Ok, so i really have only started out, at the minute i have four orders for friends of friends and then in a couple of months im going to advertise.
The thing is, i think ive aged 10 years in the past two months!! i think its just that there is so much ive never tried and im trying to fit in loads of techniques to practice, etc but obviously you cant be fully prepared for every cake.
For those of you that have been doing this a long time, do you ever feel fully confident and comfortable about cakes or is it always stressfull? Dont get me wrong, its not putting me off, in fact it probably what drives me for perfection (and involves a lot of wasted fondant, even though my husband assures me my first attempt was perfect - lol) but im interested to hear if it gets easier and less nerve wracking even if you have an order for something you havent tried.
Thanks for listening, seriosly i dont know what id do without this forum, the gallery alone keeps me amused for hours on end!
I haven't been doing this all that long (specialty wedding cakes almost 3 years), but I didn't really feel confident that I could sell until I entered a local cake show and actually won a medal. At that time, I had only done two wedding cakes for friends and 2 dummy cakes....ever.
Perfecting my sales and presentation skills was also a confidence builder.
Knowing how to guide a meeting and close the sale is a huge step in the process. Harder than making the cake, I think.
I always made sure I had more than enough time for mistakes, but now that I have my process refined, I do things in a certain order each time and don't really get stressed. I don't even get stressed about deliveries anymore because I've streamlined that process and found a way that works for me.
I never feel confident - as soon as I do, I blow it, big time. I'm doing a wedding cake for Dec. 20 and thought it would be really easy, ha! I haven't made a wedding cake in 17 years and I haven't done much work in buttercream over the last 2 years either. This is a 4-tier, all buttercream cake. It is square also so my corners definitely need work. I made a practice cake last night and was not happy with the outcome at all. It didn't help that I wasn't feeling good and rushing but December 19 will probably be a very long night.
Like a PP pointed out, I'm also one that when I get really confident it usually ends up biting me in the you-know-where...
The thing is, being in business is not as easy as just baking cakes for friends with no expectations. It's just the nature of the beast. You learn in a hurry to turn down that which you don't know how to do or the costs associated with said projects in a HURRY. They're all a part of the Culinary Institute of Hard Knocks that you've just enrolled yourself into where there is no such thing as graduation, just another course requirement...
You'll eventually get into your groove of what your niche is but you need to be realistic about it because you've also got to pay the power bill.
I never feel confident - as soon as I do, I blow it, big time.
When I started out all I did was characters cakes..Yup ..the shaped cakes which all you had to do was star tip the whole thing etc...I would get really scared if someone wanted anything 'Outside my comfort zone" Little by little I did a few cakes that weren't shaped and I made mistakes etc...and I began to use my creative juices which also scared me and never thought I had!! 7 years later...I only do about 1 character cake a year...everything else is custom work...the key is to get inspiration like CC....MY savour at times!! Search the web for ideas and encourage the customer to send or email you a picture to go off of....I just did a character cake a few weeks ago and it was kinda boring..Don't get me wrong I still love the pans but I guess what I am trying to say is as you do more you will become more comfortable with your skills and techniques and soon you will find confidence.
I think once you figure out what your different mediums can do (gumpaste, fondant, royal icing, buttercream, etc.) you can pretty much decide what YOU are capable of, even if you've never done it before ........or at least I can. I would not say I'm confident though.......but when someone says, can you do a cake like this?? I can pretty much decide yes or no if I am capable of it based on how I handle the different mediums even if it's a cake I've not done before. The first time I got an order for a topsy turvy I didn't hesitate...I said sure I can do it, because I'd learned what I could from CC already and knew how to do it , obviously it takes me waaaaaaaaaaayyyyyy less time to do one now than that first one took and I"m more confident with them now.
I don't think I'll ever be completely confident in my skills though. Of course I've only been decorating for like 2 yrs. now so what do I know?? LOL
That's what kept me from actually taking the plunge and doing it. I have been making cakes for friends over the last year and look at like if they don't appreciate it then they are jerks anyway. Everyone says why don't you advertise and get a business going, but I am afraid of picky people or worse getting someone sick for some strange reason. Most people in my town don't even know what gum paste is let alone that you use it for a cake. Now that I see it's not just me that is lacking confidence maybe I will look into doing it more as a business. The stuff is getting expensive for me and really like doing it, but good thing I don't have too many friends that expect birthday cakes!
I have only begun myself. About 6 months ago I decided to go ahead and get my home kitchen legal and start from there. So far, I have averaged 7-10 cakes a week! I am a self taught baker so everything that I have learned came from CC or from the web. I just practiced and it is now my obsession!! There is still more to learn but take it cake by cake. I try not to turn anything down. Practice makes perfect!! I agree with the above post.. start going outside your comfort zone little by little and you will gain more confidence with every order you complete!
I have been thinking about this post for the last couple days and I am glad that it came up again.
A teacher told me that good bakers try never to make mistakes. GREAT bakers learn to fix their mistakes. Maybe you will never feel completely confident about your cakes, but every time you turn on your oven and get out your tips is a chance to learn. Your either learning what to do, or what not to do and how to make it correct.
I resently did a really bad cake for my brothers wedding (long story, didfferent post). Not one of my best, but because of my mistake with that cake, I have learned so so much more and have done a coule of awesome cakes because of it. Failure is the best teacher.
I think if you're not carrying some degree of confidence, then you never try new things, new techniques, new ideas. Each time you try something that makes you nervous, it's just proof of your confidence. You just don't see it because your nerves are shaking too bad!
I think it's normal to get anxious and intimidated by doing something new. When I'm doing a new technique I get so worked up over it - sleepless nights, procrastinating, comfort eating (the worst of the lot!)
Whisperingmadcow, I totally agree with you. Making cakes is all about learning on the fly and turning mistakes into opportunities.
The cakes in cc photos were all from when I was just starting out. As in the first time I ever held a piping bag, first time with fondant, etc. On my flickr photo stream, you can see how I've progressed in just one short year. Most cakes are first attempts at new techniques.
If I, the biggest klutz, the biggest worrywart, the worst in art, can do it, so can anyone with a passion for cakes decorating!
I'm lucky that where I live homebakers are legal so I haven't had to make major financial commitments. My "business principle" is to start small and only take on cakes whose benefits outweigh the stress level they produce.
I feel confident in that I know what I am doing. My hardest part of this biz is the mind reading. I have had some customers who you can ask and ask and prob and beg and they don't really know what they want, and then I am a nervous wreck wondering if they will like the cake. My hardest part is that I am too thin skinned and even though I get a lot of thrilled customers, when I get that one that just wasnt quite happy enough, I can't get it out of my mind. I just see all the little mistakes...THAT is what I want to know how people handle. When the buttercream isnt quite smooth enough or the corners not quite square enough, or you couldn't get that exact shade of pink...How do you accept you are only human?
Anyway, I think you should continue to try new things...even if you just do them on dummy cakes. Its the only way to learn. The only cakes I have turned down because of skill level is when I know they would just take me so long it wouldn't be worth my time.
I have done over a hundred wedding cakes and I still get nervous during delivery and setup! Not because of the cake, but because people drive like idiots!
It took a while for me to feel confident too, but I still take every precaution. I plan, write a timeline, don't cut corners, pack a fix it kit for the delivery. I haven't used the fix it in probably 30 wedding cakes, but I pack it just the same every time.
Delivery and setup is the most nerve racking part of the whole cake process for me. I'm very confident in my driving skills, it's the other people that scare me! Depending on my mood, I think about what I would do if someone rear ended me and ruined a wedding cake. Sometimes I think I would get out and start throwing the destroyed cake at them, like a food fight on the street, while telling them they can go tell the bride they ruined her wedding cake. I hope it never happens, but I do contemplate it...
I have been decorating since 2005 and still lack confident. But I have decided to turn over a new leaf and face every challenge. I would normally shy away from decorating cake for people, often finding excuses. Realizing what I was doing, I felt bad letting my talent go to waste. so now I am doing something about it.
CC is a inspiration to me.
I'm very confident in my driving skills, it's the other people that scare me! Depending on my mood, I think about what I would do if someone rear ended me and ruined a wedding cake. Sometimes I think I would get out and start throwing the destroyed cake at them, like a food fight on the street, while telling them they can go tell the bride they ruined her wedding cake. I hope it never happens, but I do contemplate it...
I know how you feel!!! I can picture my DH now, holding me back while I throw cake at the other driver!!!
I never feel confident - as soon as I do, I blow it, big time.
I completely agree. I never feel confident to a certain point. I think a lot of is because you put so much time and effort into your cakes. When you leave, it's kinda like leaving a piece of you to be admired or hated by people who don't know you.
I think of it as room to grow. I'm sure the big bakers still have horrible days when cakes fall and frosting cracks.
The delivery is the hardest part for me. Especially out here, there's a lot of hills and curves...back roads. Train tracks!!! Gah!
The delivery is the hardest part for me. Especially out here, there's a lot of hills and curves...back roads. Train tracks!!! Gah![/quote]
I live on top of a hill and have to go down a steep, curvy hill with every cake. My first wedding cake in 17 years is next Saturday at my church, only 3 miles away. But, I have to drive over a horrible set of railroad tracks. Well, I have to drive over them no matter where I go so curvy hills and train tracks...I hate them too!
I learned that I feel much more confident with fondant now and I wish this cake were fondant instead of buttercream. I didn't think I would ever feel comfortable with fondant, now I wish for it.