Chris449842 Posted 24 Jan 2013 , 7:19pm
post #1 of

Here is the pic of the cake, please be as blunt as you want, as i am new to this and could do with critism if needed, was going to put lots of  butterflys on then i thought it may look too busy, but now its looking rather naked. Also the 1st layer is not same size as top layer.

 

 

 

 

28 replies
Marianna46 Posted 24 Jan 2013 , 7:48pm
post #2 of

I looked at your cake and have a couple of suggestions. One thing you need to think about is level layers and sharper edges. Cakes very seldom come out of the oven totally flat and generally need to be leveled before you use them. There are several ways to do this. If you have a steady hand and a good eye, you can just use a long knife to do it. Or you can stick toothpicks around the edge at a certain level and garotte it with dental floss. Or you can try one of these cake levelers - some are cheap and don't work very well and others are expensive and work like a charm. To get sharp edges, you need to start out with pans that have sharp edges and then, if your layers aren't exactly the same size, once you've stacked them, you can go around the sides with a knife to line them up. This all takes time and patience, but makes your cake look much, much better. As for the flowers and butterflies, I think you have some problems with your composition. I have the same kinds of problems, so I'm not the one to be telling you how to do this, but I find it helpful to look at lots of cakes with the same sort of design I'm going for before I actually do my decorations. I think in the end it comes down to lots of practice. When I was first starting out (and even now, sometimes), I looked for excuses to make cakes for people, just so I could practice decorating. The thing about doing things with your hands is that the only way to learn is to do them and do them a lot. If you're just trying to work out decorations, you could try making a series of dummy cakes (the ones that have styrofoam forms instead of cake inside them). Take lots of pictures of each one so you can see what needs improvement, and then scrape off the fondant or buttercream or whatever you're using and re-use your material on another cake. If you need to practice level layers and sharp edges, though, the only way to do that is with real cake. Whatever you decide to do, I wish you the best of luck.  

Chris449842 Posted 24 Jan 2013 , 7:59pm
post #3 of
Quote:
Originally Posted by Marianna46 View Post

I looked at your cake and have a couple of suggestions. One thing you need to think about is level layers and sharper edges. Cakes very seldom come out of the oven totally flat and generally need to be leveled before you use them. There are several ways to do this. If you have a steady hand and a good eye, you can just use a long knife to do it. Or you can stick toothpicks around the edge at a certain level and garotte it with dental floss. Or you can try one of these cake levelers - some are cheap and don't work very well and others are expensive and work like a charm. To get sharp edges, you need to start out with pans that have sharp edges and then, if your layers aren't exactly the same size, once you've stacked them, you can go around the sides with a knife to line them up. This all takes time and patience, but makes your cake look much, much better. As for the flowers and butterflies, I think you have some problems with your composition. I have the same kinds of problems, so I'm not the one to be telling you how to do this, but I find it helpful to look at lots of cakes with the same sort of design I'm going for before I actually do my decorations. I think in the end it comes down to lots of practice. When I was first starting out (and even now, sometimes), I looked for excuses to make cakes for people, just so I could practice decorating. The thing about doing things with your hands is that the only way to learn is to do them and do them a lot. If you're just trying to work out decorations, you could try making a series of dummy cakes (the ones that have styrofoam forms instead of cake inside them). Take lots of pictures of each one so you can see what needs improvement, and then scrape off the fondant or buttercream or whatever you're using and re-use your material on another cake. If you need to practice level layers and sharp edges, though, the only way to do that is with real cake. Whatever you decide to do, I wish you the best of luck.  

 

Thank you Marianna, i am kind of lost about the toothpicks and dental floss, i need to get a leveller, as i did try to scrape of the surface with a long serrated knife, but did not go too well. The cake mold was a silicone mold, and does not have sharp edges, how do you mean line it  up if it was out of a tin with sharp edges? Yes i keep going back and looking at the flowers and think they are just put on randomly, not a good pattern at all, i did have a look at cakes, but could not see what i wanted to do, wanted to make a bunch of flowers in 1 corner, then coming down over the cake in a think line, but it has nto turned out that way lol, will get some foam and practice, i just made this cake cos i was bored, but its an expensive way of practising, thank you my dear xxxx

Ducky316 Posted 24 Jan 2013 , 8:22pm
post #4 of

I don't see anything wrong with your composition...and I LOVE the colors you chose! I can tell by looking at your picture what went wrong. Your buttercream was not smooth enough underneath, and there appears to be some air pockets. next time, try a crusting buttercream, let it crust up 10-15 minutes and smooth with a viva paper towel. Then just before you cover the cake with fondant, spray the cake lightly with a spritz of water. Overall, I think you did a great job!!!

Chris449842 Posted 24 Jan 2013 , 8:27pm
post #5 of
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ducky316 View Post

I don't see anything wrong with your composition...and I LOVE the colors you chose! I can tell by looking at your picture what went wrong. Your buttercream was not smooth enough underneath, and there appears to be some air pockets. next time, try a crusting buttercream, let it crust up 10-15 minutes and smooth with a viva paper towel. Then just before you cover the cake with fondant, spray the cake lightly with a spritz of water. Overall, I think you did a great job!!!


Thank you, yes i used betty crockers chocolate frosting as ran out of ingreds today lol, do i just make normal buttercream and leave it then it will crust over itself? Or is there a special recipe for crusting? Thank you, xxxx

Ducky316 Posted 24 Jan 2013 , 10:53pm
post #6 of

You can use regular buttercream or a crusting. They are two different recipes. I prefer using the crusting because I can get a really smooth surface using a viva paper towel. If you use a regular buttercream, be careful not to go overboard with it. Just do a nice thin coat. Hope this helps :)

Cakechick123 Posted 25 Jan 2013 , 6:04am
post #7 of

if you want really sharp edges on your cakes, invest in good cake pans, those silicone ones are ok for home baking, but I would never use them for a customer. There is aways at least one wonky corner or side with those silicone babies :)

 

the flowers looks good, but next time you can maybe ball and frill the edges of your blossoms as well. This wil thin them and they will tie in nicley with the big one.

I prefer ganache as a crumbcoat under the fondant. This gives you a really smooth and firm base.

 

Hope this helps and good luck with the next one icon_smile.gif

hbquikcomjamesl Posted 25 Jan 2013 , 6:56am
post #8 of

It seems to me that the part about everything being perfectly level, straight, and smooth is far more important with fondant than with buttercream: because it's such a smooth, formal, featureless surface itself, it magnifies any imperfections underneath (whereas, buttercream is more forgiving, especially if some sort of texture is applied [e.g., what I've come to call, "The Family Pattern," as shown on my 49th birthday cake], and probably a cake served "in-pan" is the most forgiving of all, where imperfections are involved [and let's face it, that 49th birthday cake has some pretty big imperfections, like crust showing through the thin spots in the frosting!], simply because serving it "in-pan" is an informal, "family style" option).

 

But keep in mind, I'm not a professional baker or cake decorator, and neither do I play one on television. It's just one of my many hobbies. But it does seem like the more formal and polished the presentation, the less forgiving it is of imperfections.

Chris449842 Posted 25 Jan 2013 , 10:14am
post #9 of

Thank you so much folks, plenty info to learn from on this thread, will get a tin tray for the next one, i just bought the silicone one as it does not stick and you dont have to grease it, lazy i am lol. Thank you xxxx

Ducky316 Posted 25 Jan 2013 , 11:50am

LOL you're not lazy if you're working with fondant!!! lol When you try it again, let me know, I'd like to see it :D

MaurorLess67 Posted 25 Jan 2013 , 11:59am

AHi Chris-- Your cake came out very nice-as I am a hobby baker, fairly new to the caking world-maybe 2 years- not steady- I thought I would share some of the tips that I have learned along the way-- that old adage- "practice makes perfect" really applies here- I just started posting pictures in my gallery-- on some cakes I see improvement- on others it looks like Ive gone backwards-ugh!!! Im just going to bullet point my suggestions- I would be happy to expand on anything you want-- I know I was SO and still am SO grateful to all the advice and help I get from CC members--

-- watch as many videos that you can- youtube has many free ones- [B]CRAFTSY[/B] (online site) has downloadable classes-(they go on sale all the time- as a matter of fact there are a few free ones on there now-- but when purchasing- wait for the sales, there is a link on CC website too MyCakeSchool is a paid site- 30.00 for the year and worth EVERY penny Design Me a Cake-- Edna Dela Cruz- she was my first video :grin: offers both free and dvds- Sharon Zambito dvds are without a doubt worth 3x what is charged!!! Sugared productions- also a new site will be launching soon- Im anxiously awaiting that!! Follow blogs- they offer recipes, tutorials, equipment etc,

--- having the right tools makes a huge difference- straight sided pans- Magic Line- Fat Daddios etc --- when trimming cakes- it helps to chill or freeze them- less crumbs ---- The Mat by Sweetwise is a great buy- helps with rolling fondant nice and thin- they have a video tutorial ---- what is underneath your fondant will be magnified- fondant does not hide flaws it highlights them -----chill your buttercream base and then apply fondant- not freeze just chill- if using ganache wait for the shell ----thin your edges with the ball tool- I like the metal ones- I bought them in the sculpting aisle at Michaels- always using coupons ---- invest in a good xacto knife or scalpel ----- finishing off a cake makes all the difference- something I struggle with- ribbon or border on the bottom- a finished cake drum etc-

Also,, give yourself enough time-- everything takes MUCH longer when you are learning- at least double the amount of time you originally think you need , including drying times-and have double the amount of ingredients and products on hand- you will be surprised - another thing I struggle with- ha

Last but not least, as I have written a book here- sorry-, is be kind to yourself- be very proud of everything you do even if it doesn't come out exactly the way you envisioned- Its hard to do that sometimes but very important to keep you hooked-

Can't wait to see what you share in the future-

Mo

Chris449842 Posted 25 Jan 2013 , 12:21pm
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ducky316 View Post

LOL you're not lazy if you're working with fondant!!! lol When you try it again, let me know, I'd like to see it :D


Ok Ducky i will do xxx

Chris449842 Posted 25 Jan 2013 , 12:26pm
Quote:
Originally Posted by MaurorLess67 View Post

Hi Chris-- Your cake came out very nice-as I am a hobby baker, fairly new to the caking world-maybe 2 years- not steady- I thought I would share some of the tips that I have learned along the way-- that old adage- "practice makes perfect" really applies here- I just started posting pictures in my gallery-- on some cakes I see improvement- on others it looks like Ive gone backwards-ugh!!! Im just going to bullet point my suggestions- I would be happy to expand on anything you want-- I know I was SO and still am SO grateful to all the advice and help I get from CC members--

-- watch as many videos that you can- youtube has many free ones-
CRAFTSY (online site) has downloadable classes-(they go on sale all the time- as a matter of fact there are a few free ones on there now-- but when purchasing- wait for the sales, there is a link on CC website too
MyCakeSchool is a paid site- 30.00 for the year and worth EVERY penny
Design Me a Cake-- Edna Dela Cruz- she was my first video icon_biggrin.gif offers both free and dvds-
Sharon Zambito dvds are without a doubt worth 3x what is charged!!! Sugared productions- also a new site will be launching soon- Im anxiously awaiting that!!
Follow blogs- they offer recipes, tutorials, equipment etc,

--- having the right tools makes a huge difference- straight sided pans- Magic Line- Fat Daddios etc
--- when trimming cakes- it helps to chill or freeze them- less crumbs
---- The Mat by Sweetwise is a great buy- helps with rolling fondant nice and thin- they have a video tutorial
---- what is underneath your fondant will be magnified- fondant does not hide flaws it highlights them
chill your buttercream base and then apply fondant- not freeze just chill- if using ganache wait for the shell
----thin your edges with the ball tool- I like the metal ones- I bought them in the sculpting aisle at Michaels- always using coupons
---- invest in a good xacto knife or scalpel

finishing off a cake makes all the difference- something I struggle with- ribbon or border on the bottom- a finished cake drum etc-

Also,, give yourself enough time-- everything takes MUCH longer when you are learning- at least double the amount of time you originally think you need , including drying times-and have double the amount of ingredients and products on hand- you will be surprised - another thing I struggle with- ha

Last but not least, as I have written a book here- sorry-, is be kind to yourself- be very proud of everything you do even if it doesn't come out exactly the way you envisioned- Its hard to do that sometimes but very important to keep you hooked-

Can't wait to see what you share in the future-

Mo

 

 

Thank you Mo, i am going to have a look for the sites you recommend, yes i did use a serrated knife to scrape of the edges, :( i did want to put a ribbon on, just never got near a shop. How do you mean smooth edges with a ball tool? 

What book did you write? Going to start looking for the sites now and as soon as i make another cake will you know off to try and find your gallery pics, still trying to navigate this forum lol. Yes loads of helps and tips on here, i love this forum and everyone is soo helpful xxx

Ducky316 Posted 25 Jan 2013 , 12:56pm
Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris449842 View Post
 

She is talking about using a ball tool along the edges of your flower petals. There is also a sponge specially designed for putting your flower or petals on so when you use the ball roller along the petals, the give in the sponge gives you a very realistic effect :)

Chris449842 Posted 25 Jan 2013 , 1:10pm
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ducky316 View Post

She is talking about using a ball tool along the edges of your flower petals. There is also a sponge specially designed for putting your flower or petals on so when you use the ball roller along the petals, the give in the sponge gives you a very realistic effect :)


Oh really? So once you have made your flowers, you  then roll the ball over the petals when they are actually stuck on the sponge? What do i put in google for this recipe of the sponge?

Thanks xxx

AnnieCahill Posted 25 Jan 2013 , 1:56pm

Chris,

 

The sponge is a foam pad that you use for gumpaste and fondant.  The reason you use it is because it's a soft surface that "gives" when you push on it.  That's the kind of surface you need when you are using a ball tool on flower petals.  It makes the petals look more life-like and delicate.  You do this before you put the flowers on the cake.

 

http://www.globalsugarart.com/product.php?id=21195&name=Fondant%20Shaping%20Foam%20by%20Wilton&gdftrk=gdfV25706_a_7c2149_a_7c8856_a_7c21195&gclid=CJ2_rMTUg7UCFQWnnQoduUMAag

Chris449842 Posted 25 Jan 2013 , 2:23pm
Quote:
Originally Posted by AnnieCahill View Post

Chris,

 

The sponge is a foam pad that you use for gumpaste and fondant.  The reason you use it is because it's a soft surface that "gives" when you push on it.  That's the kind of surface you need when you are using a ball tool on flower petals.  It makes the petals look more life-like and delicate.  You do this before you put the flowers on the cake.

 

http://www.globalsugarart.com/product.php?id=21195&name=Fondant%20Shaping%20Foam%20by%20Wilton&gdftrk=gdfV25706_a_7c2149_a_7c8856_a_7c21195&gclid=CJ2_rMTUg7UCFQWnnQoduUMAag


Ohh right icon_redface.gif thought you meant a sponge mix lol yes i have a mat, i did use it, was kind of scared to use it on the smaller flowers and daisies, esp the long think petalled flowers. xx

AnnieCahill Posted 25 Jan 2013 , 3:01pm

The cake looks great.  I actually like the design.  It's balanced with the right amount of white space.  Sorry, part of what I do for a living involves graphic design, so I am always aware of color and white space.

 

Your roses look really nice.  On your smaller flowers, next time you might want to try to roll your paste a little thinner.  It will just help them look a little more delicate.

 

Keep up the good work-this is a great start!

Chris449842 Posted 25 Jan 2013 , 4:03pm
Quote:
Originally Posted by AnnieCahill View Post

The cake looks great.  I actually like the design.  It's balanced with the right amount of white space.  Sorry, part of what I do for a living involves graphic design, so I am always aware of color and white space.

 

Your roses look really nice.  On your smaller flowers, next time you might want to try to roll your paste a little thinner.  It will just help them look a little more delicate.

 

Keep up the good work-this is a great start!


Thank you Annie, i will try to make icing thinner on flowers next time, i did a few thin ones, but ripped the petals as i used the ball tool. do you use the small ball or large ball? I used the small ball? xxx

AnnieCahill Posted 25 Jan 2013 , 5:52pm

It could have been that your paste was too dry.  I am partial to the large ball (that sounds bad haha) but I have several that I use.  Maybe some of the other folks who are more experienced with sugar flowers can chime in.

Chris449842 Posted 25 Jan 2013 , 6:45pm
Quote:
Originally Posted by AnnieCahill View Post

It could have been that your paste was too dry.  I am partial to the large ball (that sounds bad haha) but I have several that I use.  Maybe some of the other folks who are more experienced with sugar flowers can chime in.


Lol that does sound rather bad icon_biggrin.gif will give it a go with the large ball next time, xxx

hbquikcomjamesl Posted 25 Jan 2013 , 7:06pm

Hmm. "Partial to the large ball." Why am I suddenly thinking of a certain infamous AC/DC song that I don't think I've ever actually heard (personally, my taste in rock bands runs more towards the Hampton String Quartet).

colleenski Posted 25 Jan 2013 , 7:16pm

The sponge is not a recipe... it is a form. You put the flower on it to finish your sculpture with the tools. The sponge gives, this alows more natural movement in the flower, to give a more realistic finished look. I am a hobbyist, so my tools are limited. I actually form my flowers in the palm of my left hand, using my right hand to guide the tool.

My first experience with fondant was lumpy, much, much worse than yours. I watched a video about how to smooth that buttercream with a viva papertowel and tool that looks like an iron. I make home-made buttercream and put each layer in the fridge for about 10 minutes so it crusts. Then I smooth it. Then I re-refrigerate while I prep the fondant. I freeze all my cakes, and carve them because I like crisp, straight edges.

Your finished look of placement is pretty, but to bring it to the next level, think about art and nature. Usually the top has smaller blossoms or buds. Floral sprays are rarely angular. They usually follow a "C" pattern or a "S" pattern, sometimes they are clustered. They tend to look best in odd numbers too. The top left gardenia - pull off some of the bottom petals, and close the blossom a little to make it smaller. Also consider closing some of the other three flowers, maybe make 1 look more like a bud. I have to give you kuddos though your blossoms are gorgeous. Tweek a few little things and your cakes will be magnificent! 

Marianna46 Posted 25 Jan 2013 , 7:31pm

To put things in context - LOL - the ball tool comes with a large ball at one end and a smaller one at the other end. The suggestion about watching lots of videos is a very good one, and the list of sources posted by MaurorLess67 contains all my favorites. YouTube is also full of cake-decorating videos, illustrating every step of the process, from leveling and stacking to crumbcoating to covering with buttercream or fondant to decorating. There are some really good ones about how to make flowers and figures. And the best thing about the YouTube ones is that they're free. What I meant about lining your cakes up is to get them lined up as straight as possible after you stack them and then cut the excess off from around the edges before you put your crumb-coat (the thin coating of buttercream or ganache that you put under the final covering to hold all the loose crumbs in place and give your fondant - if that's what you're using - something to stick to) on the cake. And seriously, let us see how you do from time to time. This is such a fascinating adventure!

Chris449842 Posted 25 Jan 2013 , 7:45pm
Quote:
Originally Posted by colleenski View Post

The sponge is not a recipe... it is a form. You put the flower on it to finish your sculpture with the tools. The sponge gives, this alows more natural movement in the flower, to give a more realistic finished look. I am a hobbyist, so my tools are limited. I actually form my flowers in the palm of my left hand, using my right hand to guide the tool.

My first experience with fondant was lumpy, much, much worse than yours. I watched a video about how to smooth that buttercream with a viva papertowel and tool that looks like an iron. I make home-made buttercream and put each layer in the fridge for about 10 minutes so it crusts. Then I smooth it. Then I re-refrigerate while I prep the fondant. I freeze all my cakes, and carve them because I like crisp, straight edges.

Your finished look of placement is pretty, but to bring it to the next level, think about art and nature. Usually the top has smaller blossoms or buds. Floral sprays are rarely angular. They usually follow a "C" pattern or a "S" pattern, sometimes they are clustered. They tend to look best in odd numbers too. The top left gardenia - pull off some of the bottom petals, and close the blossom a little to make it smaller. Also consider closing some of the other three flowers, maybe make 1 look more like a bud. I have to give you kuddos though your blossoms are gorgeous. Tweek a few little things and your cakes will be magnificent! 


Thanks Colleenski you practiced in your hand? Yes i do have the spongey mat, i saw some cake pics where they did a few big flowers at the top corner and draping over the cake in middle,  and down over the side. More practising lots more lol. xxxx

Chris449842 Posted 25 Jan 2013 , 7:48pm
Quote:
Originally Posted by Marianna46 View Post

To put things in context - LOL - the ball tool comes with a large ball at one end and a smaller one at the other end. The suggestion about watching lots of videos is a very good one, and the list of sources posted by MaurorLess67 contains all my favorites. YouTube is also full of cake-decorating videos, illustrating every step of the process, from leveling and stacking to crumbcoating to covering with buttercream or fondant to decorating. There are some really good ones about how to make flowers and figures. And the best thing about the YouTube ones is that they're free. What I meant about lining your cakes up is to get them lined up as straight as possible after you stack them and then cut the excess off from around the edges before you put your crumb-coat (the thin coating of buttercream or ganache that you put under the final covering to hold all the loose crumbs in place and give your fondant - if that's what you're using - something to stick to) on the cake. And seriously, let us see how you do from time to time. This is such a fascinating adventure!


Thank you, i cant think of anything else apart from cakes, love making the flowers and making the cakes, then giving them away lol. Will look on you tube and watch carefully with the ball tool as i never use the  large one icon_smile.gif xxx

AnnieCahill Posted 25 Jan 2013 , 9:11pm

James-Ha!!!!

Annabakescakes Posted 25 Jan 2013 , 9:52pm
Quote:
Originally Posted by hbquikcomjamesl View Post

Hmm. "Partial to the large ball." Why am I suddenly thinking of a certain infamous AC/DC song that I don't think I've ever actually heard (personally, my taste in rock bands runs more towards the Hampton String Quartet).

Great! I hate AC/DC and the subject of the song makes me snicker, BUT I've got that song in my head now...

ellavanilla Posted 26 Jan 2013 , 12:31am

you don't have to buy a new pan, you could also trim the edges , if you don't mind a slightly smaller cake. 

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