Your Best Tips For An Absolute Newbie?

Decorating By LadySiren Updated 18 Jul 2011 , 11:57pm by LadySiren

LadySiren Posted 9 Jul 2011 , 9:36pm
post #1 of 27

Hello, all -

Let me first state right up front that I am a complete, total, and utter newbie in terms of cakes (go ahead and laugh now, I won't mind icon_lol.gif ). I've always loved the idea of being able to make beautiful cake creations and now, a crazy friend of mine who has some experience in cake making / decorating has convinced me to give it a go for my daughter's birthday cake.

I'm going to be adventurous and even though it's my first try, I'm making a topsy turvy with my friend's help. Because I'm not sure about making a cake from scratch, I'm going the box cake / pudding route. I'm also thinking that based on my family's finicky tastebuds, I'm going to make MMF rather than go with commercial fondant. Yes, this does sound like a (forgive the pun) recipe for disaster, no?

So would anyone be willing to share your best tips for a successful first outing with this poor newbie? Carving, fondant, doweling, and recipe tips would be very, very welcome. I'm trying to research as much as possible before leaping in. Thanks in advance for any tips or advice (and for not laughing too loudly at my delusions of cake grandeur).

26 replies
langranny Posted 9 Jul 2011 , 10:03pm
post #2 of 27

The first rule of cake decorating (if you are stacking a cake) is support, support, support. If you are going to try a topsy turvy, Google it first, there are some great tutorials and instructions. Remember, that each cake is actually sitting (on a cakeboard) flat inside a cut-out on the top of the cake below it.

If you are making MMF - and it's easy - just follow the recipe. The secret is to knead it. First, while you are making it and then grease with shortening, wrap in plastic wrap, stick inside a zip-top bag and leave it on the counter for a couple of days. Then take it out and knead baseball size chunks until it gets smooth and pliable. Then knead all the chunks together.

Instead of just cake with with added pudding, try the WASC recipe. You can use any flavor cake and it is dense and stacks great.

Start ahead. Make any decorations that have to dry at least three or four days ahead. Then give yourself plenty of time. It will take about twice as long as you expect. Good luck and happy caking!

Transformergirl Posted 9 Jul 2011 , 11:43pm
post #3 of 27

Don't be afraid of color. Use color wheels to find different color combinations and effects. Many art and graphic principals can be applied to cake decorating.

Lorabell Posted 10 Jul 2011 , 3:29am
post #4 of 27

Go to "My Cake School.com"....she teaches everything, but there is a joining fee. It's worth it!

Have fun!
Lori

katie725 Posted 10 Jul 2011 , 3:45am
post #5 of 27

i make my own mmf using rhondas ultimate mmf recipe. its cheap and tastes great! be sure to crumb coat the cake with whatever recipe you decide to use and give yourself time to put in the fridge for a little while after crumb coating..this will get it nice and sturdy and ready for fondant! good luck!

mo_gateaux Posted 10 Jul 2011 , 3:47am
post #6 of 27

these may be obvious, but they weren't for me!
don't try to just pick up your fondant and put it on the cake, it'll stretch out. After rolling it out on a mat lightly dusted with icing sugar, put your rolling pin in the centre flip half of the fondant over top your rolling pin and lift it like that, placing it in the centre of your cake and unfolding. And you don't have to rush the smoothing of the fondant too much! you have time to do this properly.
i also find it easiest to cover a chilled cake with fondant, as the icing doesn't move as much underneath as when it's room temperature. Oh! and the smoother your icing and sharper your edges are with your icing the better the fondant is going to look on top.
Good luck!

Lorabell Posted 10 Jul 2011 , 4:09am
post #7 of 27

Hey again,

As far as fondant goes..keep the buttercream underneath very thin. When it's to thick it can cause buldges.

Good luck
Lori

LadySiren Posted 10 Jul 2011 , 5:23am
post #8 of 27

Woohoo! Y'all are terrific and very generous in sharing your tips. I've been reading like a maniac and have watched a few of the tutorials. Normally, I wouldn't have started with such an ambitious cake but we're doing a Mad Hatter tea party and Unbirthday party, hence the topsy turvy. The husband says he's already tired of hearing about this darn cake, and we haven't even started yet, LOL.

Any opinions on plastic vs. wooden dowels? I'm debating about whether I should get the plastic ones (forgive me, I can't remember the name of the plastic dowel system) or if wooden ones will do.

I don't think we're going to put a huge number of intricate decorations on. In fact, as a newbie...I may cheat. Yep. I'm thinking of buying a few of the pre-made Wilton flowers to toss on there. There goes my Mom of the Year Award. icon_razz.gif

Anyway, thank you all so very much for sharing; I appreciate it. Any more tips you want to toss my way will be welcomed with open arms.

LadySiren Posted 10 Jul 2011 , 3:39pm
post #9 of 27

New question: the crumb coat - can I use the same BC that I'm using for the crumb coat to make dams for the fillings? Or can I even use it as a filing?

Sorry, my newbie-ness is showing, I know. icon_redface.gif

SugarKissesCakery Posted 10 Jul 2011 , 3:56pm
post #10 of 27

You can use the same buttercream but you have to stiffen it quite a bit to create the dam. Just mix in a bunch of powdered sugar.

Sharon Zambito has a line of cake decorating videos that are positively AMAZING. She has a topsy turvy one that you should think about getting. She walks you through the process every step of the way. You won't have any questions about stacking, dowels, dams, etc. after watching it. Her company is called SugarEd Productions and you can order the video online. It will save you a ton of headaches icon_smile.gif

I wish you the best of luck icon_smile.gif My first cake was for my daughter and now I'm an addict.

SugarFiend Posted 10 Jul 2011 , 4:47pm
post #11 of 27

Here's one: If you've never worked with fondant before and are planning on making your own, it might be helpful to grab a small box of the commercial stuff (be it Wilton, Duff, or whatever) just to play around with so you can get familiar with the consistency. That way you might get a better feel for when you've added enough powdered sugar when you make your own.

LadySiren Posted 10 Jul 2011 , 8:38pm
post #12 of 27

Great suggestions, especially the one about getting the test fondant. I'll definitely do so. Please, please keep them coming - I'm very excited about making this cake. icon_razz.gif

katie725 Posted 11 Jul 2011 , 2:08am
post #13 of 27

i use SPS support system or the hollow plastic ones. you can find them easily if you just type it in google. if you are doing a topsy turvy cake i would use SPS or be sure to put a center dowel through all three tiers if you are using something different...hope that helps!

LadySiren Posted 11 Jul 2011 , 3:42pm
post #14 of 27

I'm definitely planning on using SPS; I'd originally planned on using wooden dowels but this seems so much better. Glad to hear it's something you'd suggest - I feel like it's the right choice. Thank you for sharing! icon_smile.gif

KHalstead Posted 11 Jul 2011 , 3:56pm
post #15 of 27

Here is a tip for topsy turvy's I wish someone shared with me WAY early in the game. Bake your cakes (usually topsy turvy cakes consist of 3-2" layers instead of just 2 like a normal cake), then get cake circles the size (or cut them if you have to) of how big you want the top and bottom of each cake. For instance you bake 3-9" rounds and you want your topsy turvy cake to be 9" on top and taper to 8" on the bottom. Freeze your cakes first (I fill, stack the layers, and then freeze) Then put your 9" circle on top, your 8" circle centered under neath, put the whole stack on something (I use a shortening can) Then I take a HUMONGOUS bread knife that is longer than the whole stack is tall and carve using the sides of the cake circles as my guide. In less than a minute you'll have a perfectly carved/tapered cake!!!
Then I just eyeball and cut the slant off the top of the cake to the steepness I'm after.

HTH

LadySiren Posted 13 Jul 2011 , 7:37pm
post #16 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by KHalstead

Here is a tip for topsy turvy's I wish someone shared with me WAY early in the game. Bake your cakes (usually topsy turvy cakes consist of 3-2" layers instead of just 2 like a normal cake), then get cake circles the size (or cut them if you have to) of how big you want the top and bottom of each cake. For instance you bake 3-9" rounds and you want your topsy turvy cake to be 9" on top and taper to 8" on the bottom. Freeze your cakes first (I fill, stack the layers, and then freeze) Then put your 9" circle on top, your 8" circle centered under neath, put the whole stack on something (I use a shortening can) Then I take a HUMONGOUS bread knife that is longer than the whole stack is tall and carve using the sides of the cake circles as my guide. In less than a minute you'll have a perfectly carved/tapered cake!!!
Then I just eyeball and cut the slant off the top of the cake to the steepness I'm after.

HTH




Oooh, thank you! I'm not sure about the whole carving thing, so anything that makes it easier (and idiot-proof, LOL) is so very appreciated. icon_smile.gif

LadySiren Posted 14 Jul 2011 , 5:23pm
post #17 of 27

Okay, next question - anyone have tips for how to best work with MMF? I'm planning on using MMF rather than commercial fondant. I'm already anticipating my hands being sore from kneading but is there anything else I should watch out for?

NanaSandy Posted 14 Jul 2011 , 5:46pm
post #18 of 27

first of all, I just want to say, Have Fun! That is my best tip!! Somebody else said not to put too much butter cream under the fondant, and I want to say that I disagree with that. You want a good layer of butter cream so that when you cut your cake and eat it, it tastes good, and not just like fondant. I always frost my cake just as much as I would if I wasn't putting fondant on it, then lay the fondant (using the method that somebody mentioned about using the4 rolling pin to put it on) and your fondant will smooth just fine if you have made your butter cream smooth underneath. I know that you are going to do a great job, because you are doing so much research before you start your cake. Please post pics when your done, and Happy Baking!!

Rudd Posted 14 Jul 2011 , 6:54pm
post #19 of 27

I've used Peggy Weaver's MMF recipe & it's worked great for me. But I've also learned what consistency I need for my MMF to make it workable for me so I don't really go by the amount of powdered sugar on the recipe, it's more of a feeling the texture now & knowing what's going to roll out easily. Oh & make sure you have plenty of powdered sugar under your fondant when you're rolling it out. Nothing is more heart breaking than getting the fondant to just the right size, then trying to turn it on the table or lift it only to find out it's stuck! icon_cry.gif

As far as doweling systems go, I just use wooden skewers... I know I'll probably get flack for that here, but they're cheap, easy to cut w/ scissors & for the cakes I've made I haven't really needed an elaborate doweling system. (I've never made a topsy turvy though.)

Oh & a clean up tip, put a sheet on the floor under your work area b/c powdered sugar gets EVERYWHERE! Well at least when I make it, lol. Then all you have to do is pick up the sheet & toss it in the wash. Good Luck!

tjames30 Posted 14 Jul 2011 , 7:27pm
post #20 of 27

I am a beginner as well. Attempting to make my daughter's first birthday cake this Saturday. Doing some research. My MMF is made and colored and cakes baked. Looking for tips on stacking and using the fondant. Also, need a good not too sweet buttercream recipe.

Anyone know how to attack fondant decorations to buttercream icing?

autigger57 Posted 14 Jul 2011 , 9:47pm
post #21 of 27

My tip that I learned for the easier way to color your fondant is to add your color to the melted marshmellows before adding powdered sugar. It will definitely help cut down on the amount of time it takes to color the fondant! icon_biggrin.gif

LadySiren Posted 15 Jul 2011 , 7:26pm
post #22 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by autigger57

My tip that I learned for the easier way to color your fondant is to add your color to the melted marshmellows before adding powdered sugar. It will definitely help cut down on the amount of time it takes to color the fondant! icon_biggrin.gif




Are you using gel color and if so, does it work okay with the marshmallows?

On a side note...GULP! I just ordered the SPS so I guess I'm really on the hook to make this cake now. No backing out now, LOL. Oy vey, I'm gonna be a nervous wreck by the time this is done. icon_rolleyes.gif

LadySiren Posted 15 Jul 2011 , 7:27pm
post #23 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by tjames30

I am a beginner as well. Attempting to make my daughter's first birthday cake this Saturday. Doing some research. My MMF is made and colored and cakes baked. Looking for tips on stacking and using the fondant. Also, need a good not too sweet buttercream recipe.

Anyone know how to attack fondant decorations to buttercream icing?




How was it making your own MMF? Did you find it difficult?

tjames30 Posted 15 Jul 2011 , 7:35pm
post #24 of 27

No, the marshmallow fondant was easy. Coloring it took a while. I didn't add color with the melted marshmallows because I wanted to divide one batch into 4 different colors. I made a practice batch about 2 weeks ago and did a practice cake decorating. It turned out okay and gave me some things that I need to tweak for this cake. I am doing 2 different sized 3" round layers and putting a giant cupcake cake on top for my daughters smash cake. Making the cupcake wrapper out of candy melts. Decorating and putting the cake together in the morning, wish me luck! Will post pics when I can.

autigger57 Posted 15 Jul 2011 , 8:04pm
post #25 of 27

Yes I use gel color and it works great. i am partial to Americolor!

LadySiren Posted 18 Jul 2011 , 2:10am
post #26 of 27

Okay, decided to do a test run with the box / pudding cake method. I used the Wilton batter guide for a 6 and an 8. The 8 looks like it came out fine (the cakes are still cooling) but the 6 kinda sunk in the middle.

It looked sort of doughy when I was checking on it during baking. I'm thinking that the amount of batter I put in there, despite it being what the Wilton chart said to do, was too much.

Could too much batter make it sink in the center like that? Or if my kids were stomping around (they were) through the kitchen? Or is there something else that maybe I'm missing here? The cakes were prepared with four eggs and one box of instant pudding. They smell darn good but I'm worried about that hole in the middle.

Thanks much!

LadySiren Posted 18 Jul 2011 , 11:57pm
post #27 of 27

Update: Well, the cake tasted great but just had that little sunken spot in the middle. I did try my hand at carving and was surprised when it looked more or less like I wanted it to. Hope the real cake goes as well! icon_smile.gif

Quote by @%username% on %date%

%body%