I know that if I want my decorating skills to get better I need to practice, practice, practice. My problem is that I am limited to how often I can bake cakes and practice decorating them. For example, I do not really have family around me, so I can't share/make the cakes for them. Also, I work from home so I don't have co-workers to share them with either.
What are some suggestions for how I can get some practice in? I am really self taught, and have not been able to take the Wilton classes as the schedules always conflict with mine. As soon as I am able I will take the courses, but until then what can I do?
I have been thinking about getting some styrofoam to use as a dummy and practice that way, but I don't know if that's a good idea. Any input, suggestions, guidance would be appreciated!
styrofoams are a good idea. If you just want to practice some simple techniques, you can turn your pans over and practice piping, stringwork, flowers, etc., on the pans. A flat cardboard is good to practice writing, scrolls, drop flowers, etc.
Styrofoam "dummies" will be a great idea for you. You can practice on them without having to go through the whole baking process and having no one to eat it with you. When you're done decorating, take a picture, and clean off to start the next one! Sounds like a great idea! Have fun and good luck!
When I first started getting serious about decorating, I had your same circumstances. What I did when I wanted to actually bake and decorate a real cake, is give the cakes to fire stations. They all totally appreciated the gifts, in turn as I got better I also gained customers of the firemen/women. So it ended up being a Win/Win situation.
I would also suggest that you make up the classic Wilton butter cream (the Crisco one) and not waste your flavorings on it. Just leave it minus the vanilla or butter flavor, you won't be tempted to eat it that way and you can keep reusing it from your dummies or from the bottom of the pot- love that idea by the way!
I just did my first dummy cake!!! It was so fun and I used my new tools for practice!! I am fixing to take it all off and start over! I just used piping gel all over the dummy and covered it in MMF.
I suggest using your neighbors for practice. That is what i did. I baked and then gave my neighbors all pieces so they could taste and tell me what they thought. It worked out great for me.
I keep a bowl of "practice icing" in the pantry so when I have the time, or the mood hits I don't have to make it first. It's a couple of months old, but it works fine! I grab my cutting board and pipe all over it, scrape it back into the bowl, and start over. I save all my leftover tinted icing also, throw it all in a bowl together, and just scoop it out and pipe with that also. It's pretty ugly, but that's actually how I found out I could add two different greens and a fuscia into the same bag, pipe, and when it dries it turns into this beautiful burgundish, mahogany color. It's the way I got the darkest color oak leaves in my photos with my brushed embroidery leaves cake.
I also do bake a lot of cakes to practice on so I can test out recipes and compare, as well as decide which do great being frozen and which I should not freeze first. Then my husband takes the leftovers into work with him and everyone loves it!
Wow! Thanks, everyone, for all of your suggestions. These are some great ideas. I am ready to start practicing!