How Do You Practice?

Decorating By lsmithbendor Updated 23 Jul 2010 , 5:56pm by mamawrobin

lsmithbendor Posted 23 Jul 2010 , 1:30pm
post #1 of 21

I'm a relative newbie - I took a Wilton class 20+ years ago, made a few cakes, and quit. About a year ago, my neice said, I remember the bd cake you made for my 10th bd...please make my wedding cake! It was quite an adventure, LOL. So in the last year I've been playing with cake. I really have NO desire to do a business - this is art/fun to me...I want to be able to make NICE cakes for birthdays and I have four children and it would be awesome to make their wedding cakes...

currently I make a couple cakes a month to play...I'm thinking about making a sheet cake once a week to just play with technique, bag pressure, icing consistency...but I'm curious...how do other people do it?

How did YOU practice your cake technique? Thanks for all replies...Lisa in Oregon icon_biggrin.gif

20 replies
bobwonderbuns Posted 23 Jul 2010 , 1:40pm
post #2 of 21

If it's buttercream I want to practice, flip the cake pan over and make up a batch of decorator icing in the consistency your buttercream will be. Then decorate the pan! icon_biggrin.gif

Thanksharla Posted 23 Jul 2010 , 1:45pm
post #3 of 21

I try to use a new technique on every cake I do, whether it be covering it in fondant or buttercream.

I did recently receive my cake dummies in the mail but haven't taken the time to go to the store to get the ingredients I need for frosting.

dragonfli Posted 23 Jul 2010 , 2:04pm
post #4 of 21

I only do cakes for family and really dont have to much practice time (I have four children as well) So when I do a cake anything new is done for the first time,even if that means staying up all night until I figure out how to get it right or the cake is on the front lawn smashed on the tree!!!!!! But I do reseach first on any new technique so that I have something to go off of when I am up with a whole pot of coffee to myself!!!

JaeRodriguez Posted 23 Jul 2010 , 2:09pm
post #5 of 21

I do the same thing bobwonderbuns does! :] I want to get a cake dummy or two to start practicing on, but the pan works just fine for now!

ramie7224 Posted 23 Jul 2010 , 2:20pm
post #6 of 21

I'm also a hobby baker and I usually practice something new (or something I need to work on) each time I make a cake. For borders or flowers or things like that I also mix up a batch of frosting and practice on a cake pan. You can always just scrape it off and repeat until you get it right! I'm making a cake WAY outside of my comfort zone next week and I've been reading a LOT and asking questions here on CC. YouTube videos are also great.

lsmithbendor Posted 23 Jul 2010 , 2:36pm
post #7 of 21

Great ideas!! Thanks!

BoLeggs79 Posted 23 Jul 2010 , 2:37pm
post #8 of 21

I am a newbie as well. What works for me is to make cakes out of Jiffy Cornbread Mix - it is rather inexpensive and sturdy. I then make up a batch of Wilton frosting and go to town. Hope that helps

indydebi Posted 23 Jul 2010 , 2:48pm
post #9 of 21

When I first started out, I was lucky enough to work in an office building of over 300 women and we looked for any excuse to bring in food! So I always volunteered to make the cake for the baby shower, wedding shower, dept pitch in, whatever. Heck, I was doing at least a cake a month, plus the ones for co-workers birthdays, etc. Do you have that avenue available?

meenu Posted 23 Jul 2010 , 3:02pm
post #10 of 21

I'm a hobby baker and I do not miss any opportunity to do a cake for family/friends/co-workers. These cakes are free and therfore, I get to do what I want.
I also do dummy cakes for family and friends' birthdays and anniversaries back home and send them a picture. I get to practice and they are happy to see a cake for there special occassion (they don't have to know it's a dummy).

lsmithbendor Posted 23 Jul 2010 , 3:13pm
post #11 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by indydebi

When I first started out, I was lucky enough to work in an office building of over 300 women .... Do you have that avenue available?




I work in a pretty small office of about 20 people so there aren't as many opportunites to make cakes for work indydebi...but when I put a pic of last night's cake up on Facebook with a "half a cake to a good home" I got instant replies, LOL...so that's a new avenue open to me! icon_smile.gif

mamawrobin Posted 23 Jul 2010 , 3:25pm
post #12 of 21

Like Bob said depending on what I'm wanting to practice. To smooth buttercream I have a dummy that I used to 'perfect' my technique.

To practice real cake...I made cakes for family..friends, etc. My mother has 14 grandchildren and 6 great-grandchildren so....there's where I got a LOT of practice.

I've also baked cakes for absolutely no reason other than to learn how to properly construct a cake. A dummy cannot teach you how to bake..level..fill (properly to prevent bulging), and stack a cake. I've seen some people do beautiful work with dummies but when it comes to actually making a real cake they lack the ability to "build" the cake. It was just as important to me to build a good looking cake as it was what decorations went ON the cake.

indydebi Posted 23 Jul 2010 , 3:31pm
post #13 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by mamawrobin

.....but when it comes to actually making a real cake they lack the ability to "build" the cake. It was just as important to me to build a good looking cake as it was what decorations went ON the cake.


EXCELLENT advice! thumbs_up.gif

lsmithbendor Posted 23 Jul 2010 , 3:37pm
post #14 of 21

I'm with you on the cake construction practice....I still feel like i'm learning something new every time I "build" a cake...and I'm still searching for my holy grail cake recipe..so I don't really mind the baking of the cake for the practice either. Getting that "flawless" smooth surface requires a well-built cake!

xanikesmom Posted 23 Jul 2010 , 3:53pm
post #15 of 21

If there is a technique or new flavor I want to try out, I just make it and give it away to different occasions. Whether it be to send it with my husband to work, to my kids' preschool for treats, or even just taking it to the neighbor's house as a "thank you for being a nice neighbor" gesture. I have a co-worker who is getting married and we are doing a shower. There have been a few flavors I've wanted to try as well as doing a topsy turvey design, so I offered to do her cake as a gift instead of donating money to get her a present. It's giving me a chance to practice, plus I will be able to bring in my finished masterpiece to my 20+ co-workers, which will in turn bring me more business in the long run icon_wink.gif

bobwonderbuns Posted 23 Jul 2010 , 4:45pm
post #16 of 21

Another thing I do is go to Gordon Foods and buy a box of that awful "just add water" cake mix, some Wilton Fondant with a Michaels coupon and make some decorator icing so I'm not spending a fortune and I practice my sculpted cakes that way.

For my fondant practice I like using the styrofoam dummies.

debbief Posted 23 Jul 2010 , 4:59pm
post #17 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by mamawrobin



I've also baked cakes for absolutely no reason other than to learn how to properly construct a cake. A dummy cannot teach you how to bake..level..fill (properly to prevent bulging), and stack a cake. I've seen some people do beautiful work with dummies but when it comes to actually making a real cake they lack the ability to "build" the cake. It was just as important to me to build a good looking cake as it was what decorations went ON the cake.




I totally agree with you mamawrobin. I need just as much practice with "cake construction" as I do with decorating. I practice on friends and family all the time. My daughter and my niece work together, and I sent a cake to work for my nieces b-day in March with my daughter. Ever since then, I get requests to make lots of b-day cakes for their co-workers. I even did one for a bridal shower that they threw for someone at work. I'm a hobby baker so they all get free cakes...and I get lots of practice icon_biggrin.gif

Another thing I do is I research thoroughly any new technique...and 99% of the time, the research is done on this forum. THANK YOU CCr's for all of your help!!! Can't say that enough.

indydebi Posted 23 Jul 2010 , 5:00pm
post #18 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by debbief

...and 99% of the time, the research is done on this forum.


Amen! I've learned more in 4 years of reading on this site than I did in 25 years of hands on doing!

mamawrobin Posted 23 Jul 2010 , 5:28pm
post #19 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by indydebi

Quote:
Originally Posted by debbief

...and 99% of the time, the research is done on this forum.

Amen! I've learned more in 4 years of reading on this site than I did in 25 years of hands on doing!




Oh..I agree 100%.

Bob...did the same as you for those cakes I used to learn how to "build" a good cake. I bought a store brand of cake mix (add water only) for 50 cents each (on sale) and used those for my 'practice' cakes.
I bought a bucket of icing through the bakery where I worked to use for these cakes as well. They let me have it wholesale and it was much cheaper than making my own.

mom2twogrlz Posted 23 Jul 2010 , 5:33pm
post #20 of 21

I make as many cakes as I can. I never miss an opportunity to make a cake. Then I try something new every time, weather it be a new flavor, different baking technique, or decorating style, they are all a challenge. In fact, I am in the process of making a "surprise" cake for my best friend who is moving this weekend. The best part, they don't even know about it, so I get to pick flavor, style, and decorations all by myself. I love trying something new, even if I fail horribly!!! That gives me another chance to try again icon_smile.gif

I just started practicing my buttercream piping and smoothing more, so every time I have left over frosting I go to town on a piece of wax paper and an upside down pan.

mamawrobin Posted 23 Jul 2010 , 5:56pm
post #21 of 21

[quote="mom2twogrlz"] The best part, they don't even know about it, so I get to pick flavor, style, and decorations all by myself.

Exactly!! this is what I love about the 'practicing' part. I enjoy doing cakes that I choose the design and colors on the most. I hate it when someone orders a cake and they 'design' it themselves and the design sucks...LOL...it isn't always that way but I have made some ugly cakes because that's what the customer wanted....LOL....people that don't DO cakes don't always have the best ideas on how to decorate one....LOL.....

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