How Did You Get Here?

Decorating By Mikomomof4 Updated 8 Jun 2012 , 6:56pm by Wildgirl

Mikomomof4 Posted 28 May 2012 , 5:25am
post #1 of 16

How did everyone get to the skill/level that you are at today? What was most beneficial to your learning experience. what things did you start off doing and maybe realized later that is was wrong? What mistake did u repeatedly make? If someone could have given u beginners advice, what would have benefited you the most. What's the best and worst advice ever given to you?

15 replies
Mikomomof4 Posted 28 May 2012 , 5:28am
post #2 of 16

Please send private message if you prefer. Thanks!

rosech Posted 28 May 2012 , 6:00am
post #3 of 16

I learn as I go. I just plunged in. One thing that I would not do again if I were to go back is pretend to know how to do something just to get an order. I have since learnt to be honest and its good workmanship. I also worked too much for nothing just to practice a lot of things. The one mistake I keep repeating is adding too much color at once instead of a little at a time. Patience!! Another thing: Not writing down changes to recipes. That thing bites you when you want to make cake as good and can't remember what you did. Arrrrggh!!

Apti Posted 28 May 2012 , 7:10am
post #4 of 16

I started this hobby in Feb 2010 with a Wilton Decorating class at my local Michael's craft store. I'd never had a hobby (workaholic!), and took the class on a whim to make birthday cakes for the kids in the family.

I went bonkers and quickly became semi-obsessed with cake decorating. I am retired and have a little extra income so I can afford to be a hobby baker and give away my cakes and candy. I figure it's a relatively inexpensive hobby compared to golf or boating, or any number of other hobbies out there. (Of course, that's just me trying to rationalize all the money I spend on cake stuff.)

If California ever becomes a Cottage Food Law state, I may consider charging for my goodies, but then again, may not since it is a hassle to work with customers. Giving goodies away for free gives me total freedom to do what I want, when I want.

I kept a ton of notes of all the tips/tricks/instructions/links/videos, etc. that have helped me in my cake journey. (Workaholic, remember???) I put all the information that I found most helpful in a thread on the Wilton.com forum:

http://www.wilton.com/forums/messageview.cfm?catid=8&threadid=160184

If you read, or view all the information in that thread, you will have 2 years of education gained via many teachers, forum posts, videos, and classes.

The cake decorating community is delightful and passionate about sharing information to advance our craft. Enjoy!

MaurorLess67 Posted 28 May 2012 , 12:56pm
post #5 of 16

Great original post!!

As I'm still in the learning process, I wish I had more- but..

1) I have found that everything takes so much longer then I think it will!! I have pulled all night shifts and at times have not produced what I wanted because of time-
2) Always make sure you have all the ingrediants and supplies etc you will need-
3) Don't forget about prepping your cake board- that also takes time
4)Patience --- it is a learning process
5)You tube is a great resource- but I also LOVE the instuctional dvds- Sharon Zambitos are excellent-

Just a few thoughts

jeartist Posted 28 May 2012 , 1:21pm
post #6 of 16

I started 15 yrs ago when fondant, gumpaste, bc was all homemade and I continue that because I like mine better than purchased. Had not decorated a cake for over 12 yrs until a friend asked me to make a topsy turvy cake for her daughter's sweet 16 last summer. Seriously?! Found CC, Youtube and all the blogs for info. Then practice, practice, practice. Every new cake teaches you something. Be brave to try anything and, most of all, have fun.

Mikomomof4 Posted 28 May 2012 , 3:01pm
post #7 of 16

thanks for all of of the helpfull replies! i am thinking of asking my nephews grandmother if i could help her with free labor so that i can gain some of her valuable expertise ( i am no threat to her as this woman is very talented!!) i will also sign up for the wilton courses. and i can't wait for kc cakefest to come back, they offer classes from pro decorators. [/u]

Kiddiekakes Posted 28 May 2012 , 3:10pm
post #8 of 16

I started out do character cakes as they were easy and safe....It took awhile before I felt confident enough to do anything more...One day I just began making custom cakes as I was asked for certain themes etc.. and found it wasn't as hard and I could be creative..I was scared to go outside the box but I have never looked back...now...all I do is custom cakes and haven't done a character cake in over 2 years...I just try a technique and if I like it..I use it...

Elcee Posted 28 May 2012 , 6:04pm
post #9 of 16
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How did everyone get to the skill/level that you are at today?


Practice, reading here, scrutinizing others' cakes, more practice icon_biggrin.gif. Tutorials like Petalsweet's hydrangea tutorial and The Cakerator's peony tutorial. I'm in the minority in that I don't like video format. I prefer pictures and step by step instructions.

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What was most beneficial to your learning experience.


I started enering cake decoration competitions. I've entered about 10 so far and placed in all but one and of the rest won first place in more than half. The judges' feedback is invaluable and it gives me an opportunity to
make cakes I never would otherwise.

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What things did you start off doing and maybe realized later that is was wrong? What mistake did u repeatedly make?


My answer to both of these is the same. I struggle with icing consistency, it always seems to be too stiff. I also underestimate the time it's going take but am getting better at that.

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If someone could have given u beginners advice, what would have benefited you the most.


I took all of the Wilton cake decorating classes offered at Micheal's when I started. While I've moved beyond that skill level, and a lot of what I learned has absolutely no relevance to the cakes I make now, just as much, if not more of what I learned is applied to EVERY SINGLE cake I make.

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What's the best and worst advice ever given to you?


Best? when applying fondant to a cake, gently pull down and away. Worst? I don't think anyone has given me really bad advice.

Unlimited Posted 29 May 2012 , 12:37am
post #10 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mikomomof4

How did everyone get to the skill/level that you are at today? What was most beneficial to your learning experience.



It helps if you have/had a job working in a bakery (especially a high-production facility), and it helps to watch others while learning.

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Originally Posted by Mikomomof4

what things did you start off doing and maybe realized later that is was wrong?



Not wrong, but I wish I didn't start off learning to pipe roses on the flathead flower nail. It's so much faster (and easier for some) when they're made on a stick! Also, using a large petal tip (#127) is my choice over using a small tip (#104) with the stick.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mikomomof4

If someone could have given u beginners advice, what would have benefited you the most.



Not to waste any money on small pastry bags smaller than 18" (that's what parchment cones are for).

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mikomomof4

What's the best and worst advice ever given to you?



Best=When icing a cake, use a lot of icing--slap it on and scrape off the excess.
Worst=I haven't received bad advice, but I've seen a lot of crazy and ridiculously bad advice being given here on Cake Central.

Mikomomof4 Posted 29 May 2012 , 2:45am
post #11 of 16

wow i am overwhelmed with the comradery!! I am so serious, i am overwhelmed and so very grateful that someone would share their passion and advice with me. I hope to help others in any way that i can. @Unlimited and @ eclee thanks for taking the time out to break down your advice. to ALL of the wonderful replies thank you so very much!

escaliba1234 Posted 29 May 2012 , 8:19am
post #12 of 16

I first began by doing a year's course of basic cake decorating at night technical college. I was very fortunate in my two teachers, a mother and daughter, who were both excellent. They made each lesson fun, as well as practical.
There is no learning like hands-on learning and each lesson we had to complete a finished cake.
It was a brilliant starting point.



What was most beneficial to your learning experience.

Always try to end up with a finished product, even if it might be different to what you originally hoped for.


What things did you start off doing and maybe realized later that is was wrong?

I made lots of mistakes but do remember there is more than one way to do things.
Many roads lead to Rome, after all.






What mistake did u repeatedly make?

I do try not to make the same mistake too often.
No problem with mistakes but one must learn from them.
However, my main weakness would be aiming to create a finished product that was unnecessarily fancy. I still have to remind myself that a wonderful result can be achieved by going 'simple but good'.



If someone could have given u beginners advice, what would have benefited you the most.

Enjoy what you are doing and don't ever let the work and worry remove the fun factor!
After all, it was your choice to do what you are doing.




What's the best and worst advice ever given to you?[/quote]

Best advice with cakes; using a heating core
Best advice with actual decorating; there will always be the days one just cannot make fondant do what one wishes. Accept this and remember to enjoy what you are doing.
No worst advice given.

therese379 Posted 6 Jun 2012 , 10:13pm
post #13 of 16

I wanted to make my daughters 1st birthday cake... She is now 21, and back then I had no idea about fondant. The cake turned out great and I was hooked. I am a self taught decorater and love the creative side of cake decorating. I still have so much to learn and can't wait for what is to come next. I just joined CRAFTSY for their on line cake decorating video's...... Excellent, modern piping with Joshua John Russel is wonderful, he is such a GREAT teacher.

vickim6948 Posted 6 Jun 2012 , 11:21pm
post #14 of 16

I took a class in high school for baking. We had to decorate our own baked cakes, the final project was to make a tiered cake. That's when I got the bug. I then made cakes for myself and friends and family. After my daughter was in school, I took a position baking for a bakery. I pick up tons of tips for decorating and working with fondant. Then I went to work in a high volume bakery, that yielded more tips.

What things did you start and learn later was wrong:

I have done several things the hard way and later learned that I could have done it much easier.

What was the most beneficial to your learning experience:

To try and keep trying till it is perfect. Don't be afraid to ask questions.

What mistakes did you make repeatedly:

Mixing too much color in at first.

If someone could have given u beginners advice, what would have benefited you the most.

Only take orders that you can realistic do. Both in skill and time.
Make sure you have a thick enough cake board, don't skimp on it. It supports the
whole structure.


What's the best and worst advice ever given to you?

Best baking: write down changes you make to recipes. Make sure your oven temp is right on, can't bake right if your oven is off and you don't know it. Moisture/dryness in home will effect your end results.

Best decorating: colors will darken once it sits. Fondant can have bad days.

BarbaraM0809 Posted 8 Jun 2012 , 2:18pm
post #15 of 16

Hi I just started decorating cakes in January I did a yo-yo cake for my brothers girlfriends nephew then I did the spongebob cake for my daughter because I couldn't really afford to buy her a cake. Everyone told me then I should start selling them. I am BY FAR not as talented as everyone here on CC but I'm still learning as I go. My worst fault is not scheduling my time wisely (I'm also in college and working full time and raising a 4 year old lol) so I pull a lot of all nighters to finish a cake. My best learning tools have been youtube and the posts here on CC. I bought Mike McCrary's car cake DVD and had Sharons buttercream DVD gifted to me and they are great! Worst advice given would be people telling me that there is no future in what I'm doing and to give it up and focus on a "real career" which I didn't listen to of course lol...

Wildgirl Posted 8 Jun 2012 , 6:56pm
post #16 of 16

I started blindly making a Lightning McQueen (sculpted) for my then 4 year old) - then took a couple basic classes. Then did an anniversary cake and it moved quickly from there. (It's still just a hobby though - I can't ever see me doing this for $$)

What was most beneficial to your learning experience?

This forum!!!! If I hadn't gotten the exact answer I needed, what was said here propelled me to where I needed to go to get it. There is absolutely no way my cakes would look even near half as good as they do without this forum.


What things did you start off doing and maybe realized later that is was wrong?

That Lightning cake had fondant - and I had never done it before (nor have I since!) It was way to thick though (a mmf). I had no clue how it should be. Even the fact that some bc's crusted and some don't - never had a clue.

What mistake did you repeatedly make?

Hmmmm.... I'm sure I'm still repeating mistakes. Probably not letting the cake settle and not using a stiff enough dam so I would get bulges. I think (hope) I'm slowily learning how to avoid that.


If someone could have given u beginners advice, what would have benefited you the most?

Don't just stop with one recipe - read everything you can find, then compare. And then TRY it. And try it again. And again.


What's the best and worst advice ever given to you?

Worst advice was to only use cake mixes. My instructor only used them because she said scratch always fell. Not so. Best... there's a lot of "best".... maybe freezing the cakes first. That has made it tremendously easy for me to work with them without them falling apart. And Sharon Z's dvd's really really helped to - being able to see what you all say here actually being done. Visual really helps. And youtube has been great too.

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