Professional Quality...

Decorating By luvbuttercream Updated 31 May 2010 , 1:44pm by luvbuttercream

luvbuttercream Posted 29 May 2010 , 1:35am
post #1 of 24

At this point I have done A LOT more cupcakes than cakes I never feel that my cakes are very professional looking. I know we are our worst critics but I do not want to make a cake for someone if they think it looks like a kid made it.

I just made a cake today and it was the most detail I have done and it was a lot of firsts for me. I am not looking for praise but I would love pointers on making cakes look more professional.

Please go to the link and see my newest creation and I am VERY open to constructive criticism. Thank you all!

23 replies
PinkLisa Posted 29 May 2010 , 1:44am
post #2 of 24

The cake is very cute!! To kick it up a level, I would make your fondant decoration pieces thinner (roll them through a pasta machine) and I would square up the sides and corners of the pool -- to give it a crisper look.

luvbuttercream Posted 29 May 2010 , 1:50am
post #3 of 24

Thank you PinkLisa I tried to get a more square look and had a hard time it was my first time even baking a square/rectangle cake.... is there any tricks I should know about?? And I have been wanting to get a pasta machine for awhile now I think it has become somewhat of a necessity.

PinkLisa Posted 29 May 2010 , 1:54am
post #4 of 24

What sort of pan did you use? Make sure you have one with really squared-off corners and straight sides like Magic Line. That will make a huge difference once you cover it with fondant. The correct equipment is vital to make profesional looking cakes. I use my pasta machine daily. It's really worth the investment. If you already have a KitchenAid mixer, it won't be too much. Also check out the sale section of Kitchenaid's website for deals.

luvbuttercream Posted 29 May 2010 , 1:57am
post #5 of 24

I bought a pan that has real square corners and I don't have a kitchenaid....yet but I saw a pasta machine that is manual at Michaels for about $35 not sure if you can use the coupons but if so it isn't a bad deal.

PinkLisa Posted 29 May 2010 , 2:02am
post #6 of 24

I bought that machine from Michaels and returned it. Maybe others had better luck. If your pan has square corners why did the cake come out more rounded? Was the fondant rolled too thickly? What problems did you encounter?

Karen421 Posted 29 May 2010 , 3:17am
post #7 of 24

I thought your cake was very cute! Love the swimmers!

mamawrobin Posted 29 May 2010 , 3:25am
post #8 of 24

The cake is too cute. thumbs_up.gif Love the little towel on the end of the pool. I agree with PinkLisa. I would roll the fondant thinner for the decoration pieces. I have a pasta roller but rarely use it. You can roll it plenty thin enough w/o one. I agree also that you should level and trim your cake for a "crisper look".

Rose_N_Crantz Posted 29 May 2010 , 3:45am
post #9 of 24

Also work on getting your frosting smooth. I like the hot knife method when working with meringue bcs, viva if I'm using a crusting bc. I think that if you can get a good smooth base, then you've achieved that "professional" look.

UpAt2am Posted 29 May 2010 , 4:01am
post #10 of 24

i agree that it's a cute cake. i also agree that the corners need to be sharper. you said that you have sharp edged pans, so i think it was the thick fondant. i liked the towel and your swimmers' arms. i would have maybe made the water more blue...and i would have rolled the lane separators into cylinders and then roped them, instead of flat pieces and then roped them. i'm being nickpicky i know, but you said you wanted constructive criticism icon_smile.gif

Texas_Rose Posted 29 May 2010 , 4:28am
post #11 of 24

It's very cute. I like the waves in the buttercream and the way the sides look like stucco.

I have a pasta machine and I never use it. It's not worth getting it out when I can roll it thin enough by hand. If you buy a cake gadget soon, a clay extruder might be fun. It would have made neat dividers for the lanes.

TucsonGina Posted 29 May 2010 , 5:05am
post #12 of 24

I can totally relate to you. I did my first pool cake this month (see in my photos) and did a whole lot of new details I've never done before either. . .I need more practice, but it was fun! I used a 9x13 Cuisanart pan. I think yours is nice and your work is clean. I ordered a clay gun on Ebay to do the hair better next time. Keep up the good work!

Kitagrl Posted 29 May 2010 , 5:31am
post #13 of 24

A 6" putty knife/scraper works great for smoothing buttercream. That's really the hardest part about decorating cake, I think, is just the practice it takes to get the buttercream neat and evenly smoothed, and then fondant decorations lined up and even.

Your cake is very cute! It took me a long time to improve, I wasn't one of those "perfection overnight" people. And I still have plenty of improving to do yet!

chellescountrycakes Posted 29 May 2010 , 1:47pm
post #14 of 24

I love the BC 'water' and how did you make the sides look like that?

I think it was really cute. honestly. The only thing that I would havedone differnt is make the fondant a little thinner on the decorations maybe. BUT, that in no way takes away from the cake. icon_smile.gif

tarheelgirl Posted 29 May 2010 , 1:51pm
post #15 of 24

Very cute cake! And remember.. practice makes perfect! thumbs_up.gifthumbs_up.gif

Kims_cakes Posted 29 May 2010 , 2:10pm
post #16 of 24

Your cake is really cute! Just remember, a lot of this comes with practice. I can't get my buttercream smooth without the Viva papertowel method. Thank goodness for that method!

Keep up the good work! thumbs_up.gif

luvbuttercream Posted 29 May 2010 , 3:43pm
post #17 of 24

Thank you all I don't even know where to start in responding. I used the paper towel method too smooth I think I am going to need to get a fondant smoother instead of using my hand though to get a smoother look. Like I said Ia m really new to cakes well and cupcakes too really I made my VERY first cake in July of last year and I think I have done maybe 5 or 6 since. But I love all the points and will try then all next time. Thank you all!

Nellical Posted 30 May 2010 , 3:45pm
post #18 of 24

Your cake is really cute. Here are a few things to help kick it up a notch.

Fill and stack your layers then chill really well before crumb coating. Make sure the filling is level. Before you crumb coat, trim the sides with a serrated bread knife so the sides are straight and perfectly 90 degrees vertical.

For the crumb coat, use a little water in your BC to loosen it, not too much, so that the crumbcoat is nice and clean. Once you crumb coat, chill it again for about 15 minutes to set the BC and harden up the cake again. Then frost it again and get that icing really smooth...then, guess what...chill it again before you put on the fondant.

The thinner you can get the fondant the better but too thin can be a problem, causing it to tear or ruffle too much at the bottom. If it is too stiff to roll or knead, you can nuke it for about 8 - 10 seconds to make it more pliable.

Also, get two fondant smoothers! They are one of the most used tools in our bakery! Invaluable for getting those nice smooth edges on corners and around the top. Remember, once the fondant is on the cake, you can work it for quite a long time before it sets.

And add a wee bit more color to your designs. Contrast is one of the essentials for making something look like it pops rather than blends together. It helps a lot to draw out your design before you start, even if you think you can't draw. Once you get the basic design drawn, put some tracing paper over the drawing and color the tracing paper to see what works. You can do several versions without messing up your original drawing.

The other really essential tool we use is a rotating cake stand. You can get one online through a web restaurant store for about $60 with shipping. I wouldn't be able to do as much without it.

Great first cake! A lot better than some of the culinary school graduates that I've had to let go.

luvbuttercream Posted 30 May 2010 , 5:59pm
post #19 of 24

Nellical: Thank you so much for all the info I think it as all going to be VERY useful and I appreciate you taking the time to help out an amateur if it weren't for people like you I would of given up a long time ago.

kkbritt8 Posted 31 May 2010 , 3:47am
post #20 of 24

My guess is they loved your cake. We are our worst critics, especially when we compare our work to the gorgeous cakes on this site!

However, I have had frustrations with my square cakes drooping in the corners and I have discovered time is usually my problem. First of all, when you are filling your cakes you can see if the corners are drooping slightly. If they are, add a little extra filling in the area.

Make sure to allow enough time between steps to allow your cake to settle. After you fill the cake, put it back in the fridge to settle and also let the filling chill (even fillings that don't have to be refrigerated I still put in the fridge).

When you are crumb coating your cake, get it as square as you can at that time. It will make the final coat that much easier. There are some great links to you tube on this site that show how to fill, crumb coat, cover, frost your cakes. They give different tips from different people. This weekend was the first time I was actually pleased with my square cake.

Like mentioned before, practice makes perfect (if there is such a thing) and this site is the best "teacher" I've ever had!

saffronica Posted 31 May 2010 , 4:45am
post #21 of 24

I noticed that in the description on the photo you said you used SMBC; here in the forum you said you used a paper towel to smooth it. Because SMBC does not crust like some icings do, you will never be able to get it smooth with a paper towel. For this cake, I actually like the texture it gave to the sides of the cake. But if you're trying to get a cake smooth, you'll have a lot more success with another method, like a hot bench scraper.

tavyheather Posted 31 May 2010 , 5:18am
post #22 of 24

I'm not sure if the pic was off, but it seemed like your colors were pretty dull...I would have loved to see you use more colors to make it pop!!!

Nellical Posted 31 May 2010 , 1:12pm
post #23 of 24
Originally Posted by kkbritt8

My guess is they loved your cake. We are our worst critics, especially when we compare our work to the gorgeous cakes on this site!

Like mentioned before, practice makes perfect (if there is such a thing) and this site is the best "teacher" I've ever had!

Always keep in mind what kkbritt8 said! Even the best and brightest look at their cakes and think, and maybe even speak, that such and such is not right, or they wish one other thing was better. It is our nature to pick things apart.

Remember, it is only a cake. How it tastes is the ultimate thing. I have had people come in and pick up a cake, going on and on about how wonderful it looks (even when I thought it was lousy) but then they call me a few days later to tell me that it tasted fabulous. One lady came into the bakery Saturday, right before closing, looking for a special order cake for Tuesday for her 50th birthday. We explained that it was too little notice, particularly since we would be closed on Monday for the holiday. What she did say that stuck in my mind was that she had eaten some of our cake at a friend's recently and thought "it tasted divine". THAT is the ultimate thing they remember.

Keep practicing with your decorating technique, you're on the right track! Just make sure the cake tastes great and everything else is icing on the cake, pardon the pun!


luvbuttercream Posted 31 May 2010 , 1:44pm
post #24 of 24

Thank you Nel. And I know the issue with dull colors was because my SMBC wouldn't go blue enough for the water. Something I know that I need to figure out. And Yes my #1 priority is taste and I have worked on mastering recipes before mastering decorating.

Quote by @%username% on %date%