What Is That One Skill Every Cake Decorator Should Have?

Decorating By storestore Updated 27 Oct 2014 , 8:38pm by costumeczar

storestore Posted 26 Oct 2014 , 12:29am
post #1 of 23

Hi, there. I've recently gotten into cake decorating. Here are 4 photos of my first cakes below. I've sought out two practice opportunities that I would like to take advantage of. The first is a very specific birthday cake which I already know what I am going to do. The second is a 3-tier wedding cake and the bride told me to do whatever I wanted using bright colors and no food coloring (she doesn't want to ingest artificial coloring). I've decided to try a 3 tier, stacked stair step cake. As experienced cake decorators, what is that one skill you find to be extremely necessary that you would recommend I attempt on this cake. Any ideas would be appreciated. Thanks!

 

22 replies
MBalaska Posted 26 Oct 2014 , 2:15am
post #2 of 23

You've asked two questions here:  One general and one specific.

 

  1. What is that one skill every cake decorator should have?
  2.  I've decided to try a 3 tier, stacked stair step cake. As experienced cake decorators, what is that one skill you find to be extremely necessary that you would recommend I attempt on this cake

 

 

here's my home hobby baker two cents.

 

  1. an honest ability to realistically evaluate your product.  What is great about it and may be repeated; as well as what is not good and should be avoided or corrected in the future.
  2. stacking level, smooth & neat.

costumeczar Posted 26 Oct 2014 , 2:57am
post #3 of 23

AIf you figure out how to do bright colors and no food coloring let us know. Other than sticking fruit on it I'd turn the request down.

I think the one skill every cake decorator should have is the ability to know what they don't know and to not tell customers that they can deliver something if they don't know how to do it. That might be too pragmatic for most people, though.

storestore Posted 26 Oct 2014 , 3:07am
post #4 of 23

AHi, Alaska. That's great advice, thank you for your thoughts. I try to be at meticulous and as picky as I can when it comes to smoothing and levelling. Still working at it. I guess I'm looking for a particular decorative technique that I should practise because I'm new at this and I hardly know where to begin.

storestore Posted 26 Oct 2014 , 3:09am
post #5 of 23

ACostume, I thought I could use fresh flowers and satin ribbon to add color.

costumeczar Posted 26 Oct 2014 , 3:38am
post #6 of 23

A

Original message sent by storestore

Costume, I thought I could use fresh flowers and satin ribbon to add color.

Just don't stick the flowers into the cake, the chemicals and dirt on them are probably worse than food color!

julia1812 Posted 26 Oct 2014 , 6:24am
post #7 of 23

AOf course you can use natural food colors! http://www.ehow.com/m/how_2302808_make-natural-food-coloring.html http://www.naturalfoodcolors.com But you might have a few issues: - how "bright" can you make the icing without an overpowering taste of whatever you used to color it - finding the right flavors to match the color AND the flavor you are a aiming for - spending looots of time in the kitchen and the field to look for ingredients and prepare the food coloring

The other thing I would worry about is when a customer (well, the BRIDE in this case!!) tells me "to do whatever I wanted". Is that related to the design as well? Is it in your contract with her? Just make sure you don't get yourself into trouble... And please post pictures once done!

-K8memphis Posted 26 Oct 2014 , 1:19pm
post #8 of 23

Aribbons are a great idea -- but what is the bride thinking requesting bright colors and restricting food color -- this opposite thought process makes me crazy -- like wanting sugar free cotton candy --

you could also make some lovely bright gum paste flowers/decor too

-K8memphis Posted 26 Oct 2014 , 1:24pm
post #9 of 23

Aso about an important skill to have is to diplomatically throw the bs flag on clients who want to ignore the laws of nature just because they're getting married

DeniseNH Posted 26 Oct 2014 , 1:33pm
post #10 of 23


If we all took your advice (no insults intended) we wouldn't be doing very many cakes.  Most of the ladies in my group often laugh at how they could smack themselves for saying yes before our skills in that design are perfected.  Gotta Stretch Yourself.  Say "yes" then get busy practicing, practicing, practicing and asking questions on this forum.  The one skill a cake decorator needs is perseverance. Bucket loads of it.  Each cake is unique and a learning experience.  Over time, we build up our confidence and skills .................it's easy to see, from your cake photos, that you're not a beginner.  Go for it, but practice, a lot.

costumeczar Posted 26 Oct 2014 , 2:03pm
post #11 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by DeniseNH 
 


If we all took your advice (no insults intended) we wouldn't be doing very many cakes.  Most of the ladies in my group often laugh at how they could smack themselves for saying yes before our skills in that design are perfected.  Gotta Stretch Yourself.  Say "yes" then get busy practicing, practicing, practicing and asking questions on this forum.  The one skill a cake decorator needs is perseverance. Bucket loads of it.  Each cake is unique and a learning experience.  Over time, we build up our confidence and skills .................it's easy to see, from your cake photos, that you're not a beginner.  Go for it, but practice, a lot.


I'm assuming you're responding to my advice? No problem with stretching yourself, but that's knowing what you don't know, which isn't what I said. It's when people promise that they can do this or that then try to do it without any kind of practice or research that they end up on cakewrecks. I find that there's way too much overpromising going on these days on the part of beginning decorators, so that's what I'm referring to. Know your limits.

 

Like when people come on here and post a photo of a Sylvia Weinstock cake and say that they've never made a wedding cake before, but that they told their friend they'd make her cake and this is what she wants and how do they do it? No amount of practice is going to make up for that!

storestore Posted 26 Oct 2014 , 2:10pm
post #12 of 23

ALol. Wow! Sounds like some of you have been given the runaround before and are warning me. I appreciate it! This is just a practise opportunity for a bride who is having a family supper following her destination wedding. This is why she told me to do whatever I wanted. Also, she wants me to practise whatever skill I desire which is another reason for the lack of limitations. She's agreed to pay for the cost of ingredients only. I'm not too concerned about a contract because it's basically a free cake, and because I live in a small town where everyone knows each other, and because the agreement took place on a public website where I sought out the bride. Guess I should have explained all this. Now, as for bright colors, she said that fresh flowers and ribbon was a great idea. I've never used fresh flowers on a cake so this will be a learning opportunity there.

Edible Art Co Posted 27 Oct 2014 , 12:49pm
post #13 of 23

In that case, the main things to focus on are as the earlier poster said: Straight, smooth sides, making it level, and properly support it (it might be for practice but it's still someone's life event, we don't want any sliding/slumping/upset bride etc) There are many tutorials and videos that will show you how to do these things, but personally I have to at least practice on a dummy cake to get what it feels like 'in real life'. Best of luck :)

johnson6ofus Posted 27 Oct 2014 , 3:43pm
post #14 of 23

What is that one skill every cake decorator should have?

#1! To not be a doormat. Charge what you feel like your time and efforts are worth, and say "no" when it's not.

-K8memphis Posted 27 Oct 2014 , 4:28pm
post #15 of 23

Quote:

Originally Posted by johnson6ofus 
 

What is that one skill every cake decorator should have?

#1! To not be a doormat. Charge what you feel like your time and efforts are worth, and say "no" when it's not.

 

 

yes!

costumeczar Posted 27 Oct 2014 , 5:02pm
post #16 of 23

Quote:

Originally Posted by johnson6ofus 
 

What is that one skill every cake decorator should have?

#1! To not be a doormat. Charge what you feel like your time and efforts are worth, and say "no" when it's not.


good one!

-K8memphis Posted 27 Oct 2014 , 5:12pm
post #17 of 23

i also agree with denisenh -- there seems to be a 'don't go near the water till you can swim' mentality here on cc in general sometimes -- it's not at all how anyone i know advances in the art or business of caking -- everyone i've ever known in real life and most of my on line friends promised themselves or a customer they'd do something they'd never done before then went scrambling one way or another to produce it -- 

costumeczar Posted 27 Oct 2014 , 6:54pm
post #18 of 23

I saw this and thought of this thread...CakeWrecks is timely today. "No...No, I can't.":roll:  http://www.cakewrecks.com/home/2014/10/27/5-bakers-who-bit-off-more-than-they-could-chew.html

MBalaska Posted 27 Oct 2014 , 7:00pm
post #19 of 23

Quote:

Originally Posted by costumeczar 
 

I saw this and thought of this thread...CakeWrecks is timely today. "No...No, I can't.":roll:  http://www.cakewrecks.com/home/2014/10/27/5-bakers-who-bit-off-more-than-they-could-chew.html

 

that was timely and funny.

Pastrybaglady Posted 27 Oct 2014 , 7:27pm
post #20 of 23

Quote:

Originally Posted by costumeczar 
 

I saw this and thought of this thread...CakeWrecks is timely today. "No...No, I can't.":roll:  http://www.cakewrecks.com/home/2014/10/27/5-bakers-who-bit-off-more-than-they-could-chew.html

 

My favorite part "Or you could just fill the donuts."  I just turned down this three tiered gold crown topped topsy turvy harlequin monstrosity because I have yet to stack a cake. (I'm so proud of you MB!)  The event isn't until June so if I just wanted the money I could tell myself I'll just watch some videos and tutorials and I'll have it by then... or NOT!  "No...No, I can't."

MimiFix Posted 27 Oct 2014 , 7:53pm
post #21 of 23

I nominate @costumeczar the Queen of CC, for giving us an answer to the siren call of custom cake: "No...No, I can't."

dkltll Posted 27 Oct 2014 , 8:17pm
post #22 of 23

I would practice whatever you feel sketchy at. For me it's piping, for others it might be fondant work, for others it might be stacking. You will probably be called on to do all of these things so practice what you feel the MOST inexperienced in or the technique you don't feel comfortable with. 

costumeczar Posted 27 Oct 2014 , 8:38pm
post #23 of 23

Quote:

Originally Posted by MimiFix 
 

I nominate @costumeczar the Queen of CC, for giving us an answer to the siren call of custom cake: "No...No, I can't."


Hahaha! That came from the cakewrecks article, though. But I'm going to copyright it and claim it as "Kara's sensible solution" since people seem to be naming things that already exist after themselves these days.

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