I'm A Newbie! Just A Couple ?'s!

Decorating By bchristianson17 Updated 11 Oct 2008 , 9:56pm by Cake_Princess

bchristianson17 Posted 11 Oct 2008 , 7:04am
post #1 of 7

Hi, I'm new! *waves

I've looked through a lot of the pics on this site and read a lot of the forums, but I still have a couple questions that I hope someone can help me with! I'm new to the "at-home professional cake" thing, I've made extremely amateur cakes for birthdays and such, but my boyfriends 21st is coming up in March and I want to do a great cake for him!
After finding this website, I've also become REALLY excited about doing cakes for every holiday, celebration and holiday!! . . When I have a chance to learn something new & fun(hopefully!), I get a lil gung-ho about it! .. to the point that I've already saved a whole bunch of photos from the galleries for ideas for every occasion in the next 2 years. . haha. icon_lol.gif
Anyways, I've babbled enough. . these are the questions! Any input or ideas is greatly appreciated as I am extremely new to this and don't have an ego, it's all about learning to make the best cakes I can!!

1. Checking The Cake For Doneness. .
I have always used the old tradition of shoving a toothpick or end of a butterknife into the center to see if it comes out gooey=not done. But then I read something online, from a professional cake decorator, that said they use the look/pinch test. Its where you check to see if its barely turning golden and if so, then you take a teeny pinch off the center of the cake. If the pinch is gooey but underneath where you pinched, you see the structure of the cake is set(looks like a sponge), then it is ready to be taken out. The theory is that the heat that will still come up from the bottom after you've taken it out will bake the last 1/4 inch that wasn't done. Which of these is correct? Or is there another method that has proven to be more effective?

2. I have also read online, not this site, that after taking the cake out and letting it cool and set for awhile, that you are to apply a crumb coat. The crumb coat they said will set the outside. You brush off the crumbs with a pastry brush. Then you mix regular frosting w/ water until its runny and spread it all over the cake. I've also heard though that the crumb coat should be thicker, like regular frosting. Does anyone know what the right answer is? What has worked for you?

3. Dowels, dowels, dowels. I have heard many things about dowels. Most say to use wooden dowels. Other have said to use pvc piping as it doesn't cut the cakes structure as much. What is the best way to stack tiers without them sliding, smooshing into each other or breaking apart? What works and where do you get them? What is the best placement for the dowels?

ALSO. . . ANY OTHER ADVICE YOU COULD GIVE ME!! I am open to any ideas or tricks as for his birthday, it will be my 1st "professional" cake and I want it to be fabulous and flawless. . although it might not be, I will try! And after that cake, I hope to make many, many more for friends and family.

p.s. . . his cake plan so far is a 2 tiered marble cake covered w/ fondant and decorated w/ a variety of poker themed items. What should I make the decorations out of? Also, I want the "21" to be seperate numbers and for them to be quite large, and rest on top of the first layer and lean onto the 2nd layer. OH! And is filling a good idea? What kind of filling is good w/ marble cake? And what do I have to do to keep the filling staying put so that cakes don't slide around and that it doesn't goo out the sides?

***I'm so sorry about so many ?'s but I figured that you guys know so much and would be able to help.. Thank you!!!*** icon_biggrin.gif

6 replies
bashini Posted 11 Oct 2008 , 9:22am
post #2 of 7

Hi, welcome to CC.

Ok, first I always use the toothpick method to check my cakes and it works well for me.

When my cakes are done, I take them out from the oven and leave them to cool in the tin for 10-15 minutes. And then turn it over on to a wire rack and let it cool completely. But I know some let the cake cool completely in the tin. It depends on what works for you best.

When the cake is cooled torte it and then put the filling. You need to put a stiff buttercream dam around the cakes before you put the filling and make sure the filling doesn't overflow the dam. I always leave the cake to rest overnight ones I put the filling. Next day you will be able to see if there is any buldging. You can use a sharp knife to straighten around the cake. And then crumbcoat it and it shouldn't be very thick.

I use wooden dowels and you can use plastic dowels or bubble tea straws as well. You need to have a thin cake boards/cards under each tier. You can buy them Country Kitchen Sweetart or any cake decorating shop. Here is a link for you to see,

http://www.countrykitchensa.com/catalog/SearchResults.aspx

I highly reccomend Sugarshacks DVD's which helped me a lot. Here is the link for you,

http://www.sugaredproductions.com/

For the decorations you are going to put on the cake, you can add 1/2 a teaspoon CMC/tylose powder to 250g of fondant or mix 50/50 gumpaste and fondant.

HTH.

Trixyinaz Posted 11 Oct 2008 , 1:16pm
post #3 of 7

Hi and welcome!

1. I ALWAYS use the toothpick method for testing my cakes, along with the touch test. If you touch the center of the cake and it springs back, that means it is done. I then stick my toothpick in to make sure and it usually always comes out clean. I've never heard of the pinch test but I see some problems with that. There have been a couple times when I took my cakes out too soon (don't ask why....I felt they were in the oven too long and I was afraid they were going to over cook even tho there was a tiny amt. of batter on the toothpick). Anyway, the tops looked great when I would pick at it, but when I torted the cake after it cooled, only the center was gooey. So while the top of the cake looked and tasted done, just the very center of the cake wasn't cooked.

2. I never crumb coat my cakes. I use the Wilton Cake Release stuff and it minimizes the crumbs on my cakes. I'll gently rub my cake to get any that might be on it. Then I take an icing tip and apply my icing that way. I've never had a crummy icing isssue since applying my icing with an icing tip.

3. I have only used wooden dowels and have never had an issue with them. However, I've only done a couple stacked cakes so the odds of something happening are not against me yet...icon_lol.gif A lot of people swear by straws or this other method (can't remember the name). Hopefully someone on here will tell stop by your thread and answer this question more clearly.

Good luck and can't wait to see your BF's cake.

staceyboots Posted 11 Oct 2008 , 2:20pm
post #4 of 7
Quote:
Originally Posted by bchristianson17


2. I have also read online, not this site, that after taking the cake out and letting it cool and set for awhile, that you are to apply a crumb coat. The crumb coat they said will set the outside. You brush off the crumbs with a pastry brush. Then you mix regular frosting w/ water until its runny and spread it all over the cake. I've also heard though that the crumb coat should be thicker, like regular frosting. Does anyone know what the right answer is? What has worked for you?





I always crumbcoat my cakes with regular buttercream...no need to add water until it is runny. Just apply a thin coat of buttercream with an offset spatula, cover with cling wrap and place in the fridge to harden (about 20 mins)

HTH

-K8memphis Posted 11 Oct 2008 , 2:33pm
post #5 of 7

Welcome, Fellow Cake-Buddy.

I have never heard of the pinch method to test for doneness. I think it would undermine the delicate sugar structure that is being formed and could easily make it collapse. Maybe that method is for a fruit cake or something with more definite substance already?? But that's very interesting because I have never heard of that.

In fact I'd go so far as to say don't pinch your cakes to check for doneness.

JenniferMI Posted 11 Oct 2008 , 3:09pm
post #6 of 7

Welcome!!!

I always use a toothpick, but I do think it's important to take the cake out WHEN IT'S DONE, not 4 or 5 minutes after....

Also, I've used foil covered dowels, cut with pruning shears, for over 30 years with NO problems. I think the key is putting enough in the cake. I think when people put like 4 or 5 in the whole cake, that is when they are asking for trouble.

HTH!

Jen icon_smile.gif

Cake_Princess Posted 11 Oct 2008 , 9:56pm
post #7 of 7
Quote:
Originally Posted by bchristianson17

Hi, I'm new! *waves

I've looked through a lot of the pics on this site and read a lot of the forums, but I still have a couple questions that I hope someone can help me with! I'm new to the "at-home professional cake" thing, I've made extremely amateur cakes for birthdays and such, but my boyfriends 21st is coming up in March and I want to do a great cake for him!
After finding this website, I've also become REALLY excited about doing cakes for every holiday, celebration and holiday!! . . When I have a chance to learn something new & fun(hopefully!), I get a lil gung-ho about it! .. to the point that I've already saved a whole bunch of photos from the galleries for ideas for every occasion in the next 2 years. . haha. icon_lol.gif
Anyways, I've babbled enough. . these are the questions! Any input or ideas is greatly appreciated as I am extremely new to this and don't have an ego, it's all about learning to make the best cakes I can!!

1. Checking The Cake For Doneness. .
I have always used the old tradition of shoving a toothpick or end of a butterknife into the center to see if it comes out gooey=not done. But then I read something online, from a professional cake decorator, that said they use the look/pinch test. Its where you check to see if its barely turning golden and if so, then you take a teeny pinch off the center of the cake. If the pinch is gooey but underneath where you pinched, you see the structure of the cake is set(looks like a sponge), then it is ready to be taken out. The theory is that the heat that will still come up from the bottom after you've taken it out will bake the last 1/4 inch that wasn't done. Which of these is correct? Or is there another method that has proven to be more effective?





A fail safe way is using a toothpick or a metal skewer to test. You can use the spring back test as well. when you touch the center of the cake it should spring back.



Quote:
Quote:

2. I have also read online, not this site, that after taking the cake out and letting it cool and set for awhile, that you are to apply a crumb coat. The crumb coat they said will set the outside. You brush off the crumbs with a pastry brush. Then you mix regular frosting w/ water until its runny and spread it all over the cake. I've also heard though that the crumb coat should be thicker, like regular frosting. Does anyone know what the right answer is? What has worked for you?




Quote:
Quote:

Once the cake has cooled thin some of your icing a bit and crumb coat the cake. Let the crumb coat set then ice the rest of the cake.

3. Dowels, dowels, dowels. I have heard many things about dowels. Most say to use wooden dowels. Other have said to use pvc piping as it doesn't cut the cakes structure as much. What is the best way to stack tiers without them sliding, smooshing into each other or breaking apart? What works and where do you get them? What is the best placement for the dowels?




The number of dowels will depend on the size of cake. Placement of dowels In my opinion depends on the shapes you are stacking. However you will usually have one in the center then the others radiate outward. I think of it in a common sense way. It's like building a house.

Quote:
Quote:

ALSO. . . ANY OTHER ADVICE YOU COULD GIVE ME!! I am open to any ideas or tricks as for his birthday, it will be my 1st "professional" cake and I want it to be fabulous and flawless. . although it might not be, I will try! And after that cake, I hope to make many, many more for friends and family.

p.s. . . his cake plan so far is a 2 tiered marble cake covered w/ fondant and decorated w/ a variety of poker themed items. What should I make the decorations out of? Also, I want the "21" to be seperate numbers and for them to be quite large, and rest on top of the first layer and lean onto the 2nd layer. OH! And is filling a good idea? What kind of filling is good w/ marble cake? And what do I have to do to keep the filling staying put so that cakes don't slide around and that it doesn't goo out the sides?

***I'm so sorry about so many ?'s but I figured that you guys know so much and would be able to help.. Thank you!!!*** icon_biggrin.gif




I am not sure of your skill level but based on your questions, I would recommend creeping before you try walking. If you can take a few classes. Michaels offer the Wilton courses. This way you will learn the basics and you will have someone there to help you with your mistakes.

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