What Am I Doing Wrong? (Small Rant)

Decorating By cgcreation Updated 4 Mar 2009 , 12:41am by GenGen

cgcreation Posted 3 Mar 2009 , 9:18pm
post #1 of 28

Since I found out I had to make a cake for this darned old school auction I have had nothing but disasters!

The treasure box cake that fell apart...DUH!! Use a cake board!! Should have though of that.

So I decided to try some new techniques I have seen on here. String work and brushed embroidery.

Cake comes out great. Make the royal icing and beaters break. No biggie, it's not my first one.

Crumbs in icing...BC won't crust so I can smooth...no big deal, it's only for practice.

Make rose on top with brushed embroidery and it looks nothing like it should!!

What am I doing wrong? Is there a secret to brushed embroidery or just practice? I used the wilton royal icing recipe. Is there a better one? Is my consisitency off? I used tip three for the outline, too small? too big?

String work broke, I used the same royal icing. Is that the problem?

Any suggestions? The frustation level is so high I feel like giving up and refusing to do the cake.

I am attaching a pic of the rose. Any and all suggestions and ideas will be welcomed!!

Sorry for the rant.

27 replies
cgcreation Posted 3 Mar 2009 , 9:29pm
post #2 of 28

sorry, I couldn't get it to upload as an attachment. I'm a mess...Check out my photos, there aren't many on there and you'll see the problem.

Thanks!!

http://www.cakecentral.com/modules.php?name=gallery&file=displayimage&pid=1324719

Karema Posted 3 Mar 2009 , 9:45pm
post #3 of 28

I went to look at your picture thinking it cant be that bad. I was all for making you feel that it wasnt that bad but...I'm sorry it is kind of bad. Your emroidery doesnt look that bad but the icing underneath looks bad. Maybe if your icing was smoother then dried it would look better. The royal icing looks a tad thick or it dried to fast before you tried to brush it. I dont know maybe someone else will know better. Good luck

Karema

cgcreation Posted 3 Mar 2009 , 9:48pm
post #4 of 28

Thank you for trying to be nice! I know it is really bad.

nickymom Posted 3 Mar 2009 , 9:54pm
post #5 of 28

Hugs we've all had our share of "diseaster" cakes. My only advice is practice, practice, and practice....
don't give up!

cupcakemkr Posted 3 Mar 2009 , 9:59pm
post #6 of 28

when you did the embroidery did you do one petal at a time? draw a petal, do the draging, go on to next petal...was your brush dry? what size brush were you using?

serious_cakes has a video on you tube showing BE, check it out:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u6r8MYHYz00&feature=channel_page

good luck, HTH

foxymomma521 Posted 3 Mar 2009 , 9:59pm
post #7 of 28

I would try thinning your royal a bit...

dinas27 Posted 3 Mar 2009 , 10:00pm
post #8 of 28

ok i was expecting really really bad - but I think you've got the idea! I do like the color of the buttercream underneath. I haven't tried it myself but I think a no. 3 is probably too big and that trying to do such a large rose probably made it more difficult to get the right look - you would have to pull the icing quite far with the brush.

As for the string work- I know this is one of the most difficult techniques in cake decorating. I'm nto sure what instructions you are using but I would purchase (or borrow from the library) "The Well Decorated Cake" by Toba Garrett. She is the master of string work! And I belive the instructions in her book are quite good.

The book also contains great instructions for brushed embroidery.

Eisskween Posted 3 Mar 2009 , 10:01pm
post #9 of 28

I was thinking that your royal looked a little to thin. Are you using a dry brush? A wet one will make the icing spread, at least that has been my experience. You gently touch the icing and pull in. I use a 3 tip too. If you look in my photos, the three tier blue wedding cake is in brush embroidery.

As far as the string work, you touch and pull out (towards you while applying pressure to the bag) then go to the next point. Don't try to go point to point.

Hope that helped a bit.

Best,
Karen

ThatsHowTcakesRolls Posted 3 Mar 2009 , 10:02pm
post #10 of 28

Well, I'm not going to comment on your icing since you already noted that it was just for practice and you knew it wasn't right...so...

For the brush embroidery - it looks like a great start actually. The thing to remember about brush embroidery is that you need to start with your icing not too thin but you definitely don't want it to be stiff. A nice medium consistency is good. Since it looks like you're using a pattern you'll want to do each petal by itself. Pipe the first petal and then immediately take a damp paint brush and with light quick strokes you want to pull from the outside to the inside then move onto the next petal. The reason you want to do each petal separately is first, because that looks like a big flower (if you were doing small flowers you could just pipe the whole flower first) and second, because you don't want the icing to crust at all before you start the brush stroke.

If icing gets on your brush after each petal or flower you'll want to wipe it off and then re-wet your brush before starting the next petal or flower. If you really want to practice your brush embroidery - the best way to start is on a hard, flat surface. One that you can wipe off and reuse it great - plus you don't waste the icing that way. You can wipe off and reincorporate with the rest. Once you have it down on the hard, flat surface - move to cake and it should be much easier for you.

The size of brush to use depends on the size of your piping. You don't want to use one too small or there will barely be a visible brush stroke but too large and it won't be the right look and could possible run into the next petal and erase your outline. Hopefully this makes sense....

Keep practicing and feel free to post pictures of your progress. This isn't the easiest thing for me to write directions for but I'm willing to help if I can!

Tammi

Eisskween Posted 3 Mar 2009 , 10:04pm
post #11 of 28

One more thought, if that is buttercream, did you let it crust enough? I noticed that some of the buttercream is pulling up in the embroidery.

Tita9499 Posted 3 Mar 2009 , 10:04pm
post #12 of 28

Okay, here's my constructive criticism:

Always make sure youhave a BC that crusts very nicely then use a thinner royal icing (not so thin that it won't hold its shape when piped into a line, but thin enough so you're not having to brush too hard to achieve the look).

Usually brushed embroidery is easiest to achieve on fondant because the fondant is stiffer than BC. That being said, I have done brushed embroidery on BC before, but not directly on the cake. I did the design first on wax paper and took it off (without breathing even a little bit because they are ridiculously fragile) and transferred it onto the cake.

Don't get frustrated, practice, practice, practice. The more you do it the more you'll learn which technique works best for you.

Lori17201 Posted 3 Mar 2009 , 10:06pm
post #13 of 28

The under layer needed to be very smooth before attempting to do the brushed embroidery. When doing stringwork I was told to put the icing through a nylon using it like a sieve to get out any small clumps you may not see. Hope it helps. Good luck

ThatsHowTcakesRolls Posted 3 Mar 2009 , 10:08pm
post #14 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tita9499

Okay, here's my constructive criticism:

Always make sure youhave a BC that crusts very nicely then use a thinner royal icing (not so thin that it won't hold its shape when piped into a line, but thin enough so you're not having to brush too hard to achieve the look).

Usually brushed embroidery is easiest to achieve on fondant because the fondant is stiffer than BC. That being said, I have done brushed embroidery on BC before, but not directly on the cake. I did the design first on wax paper and took it off (without breathing even a little bit because they are ridiculously fragile) and transferred it onto the cake.

Don't get frustrated, practice, practice, practice. The more you do it the more you'll learn which technique works best for you.




WOW Tita! I would never have the courage to do it that way...Have you found that there's a lot of breakage when pulling it off the paper or when handling it?

majka_ze Posted 3 Mar 2009 , 10:11pm
post #15 of 28

First problem is obviously the icing. The work is easier if the icing is not only smooth (you could work around this), but it needs to be hard - either crusted completely or non crusting hardened in fridge. Next time, try to touch the icing before you start with the embroidery. Once again: if the icing is not crusting, throw the cake in the fridge.
I think I see instead of thin layer of RI (from the embroidery) mix of RI and buttercream. It comes from too soft icing and to hard RI.

For the embroidery I would thin the RI a little. It needs to be fairly soft. Or perhaps wet the brush - but not dripping wet. It should be damp anyway.
Work from outside to the center.

You cannot use the same consistency of RI for brush embroidery and stringwork. For the brush embroidery it should be softer.
The stringwork: again - breaking could mean the RI is to hard, you need to thin it more. It could mean that you have crumbs or sugar crystals in RI - than press it through a new, washed nylon sock. It could also mean you have imperfections in the piping tip - but this is a case mostly only with tip 0 or smaller.

Scrap the outer layer from your cake. If you have some more icing, give it one more layer, let it harden in the fridge, smooth it.
Try again - it gets easier.
thumbs_up.gif

Tita9499 Posted 3 Mar 2009 , 10:12pm
post #16 of 28

Both, because I'm a freakin' bull in a china shop most of the time. LOL!

I actually did it out of frustration because my BC recipe, although it gets rave reviews, doesn't crust that well. So when I tried to do the brushed embroidery on this cake I was making for Easter I got so PO'd (which is so wrong in so many ways for an Easter cake) that I figured if I can do snowflakes in intricate designs on was paper, why couldn't I do brushed embroidery?

I make loads of extras of whatever it is I'm doing, because I know I'm going to have breakage (either removing them from the paper or when I'm super klutzy) so it doesn't cause that much of an issue, but I find it to be much easier for me and my BC. I still prefer fondant over BC any day when using that technique though.

majka_ze Posted 3 Mar 2009 , 10:13pm
post #17 of 28

NOW I see that some of you are faster with same answers icon_smile.gif

Eisskween Posted 3 Mar 2009 , 10:14pm
post #18 of 28

Here's a link to a youtube video that has brush embroidery in it.


stephi17 Posted 3 Mar 2009 , 10:15pm
post #19 of 28

I really like the design of your cake, very pretty! Here is my thought ... and trust me, I'm no expert!

I have done brushed embroidery, but used buttercream icing on fondant. I think it should work the way you are trying it without a problem. If you can get your next buttercream to crust, that might help ... but I think the bigger problem is the consistency of the royal icing. Maybe it's a little too runny and you should add a little extra powdered sugar to get it more stiff ... like for outlining cookies. That's probably why your strings broke. Other than consistency, I really think the rose looked great, you used the right sized tip. You can practice on waxed paper before putting it on the cake to get the right consistency. For the strings ... (I've never done them!) ... but maybe using a smaller tip with stiffer icing would work better. I don't sound very sure of my advice, do I?! icon_redface.gif

Just don't give up, the design is really great ... and i know you can get the icing right!

foxymomma521 Posted 3 Mar 2009 , 10:22pm
post #20 of 28

I would try thinning your royal a bit...

tinygoose Posted 3 Mar 2009 , 10:29pm
post #21 of 28

Not sure if you are aware of this, but a school auction will fetch about $10-$15 for even the most elaborate of cakes....so keep that in mind when you are getting super frustrated. If you are just doing it for the practice...great, but don't knock yourself out for something that isn't going to get big bucks no matter what you do.

I think Ace of Cakes would maybe go for $20 at a school auction...it's just the nature of the beast.

KoryAK Posted 3 Mar 2009 , 10:31pm
post #22 of 28

Yes the royal for the string work needs to be thicker in consistency and I would use a smaller tip. It looks like you did that with a 3 too and it may have been too heavy to hold itself up. Drop strings are ok with a 3 but bridgework is not. You should be able to pipe a drop string between 2 fingers and shake it and have it hold. That's your test.

GayeG Posted 3 Mar 2009 , 10:32pm
post #23 of 28

I've never done the BE but I work with Royal Icing ALOT ... may I suggest a different recipe - Try Antonia74's recipe ... in the recipe section. Good Luck!

JGMB Posted 3 Mar 2009 , 10:33pm
post #24 of 28

I'm only going to show you this photo because misery loves company!!!! I, too, thought I'd try brush embroidery for the first time today. I watched the Serious Cakes youtube video yesterday and thought it looked really easy. LOL!!!

Today when I made it, I took a picture, but had no intentions of posting it on CC. So, I hope you appreciate my willingness to embarrass myself to make you feel better!

P.S. -- The cake is frosted in buttercream, then I also used buttercream for the embroidery.
LL

cgcreation Posted 3 Mar 2009 , 11:29pm
post #25 of 28

Thank you so much!! I can't tell you how much I appreciate all your support.

My biggest problem is I feel like my cakes have to be perfect. I am going to keep practicing and hopefully it'll work out eventually.

Thanks again for everyone's posts! They have been very helpful!

Tita9499 Posted 3 Mar 2009 , 11:55pm
post #26 of 28

Here's a tip..."when your cakes are perfect, they'll be served at your funeral".

No one's perfect sweetie, even the most skilled cake designer will have flaws in their cakes, even if they are the only ones who sees it, they're still there.

You'll save yourself a lot of stress if you stop expecting for all of your cakes to come out perfect.

Strive for perfection, but don't fret if you don't achieve it. The mistakes, bumps and oop's are what make you a decorator who can think on the fly and execute a cake that is beautiful in spite of the hiccups.

gailsgoodies Posted 4 Mar 2009 , 12:10am
post #27 of 28

Thank you, cupcakemkr (and you too, Eisskween) for the how to link! That helps alot!

Gail thumbs_up.gif




(Edited cause I forgot the thank you part! icon_rolleyes.gif)

GenGen Posted 4 Mar 2009 , 12:41am
post #28 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by tinygoose

Not sure if you are aware of this, but a school auction will fetch about $10-$15 for even the most elaborate of cakes....so keep that in mind when you are getting super frustrated. If you are just doing it for the practice...great, but don't knock yourself out for something that isn't going to get big bucks no matter what you do.

I think Ace of Cakes would maybe go for $20 at a school auction...it's just the nature of the beast.




i hear that. made a wonderful snowman head with hat (modled after an other one i saw on CC here) went for $15 at hubby's work auction

get t his... a plate of snickers went for almost $30!! i was furious

i've done cakes for that place for next to nothing for years save for a couple retirement parties that insisted on paying me for it (i had tried to do it as a gift) anyhow.. after that i said no more cakes for hubby's work.

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