I Am Such An Amateur ...

Decorating By ctinaw Updated 19 May 2010 , 2:29pm by ctinaw

ctinaw Posted 18 May 2010 , 4:25pm
post #1 of 21

I stopped into a local bakery tonight. I had been researching local bakery prices, looks, etc - not easy to do apparently in my area. I could hardly find ANY websites devoted to local bakeries or bakers - so I'd just read whatever I could. Well, I came across this one that sounded fabulous - the owner, of course was an actual pastry chef. He had moved here from Boston I believe - where he had even helped open the original Armani Cafe. Apparently he ended up here because he met his sweetheart online - and she was a college student here. They are happily married now and share the business together. All together now - Awwwwwww.

Anyway - he had this amazing array of cakes and flavors - even small individual cakes and mouses, cheesecakes, tarts, etc one could purchase to take home (not really room to eat there, it's mainly just a bakery location). I purchased an individualized chocolate mousse covered in ganache and a slice of a fresh fruit tart. Both were heaven - amazing in taste - perfect in texture and appearance. And after savoring both with my hubby - I came to the sad realization of how far I have to go. I can bake things that look "cute" or "ok" and taste "good" - but I've never baked a dessert that makes a person roll their eyes into the back of their heads while making strange gutteral uggghs, ahhs and whooas.

Now hey don't get me wrong. I sure didn't think I'd buy a kitchenaid one day and become the premier pastry chef of my city the next. I know I'm a newbie! I own it - ok! But that's kind of discouraging in a way - to know that I'll never really be at that level. I do this primiarily as a hobby - I have not even a slight inkling to attend a culinary school - or even to open my own bakery - or maybe even my own business. Though I thought I could do a cake or something for - someone? Hell I don't know. I have to wonder who in their right mind would order a cake from me when there is stuff like that out there though...

These are all mostly rambles. I'm not looking for encouragement or validation - I'm just thinking. But thought maybe someone else might relate.

20 replies
JCE62108 Posted 18 May 2010 , 4:55pm
post #2 of 21

OMG. Seriously. LOL. You can be as good as you want to be! If you have the dedication, the love, and the passion for this work, you will get there! A year ago I barely knew how to use fondant. I only baked from a box mix. And my drive and desire to improve my skills brought me to where I am now. Ill post some photos of my skill level from a year ago and now. This site will help you a lot as well. If you want a good cake recipe to start you off, Ill give you the one I use. Everyone loves it and it's the best cake in the area, including all the ma and pa shops that bake from scratch:

WASC-
-1 box mix (lets say, Better Crocker Golden vanilla for this recipe)
-1 box vanilla instant pudding (not sugar free)
-1 cup flour
-1 cup sugar
-1 cup sour cream
-4 whole eggs
-1 cup water
-3-4 tsp vanilla (or some people like to sub 1 or 2 tsp almond in there. I dont.)
-dash salt
-1/4 cup vegetable oil

Bake at 325 until cake tests done.

You will get oohs and ahhs over this cake. icon_smile.gif I always do. People absolutly rave about how moist and flavorful it is. It's my go-to recipe.

Not everyone can afford to go to pastry school. I wanted to badly, but for 37,000 for two years, I just couldnt. But, if you have the dedication and desire to learn, you can get there. People here are always willing to help you as well. Don't let that delicious tart discourage you, but take it as inspiration! Just think, "Ok, how did he do this? How can I reproduce this? Let me do some research". If you have that kind of thinking, you'll be on your way.

Let me show you some photos of how my skill developed in the last year. If I can do it, anyone can. I learned everything on my own. As you can see, a year can make a huge difference if you are commited. Be inspired! Not discouraged. icon_biggrin.gif
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JCE62108 Posted 18 May 2010 , 5:05pm
post #3 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by ctinaw



These are all mostly rambles. I'm not looking for encouragement or validation - I'm just thinking. But thought maybe someone else might relate.




You know, I remember feeling the exact same way when I started out. LOL. That is why I just wrote all that to you. Because there isnt a reason to feel that way if you believe in yourself. I dont want you to feel that way. Ive been there, done that. It's no good. icon_smile.gif

jammjenks Posted 18 May 2010 , 5:11pm
post #4 of 21

Every 5-star pastry chef was an ameteur one time.

Malakin Posted 18 May 2010 , 5:17pm
post #5 of 21

The desserts that I make that have people doing the oohhhh ahhh type thingy is not usually just my cakes, it's a whole array of different types I make. I branched out into different areas though. For example I studied up a lot of visual presentation, different types of cakes, gateau's, croquembouche, mediterraenian and french pastries etc. I also bought a professional baking and pastry book which helped a lot not to mention quite a few videos. I'm still never completely satisfied with my own work and spend countless hours drooling over everybody else's!

JCE62108 Posted 18 May 2010 , 5:22pm
post #6 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by jammjenks

Every 5-star pastry chef was an ameteur one time.




icon_lol.gif Bingo!

deedee1120 Posted 18 May 2010 , 5:29pm
post #7 of 21

ctinaw- I feel the exact same way. I started baking/decorating when my sister and I decided to have a contest one year to see who can bake the best cake for each other's bdays (which are only 10 days apart). I loved it so much that I continued to make cakes as a hobby, but when I look at all the gorgeous cakes out there, it brings me back to reality. I have so far to go! I guess all we can do is keep practicing!

JCE62108- I can't wait to try your recipe! Thanks for sharing. One quick question, no eggs??

ctinaw Posted 18 May 2010 , 6:58pm
post #8 of 21

Thanks everyone for your replies. JCE: I've tried a variation of the WASC - though the recipe is definitely different than the one you have here. I didn't care for the one I tried - it was sticky and almost too dense and moist - I actually just made an earlier post about that today. I like cake that's very soft - not dry but soft - and sponge-like. Not moist in the "wet" or sticky sense - which seems to be the results I am getting from the WASC recipe I tried.

It's very true - that everyone starts as an amateur. Honestly - maybe I'd be a better food critic than the chef. I get such enjoyment just seeing and tasting everything others have made that I don't mind that I'm not the best - I really don't. I've done enough though to have a deep appreciation for those who are experts in their field. But I do enjoy making cakes. I don't make them often - just for family and friends birthdays mostly - and maybe a few fund raisers in the future - that's it for now. I like to see what I can do with what I have - and maybe at some point it will turn into more than that - and maybe it won't.

Anyway - I guess it's easy to get swept up in compliments by friends and family members and then to taste something that is REALLY good and be like - wow - they must not have tasted this then. Or were they just being nice? LOL. Not that my stuff is bad - it's pretty good - just not orgasmic to the point where someone would taste it and be like OMG YOU HAVE TO MAKE MY CAKE!!! Maybe I'm just too critical of myself. I have no doubt that if I committed myself to it 100% I'd have no problem elevating myself to that level - I just don't really see myself committing myself 100% to it is the problem icon_smile.gif. I've put on about 4 pounds the past month since I purchased the cricut cake - it's getting out of hand .... to the point that I'm questioning this side business venture - at all.

Kima920 Posted 18 May 2010 , 7:19pm
post #9 of 21

Don't give up! I think probably everyone on here as had their share of doubt along the way or had a really bad experience with a customer that made them question their talent. If this is what you want to do then don't give up! I started last January and still have a way to go in the decorating department but my cakes taste great. It is a process that we all go through to get better but it takes time. I use the WASC too with some changes and I get rave reviews because people love the moistness and the dense texture of the cake. Some of us are better bakers than decorators and some are the opposite. But in the end it takes a lot of practice especially if you want to do this for a living. I absolutely love what I do and I know there are people out there better than me but that doesn't make me feel any less about my talent because of it. Believe in yourself and talent!

tastyart Posted 18 May 2010 , 7:45pm
post #10 of 21

I've never been to culinary school or taken classes, but I've learned alot through trial and error and through this site. Anyone can learn if they really want to...and it doesn't take pastry school.

JCE62108 Posted 18 May 2010 , 8:16pm
post #11 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by deedee1120

ctinaw- I feel the exact same way. I started baking/decorating when my sister and I decided to have a contest one year to see who can bake the best cake for each other's bdays (which are only 10 days apart). I loved it so much that I continued to make cakes as a hobby, but when I look at all the gorgeous cakes out there, it brings me back to reality. I have so far to go! I guess all we can do is keep practicing!

JCE62108- I can't wait to try your recipe! Thanks for sharing. One quick question, no eggs??




SHOOT! YES!!!! 4 eggs. Im so sorry. I hope I didnt screw anyone up. icon_redface.gif

JCE62108 Posted 18 May 2010 , 8:33pm
post #12 of 21

[quote="ctinaw"]Thanks everyone for your replies. JCE: I've tried a variation of the WASC - though the recipe is definitely different than the one you have here. I didn't care for the one I tried - it was sticky and almost too dense and moist - I actually just made an earlier post about that today. I like cake that's very soft - not dry but soft - and sponge-like. Not moist in the "wet" or sticky sense - which seems to be the results I am getting from the WASC recipe I tried.
quote]

You know, I had issues with the WASC recipe when I first started. It was the recipe I used. It actually seemed DRY to me. I was working at a grocery store bakery at the time, and I was like, there is no way I can use this recipe when it's drier and not even as good at the grocery store cake I work with. What I had was the ORIGINAL WASC, which uses white cake mix, egg whites, and no oil. I guess it didnt have enough fat in it, but I didnt like it. There are LOTS of variations on the recipe, and the one I posted is my favorite. It is VERY moist. Maybe that is what you dont like about it. I could see how your description may fit it. I use it because people absolutly LOVE it. I always seem to think that maybe it's too moist, and if I tell that to my family or friends, they basically yell at me with cake stuffed in their cheeks, "NO!!! No. Don't ever say that. It's perfect." LOL my sister-in-law's exact words...except muffled by the slice of marble cake in her mouth. icon_biggrin.gif

By the way, Im one of those who hates to cook. Baking isnt my favorite thing either. That is why I use the WASC recipe. You can make ANY flavor out of it, it is so incredibly versatile, and I almost dont even have to think about what Im doing since Ive done this recipe so much it's committed to heart. I'd rather spend my time worrying about making a beautiful cake. I'm just lucky I found this recipe. It's made my life easy. icon_smile.gif

hedge Posted 18 May 2010 , 8:44pm
post #13 of 21

Wow!! Your turtle looks awesome JCE62108!!!!!
Do you make your own fondant? That has been what has discouraged me from making cakes, my MMF is never consistent.

graypaw300 Posted 18 May 2010 , 8:55pm
post #14 of 21

I'd like to know that as well, my MMF can be perfect at times...and horrid others.

JCE62108 Posted 18 May 2010 , 8:56pm
post #15 of 21

Yes. I struggled with MMF. I had the same problems and I've posted videos on here before of my fondant being cracked, bubbly, and leaking water. Yeah. Gross. I've got it down now, but it took me a long time and lots of practice. You have to know what looks right in order to make it right, and that just takes practice. I say that, because the recipes posted never quite work for me. For example, in one batch of MMF you should be using 2 lbs of sugar, right? If I use more than 1.5 lbs, it gets super dry and cracks. It could be the weather here in FL. I dont know. The MM you use contributes to the quality, as does the sugar. I can't use just any MM or sugar. It's very tempermental. BUT, I stuck with it because it's SUPER CHEAP, and tastes really good. All my fondant cakes are MMF. If you want the recipe I use with instructions, feel free to PM me.

LuvLyrics Posted 18 May 2010 , 8:58pm
post #16 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by JCE62108

OMG. Seriously. LOL. You can be as good as you want to be! If you have the dedication, the love, and the passion for this work, you will get there! A year ago I barely knew how to use fondant. I only baked from a box mix. And my drive and desire to improve my skills brought me to where I am now. Ill post some photos of my skill level from a year ago and now. This site will help you a lot as well. If you want a good cake recipe to start you off, Ill give you the one I use. Everyone loves it and it's the best cake in the area, including all the ma and pa shops that bake from scratch:

WASC-
-1 box mix (lets say, Better Crocker Golden vanilla for this recipe)
-1 box vanilla instant pudding (not sugar free)
-1 cup flour
-1 cup sugar
-1 cup sour cream
-4 whole eggs
-1 cup water
-3-4 tsp vanilla (or some people like to sub 1 or 2 tsp almond in there. I dont.)
-dash salt
-1/4 cup vegetable oil

Bake at 325 until cake tests done.

You will get oohs and ahhs over this cake. icon_smile.gif I always do. People absolutly rave about how moist and flavorful it is. It's my go-to recipe.

Not everyone can afford to go to pastry school. I wanted to badly, but for 37,000 for two years, I just couldnt. But, if you have the dedication and desire to learn, you can get there. People here are always willing to help you as well. Don't let that delicious tart discourage you, but take it as inspiration! Just think, "Ok, how did he do this? How can I reproduce this? Let me do some research". If you have that kind of thinking, you'll be on your way.

Let me show you some photos of how my skill developed in the last year. If I can do it, anyone can. I learned everything on my own. As you can see, a year can make a huge difference if you are commited. Be inspired! Not discouraged. icon_biggrin.gif




What about mixing method? do you add all the ingredients at the same time? I would love to makes this cake !! thanks for sharing...

BTW in my opinion .. looking to your first cakes ... you are a natural !!! but thank you for posting your pics ... very encouraging to us newbies !!

tastyart Posted 18 May 2010 , 9:18pm
post #17 of 21

I like to make my own fondant too. I use michelle fosters recipe though. It's really great to work with.

CakesIMake Posted 18 May 2010 , 9:18pm
post #18 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by LuvLyrics

Quote:
Originally Posted by JCE62108

OMG. Seriously. LOL. You can be as good as you want to be! If you have the dedication, the love, and the passion for this work, you will get there! A year ago I barely knew how to use fondant. I only baked from a box mix. And my drive and desire to improve my skills brought me to where I am now. Ill post some photos of my skill level from a year ago and now. This site will help you a lot as well. If you want a good cake recipe to start you off, Ill give you the one I use. Everyone loves it and it's the best cake in the area, including all the ma and pa shops that bake from scratch:

WASC-
-1 box mix (lets say, Better Crocker Golden vanilla for this recipe)
-1 box vanilla instant pudding (not sugar free)
-1 cup flour
-1 cup sugar
-1 cup sour cream
-4 whole eggs
-1 cup water
-3-4 tsp vanilla (or some people like to sub 1 or 2 tsp almond in there. I dont.)
-dash salt
-1/4 cup vegetable oil

Bake at 325 until cake tests done.

You will get oohs and ahhs over this cake. icon_smile.gif I always do. People absolutly rave about how moist and flavorful it is. It's my go-to recipe.

Not everyone can afford to go to pastry school. I wanted to badly, but for 37,000 for two years, I just couldnt. But, if you have the dedication and desire to learn, you can get there. People here are always willing to help you as well. Don't let that delicious tart discourage you, but take it as inspiration! Just think, "Ok, how did he do this? How can I reproduce this? Let me do some research". If you have that kind of thinking, you'll be on your way.

Let me show you some photos of how my skill developed in the last year. If I can do it, anyone can. I learned everything on my own. As you can see, a year can make a huge difference if you are commited. Be inspired! Not discouraged. icon_biggrin.gif



What about mixing method? do you add all the ingredients at the same time? I would love to makes this cake !! thanks for sharing...

BTW in my opinion .. looking to your first cakes ... you are a natural !!! but thank you for posting your pics ... very encouraging to us newbies !!




I'm going to have to try this out...how does it do with stacking and also what size pudding?

tavyheather Posted 18 May 2010 , 9:42pm
post #19 of 21

Warren Brown of Cake Love was going to Law School........thats the most recent example I heard....

I think some people are def. born with a better ability to bake...a friend of a friend apparently doesn't even measure her ingredients...???

But we all start somewhere...I find that reading many books that teach you the basics will get you far (in lieu of culinary school), but about a year ago I didn't know that there were so many times of flours (soft winter wheat, etc) and that white shells cracked over a flat surface break with less "shrapnel" icon_wink.gif And that wiping a bowl with lemon juice before beating whites will ensure the best volume........just read your heart out!!

JCE62108 Posted 18 May 2010 , 10:02pm
post #20 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by LuvLyrics



What about mixing method? do you add all the ingredients at the same time? I would love to makes this cake !! thanks for sharing...

BTW in my opinion .. looking to your first cakes ... you are a natural !!! but thank you for posting your pics ... very encouraging to us newbies !!




LOL those arent even my first cakes. Ive been doing this for about 3 years. That is just from the last year, since Ive been on my own and allowed to do what the heck I want. icon_smile.gif My creativity was stifled by the bakery I worked at before. We were not ALLOWED to do certain designs because it took too much time. Fun, fun. My first cakes are scary. I have photos somewhere...hidden.

As far as mixing, honestly I just dump everything in and mix it all at once. I cant tell a difference in the final product by mixing it differently. I do, however, put all the ry ingrediants in first, and then the wet on top of that...and that is only because when I turn my mixer on it helps avoid dust clouds of flour and cake mix. icon_smile.gif

CakesImake: I use the small box for each batch...um, let me see... the great value brand I have is 3.4 oz. I use it for carved cakes as well, so Id say it works fine for that. It is soft and moist, so when carving I will chill it or halfway freeze it before hand. Especially chocolate cake. It stacks fine. Just let it settle for a bit just like any other cake to make sure you dont get the bulges on the sides.

Tastyart: I have tried Michelle Foster's fondant, and I actually liked that too. I like the taste of MM fondant better though, and I think it's cheaper to make as well, so I stick with that. But Michelle Foster's is a good recipe to use and it comes out good every time I've done it (unlike MMF) icon_smile.gif

ctinaw Posted 19 May 2010 , 2:29pm
post #21 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by hedge

Wow!! Your turtle looks awesome JCE62108!!!!!
Do you make your own fondant? That has been what has discouraged me from making cakes, my MMF is never consistent.




I've made Edna's MMF three times now and it turned out perfectly each time. The recipe might be here but it's on her website too - design me a cake dot com

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