How Did You Become A Great Cake Decorator

Baking By classy184 Updated 22 Feb 2011 , 7:14pm by bobwonderbuns

classy184 Posted 15 Feb 2011 , 6:14pm
post #1 of 23

Hello Everyone,

First of all let me say that I've seen some of the most beautiful cakes ever on this website!!! I know how to bake a cake but what I'm really confused with is how to master decorating such as with gum paste, fondant, how to make a real looking purse out of cake etc Did most of you have any formal training such as cake courses etc. or did you plan old teach yourself through trial and errror. Could you guys please lend any insight.
Thank You!

22 replies
sillywabbitz Posted 15 Feb 2011 , 6:35pm
post #2 of 23

I'm by no means a great decorator but everything I learned I learned from 3 places:
Cakecentral - the people on this site are amazingly helpful
SugarEd Production DVDs - Sharon's videos completely changed my decorating level
For new people I think perfecting the art of buttercream and successful stacking are must haves but all the DVDs are fabulous
YouTube- great for flower tutorials!

It's a very addictive hobbyicon_smile.gif

tigachu Posted 15 Feb 2011 , 6:38pm
post #3 of 23

Classy184, I am in the same boat! icon_biggrin.gif I am also very interested to find out what everyone else says. Thank you Sillywabbitz-I will look in to ordering the videos. thumbs_up.gif

I am now watching this topic icon_cool.gif

BRATTYR Posted 15 Feb 2011 , 6:40pm
post #4 of 23

welcome to cake central!!! you will find alot of people here who are professionals, hobby bakers, homebakers, some have taken courses and some are self taught. i am self taught but i think alot of my sucess has come though reading forum on cc and watching how to videos on u-tube. there is a wealth of information in the forum, i can tell you how many hours i sent just reading on here. there are videos that you can buy that focus on fondant, topys turvy cake, icing, and stacking. and of course alot of skill comes though trial and error! good luck with your futrue caking!!!!

LindaF144a Posted 15 Feb 2011 , 6:49pm
post #5 of 23

practice, pratice, practice.

Just like great pianists are not born knowing how to play great. They practiced. That's all I do right now is practice. I am no where near the level of what you see here. But I hope to be soon!

cfpeoples Posted 15 Feb 2011 , 6:49pm
post #6 of 23

I know that the people on here have all sorts of backgrounds. Some have have had formal training, and some are self taught. I, myself, am self taught. There are a lot of good books and dvds out there, videos on youtube. And of course the threads on here can give you sooooo much information. One way to start is to pick a cake with a technique you would like to try, and try to replicate it. After some time you will be able to come up with your own ideas and designs. There really is a lot of help available to you on this website, so feel free to look at people's photos and ask questions.

cfpeoples Posted 15 Feb 2011 , 6:51pm
post #7 of 23

oh.....and i second sillywabbits. Definitely get the sharon zambito dvds. They are wonderful!!!

MamaD77 Posted 15 Feb 2011 , 7:07pm
post #8 of 23

Hey classy,
welcome to CC!

I'm just a beginner too, and have been caking since around May last year, and so far am self taught. Mostly through trial and error, just making cakes for family and friends. I've had some veerry stressful episodes, and every time I swear that's it, never again! But it is soo addictive, and I've learned so much from my mistakes.
I can't afford to take classes, both money and time wise. I have three young sons and the youngest is 21months, so usually my learning is done after the wee ones are tucked up in bed.
That's when I get the laptop, and sit in the lounge with my feet up on the beanbag, and a cup of tea (or a glass of el vino if it's a Friday!) and I come here to CC and just research and learn as much as I can. I also find youtube to a great port of call for tutorials.
There's so much I still need to learn and try, I've not yet done any flowers, and haven't had much experience with royal icing and piping in general, so I'm hoping to get to grips with these things soon.

I find most of what's on TV these days is pretty garbage anyway, so I'm thrilled with my new hobby!

Best of luck to you in your learning, have fun!

Mama D

Tclanton Posted 15 Feb 2011 , 7:21pm
post #9 of 23

I am a self taught decorator and I have learned tons right here on this site. I also have a good friend that is teaching me gumpaste flowers which I love to do. As others stated - just keep trying and practicing - you will get there.

indydebi Posted 15 Feb 2011 , 7:33pm
post #10 of 23

I consider LOTS of folks a way better decorator than I, but I'm self taught. Back in my day (!), we had no choice but to be self-taught. No you-tube, no cable, no michael's classes, no video or dvd's .... just buying a wilton book and looking at the pictures. You had to think and figure it out on your own.

No matter how you start out, practice-practice-practice is the main rule! thumbs_up.gif

Corrie76 Posted 15 Feb 2011 , 7:48pm
post #11 of 23

Yes thumbs_up.gif practice, practice, practice is right. And if you jump in and just start trying things out, believe me you will learn! My most important lessons have always been from my disasters or near-disasters with cakes. When I'm done decorating each and every cake I ALWAYS can say that I learned something and can take that information or skill to the next cake I do. I've never taken a class, but I think it's a great way to start, and of course watching tutorials on YouTube, soaking up every bit of info on CC and other sources like books and websites is great, but really the best teacher of all is experience, so just get a lot of time logged in at the old kitchen counter top, experimenting and trying stuff out!

chrisviz Posted 15 Feb 2011 , 8:15pm
post #12 of 23

I honestly think you can save money by not taking classes like Wilton and spend your time here and on You Tube... such great information has been so lovingly provided for free. Practice, practice, practice and once you get the basics... I think then it makes some sense to splurge on higher end classes (such as lifelike sugar flowers) if you want. The basics you can learn for free. icon_smile.gif

AmysCakesNCandies Posted 15 Feb 2011 , 8:46pm
post #13 of 23

I'm still learning every day..... Can't wait for the day I can do it al perfectlyl...... OK that will never happen.

Everyone has aleady said all of theese... read books, watch videos, ask questions and PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE

Mix a batch of buttercream, get yourself some basic tools and a few cake dummies & go to town!

I have been doing cakes for 15 years, and its only been the past 2 or 3 yers that I have really become somewhat happy with my own work and I still am not even close to some of the true artists!

classy184 Posted 15 Feb 2011 , 9:55pm
post #14 of 23

Thank You so much for taking time out to give me some kind of insight.
It's greatly appreciated!

Abisnail Posted 16 Feb 2011 , 12:00am
post #15 of 23

To the OP, I'm not! But I've learnt tons since I joined this site. More info than you can shake a spatula at!

mrsfoxxy2u Posted 16 Feb 2011 , 12:28am
post #16 of 23

i'm with everyone else! PRACTICE...PRACTICE...PRACTICE...SPEND SPARE TIME ON CC!!! i am self taught, have been baking since age 5 with my grandmom, we were the only ones in my entire family with a passion for baking, so we did it together. i won't admit how old i am now, but thru the years i have learned the decorating and stacking and intricate details all on my own. i never did well learning via school, i am better with hands on, and this business screams for hands on! you need to find the right recipes, get a feel for fondant, butter cream, there are hundreds of tools to help you accomplish your tasks more efficiently, and always come here and ask! i've been baking for what seems like forever, i just recently found cc and it has inspired me to no end, everyone is friendly and more than willing to help! thanks to all you wonderful cakers here on cc! this is a wonderful place for people like us! <3

Love2BakeCakes Posted 16 Feb 2011 , 12:30am
post #17 of 23

I know I am a novice cake decorator in comparison to where I intend to go with my love of "caking." I am practicing all the time. I devour everything cake ... no pun intended! I am always reading, practicing, asking questions and watching tutorials. I am a foodie in general ... (food network, travel channel cooking shows, Top Chef, etc.) ... cooking and baking holds my interest. I did go to culinary school (took the savory, not pastry course), but everything I am learning about cake decorating I am teaching myself. I picked up my speed and thinking outside of the box from running the pastry department in a restaurant and the executive chef pushing me everyday to be different.

Just practice, and you have to have a love for what you are doing. Keep searching for answers until you are satisfied. And NEVER settle for, or put out anything less than your best. I've also learned to pay attention to the small details because your clients will. So many times when I either didn't want to, or was too tired to focus on the small details, but then forced myself to do so, my client picked up on them. It was then that I gave myself props for pushing myself, instead of copping out, to do the small details.

Just keep pushing yourself and then one day, just like that (finger snap!) you too will have a whole arsenal of techniques and tricks up your sleeve just like the more experienced decorators.


dsilvest Posted 16 Feb 2011 , 12:31am
post #18 of 23

Lots of practice.
Don't be afraid to try new things. If you can't find a tutorial on how to do something, try to figure it out yourself - problem solve.
Buy a cake dummy and use it to practice on. If you are using fondant, attach embelishments with shortening, they will just peel off and you can try something new without wasting the fondant.

dst10spr97 Posted 16 Feb 2011 , 4:53pm
post #19 of 23

I am fairly new to cake decorating as well. I have taken the Wilton's Basic Course and I also have Sharon Zambitos DVD's which I love her teaching style. I also live on this site and on the internet in general. I plan on attending this years Ices convention as well. I have been practicing and making things for friends and family to get practice. I feel so good when I accomplish even the simpliest of things. For example I always got crumbs in my icing. I did some research and asked for tips on here to avoid that. For the Superbowl I made a Steelers cake using Indy Debi's Buttercream recipe, froze the cake overnight, thawed and decorated, and guess what, no crumbs. The only thing was I got terribly ill that weekend and couldn't put my all into it, but at least I got no crumbs!

mombabytiger Posted 20 Feb 2011 , 3:22am
post #20 of 23

I can highly recommend hosted by Melissa Diamond. It's only $30 a year has tons of extremely helpful video tutorials that encompass a variety of techniques that you will find yourself using in many ways. She adds new ones all the time. I love that for a flat fee, you get so much content. There is also a forum section much like CC, but smaller so you get to know the other members much better. And Melissa answers all questions herself in a timely manner. And if she doesn't know something, she experiments until she comes up with an answer. It's like having the cake decorator next door letting you into her kitchen!

Marianna46 Posted 20 Feb 2011 , 3:41am
post #21 of 23

I'm not great yet, but I feel like I'm on my way. Courses help and CakeCentral is a godsend. But basically you've got to practice, practice, practice and think cake every waking hour. A willingness to learn and to apply everyday lessons to cake decorating are very helpful. Experimenting is basic, and there is something new to be learned in every cake you make.

enchantedcreations Posted 22 Feb 2011 , 6:53pm
post #22 of 23
Originally Posted by mombabytiger

I can highly recommend hosted by Melissa Diamond. It's only $30 a year has tons of extremely helpful video tutorials that encompass a variety of techniques that you will find yourself using in many ways. She adds new ones all the time. I love that for a flat fee, you get so much content. There is also a forum section much like CC, but smaller so you get to know the other members much better. And Melissa answers all questions herself in a timely manner. And if she doesn't know something, she experiments until she comes up with an answer. It's like having the cake decorator next door letting you into her kitchen!

Hi mombabytiger..... I posted a question about mycakeschool awhile back wondering if anyone had subscribed to this. Thanks for the heads up.

bobwonderbuns Posted 22 Feb 2011 , 7:14pm
post #23 of 23

Agreed, practice, practice and practice some more!! My cakes are not nearly where I think they should be, but I do enjoy the My Cake School tutorials, Yummy Arts tutorials, books and DVDs and occasionally classes. I do find it difficult to work in classes which is why I like DVDs better. I have tons of cake/sugar art books for reference and ideas too. The other thing is to ask!! How did you do this? Do you have any tips on how I can make this cake better? I'm having trouble with this border, what do you suggest? Pretend you are a judge at a competition and you saw your own cake. How would you judge it? And remember, there are NO PERFECT CAKES! No, not one!! The trick is to know how to cover your booboos and working neatly counts double!! icon_biggrin.gif Then there's the golden rule of sugar -- if you're not having FUN, you're not doing it right!!! icon_lol.gif

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