Just Getting Into Cake Decorating...need Advice!!!

Business By Zashee Updated 31 Jan 2009 , 9:50pm by say_it_with_cake

Zashee Posted 24 Jan 2009 , 9:03am
post #1 of 25

HI! I've recently decided that I want to become a cake decorator and have been thinking of going to culinary school to gain knowledge and experience. Is this the best way to become a professional cake decorator?

24 replies
say_it_with_cake Posted 24 Jan 2009 , 9:37am
post #2 of 25

Gosh I hope not, I've just been learning as I go! lol

Welcome to CC icon_smile.gif

indydebi Posted 24 Jan 2009 , 1:48pm
post #3 of 25

culinary school or not, the best way is practice, practice practice.

classiccake Posted 25 Jan 2009 , 4:12pm
post #4 of 25

In pastry school you will get just one or two classes in cake decorating. If that is all you want to do, there are cake decorating classes you can take. However, if you want to learn all phases of desserts and baking, then go to pastry school. It depends on your long range goals.

Whichever route you go, it is like Debi said...PRACTICE!!!

didi5 Posted 28 Jan 2009 , 12:35am
post #5 of 25

In pastry school you will learn a lot about the basics and theories about baking and you will also get tons of recipes and make them too. You will also learn a lot of things that are not cake related like croissants and breads. Do you really want to take that route?
Classiccake is right, you will just get one or two modules about cake decorating. When I started decorating, I learned everything by books and magazines. And now, I learn a lot from the internet too. And just to echo Indydebi it took a lot of practice! I then worked in the pastry section of a restaurant and I decided to go to pastry school. Pastry school was great, the teachers were real professionals and they shared a lot of their tips and techniques. However, my cake decorating skills were developed thru practice and a lot of trial and error. Yes, you will learn a lot from your mistakes!
If you really enjoy baking and learning, then go for it. If you just want to learn about cake decorating, then I think you will be better of signing in a class specifically for that and learning on your own . It will save you tons of time and money.

SeriousCakes Posted 28 Jan 2009 , 12:46am
post #6 of 25

You mean pastry school isn't all about caking? Wow, someone sent me a message on youtube telling me I needed to go to pastry school to learn piping skills icon_biggrin.gif
Utilize cakecentral, there are so many talented people on here that share their experiences, advice, recipes, techniques, the list is endless! Everything I've learned so far has been via books, tv, and the web. Ask your questions, learn all you can, practice icon_biggrin.gif

indydebi Posted 28 Jan 2009 , 12:49am
post #7 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by Serious_Cakes

Utilize cakecentral, there are so many talented people on here that share their experiences, advice, recipes, techniques, the list is endless!



I've learned more in 2 years from CC than I have in the 30 years I"ve been making cakes.

jguilbeau Posted 28 Jan 2009 , 12:52am
post #8 of 25

If you are interested in cake decorating classes only, here is the Wilton link to find classes near you. http://www.wilton.com/classes/classlocator.cfm

cookie_fun Posted 28 Jan 2009 , 12:52am
post #9 of 25

If you are really wanting to take some kind of formal schooling:

Wilton has a school for decorating specifically. It's a two week course. It runs around $1200 total and it's in Darien, IL.

http://www.wilton.com/classes/wiltonschool/class.cfm?id=0C90F998-475A-BAC0-513199B4179B1B34

Here is a link to the Wilton school info or you can look online at Wilton.com and click classes.

I've considered taking this course myself, but I have no one who could take care of my kids for 2 weeks. Someday......

Good luck!

Lorendabug Posted 28 Jan 2009 , 1:03am
post #10 of 25

Check this out on youtube.com at about the 1 minute and 40 second mark Collette Peters gives her opinion of how to learn cake decorating.


Teekakes Posted 28 Jan 2009 , 1:04am
post #11 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by Zashee

HI! I've recently decided that I want to become a cake decorator and have been thinking of going to culinary school to gain knowledge and experience. Is this the best way to become a professional cake decorator?




Hi, Zashee! Welcome to Cake Central! icon_biggrin.gif
Just a couple of years ago I said the same thing you did, "I want to become a cake decorator". I checked around locally and discovered Wilton cake decorating classes at Michaels, Hobby Lobby and JoAnn's. I signed up and took every course available. I found Cake Central while waiting for my Wilton Course 1 classes to begin so I began reading everything I possibly could here at CC. I quickly discovered CC is a gold mine of information with what I believe is the most concentrated pool of skilled and knowledgeable cake decorators in the world. That's right! I believe we have the best in the world right here and they have hearts equally as big.
icon_smile.gif For every question you have do a search in the forums and you are very likely to pull up a variety of answers. If not then simply post your question(s) and wait for the replys.

I loved each of my Wilton classes in all 4 courses and would highly recommend you take them if possible. The hands on help seems to be very helpful for most of us in the beginning.
If you do not feel you need the hands on then look no further than Cake Central.

Lea

Juds2323 Posted 28 Jan 2009 , 1:11am
post #12 of 25

Seriouscakes I can't believe someone said that to you....they must have been jealous!!!

I liked the hands on with the wilton classes from michaels and have built on it here.

HTH

Judi

prue23 Posted 28 Jan 2009 , 1:41am
post #13 of 25

I agree with juds2323, they were definitely jealous. I've seen all of your videos seriouscakes and I loved all of them, they were so helpful and your cakes are amazing.
I've recently started getting really into cake decorating and since I haven't been able to attend any wilton classes for now I have done my research using CC and youtube for when I want to see how something is done and they're working out great for me.

SeriousCakes Posted 28 Jan 2009 , 4:05am
post #14 of 25

lol-thank you guys! The funny thing is that I got a message a few days later from a PASTRY chef thanking me for my videos, he's just getting into wedding cakes and says it's harder than it looks! icon_biggrin.gif

-Tubbs Posted 29 Jan 2009 , 12:01am
post #15 of 25

Kind of a big investment when you`ve `just decided` you want to decorate cakes, especially when, for nothing, there is a wealth of information available on the internet.

Lots of great videos on youtube: SeriousCakes are great, also Tonedna`s I really like. And as the others said, just lots and lots of practice will help you figure out if it`s what you want to do for a living. Personally, Wilton doesn`t appeal to me because I don`t care for the particular style that`s taught, but I can see how some people would enjoy the direct learning experience. I like to learn things from books, so I get lots from the library and try different techniques. Slowly I`m improving.

Good luck and have fun!

CoutureCake Posted 29 Jan 2009 , 12:41am
post #16 of 25

If you want to learn to decorate cakes for fun, then like others mentioned, go to the Wilton school for the series of classes. You'll pick up more there than you would from pastry school in regards to cake deco. OTOH, the local classes tend to be hit and miss depending on who the instructor is. Some are worth their weight in icing, others not worth their weight in pick your term...

If you want to decorate cakes for a business, pastry school probably isn't your best bet, business school is! It's not just about the cake, it's about paying the bills, keeping the lights on, equipment maintenance, and smart business practices and economics more than it is about the cake. Sure, the decorating is fun, but if it's not keeping your kids fed, then there's a problem on the hobby/business factor.

I like to joke with people that I'm attending the "Culinary Institute for Hard Knocks Studies - where there isn't a such thing as graduation, only another course!"

indydebi Posted 29 Jan 2009 , 12:49am
post #17 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by CoutureCake

It's not just about the cake, it's about paying the bills, keeping the lights on, equipment maintenance, and smart business practices and economics more than it is about the cake. Sure, the decorating is fun, but if it's not keeping your kids fed, then there's a problem on the hobby/business factor.




I joke with people that after doing everything you listed above, ".....at the end of the day, if you're lucky, you MIGHT have time to actually work on a cake!" icon_biggrin.gif

FromScratch Posted 29 Jan 2009 , 2:28am
post #18 of 25

FWIW I think that the Wilton courses are great someone who wants this as a hobby. If you are seriously looking to compete in the business you are going to need to know WAY more than what they teach you at Hobby Lobby you know what I mean? Wilton style decorating is quickly becoming a thing of the past with it's buttercream swags and roses and piped figures. You will learn more here and through books and videos than you ever will in the Wilton courses.

If you can find classes taught by some of the masters in our field then by all means take them. I'd love to attend a Planet Cake course someday or a Nic Lodge class... those would be worth it to me.

If you are just now infatuated with cake decorating Wilton courses might be of use to you. Test the waters and see if you like it, but to be great... it takes a lot of self discipline and business smarts. This isn't a fun job. It has it's fun moments, but it's a LOT of work.

CoutureCake Posted 29 Jan 2009 , 8:09pm
post #19 of 25

Just as a reference, we were referring to the Wilton classes offered at the Darien, IL store, home of Wilton, the ones that are 12 days long or the ones that are several weekends in length courses. Not the Hobby Lobby type classes that depend on having a good instructor at your particular location.

Just one extra thought, check out the Minnesota Pastry Seminar coming up or Kerry Vincent's class... Check out www.pastryprofessionalsmn.com for the Pastry Seminar or www.americancakedecorating.com for Kerry's class...

terrylee Posted 29 Jan 2009 , 8:30pm
post #20 of 25

As indydebi said.....

"I've learned more in 2 years from CC than I have in the 30 years I've been making cakes."

I totally agree......There are great classes out there.....but you need to practice, practice, practice (and have a lot of friends willing to eat your pratice work.....lol.....)

Zashee Posted 31 Jan 2009 , 6:40am
post #21 of 25

Thanks for all of your advice! I do think I'm a bit more confused though. For many years I wanted to go into cake decorating but thought that I had to be able to know how to bake delicious cakes on my own so never thought about it past that. Now I've started baking and really enjoy it so then I thought I could do a career change but figured that I wouldn't be able to have a career that involved cake decorating unless I could bake. I also was wanting to learn how to make my own recipes and creations. I figured the more I knew the more chance I would have to be able to find a good job..and since pastry school taught everything, I thought that would ensure me a job. Do most of you do cake decorating as a hobby? Side job, or a career? Career changes can be pretty scary.

indydebi Posted 31 Jan 2009 , 11:28am
post #22 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by Zashee

Do most of you do cake decorating as a hobby? Side job, or a career? Career changes can be pretty scary.




It started as a hobby ... then side job for extra income, and now full career.

niknipscakes Posted 31 Jan 2009 , 12:08pm
post #23 of 25

Well I a newbie too, I am currently doing a 1 year college course here in the UK, my tutor is great and an inspiration, but I must say I only came across this site a few weeks ago and it has taught me so much more in the last few weeks than 5 months at college. Down side of this site is trying to drag yourself away, it seems to be the last place at night I am and long to jump on my laptop first thing in the mornings, never done the house work so quick so I can be on here, double down side is and you going to think i'm mad, but as I leave this site at night to catch a few hours kip, I lay in bed with my brain racing over time with new knowledge and ideas from this site.............but it has lead to a few strange dreams........they say you often dream about the last thing on your mind............well dreaming of a big blob of royal icing chasing you down the road has got to be the weirdest dream I have had, oh yes theres also been giant cookies and a reward for my kidnapped chocolate chips!! Told you you'd think I was mad. Guess I have cakes on the brain. LOL Also I think my butt is expanding from cc addiction..............wonder what my GP would make of this!!! Well you all a super bunch even if you given me cake night terrors.

FromScratch Posted 31 Jan 2009 , 3:24pm
post #24 of 25

Going to full fledged pastry school is great if your goal is to be a pastry chef. Making specialty desserts that go way beyond just cake. It's a HUGE investment that will not prepare you for a career in cake decorating.

The best thing you can do is to take a look at your local community colleges and take some business courses and if you can find some pastry classes take them too, but you don't need classes to teach you how to bake a good cake. The most important thing you can do for yourself if you want to succeed is to have a solid business foundation. The cakes are a big part of it, but if you don't know how to assure a profit and create a solid marketing plan you won't go far.

Baking is important... test out your recipes. Settle on ones that are good and perform consistently. Get your technique down... find a buttercream that you love... practice practice practice. If you are going to invest in an education... invest in an education that will serve you well. If making pastries and all that is what you want to do then pastry school will serve you, but if you want to get into cake decorating the minimal focus you get in pastry school is not going to help you much at all. Spend your money on classes that will serve you like fondant classes and gumpaste flower making classes. Buy up some DVDs... take some business courses. These things will much better get you where you want to be IMHO. icon_biggrin.gif

say_it_with_cake Posted 31 Jan 2009 , 9:50pm
post #25 of 25

Culinary skills aside, from the viewpoint of someone still fairly new to this, I think the most important thing I've learned is that if you want to decorate as a job/career, you have to LOVE it.

It's great fun doing the occasional cake but the real test comes when you have multiple cakes all due in a short space of time (as I've recently found out!). Staying up until 2am finishing a cake isn't everyone's idea of fun so if you don't love your work then it is probably not the job for you. On the other hand if it really is a passion for you, it will be reflected in the quality of your work, regardless of the amount of sleep you've lost to finish it icon_biggrin.gif Sadly the opposite is also true - people can tell if you haven't put love and care into your work.

Personally, I needed to know that I could cope with the pressures of the job before I even thought about making a career out of cakes. Now that I know I can, I will look at investing in a course sometime in the future.

As others have said, read all you can (CC is a gold mine of information!), practise all you can and if you feel you can do it full time then go for it thumbs_up.gif

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