Any Idea's On Getting Faster?

Decorating By Creative_Cookies_Cakes Updated 21 Apr 2010 , 8:44am by zdebssweetsj

Creative_Cookies_Cakes Posted 18 Apr 2010 , 4:02am
post #1 of 24

I am just starting to do more cakes for other people than just family. I just do this out of my home for a side business. I have read that some of the people on here have done 13 cakes in a week! I am lucky if I get two done. My husband said I need to start charging a lot more or I need to get a lot faster. Any advise would be helpful!! Thanks in advance.

23 replies
Rylan Posted 18 Apr 2010 , 4:18am
post #2 of 24

Bigger oven, bigger equipement will definitely make things faster. Maybe you can hire someone to help you as well (if you are planning on doing 13 big cakes a week)?

You can also make flowers ahead of time. I know some decorators who keep things in stock. If you don't plan on doing so, you can always purchase ready made flowers and such.

Wish you the best!

Texas_Rose Posted 18 Apr 2010 , 4:50am
post #3 of 24

Practice and experience are the best way to get faster. If you're baking from home, having the house rewired to accomodate commercial appliances wouldn't make any sense, and your oven is probably big enough already. Can you bake while you're doing something else, so that it doesn't feel like you're spending hours baking? You can even bake in advance and freeze the cakes until you need them.

As for the actual decorating, the more practice you have, the faster it goes. You'll also get to know your abilities better, and figure out which cakes are going to take you many hours for the details, and either charge more for those details or convince your client to have a more affordable, less detailed cake of the same design.

mamawrobin Posted 18 Apr 2010 , 5:05am
post #4 of 24

Practice and experience will help you to work faster. Bake like a day or two and week and freeze your cakes. They will already be made saving you the time of baking. I'd also make my buttercream and fondant on the days that I baked. Having everything already made will save you time that you can spend decorating and creating your designs. When you're being paid you certainly don't want to skimp on the time spent to do your best work thumbs_up.gif

indydebi Posted 18 Apr 2010 , 5:12am
post #5 of 24

Take a lesson from Henry Ford and learn to work in an assembly line process.

- Make batches and batches of icing. Having icing ready made is a great time saver.
- Bake lots of cakes and freeze them. Cakes thaw in minutes (15 to 60).
- Make flowers (BC, gumpaste, or fondant) ahead of time so they are ready to just be placed on the cake.
- Make sure all of your equipment is laid out and/or easily accessible befor starting a cake. You'd be AMAZED at how this adds up to lost time every time you have to STOP to look for a tip, STOP to make a batch of icing, STOP to fill icing bags, STOP to change tips on a bag.
- Look at the order in which you do things. Do you prep your baking pans before or after you make the cake batter? If you prep it before, then you can make the batter and immediately pour it into the waiting pans. If you prep them after you make the batter, it's another example of having to STOP to prep the pans. It really does add up.
- Keep a wet dishcloth by you at all times. Wipe down the counter after every process. Break and separate eggs .... wipe counter. Measure out flour ... wipe counter. This really cuts down your end-of-the-project clean up time.
- I would lay out a large sheet of parchment paper (I'd buy the 18x26 sheets, but inexpensive wax paper will work, too.) and lay my work tools on the paper. Clean up was a breeze ... wad up the paper with the mess inside of it and 50% of your clean up is done.

As you work on your assembly line process, you may be surprised to discover it's not so much your decorating that need speeded up, but your processes that need refined. thumbs_up.gif

SpecialtyCakesbyKelli Posted 18 Apr 2010 , 6:59am
post #6 of 24

I have done 13 cakes in a week several times, and I can tell you it's a full time job (day and night) even with everything prepared, it will still take up a lot of time. I'm not the fastest worker, but I'm not slow either. 13 cakes has proved to be too much for me in a week. I've cut down to 9 per week. I have to sleep! LOL... and spend time with my family. Since I do this full time, I cut down to 9 a week, so I can do 3 on Wednesday (delivered on Thursday and Friday), 3 on Thursday, and 3 on Friday. This has worked out better for me. That way I have Saturday to do whatever I want with my kids after cakes are picked up icon_smile.gif

mayo2222 Posted 18 Apr 2010 , 12:48pm
post #7 of 24

Good point Kelli, I was just going to ask by "side business" do you mean you are doing this after you get home from your normal 40 hr a week job? If so, then don't expect to be kicking out 13 cakes a week.

Everyone has post some great tips above and other than putting your husband to work, I second that over time and with lots of practice you will just naturally get faster. You begin to figure out what works best for your situation and as your skills build up you begin to have more self confidence.

egensinnig Posted 18 Apr 2010 , 1:59pm
post #8 of 24

I always make a schedule for my cakes - I list all the steps involved and then I tick them off as I go. This is especially useful if I have a lot of orders or decorations like figurines that need to be made in steps with drying time in between.
For example: Shop, bake, freeze, thaw, make fillings, make legs, make torso, attach arms and heads,make clothes, tort and fill, crumb coat, cover, decorate, deliver - I put it in a logical order, what day I'll do what and approx time for each step.

This also makes it easy to calculate the time I've spent on a cake wich makes it easier to charge the right price next time.
It might sound a bit obsessive but since I'm an efficency and process specialist at my day time job I just can't help my self icon_biggrin.gif

And also experience has cut down the time I spend on a cake by half I think

cblupe Posted 18 Apr 2010 , 2:30pm
post #9 of 24

Thank you for the tips and advice on this thread!

bmoser24 Posted 18 Apr 2010 , 2:43pm
post #10 of 24

How much do you charge for your cakes? Starting price on a specialty cake....if you don't mind sharing. Thanks

Creative_Cookies_Cakes Posted 19 Apr 2010 , 3:39am
post #11 of 24

I want to thank everyone for the advice. I was reading Kelli's post that she did 13 cakes in a week and I thought I would never be able to do that many. I sell real estate, teach wilton cake decorating classes and my husband pays me to mail or deliver birthday cakes and cookies to his clients. So each week my work hours change. I agree that I do keep getting faster the more that I do. I really liked the advice to always have a wash cloth and clean up as you go and to lay out wax paper in my work area. When I wait till after the cake is done my kitchen looks like a bomb went off. Every inch is covered in something and I have a big kitchen.

SpecialtyCakesbyKelli Posted 19 Apr 2010 , 4:03am
post #12 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by Creative_Cookies_Cakes

I want to thank everyone for the advice. I was reading Kelli's post that she did 13 cakes in a week and I thought I would never be able to do that many. I sell real estate, teach wilton cake decorating classes and my husband pays me to mail or deliver birthday cakes and cookies to his clients. So each week my work hours change. I agree that I do keep getting faster the more that I do. I really liked the advice to always have a wash cloth and clean up as you go and to lay out wax paper in my work area. When I wait till after the cake is done my kitchen looks like a bomb went off. Every inch is covered in something and I have a big kitchen.



Well this is my full time job... so I don't have another job anymore. So that makes it easier... but I still try to treat it like a part time job lol. I usually bake on Monday and Tuesday, decorate on wed, thrus, and fri, so I can have sat and sun off....doesn't always work out that way, but hey, it was a good plan! lol
My kitchen looks like a tornado went through it most of the time icon_biggrin.gif

indydebi Posted 19 Apr 2010 , 4:09am
post #13 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by Creative_Cookies_Cakes

I really liked the advice to always have a wash cloth and clean up as you go.....


I work nights in a hotel and we have what we call our Evening Reception where we provide free hot foods to our guests. When I work the hot foods shift, it's MY kitchen, and Debi's rule of "Clean up as you go .... or else!" icon_biggrin.gif instantly went into effect.

I now have co-workers who are asking the manager to schedule them with me so they can learn to do foods faster. The manager told me I save him payroll because "I can schedule two people ..... or I can schedule Debi!" icon_lol.gificon_lol.gif

And it's all because of the "clean up as you go" rule. The dishwater is always hot and ready and dishes are washed IMMEDIATELY after use, not at the end of the night. And I keep washcloths in strategic places in the kitchen for quick clean up. thumbs_up.gif

VNatividad Posted 19 Apr 2010 , 7:51pm
post #14 of 24

When I was 16 I worked at McDonalds for about 4 years, Clean As You Go, was drilled into our heads that I still apply it to my life to this day! It certainly works for baking and decorating!

HamSquad Posted 19 Apr 2010 , 8:50pm
post #15 of 24

Indydeby you are certainly right about the clean as you go rule. My mother drilled that into us as kids, man I thought she was the "Clean Police"! I so appreciate her rule, it came in handy taking food and nutrition classes when we prepare foods or ran test in food science, which the rule still stands today in my house. However, now I get the look of you are the "clean police", especially from my hubby. He tries very hard, still working on my teen daughter who has the chronic case of the "use it, leave it til later plan ". I always enjoy you guys. Have a Blessed Day.
Pam-Hammy

DeeDelightful Posted 19 Apr 2010 , 9:03pm
post #16 of 24

I totally agree. I can't cook on top of mess on top of mess. i have to wipe down the counters as i go. I keep dishwater and keep the dishwasher open so items can be thrown in and out of the way. My kitchen is very small, so I have no choice. I am going to train myself to make 3-4 batches of icing at one time and also pre-measure ingredients for one recipe and put into labeled zip loc baggies, so on baking day, all i have to do is dump and mix....less clean up, too.

indydebi Posted 19 Apr 2010 , 9:05pm
post #17 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by HamSquad

still working on my teen daughter who has the chronic case of the "use it, leave it til later plan ".


At my house, I sarcastically refer to it as the "Oh no problem .....*MOM* will take care of it!!" syndrome! icon_mad.gif

When I was sick for 2 weeks, I finally asked the question, "How come when I get sick, suddenly no one remembers how to load a dishwasher? Gosh, THANKS, guys for stacking the dishes so neatly for *MOM* to do later!!" icon_evil.gif

Luv them anyway! icon_redface.gif

debbief Posted 19 Apr 2010 , 10:17pm
post #18 of 24

Quick question on the "make ahead" plan. I have been baking and freezing cakes ahead of time and it helps a LOT! I'm wondering though, how far in advance can I make my buttercream? I had a batch that I made a couple weeks ago for a cake and had quite a bit left over. Put it in a sealed container in the fridge. I decorated a cake over the weekend and thought I'd use it, then I got scared that it was too old so I threw it out. So how long will buttercream icing last in the fridge? Can that be froze as well?

BTW - Great tips everyone, thanks! I really try hard on the clean as you go rule. It feels like I'm cleaning as I go, but by the time I'm done for the evening, my kitchen is trashed icon_redface.gif I don't have a lot of counter space or storage area either, so I think it may look worse than it really is.

mamawrobin Posted 19 Apr 2010 , 11:33pm
post #19 of 24

I've kept buttercream (powdered sugar/crusting buttercream) for a couple of weeks just fine. Just rewhip before using. If your talking about SMBC I've been told one week by some and a month by others icon_confused.gificon_confused.gif However when I make SMBC I usually don't have any leftovers as we like that straight out of the bowl thumbs_up.gif

I don't refrigerate my crusting bc though.

I must say that I also clean as I go. My mother and grandmother always did things that way. By the time my mother had supper on the table the only mess to clean up was the dinner dishes, tea glasses and silverware icon_lol.gif

Sassy74 Posted 20 Apr 2010 , 1:10am
post #20 of 24

I can totally attest to the points that Debi made. I had two challenging cakes to do this past weekend, and I knew I would not be able to get everything done without major advance prep. So, a week and a half before they were due, I made the fondant monograms for both. Also, I took a couple of hours each night to work on the flowers/decorations that were fondant/gumpaste. About a week in advance, I made a TON of BC and MMF. A few nights before, I cut/covered my boards. When it was time to bake/decorate, the cakes literally went together in no time. I've never worked so efficiently! By doing all that advance prep, I wasn't constantly having to stop and clean, or wait for things to dry, or stop to cover a board, etc. I was able to start with a clean work space, all my decorations dried, organized, and laid out. Those cakes almost put themselves together, lol!

bakermom3107 Posted 20 Apr 2010 , 1:24am
post #21 of 24

This isn't completely on-topic, but I learned the OHIO rule at a previous job... Only Handle It Once (OHIO). If you get something out, put it back right away, don't set it on the table to be put away later. When I get ingredients out to make cake, I put them away right after I measure them out. This works for everything in life (I get on my hubbie alot about this too!!)

sugarspice Posted 20 Apr 2010 , 1:30am
post #22 of 24

The "stop and do this or that" totally kills my timeline & my momentum!! I did a cake last weekend and literally spent an HOUR printing and re-printing the message on the computer-I could NOT get it sized right icon_evil.gif Prime example of something that should have been done ahead! I am hoping a kopykake would eliminate this. Sometimes I have a cake and I really struggle with the design--this wastes time too!

bobwonderbuns Posted 20 Apr 2010 , 1:40am
post #23 of 24

Lot of good advice on this thread. Practice will increase your piping speed. Do as much as you can ahead of time. Make big batches of frosting and doughs. Wake up a little earlier and have everything in front of you before you start (go ahead, ask me how I know THAT one!) icon_lol.gif

zdebssweetsj Posted 21 Apr 2010 , 8:44am
post #24 of 24

Yep cleaning will eat up all your time if you let it, keep it clean as you go and you'll stay better organized.

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