My Writing Stinks!

Decorating By misserica Updated 30 Jun 2009 , 4:40am by Unlimited

misserica Posted 18 Jun 2009 , 12:05am
post #1 of 36

When I write on a cake it looks like crap! Not all the time but most of the time. I work in a grocery store bakery so I write "Happy Birthday" all day. Sometimes its neat other times I want to crawl under my table! I bought one of those Wilton saying things where you put the letters in and then press it on the icing and it makes a huge mess.

*Note* I do not write in script, not even filling out papers, cards etc. I always have and still do write in uppercase print. I try it on cakes and some turn out great others blah. Any tips???

35 replies
Unlimited Posted 18 Jun 2009 , 5:19am
post #2 of 36

Perhaps there's another decorator that you could learn from at the bakery????

Texas_Rose Posted 18 Jun 2009 , 5:49am
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When my husband worked at a bakery, they gave him a piping bag and a baking tray to practice with. He worked evenings so he only had to write on a cake if a customer asked for it right then, but with practice he got really good. He still does better writing on a cake than I do icon_biggrin.gif

Karema Posted 18 Jun 2009 , 6:55am
post #4 of 36

I suck too! I always run out of room and have to squeeze letters in.

cherrycakes Posted 18 Jun 2009 , 11:50am
post #5 of 36

Here's something that I do to help with the running out of room and centering my letters. I print off my saying in whatever font I want to do and the size that I want it to be on the cake. I then cut out the strips and lay each one (one at a time if I have more than one line) just below where I need to write. Then I copy the writing freehand onto the cake. Although my writing is not perfect (just need more practice) it certainly helps keep my writing straight and much more even.

misserica Posted 18 Jun 2009 , 12:28pm
post #6 of 36

There is no one at the bakery to "learn" from. I filled a position that had been open for almost a year. I am the only "qualified" (haha yea right) cake decorator and crappy writer.

Texas Rose its funny you mention that, yesterday I rolled out parchment paper and just started writing sayings down, then I had to get back to work. I will keep at it. Thanks everyone.

Unlimited Posted 18 Jun 2009 , 3:33pm
post #7 of 36
Originally Posted by misserica

*Note* I do not write in script, not even filling out papers, cards etc. I always have and still do write in uppercase print. I try it on cakes and some turn out great others blah. Any tips???

I think that printing is fine for children's cakes, but it would be great if you could practice your script handwriting skills for adult birthday cakes.

Once you conquer the challenge, it can be lots of fun. I'd suggest keeping your writing icing thinned (you can also use tinted piping gel or add piping gel to thin your buttercream instead of water) it prevents air bubbles/breaks in your lines, and keep in mind that you aren't really trying to write "on" the cake, but rather slightly above the cake and let it flow. With "printing" in upper case letters, you do need to pipe your writing "on" the cake more or less in order to get it to stick to the icing when you stop pressure and pull away to make the next letter, but handwriting is soooo much quicker!

Too bad you can't watch someone writing at the shop... that's the easiest way to learn especially if you're a visual person. Good luck and keep practicing!

kjjs Posted 18 Jun 2009 , 7:09pm
post #8 of 36

O.K., here is how bad my hand writing is and why I avoid writing on cakes like the plague. When I was in the 3rd grade, my teacher told my parents to buy me a type writer for me to do my assignments because my writing was not up to the same level of my fellow 3rd graders. icon_redface.gif This was of course before word processors and computers in the classrooms. (I am 33 and really old according to my children) When I write on a cake I write it out first on a piece of paper and then use that as a guide to space the words and letters properly. I also use a toothpick and sort of trace out the letters to go over with icing. This takes me FOREVER but it is usually worth it in the end. This may be too time consuming for your bakery, though. HTH.

babycakes0022 Posted 18 Jun 2009 , 7:25pm
post #9 of 36

This is how I get around my crappy writing: I type out on the computer what I want to write, in the font I want and make it the size I want it to be on the cake. Then I tape it to a styrofoam circle and tape a piece of wax paper over it. Then I use a push pin to create a template out of the wax paper. Then I just position the piece of wax paper on the cake and use a cocoa filled cloth bag (I use those dish rags that have the little holes in them) and rub it across my template. The cocoa fills in the holes I punched with the push pin. Then just remove the wax paper and you will have a template on your cake to trace over. Make sure your frosting has crusted over before doing this. It works great for me every time! hope this helps.

crazielady38 Posted 18 Jun 2009 , 7:46pm
post #10 of 36

I try to use a fondant cutter, or some kind of tranfer whenever I can. I cannot use a piping bag to write with to save my life. I have used a squeeze bottle with with buttercream thinned with corn syrup and it worked great. I have also used melted candy wafers in my squeeze bottle. My handwriting is not that bad! Need to practice more with a piping bag. icon_lol.gif

sweetjan Posted 18 Jun 2009 , 8:00pm
post #11 of 36

Wow, excellent advice from everyone!! I'm going to run jot those helpful hints down before I forget! Thanks!!!

Sweet_Indulgence Posted 18 Jun 2009 , 10:07pm
post #12 of 36

When I first started out my writing was not so great. I had to practice. In our bakery we wrote with very thin ganach in a parchment cone. No bags or tips, just a parchment cone! Sometimes we would use cream cheese icing, but that was it - ganach or cc icing - no buttercreams were ever used. I had to learn how much pressure to use and how far to "guide" the ganach or icing.

If you can't watch and learn from someone, then I would suggest taking a round cake board, wrap it with plastic wrap and just start practicing! Find some visual aids (other people writing on cakes, fonts from the computer, ect) and just see if you can mimic their style... you never know, it could work for you and then tweak it to be your own! Then expand it from there - try writing on bigger/smaller circles and/ or sheet cake boards. This is a GREAT way to help with your spacing!!!! Ya' know so you don't start off BIG and then have to go really small to finish the inscription.

Hope this helps, happy decorating!

misserica Posted 19 Jun 2009 , 2:25am
post #13 of 36

Wow! You guys are awesome. There are some great techniques I am going to try out at home with my cakes. You know what is funny, I can write on a board! Get that cake in front of me and BAM I freeze lol.

I have to tell you, the tips (like printing font off the computer,pricking with a pin) are not stuff I can use at the bakery. I dont have access to a computer there and my cakes sizes all vary; although now that I am thinking about it I could probably print a bunch off my computer at home and bring them with me. Tonight while I was there I had some time so I started piping on a board for practice.

Also, Unlimited, I agree with you the printing looks ok on kids cakes but the adult cakes I do seem less "formal" for lack of a better word. I will keep working on it. I wish I had my camera with me at work so I could show you some of them. I will say this, I had 5 orders tonight and my writing, er, printing, came out nicely on all of them. Oh well...practice makes perfect right!?

Thanks everyone...this is why I love CC!

CreatedByMe Posted 21 Jun 2009 , 3:21pm
post #14 of 36

here's another tip that I learned here on CC:

Print out your message on the computer and then tape the paper to flat surface like the back of a cookie sheet. tape a piece of wax paper over that and then trace over the letters in royal icing. Let them dry and then you can place them on the cake where you want them. If they start to go a bit crooked, you can pick them up and re-place them! This works great for when you need a special font like "Spongebob" or "Micky Mouse"

I hate my handwriting-like you said, give me a blank cake & I get even more nervous about it!!

Good luck

tonedna Posted 21 Jun 2009 , 3:36pm
post #15 of 36

Is like learning to write again...Is really difficult, but with practice you can get
better at it..
Edna icon_smile.gif

Sugarflowers Posted 21 Jun 2009 , 4:51pm
post #16 of 36

If you can, get a book on calligraphy. This will show you some really great techniques for writing. The biggest hint is that there are only DOWN strokes. Even if you can only print, if it looks like calligraphy, no one cares and everyone things your writing is beautiful.

For large cakes, I use thread to make my "lines". Once the frosting has set enough I pull up the string and tap down the lower letters that might have been cut by the thread. It's very fast and easy.


BeeBoos-8599_ Posted 21 Jun 2009 , 5:38pm
post #17 of 36

I do what Chreated does. I either write it with royal icing or with melted candy melts on a piece of parchment then let it dry and place it on the cake. I make a couple of each word so I can pick and choose which ones turn out the best. I have the wilton letter press set and I have found that if I use the tray that came with it I get a mess but if i carefully lay each letter in place then lightly press them into the icing I get better results.

Peridot Posted 21 Jun 2009 , 9:27pm
post #18 of 36


Would you please explain that writing technique in a little more detail. I would like to try that "thread thing" but I am not sure what I am supposed to do. A most interesting technique!!! I have to write Happy Birthday Michelle on a cake for this weekend and I already am getting a headache. I certainly can not write on the side of a cake to save my life. I almost destroyed a perfectly iced BC cake about 3 months ago. I still remember how upsetting it was!


misserica Posted 22 Jun 2009 , 1:51pm
post #19 of 36

BeeBoos...I have never made RI but I think I am going to give it a try and make a huge batch of letters and numbers at home. I could make a ton and then put them safely inside of a tupperware (will they melt, or will they stay hard once dried?) and then take them to work.

I could print script writing letters from the computer and trace them out in the RI and then have both script and print for all the different sayings I would need.

(Side note: I worked early Sunday morning, Father's Day, by the time I left I felt like writing "Happy Father's Day, choke on the cake" I had written it so many times and people were super fresh all day, not to mention I did not get enough sleep the night before; people were handing me the mini Carvel cakes and asking me to write Happy Father's Day on them, the mini is a 6in with a border, one lady says "you can fit it, just write really small" I felt like giving her the piping bag and telling her to give it a try, the old 10lbs of crap in a 5lb bag situation) ok, done ranting lol!

Unlimited Posted 24 Jun 2009 , 10:30pm
post #20 of 36
Originally Posted by misserica

BeeBoos...I have never made RI but I think I am going to give it a try and make a huge batch of letters and numbers at home. I could make a ton and then put them safely inside of a tupperware (will they melt, or will they stay hard once dried?) and then take them to work.

Ooooo... first of all, why would you want to work at home for free and bring all of your hard work to give away for free? I don't understand why your bakery just doesn't train you how to write on the cakes if that's something that is expected of you to do all day long!!!

Secondly... they probably CAN'T accept those letters that you're working so hard on to use at work if they weren't actually made at work.

I know of a chinese restaurant business that brings into the store a giant stockpot full of soup from the trunk of their car that they made at home in the morning. (I doubt that they are licensed at home since they are a licensed business, but it doesn't look like good business practice to the customers arriving at lunch time.) In this case, their home is probably cleaner because I know the pesticide technician that continually sprays the place--gross is a mild description... worst he's ever seen!!!

If you aren't licensed at home, don't be surprised if they tell you no. They need to have complete control over the products they sell in order to protect their customers from any mishaps, as I'm sure you would understand and agree.

misserica Posted 26 Jun 2009 , 8:26pm
post #21 of 36

Unlimited, there is no one to train me. The person who hired me, and the only other person capable of decorating cakes, is out on disability until at least September.

And now that you mention it, you are probably right. They probably would not be able to let me use royal icing letters I brought from home. Although I will say this, no one said a word when I was using my piping gel (opened) because I ran out and the new person in charge does not know how or where to order it from. Seriously. (have not had piping gel in over a month)

nosnin Posted 26 Jun 2009 , 9:54pm
post #22 of 36

It took me about a year to get my "cake writing" to where it's at and I've been decorating for 8 years!
And I find it sad that my handwriting on cakes is A LOT better then my handwriting on paper!

Kitcake Posted 26 Jun 2009 , 10:27pm
post #23 of 36

Unlimited, there is no one to train me. The person who hired me, and the only other person capable of decorating cakes, is out on disability until at least September.

Is there a culinary dept. at your local community college? Maybe your bakery will pay for a 1 hour private lesson with an instructor. I have no idea how much that would cost but it's an idea anyway.

misserica Posted 27 Jun 2009 , 1:39am
post #24 of 36

Kitcake, it is not something I even considered. Its a part time position in a grocery store bakery, I assumed that I did not have much to work with. It is certainly something I can look into though.

poppyseed Posted 27 Jun 2009 , 2:20am
post #25 of 36

Oh Gosh, I have the same problem, I always look for other ways to write a greeting, like plaques placed on the cake. I write on the plaques and choose the best ones. I don't want to decorate a cake, and then have to mess it up with my chicken scratch! I have talked to other grocery bakers, and many of them say they have not received any formal training on decorating, just kind of had their own knowledge. Go figure!

Elise87 Posted 27 Jun 2009 , 2:28am
post #26 of 36

here's a question: When people are piping the writing do you use a medium sized piping bag or a very very small one that fits into your hand?

LittleLadyBabyCakes Posted 27 Jun 2009 , 2:30am
post #27 of 36

I write it with a blunt end of something--no icing. If I like how it looks I go over it with icing, if not--I erase it with a VIVA! icon_smile.gif

Rose_N_Crantz Posted 27 Jun 2009 , 2:46am
post #28 of 36
Originally Posted by Elise87

here's a question: When people are piping the writing do you use a medium sized piping bag or a very very small one that fits into your hand?

I use the same size bag that I use for everything else. The difference is when I actually write with it, I'll pinch off a bit towards the tip, give the bag a twist to "seal" that area off (then when I squeeze, the icing won't go backwards out the back, but through the tip. When I write, I only "pinch off" as much frosting that will fit in my hand. That way I have more control. If I'm making a rose or doing a border, then I'll pinch off more.

Am I making sense with that "pinch off" phrase?

EDIT: check out the tutorial link in my siggy. At the end of it, I show how to do my favorite border and you can kinda see towards the top of the screen what I mean by the "pinch off". I only work with an amount of frosting that I can comfortably hold in my hand, but I fill the bag with more so that I don't have to keep filling my bag every few minutes.

Elise87 Posted 27 Jun 2009 , 2:48am
post #29 of 36

"pinch off"= scoupe up?

Rose_N_Crantz Posted 27 Jun 2009 , 4:38am
post #30 of 36

Scoupe up?

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