How Do We Feel About Using Dummies? Is This Cheating??

Decorating By CakeDiva73 Updated 4 May 2008 , 6:55pm by CoutureCake

CakeDiva73 Posted 3 May 2008 , 1:21am
post #1 of 14

Here is my is much easier to throw some fondant on a piece of stationary, non-filled foam then an actual cake so is it cheating to use these?

The 'Hub" and are getting into a heated debate and I figured I would ask where it counts icon_wink.gif If you are comfortable with applying fondant to actual cakes and can do it well, is it ok to use dummies to add to the design photos in your portfoilo or is a cheat (since I am honestly unable to make a cake look as straight and perfect as the dummy?)

Is this something that only that "really good" decorators should do? Do we disclose it's a dummy? Also, if you have never applied fondant to real cake and stacked it, etc. isn't it sort of 'false advertising' to put a bunch of dummie cakes in your portfolio?

Any input is appreciated and I am rather hard to offend so no sense mincing words icon_wink.gif I was just wondering what the concensus was on this subject ~ thanks guys!

13 replies
ccr03 Posted 3 May 2008 , 2:22am
post #2 of 14

Dude, as long as you can do it on a real cake, it's all good.

It's not cheating, it's building up your portfolio. As a journalist, I used some of my class articles to build my up my portolio for my first job. Given I did tell them they were for class, it showed that I was capable of writing.

Now, if you can't do something on a real cake, but can on a fake, that is wrong - and you'll end up paying for it when someone orders it and you can't do it.

JanetBme Posted 3 May 2008 , 2:39am
post #3 of 14

that one is always a sticker for me-sorta my pet peeve.... Yeah, I think it is cool to use dummy cakes for display and for pictures IF you can actually do that quality of work or at least close to it.

But I think you should be honest in your skill level too....
A lot of times, a novice cake decorator can't actually do a 5 tiered fondant and string work on a real cake. But since they are using styrofoam, they always have a perfect work surface, and no need to dowel-so it's always level, and they can spend 6 weeks doing amazing detail- that they can NOT be realistically reproduce on a real cake. On a dummy cake- the novice can certainly compete with the pro- even if in real life they don't have the skills or experience to do it on a real cake. I guess that is what bothers me most- because I see these perfect fondant dummies- then see the real life buttercream work of the person and it doesn't come close!

indydebi Posted 3 May 2008 , 3:28am
post #4 of 14
Originally Posted by JanetBme

that one is always a sticker for me-sorta my pet peeve.... Yeah, I think it is cool to use dummy cakes for display and for pictures IF you can actually do that quality of work or at least close to it.


Bugs me that someone considers it "cheating". Cheating, by definition, is "to deceive by trickery or swindle". You are not selling a fake cake instead of a real cake. You are not implying the fake cakes are real cakes.

"to deprive by trickery or defraud" .... you didn't pull a bait-n-switch by depriving them of a real cake when you slipped in the fake cake.

"to act dishonestly or practice fraud" .... see logic examples above. No bait-n-switch, no deprivation.

An act of cheating; a fraud or a swindle. bait-n-switch, no implication these are real cakes.

So.......what's the "cheating" part, again? icon_confused.gif

CoutureCake Posted 3 May 2008 , 6:22am
post #5 of 14

I agree with the PP in that it does a dis-service to you and your customers when they're expecting a cake that is flawlessly perfect because of what your cake dummies are in the pictures then get a cake with imperfections that is real. I've heard of this happening with "celebrity" cake decorators where the photos are of the dummies that are elaborate and ornate but they can't reproduce that cake (with reasonable accomodations of course for the variables of dummies vs. real cakes) in their bakery if their life depended on it then had the audacity to charge $$$$ for the real cake that looked like a 7yo did it.

I am not afraid to tell customers what my dummy cakes are and how real cakes have flaws and imperfections. Everyone can make a cake dummy look good with enough time dedicated to working on it, it's who can produce an upper end cake from start to finish in less than 40 hours. It's not cheating to use cake dummies, OTOH, use them on the small tiers, it makes the materials cost go down quite a bit!

Bonnie151 Posted 3 May 2008 , 6:58am
post #6 of 14
Originally Posted by ccr03

Dude, as long as you can do it on a real cake, it's all good.

Yeah, ditto that. icon_biggrin.gif

About half may cakes are dummies. I always label them in my gallery photos when they are. My family can't eat that much cake! It's a great money saver as well - I have a two tier cake in my photos that I completely changed the look of my changing the topper, plus the bottom tier was originally used on a completely different photo. I have a Pooh bear cake in my photos that is a real cake in a similar style to my hive cake which is a dummy. They both have minor imperfections, but I don't think there's a significant difference in quality between the two.

I ALWAYS do the more unsturdy styles (e.g. my pillow cake) in real cake first to make sure I can do them using real cake. thumbs_up.gif

diane Posted 3 May 2008 , 4:53pm
post #7 of 14

there's a company that only sells cakes that are dummy cakes. i think it's called fakecakes...not sure. it's not cheating. if you're just starting out and you want to build your portfolio it's a great way to show off your talents. icon_wink.gif

kelleym Posted 3 May 2008 , 6:20pm
post #8 of 14

It's definitely not cheating, it's a legitimate way to build your portfolio. But, like everyone else said, working with dummies and cake are two vastly different things.

Dummies are always level
Dummies never bulge
Dummies never collapse

So I would not advise that anyone begin their cake career working with dummies. As Duff said one time on Ace of Cakes: "Cake is very heavy. And cake will never....stop....trying to destroy itself." As we all know...practice makes perfect. icon_smile.gif So use the dummies all you want, after you (the universal "you", not specifically you, CakeDiva73) have actually acquired the skill of CAKE decorating.

mommyle Posted 3 May 2008 , 6:39pm
post #9 of 14

Practice makes perfect. If you can bake and eat (or give away) that many cakes, then you are the bomb. I LOVE to practice, but I seriously can't afford (financially and weight-wise) to make that many "practice" cakes!!!! And like someone else said, the dummy cakes can sit for a while. I can't just let the baby cry ALL the time!!! But with a dummy I can put it down and pick it up a few hours (or a day) later.

torki Posted 4 May 2008 , 9:18am
post #10 of 14

I have not long used dummies for the first time for some of my show cakes and I can honestly say I prefer to cover and decorate a real cake!! But dummies do serve a purpose icon_biggrin.gif

kakeladi Posted 4 May 2008 , 12:24pm
post #11 of 14

When I read this post I thought YIKES, how is that cheating? But......
now that I see your (collective) reasons I think I agree.
When you have a shop you *need* to use dummiesicon_smile.gif How could you display real cakes? They would only last a few days before they start to stink or fall apart; worse yet, they will draw bugsicon_sad.gif
Dummies have their place.

smab109 Posted 4 May 2008 , 1:05pm
post #12 of 14

I have some dummies, but rarely practice on. Thats what I use them for...practice.

I was wondering about what others thought to... I have seen some photos on here (square cakes) where the pics gets tons of comments on the "straight, perfect corners" on the "real" cake and I wonder if it is truly a real cake... I dont want to get flamed for this, but if you are posting a dummy cake, please say so! Especially if someone asks.

pamconn Posted 4 May 2008 , 4:27pm
post #13 of 14

Slightly off topic, but the first time that I visited CC and saw the term cake dummie on a post topic, I thought that it refered to a newbie cake decorator like me... icon_redface.gif

CoutureCake Posted 4 May 2008 , 6:55pm
post #14 of 14

It is possible to get perfectly square corners with fondant and buttercream on a real cake, the key is practice, having an ice cold cake (though not frozen) before the fondant coat, and most of all not overthinking it. There also are tools out there to help with this, I think Global Sugar Art is where I saw them when I was at ICES last year...

One of the biggest things, funny as it is, I'll get done making a cake dummy (I only make my dummies using wall spackle - my inspector loves me for it because there truly IS nothing to worry about in the bug department with them like there is with dummies covered in royal or fondant!) is I've had to learn to leave some imperfections in there otherwise it looks far too "fake"... The other thing is I've gotten calls from people asking about cakes I've done that are the dummies on my site and I'm just up front about the "that's just a cake dummy, here's what you need to do if you want that design done in real icing..." Every dummy I have can be recreated real. That's the important part of doing them because you don't want that expectation that a bride can have a piece that would be appropriate for an OSSAS show for their wedding without a budget of $40K....

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