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cake decorating

post #1 of 21
Thread Starter 

My experience has been mostly in cooking/baking. But I am interested in advancing my cake decorating skills. Most places won't hire someone with no experience. What is the best way to get experience with no experience in this area?

post #2 of 21

You didn't mention how much you already know so here are a few sources.

Google cake decorating for beginners.

Thousands of hits.

Most are free.

You will have to invest in some tools but be selective as most are worthless and hard to use (Wilton will have you convinced that you cannot be a "real" caker without the 114? piece piping tip set).

Solid veg shortening is a great stand in for buttercream and is cheap (just scrape it off and reuse).

Stay away from anything Martha Stewart as she will have you ripping your hair out (altho her big wedding cake book has some beautiful examples).

Join a "cake club" in your area.

Most of the members are very nice and generous with their time (and tips).

Check with the community colleges in your area as most offer cake decorating of some sort.

Cake dummies are handy for fondant practice.

If you seal them (caulking, watered down a bit works for me) they can be used many, many times.

Just scrape off and start again.

Have fun... not the end of the world if you cannot do everything on the first try!

 

mimi

post #3 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by Miss Kim78 View Post

My experience has been mostly in cooking/baking. But I am interested in advancing my cake decorating skills. Most places won't hire someone with no experience. What is the best way to get experience with no experience in this area?

I took decorating classes/coures. They are not free but you are being trained by professionals and the insight and information you will gain from these classes will hone your skills to a greater degree . ( notice I did not say 'greatest '  degree )

There are many youtubes out there which I have learned tips and tricks from but those are  limited. What you will learn in class along with hands on experience with your teacher and classmates will assist you in whichever field you choose to do.

 

Even if you don't open a bakery, it allows you to be a master over your own talents.

 

Each person knows to some degree what they are capable of achieving in decorating. Some have a natural gift and others don't. Just because one person might not have "it"   does not mean they cannot learn.

 

You said you want to advance your decorating skills, that tells me that you have talent. For the record, there are places that do hire based on  skill level (without a degree), ....... they are out there.

 

Do you have a portfolio with pictures and info about what you have done ? This helps alot when you apply at a bakery for decorating, if working at a bakery is your aim/goal.

I am private, and yet I make sure that all of the cakes I make are current (trends or traditional) , looking and tasting correct.

 

Petals.


Edited by petalsandcoco - 4/2/13 at 8:44am

Petals
Réalisé avec un soupçon d'amour.

Served Up
(165 photos)
Wine and Cheese
(62 photos)
 
Reply

Petals
Réalisé avec un soupçon d'amour.

Served Up
(165 photos)
Wine and Cheese
(62 photos)
 
Reply
post #4 of 21

Believe it or not YouTube has a ton of tutorials that you can watch and rewind, practicing techniques at home for free, cakecentral.com also has many.. Honestly, you don't need to take a course. You can learn to use gumpaste, fondant and buttercream at your own pace.

 

Hell, you can even learn to make gorgeous gelatin bubbles that few people would be able to learn to do in a commercial setting.

 

http://cakecentral.com/a/how-to-make-gelatin-bubbles

 

When looking for work in pastry you will be asked to bake and/or decorate things, it's not as much about prior employment as it is about the techniques in your arsenal.

post #5 of 21

Lauren

 

I agree too , just as I said :

"There are many youtubes out there which I have learned tips and tricks from but those are limited"

 

I hope your going to post those gelatin bubbles in the Geletin thread this month.

 

 

ps

The worst thing about some youtubes is that when someone new starts learning , they find a video and think it is suppose to be the right technique when in fact it is not. I was making clay roses at 16 and knew that gumpaste would be easy.....some things you just know ahead of time how to do.

Petals
Réalisé avec un soupçon d'amour.

Served Up
(165 photos)
Wine and Cheese
(62 photos)
 
Reply

Petals
Réalisé avec un soupçon d'amour.

Served Up
(165 photos)
Wine and Cheese
(62 photos)
 
Reply
post #6 of 21

Petals, musta missed that sentence! It's been a very long string of 10-12 hour days, I'll blame it on that :)

 

I haven't actually attempted the gelatin bubbles yet, that is someone else's photo, they're on my to-do list and seems surprisingly simple in a 'why didn't I think of that' way. I hope to try them for the challenge too.

post #7 of 21

I think they are really cool. Speaking of youtubes, I saw this video the other day of gelatin flowers, I thought I would give it a try. Who knows , it just might work out . If it does , I will post the pic in that thread on gelatin. 

Petals
Réalisé avec un soupçon d'amour.

Served Up
(165 photos)
Wine and Cheese
(62 photos)
 
Reply

Petals
Réalisé avec un soupçon d'amour.

Served Up
(165 photos)
Wine and Cheese
(62 photos)
 
Reply
post #8 of 21
Thread Starter 

Thanks for all your tips! I just dabbled in cake decorating as a hobby for a little bit. I think I have the vision, but lack the artistic skills to back it up. So that would be something I’d really need to work on. I took a class at an adult school once (beginner course where I learned some of the basic piping skills). I attended for a couple of months, once a week, for 2 hours or so. I couldn’t continue due to my schedule and such. But I’m considering taking the class again soon. It’s ongoing..beginners and the more advanced students are in one class, all of them hobbyists. The instructor goes back and forth in the classroom attending to the students of different levels. Even at a hobbyist level, the class was helpful. I see the cakes I made prior to the class and after. And there is a noticeable difference, still far from professional level, however.

 

I’ve actually only made two cakes for work (at my old job). It was a country club that did not really serve cakes. I made the cakes for the chef’s daughters for parties they were having at the country club. I had fun making the cakes and learned a lot.

 

I’ve learned that cake decorating takes a lot of patience and finesse. Things break and fall apart so easily. I have had my share of cake wrecks. But luckily, I had the time to fix them.

 

The first time I witnessed someone demolishing what I had spent hours/days on, within seconds, it was kind of heartbreaking. But seeing them be thrilled with my work was worth the time and effort.

post #9 of 21
Thread Starter 

Here are some pics of my cake decorating process. I have a long way to go.

 

I used to work for a golf magazine. This is the cake I made for their anniversary party. This is pre-cake decorating class. Notice how messy and amateurish the cake looks. The piping is horrendous. I learned through trial-and-error through the many mistakes a novice cake decorator wannabe is likely to make. I drove for an hour to deliver the cake. I did not know about securing the cake onto the cake board at this time. I had no idea that while driving that the cake would slip and move around so much. I was basically clueless about everything.  I placed the fondant decorations on the cake before I took off (I later learned that it’s better to place them on after the delivery). The fondant people were falling off, getting frosting all over them. And for the shell piping, I did not use the right consistency and that was melting and falling off as well. By the time I arrived to the party, the cake was a mess. I was too embarrassed to even serve this cake disaster. Too bad I don’t have any pictures of to reminisce (since I can laugh about it now).

 

 

Another pre-class pic. It’s a Fashionista cake I just made for fun. Buddy on Cake Boss made such a fabulous Fashionista cake on one of the episodes, and I wanted to make one too (I’d be happy if I can make one even half as beautiful as his). Covering the cake smoothly with fondant is still something I need to work on. Fondant is great for decorating, but I prefer decorations I can actually eat (WANT TO EAT).

 

 

These are a couple of cakes I learned how to make in class, - a clown cake and a Halloween cake. We learned some basic piping skills and stenciling. Oh and I didn’t have any cake boards at the time, so I placed it on foil covered cardboard.

 

 

 

 

This is a Baby Grand Piano cake that I made for my chef’s daughter’s birthday. It was after a couple of classes (although the cake consisted of more advanced techniques that we had not covered in class yet..I still didn’t get as far as working with fondant yet in the class). I think I could have done a better job if it wasn’t an ice cream cake (rice dreams, to be exact). I had to work quickly to avoid the cake melting and falling apart, so it was a bit rushed.  

post #10 of 21
Thread Starter 
How did most of you guys (who are pro cake decorators) get there? By taking classes, being self-taught, or apprenticing? Do you think there is an ounce of hope for me or am I talentless in this area? Even if I can't do it on a professional level, it's still fun to do as a hobby. Either way, I really want to become better.
post #11 of 21

Depends on how you learn best.

I am not much of a reader learner.

Really struggled with the books in school but was brilliant (cover mouth with hand and cough gently smiles.gif) with practicals and labs.

One strange thing tho...if someone drew a diagram or a short explanation on a blackboard (or power points) I could study for awhile and pull out the important info without any problems.

OT sorry...

Find a U-Tube cake decorator that makes most sense to you and watch everything you can, and more than once...below is the link to one of the most talented decorating instructors I have ever met...  ( EDITED) oops, I guess she finally wised up, pulled all of her best UTubes and now sells dvd tutorials (can't really blame her lol).

Maybe a hands on class would be better...check for cake clubs in your area or ask at your local cake supply store as both will have classes they can suggest.

Get some foam cake dummies, seal the holes (all over and bottom too)  with something that will last forever, like drywall mud, and then sand smooth.(this would be your crumb coating or "dirty icing" stage).

Buy some cheap veg shortening and whip on low/ med speed with some 10X sugar until you get the consistency of whichever icing you use the most and practice piping with it.

Google piping tips (and image) and check out the great charts that show the tip numbers and sizes with pix and instructions.

When you finish with one practice session, just scrape the "buttercream" off into a container for next time.

Practice.

That is how everyone learns.

No one was born with a piping bag in their hand, lol.

Most of all. have fun!

If you catch yourself dreading practice, stop for a while.

Good Luck!

 

mimi

post #12 of 21
Thread Starter 

Thank you, Flipflop girl! Lol I envy you. My learning method is the exact opposite. I learn better through books than the hands on approach...always been a little jealous of people that can pick things up so easily through hands on.

 

That dummy cake idea sounds a lot more economical. At first, I was hesitant because I thought...if I'm going to use all this frosting for practice, might as well make something someone can eat later. And I'd buy one of those $1 cake box mixes to bake an actual cake each time..it's cheap, but finding people to give the cake away to was a chore lol. I mean, people love cake..but after giving them to the same people, you figure maybe they're getting sick of cake too. And I didnt want to give away cakes to just random people I knew, especially since they were practice cakes with all sorts of awkward designs. I admit, I was a little embarassed to give away my practice cakes lol.

 

BTW...I'm wondering if this thread is in the appropriate place? It states that only professional pastry chefs/bakers are encouraged to post here...though my experiences do include professional baking/pastries, this thread is more about the skillful art of cake decorating (I personally view it as a designing skill than baking/cooking). I have seen cake designers/decorators that can't BAKE a cake...just beautifully design works of brilliance. So....am I posting in the appropriate category??

post #13 of 21

The way I learned was my chef had me practice piping along the edge of an 8 foot table in the shop. When I messed up he would scrape the icing off, yell at me for a few minutes and have me start again. I was not allowed to touch a cake until I could go the length of the table without messing up. That was a chore. I still struggle with piping "pearls".  The best way I think is to practice and practice. Flip flop girls suggestion of a cake dummy is a great one.  You can also use the dummy to take pictures for later on when you want to show people what you can do.  I like the foam dummies but they can be expensive. Another alternative would be to use a stack of cardboard cake circles. When using the circles wrap them tight in plastic wrap, and put them into an oven for a few seconds on a cold tray, it will shrink the plastic to the circles. That way icing wont fill the gaps and holes in the circles. One problem using a foam dummy or the cardboard circles it that they are so light so I would recommend using some double sided tape to hold them to your turntable.

 

Also you can buy thick rigid foam insulation from the home stores and cut your own rounds, usually they are only 2 inches thick but you can double them up. This is by far the cheapest way, especially if you wanted to make a wedding cake dummy.

Fluctuat nec mergitur
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Fluctuat nec mergitur
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post #14 of 21
Thread Starter 

Thank you, Rat! Helpful tips..

post #15 of 21

I started my cake decorating education by taking an adult ed. class at a community college. Then I took the Wilton courses I, II and III at Michael's Craft store. I realized I would never be that versed in cake decorating until I did it as a job. I got a job at Baskin-Robbins. They have a very good and creative cake selection, and there's the added challenge of working with ice cream cakes. I didn't need work experience, as another cake decorator there trained me. 

post #16 of 21

 

 

 

This is a Baby Grand Piano cake that I made for my chef’s daughter’s birthday. It was after a couple of classes (although the cake consisted of more advanced techniques that we had not covered in class yet..I still didn’t get as far as working with fondant yet in the class). I think I could have done a better job if it wasn’t an ice cream cake (rice dreams, to be exact). I had to work quickly to avoid the cake melting and falling apart, so it was a bit rushed.  

Considering this was a cake you had to work quickly, you should be really proud of it. It really stands out  as a gem. well done


Edited by bughut - 5/23/13 at 3:06pm
"If we're not supposed to eat animals, why are they made of meat?" Jo Brand
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"If we're not supposed to eat animals, why are they made of meat?" Jo Brand
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post #17 of 21

I was self taught, though patisserie tutor at college saw something in me and permanently "lent" me utensils to take home. I wish id had youtube back then. The best tip i can give you is to keep on trying techniques over and over. I guess its the old adage, practice makes perfect. Sorry to be stuffy, but especially once you start working with fondant and all the other mediums, you just have to keep doing it over n over till youre happy with the results.

flipflopgirl has a post full of great tips. I would especially recommend dummy cakes for practice. They dont have to be big...Even a wee box sealed with PVA glue can be iced to practice.

 

Finally, take pics of everything you do and make notes alongside. Even the disappointments. You really do learn from your mistakes. Looking back, you'll be charmed and encouraged by your progress

 

Good luck Kim, you're obviously keen.  We'll be looking out with interest, so keep us posted eh?

"If we're not supposed to eat animals, why are they made of meat?" Jo Brand
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"If we're not supposed to eat animals, why are they made of meat?" Jo Brand
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post #18 of 21
Thread Starter 

Thank you for the kind and encouraging words, Bughut! I will keep practicing and hopefully, be able to add "self-taught cake decorator" to my resume as well. I wish I can find more people that want cake so I can give away the cakes after I am done practicing on. Practicing on a dummy cake sounds more practical, but for the times I practice on a real cake, I need people to give them away too. WHO WANTS CAKE?? Lol.

post #19 of 21
Practice practice practice. I used to freeze 4oz of water in a 7oz cups so I could practice piping whip cream in tight spirals without touching the sides. More piping onto parchment paper, wiping it off and putting it back into the bag to start all over.

Work with other artistic mediums as well- clay, oil paint, wood working, anything creative with your hands will only serve to make you better with your cakes
post #20 of 21

You make a very good point Doc

"If we're not supposed to eat animals, why are they made of meat?" Jo Brand
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"If we're not supposed to eat animals, why are they made of meat?" Jo Brand
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post #21 of 21

And color!

Color was hard for me to learn at first.

A lot of what are referred to as "cake wrecks" are just over saturated colors that do not complement each other.

Fabric swatches are free, just ask a clerk and they will cut off a piece.

Ribbon is another way to learn what goes with what.

I would pull out my idea book and suggest they choose 3-5 examples of color.

Gave me something to start with and nine time out of ten the cake was much prettier then they anticipated.

 

mimi

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