Do You Practice Your Cakes?

Decorating By zespri Updated 12 Oct 2010 , 6:02pm by debbief

zespri Posted 12 Oct 2010 , 7:52am
post #1 of 15

So I did my research on making a cake, bought all the bits and pieces, baked my cakes, and started. I have made so many mistakes that I've just thrown in the towel, it's unusable. Luckily this cake was for nobody in particular, I just wanted to practice all the techniques I've been learning. But it got me thinking, if this was for a kids birthday party, I'd be in hot water.

Do you practice a cake before the big day to make sure you know how to make it?

I am quite glum about this. I've put so many hours into reading about techniques, bought so many books, and it was a complete failure. The dog is pleased though, she is helping me to clean up.

14 replies
mimi4bye Posted 12 Oct 2010 , 10:06am
post #2 of 15

I can say that I have practiced if it was a new technique that I hadn't done before. Especially if it was a cake I was doing for someone besides family. Many times it is on a smaller scale or may just done on something besides cake. (IE...I practiced brushed embroidery technique on a piece of craft foam). Don't get discouraged. Just chalk it up to a learning experience and enjoy the "parts and pieces" for yourself... and your dog icon_lol.gif

lapazlady Posted 12 Oct 2010 , 10:35am
post #3 of 15

If the technique is new to me I make a small cake and do a test run, to work out the biggest problems. This is no guarantee there won't be more problems, but some practice does help.

heroes Posted 12 Oct 2010 , 10:47am
post #4 of 15

I have to admit I dont practice first. I do however sketch my design first, somehow they turn out just right, watch this space for a major F up in the future icon_lol.gif

lapazlady Posted 12 Oct 2010 , 10:51am
post #5 of 15
Originally Posted by heroes

I have to admit I dont practice first. I do however sketch my design first, somehow they turn out just right, watch this space for a major F up in the future icon_lol.gif

This is a great tickle. Hope it never comes to past. LOL

AnnieCahill Posted 12 Oct 2010 , 10:58am
post #6 of 15

I don't do a practice cake first, but since I do cakes only sporadically, I do practice piping before hand. I just put a piece of waxed paper down to practice shells or drop flowers. I know it's dumb, but if you don't use it you lose it! So I do feel the need to practice some stuff before doing it on the cake.

SugarFiend Posted 12 Oct 2010 , 11:14am
post #7 of 15

I usually putter with techniques somehow before using them on a cake, but I don't generally make an entire practice cake first. Although with my last cake, I really should have. It was a mess. It was supposed to be covered in cricut-cut scrolled filigree, but I spent about 6 hours trying to get it to work, only managing to get one little medallion and a border out of it. icon_cry.gif Eventually I had to just throw some stuff on the cake, and it showed.

I think this time was my personal F up like heroes spoke of... icon_rolleyes.gif

Mama_Mias_Cakes Posted 12 Oct 2010 , 11:39am
post #8 of 15

I did when I was first starting, but now I do not. If I need to practice piping, new borders, etc. I just use one of my 3" pans turned upside down.

I am really wanting to try a topsy turvy cake. I have not had an order for one yet, but that cake I will definitely do a practice one where there is less stress than if it was for a customer. icon_smile.gif

pinkjacs Posted 12 Oct 2010 , 11:41am
post #9 of 15

I dont practice my cakes I just go with the flow. If I over think things I know I will mess them up because I will have failed at it in my head. I have never had any cake training I just go with my instinct and hope for the best has worked for me up till now. I still have loads to learn (like figures I HATE them so I am thinking about taking a class on them) I also find I dont like to watch tutorials online I like to work it out on my own. I also think I work better under the pressure that the cake is getting picked up within a matter of hours.

michel30014 Posted 12 Oct 2010 , 12:57pm
post #10 of 15

[quote="pinkjacs"]I dont practice my cakes I just go with the flow. If I over think things I know I will mess them up because I will have failed at it in my head. I have never had any cake training I just go with my instinct and hope for the best has worked for me up till now.

I generally agree with this poster about going with the flow. I dont usually do a practice cake, however, if its a new technique then I will practice on the back of a paper plate or something beforehand. I know I do overthink things sometimes. I do sketch out a design beforehand and try to go with it but sometimes, I just go with the flow and do what feels right. It usually comes out pretty good and if it doesnt well, I chalk it up to a new experience and live and learn from the mistakes Ive made.

TexasSugar Posted 12 Oct 2010 , 1:38pm
post #11 of 15

I don't practice a design for a cake. I will, if I am unsure about it working, have a plan b and maybe in a plan c just in case.

One thing I have learned over the years is that you should not use one cake to practice a time of new things. If you use a new cake recipe, a new icing recipe, a new way to smooth the icing, a new piping techinque, a new decoration, a new.... You are going to be setting yourself up for issues, because all of it is new and unfamiliar and if one thing goes wrong that just puts more stress on the next new thing you trying to learn.

Pick one or two new things per cake, and try that, rather than a list of them. I know it is hard because we all have a bunch if things we want to try and maybe don't have the want or time to try them in a bunch of different tries, but sometimes it is worth it to save your sanity.

pinkjacs Posted 12 Oct 2010 , 1:48pm
post #12 of 15

I dont draw my cakes cause I would not get orders due to fact I cant draw lol

sillywabbitz Posted 12 Oct 2010 , 5:03pm
post #13 of 15

For me it depends on the cake. I was doing a friend's wedding cake and I was going to do two new things. One was use Choco-pan fondant for the first time and 2 was trying the pleating technique with the fondant. Luckily it was my sisters bday so I did a test run working with the chocopan and it was only psuedo successful. I learned for Choco-pan worked better with a little standard fondant worked into it. Later I made a 6 inch round testing one pleating technique and it looked awful..the family ate that one. Since the pleating test went bad, I decided to do a test run on the next pleating technique on a dummy cake. I used the wilton fondant because why waste the good stuff and I made a tutorial out of it so my time wasn't completely wasted. It also helped me determine the amt of fondant I would need for the real cake. I am so glad I did the test runs. I had worked all of the kinks out before I started the real cake. Granted dummies are a little easier for me than real cake (perfect shape, perfect corners) but it really saved me in the long run.

If it's for someone outside the family or something crucial I will do some kind of test run. If it's for fun I just go for it. My most successful cake was my wine bottle cake in my pics and there was NO test run. But I had Sugar Shacks fabulous DVDs to help me along so that made it much easiericon_smile.gif

MamaD77 Posted 12 Oct 2010 , 5:47pm
post #14 of 15

Funny the topic has come up, I was just thinking about that very thing today. I have two cakes to do at the end of the month, for my neice and my nephew, whose birthdays just happen to both be on November 1st! I've no idea how SIL managed that, nephew will be 21 (so cake needs to be good!) and neice will be 9, and wants a candyland theme topsy.

And not forgetting Halloween on the 31st!

I've never done topsy turvy before, so would love to practice, but the cost may be prohibitive! So I also have the added pressure of doing two cakes for the same day. Plus a whole lot of dressing up and trick or treat stuff going on with my own kids that weekend too!

I dont know why I do this to myself, my most recent two cakes were only a day apart, (my dad's 60th, and a feather wedding cake, both in my pics) for which I did not practice either, mostly due to cost issues.
The feather cake did not go to plan, and had I only done a practice one on a small cake, I'd have known what to improve, (some very simple issues) and would have saved myself a whole lot of stress on the day.

So I would say, it would depend on who and what the cake is for. Family, you can afford to experiment a little, but my lesson has been learned, for a wedding cake, I will always practice new techniques beforehand, whether it be just piping on a plate or something, it's definitely a case of prevention being better than cure!

debbief Posted 12 Oct 2010 , 6:02pm
post #15 of 15

I'm going to be making a topsy turvy cake for my niece's b-day. I really want to do a practice run because I'm soooo nervous, but I don't know what I'd do with the practice cake. It would just go to waste. I'm a hobby baker so it's expensive enough just making free cakes for everyone, let alone practice cakes too.

But I do have a plan B just in case. I have an extra cake all baked and wrapped tight in the freezer. If the topsy turvy doesn't work out, she'll get a regular old two-tierd cake...and she'll love it icon_biggrin.gif

I do make all of my fondant/gumpaste figures and accents way in advance (time permitting) so I have plenty of time to play with them and get them the way I want. So there's lots of practice going on there.

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