in my work.

lambeth gingerbread house

Gingerbread Chalet

First gingerbread with Lambeth decorations, 2007

Who is your work inspired by?

Primarily the older, European decorators like Borella, Cox, Nirvana and Lambeth and instructors who did Lambeth. I’ve learned many techniques from Betty Newman-May. I’ve also learned from reading books and studying Nirvana and have tried to modernize the older techniques.

What has been the most difficult challenge to overcome?

Confidence. I didn’t feel I was good enough to do certain techniques when I was younger.

What changed your confidence level?

Competition helped because the recognition made me realize I was good at what I did. That’s when people told me “you really should be doing this.” I was doing it because I loved it, not for the recognition. I wasn’t in pursuit of being well-known or being the best at cake decorating. I wanted to be able to show what I loved and this gave me more confidence.

What are your favorite cakes?

victorian lambeth cake

Victorian Elegance

In 2007, Victorian Elegance was the cake that brought Lambeth back and modernized it, incorporating a textured bow into the design. This cake was featured on the ICES cover. I was bringing the style back with a new flair; it projected the wedding gown effect I was trying to achieve.

I also like the ones with a lot of cushion work and precision, showing more architectural, Victorian, antique style and those with toothpick roses.

shabby chic lambeth cake

Shabby Chic

I did one I called Shabby Chic using a candelabra. It was a lot of fun because it was totally out of the realm for Lambeth. It appeared on the cover of American Cake Decorating. Recently, I did a yellow and white cake with pink toothpick roses for my boot camp 301 & 401 class project cake; I designed it after the Rosecliff mansion in Rhode Island. The mansion has drapes with roses near the windows, on my rose cake design, it has stringwork I designed to drape down and wrap over the toothpick roses. It was unusual and had never been done before.

rosecliff mansion cake

Rosecliff

rosecliff cake detail

Rosecliff Details

 

Do you have a tip for cake decorators?

Most people who pipe do so holding the tip the wrong way. When using a star tip, if you make sure you keep a tooth of the tip facing upwards, you will create a channel and be able to line all of your overpiping up very neatly. You’ll be able to stop and start without seeing the beginning and ending of your piping.

red and white lambeth cake

 

Red and White Lambeth Cake, Best of Show 1985

First cake with cushion work done in two colors

What don’t people know about you?

I’m very close to my family, love the outdoors and spending time with my family and animals. I also love adventures in new places and meeting new friends along the way.

Kathleen Lange’s classes fill quickly, so if you have the chance to take a Lambeth class with the “Queen of Piping,” you won’t want to pass it up. You can find Kathleen's current schedule of classes here.


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