Rookie Error In Cake Judgment I’D Recommend That A Newbie Avoids.

Decorating By MBalaska Updated 20 Jan 2014 , 3:35am by MBalaska

MBalaska Posted 18 Jan 2014 , 1:57am
post #1 of 16

There's a Rookie error in Cake Judgment that I made for a decade, and I’d ask a Newbie to avoid. There have been a few posts lately by the pros that they not only sell 4” tall cakes, but are moving towards 5” tall.


This has prompted a sharp pang of regret over the many dozens of cakes that I baked and decorated for people the first few years. My sheets, round & square layers were ok.  But my cakes were often Character cakes with piping. I have actually taken those pans to the Salvation Army and donated them (Ok ok…..except for Mickey Mouse. There’s just no parting with him!) 


My area of concern is that they promote and sell those cakes as One Layer Cakes. Most of the shapes result in the edges of the cakes being a height from Zero to 1 inch. So half the cake slices got mostly icing. And believe me I spent all day decorating those puppies so I was giving my ALL.


However looking back, those pans either should have been manufactured much deeper, or in every single instruction and photo those cakes should have been put on a full sized layer of a sheet cake or round cake. Since joining it has become embarrassingly obvious to me now. This is a mistake I will never repeat.:judge: 

15 replies
craftybanana Posted 18 Jan 2014 , 2:49am
post #2 of 16

AI had bought a cute little teddy bear pan, used it and was disappointed at how thin it came out. Are you recommending that one bake a separate cake, then put it under the bear cake and carve it to match? Because that seems like a really neat idea (If I'm reading it right). If so, I may go buy some more of those cute generic pans (or even a mickey mouse once).

MBalaska Posted 18 Jan 2014 , 3:08am
post #3 of 16

I had the teddy bear cake pan and I made it several times, it's adorable.  Essentially it satisfied my enjoyment in decorating as a hobby,:) but it sure didn't make it a generous cake.:oops:


I wouldn't cut anything at all.  I'd just pick a normal 2" or 3" deep cake pan that the character pan would fit On Top Of without hanging over the edges.  I'd torte, fill, then ice the bottom cake with a regular layer of icing. then plop the character cake on top and decorate it.


But Yeah, you are right that you could just cut the bottom cake to match the top one.  I'm just lazy.


For most of those Wilton Character cake pans that would mean 1/3, or 1/2 sheet pans, or 12" or 14" inch rounds.  I'm thankful that I've learned to give a more generous portion of cake from this website. Whew.

craftybanana Posted 18 Jan 2014 , 3:33am
post #4 of 16

AOn top of... I'll have to try that, thanks! I think my small pan will actually fit on top of 8" round. It came from the "Dollar-Spot" section at Target, so not a Wilton one. I think it's my only shaped pan cake pan. Most of my molds are chocolate molds I get off season. Wow, you have my wheels turning, much to the dismay of my husband who now knows the kitchen will not be clean all weekend! :D

MBalaska Posted 18 Jan 2014 , 7:46am
post #5 of 16

See here, this is what I'm talking about.  It's a short squat pancake.   Shame Shame. :duh:

The first decorated-piped cake. I bought one pan a Wilton Star, one pastry bag and one star tip.  It is so lopsided and thin it's hilarious.  It's so old (early 80's) I had to scan a 35mm print.

The first one.  Now I know how to get full height and an even baking in a cake.  WooHoo.

MBalaska Posted 18 Jan 2014 , 8:50pm
post #6 of 16

Here's another example of what-not-to-do:

I had the one photo of the star cake, my very first cake, as I was so Proud!!


This is the only other photo I could find from the early years.  There's visible improvement from the star piping and the colors. I used basketweave and Royal Icing flow dots,  but the cake was cut to be level and probably only ended up being about 1- 1/2 inches tall.  I feel kinda embarrassed about it now, but live and learn yeah!


Wilton pan cake, early cake made by me in the early 90's?  another example of what-not-to-do.  Cake must be only 1 1/2" tall.

I've gained so much help from the other cakers on this website this year, so I'm digging in the scrapbook to pay it forward a bit.

denetteb Posted 18 Jan 2014 , 8:58pm
post #7 of 16

I really don't consider it an error or a mistake.  If that is what the person you are making it for wanted and expected, why consider it a mistake?  The pans are made the size that they are so that one cake mix fits in them perfectly.  They are designed for a home baker to make a cake mix, pour it in the pan and ice it.  I don't think most people think they must be made 4 inches high, although it would be easy enough to do that if you wanted to get more servings and keep the shape.

MBalaska Posted 18 Jan 2014 , 11:11pm
post #8 of 16
Originally Posted by denetteb 

I really don't consider it an error or a mistake.  If that is what the person you are making it for wanted and expected, why consider it a mistake?  The pans are made the size that they are so that one cake mix fits in them perfectly.  They are designed for a home baker to make a cake mix, pour it in the pan and ice it.  I don't think most people think they must be made 4 inches high, although it would be easy enough to do that if you wanted to get more servings and keep the shape.


Yes denetteb:  You are correct.:)


Perhaps that is the best start for most people, just as it was for me. One box mix, a little butter, powdered sugar and milk. 


The majority of folks probably buy one pan and use it a few times until their kids grow out of it. Just like most home hobby attempts they lose interest and move on. And of course those pans get out-of-fashion as times change.


So if the character pans stays in the category of a one box mix cake, and If I had a magic wand, I'd make the pans a little deeper and shrink the width.  Then the proportion of cake to icing would result in a little more cake.   And for those people who are reading this forum, and searching cake baking and decorating websites as an interest.  Interested in moving into this fun and challenging sport, this is just a recommendation- move on from pre-molded character cakes.

denetteb Posted 19 Jan 2014 , 1:29am
post #9 of 16

I think the character cakes that you made and the ones you shared pictures of are lovely.  Well done, carefully decorated and a proud accomplishment.  At some point you decided to move into other cakes and decorating styles as do a lot of other people.  I don't think it minimizes the cakes you did earlier with the character pans.  It is so easy for bakers, crafters, etc to see so many wonderful things that others are making and be dis-satisfied with what they are doing by comparing them to others.  But people should be proud of their own accomplishments and try to not compare them to others and lose the joy of what they are doing.  Recently on a couple decorating blogs I follow two different people showed a progression through time of a room and referred to earlier versions as mistakes.  But I think instead of mistake that peoples interests and skills and abilities and style change through time, but not mistakes.

MBalaska Posted 19 Jan 2014 , 9:02pm
post #10 of 16

DanetteB: You are gracious and thoughtful.  I understand the reasoning in what you are saying and agree with it. As you said everyone knew exactlywhat they would get when they asked for one of the Wilton character cakes.  Maybe everyone just liked my Frosting! No one made home made frosting with real butter and that must have given me the edge.

Ok now I'm having a laugh. :D  The doubting discomfort is dispelled.  Good times ahead.

denetteb Posted 19 Jan 2014 , 9:49pm
post #11 of 16

I have a photo album of my cakes.  In it are two that I leave in on purpose.  One is when I was practicing doing a buttercream transfer for the first time for a friends boyscout son.  My lesson from that cake was I needed to learn how to make a better red, as they were pink, white and blue instead of red, white and blue.  My other one I leave in has the lesson to learn when to stop, not every inch needs to be filled, sometimes it is just too much. It was too busy.  When other people see my little album they don't see it as I see it, they just look like another cake, but I always remember the lesson.  They weren't mistakes though.  And they were also very yummy!  In these days of Pinterest, blogs and professional photo shoots it is so easy to be hard on ourselves in comparison.  We should take care to not do that and be happy. And not doubt yourself!  Your cakes were tasty and looked good. 

kakeladi Posted 19 Jan 2014 , 11:00pm
post #12 of 16

We never stop learning - especially from our mistakes:)

Remember that most of those shaped pans are copyrighted and the cakes made in them cannot be sold.

Making a good, clean, nice looking star fill-in cake is not as easy as it looks.

Those 1 layer cakes are no different than making a sheet cake.   Just that it's shaped differently :)

I won't post my uglies.  There are many of them over the yrs, but we learn to keep them private.  And remember, each one of us

has different ideas of what is pretty/beautiful work.  It depends on what level of decorating one its at.

Apti Posted 20 Jan 2014 , 12:16am
post #13 of 16

Shame on you for saying "shame on me"!  That is a DARLING 1st cake and totally deserves the "ooh's and aah's" that it, and you, received when you plunked it down in front of your family/friends.  You were proud, they were proud OF you, and the cake was probably the coolest thing any of them had ever seen.


Think of the fabulous, mind-bending, perfect cakes we see here as a Victoria Secret underwear model.  They are gorgeous perfection in every way.  BUT...... I sure as heck never looked like that and never will.  Yes, there are some who can create awesome cakes, it is not impossible.   However, most of us who approach this darling and frustrating hobby that may or may not grow into a business KNOW that we started as newbies!    Do you think Michael Jordan was born knowing how to sink baskets and then parlay his athletic skills into  fortune and fame?    uh....... no.......


I've been doing this for 3 years now and find it just as challenging and interesting as I did in my first Wilton class.  Be proud of all of your 1st cakes!  That's part of training for excellence.


(Fortunately, I was able to avoid the character pan costs associated with learning.  I do, however, have 2 sets each of petal, heart, etc., etc. that are still in the new wrapping.  Sheesh.... nobody ever told me this obsession would cost a fortune.)

craftybanana Posted 20 Jan 2014 , 1:58am
post #14 of 16

AI think both of those cakes are nice, beyond what I can do right now, I especially like the hot air balloon one. The star pan I could see doing a "super star" cake, like those stickers we'd get as kids. Or if I was 20 years younger a Mario-star! :D

[QUOTE]Sheesh.... nobody ever told me this obsession would cost a fortune.[/QUOTE] [CENTER]:D :D :D[/CENTER]

I'm thinking those smaller pans would be perfect for smash cakes.... just planning ahead you know

scrumdiddlycakes Posted 20 Jan 2014 , 3:27am
post #15 of 16

AThat balloon is pretty gosh darn adorable!

MBalaska Posted 20 Jan 2014 , 3:35am
post #16 of 16

You guys are sweethearts.  Thanks.  And Yeah Boy Oh Boy....... who thought it could be so expensive.

Quote by @%username% on %date%