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Help! Placing an equipment order / getting overwhelmed!

post #1 of 26
Thread Starter 

Hope those who bake specialty cakes can give me a hand! I agreed to make a special 2-tier cake for my niece for her shower (Peter Rabbit theme, feeds 30-35) and I have been looking at various websites to order what I need.

The shower is in 2 weeks and I've been hemming & hawing for a while now and feeling overwhelmed by all that's available. I filled a cart at 2 sites (sweetwise and oasis) as all things weren't available at one place and the total was over $200. That's when I started thinking I must be going overboard!

My list so far includes the following and I'm wondering what I may be missing (I have nothing to start, basically), or maybe I'm going overboard! I appreciate any & all thoughts!


`Round pans, 9" & 12"

`Fondx - 10 lbs.

`The Mat (for rolling fondent. It looks like it makes it super easy)

`9" round to support top tier (if the cake is 9", should I use an 8" round?)

`14" Round white drum

`14" Masonite round (I was going to put the white round on top of the masonite - or should I just cover the masonite?)

`Poly foil wrap (for above)

`Poly dowels (can be cut w/scissors, 12"x1/4")

`Beginner kit Americolor (to tint Fondx)

`Brushes (to color flowers and Peter rabbit figurine for cake top)

`Flower and rabbit molds (small - for accent pieces)

`Sculpting tool set (to make flowers)

`Tylose powder (how much?)

`Fondant smoother (is the Wilton oone good?)

`small lucite roller (for making flowers)

`Poly disposable bags for piping


Can I make flowers from the Fondex that I paint or have tinted, or should I use gum paste? I've read many comments that say gum paste tastes terrible!


For the large Peter rabbit figure (I'm thinking it will be about 4" or so tall), what is the best modeling material? Best colors to paint it?


What's the best way to make letters? I don't think my hand may be steady enough to pipe them. I've seen printed letters (at Michael's Crafts, though they only had black available) - I think they were printed on flour paper, or something similar. Are they easy to use/apply?


Sorry for such a long message - you can see why I'm overwhelmed! There are so many details to consider and I want to be sure I have all the tools I need and need to oder in the next couple days, I imagine. I've never made a cake like this before, but have an art background, so I think I can do it! Thanks for all your help & suggestions,







post #2 of 26

Where to this your first cake baking and decorating?  This is really a steep, steep learning curve to order all of this stuff and have it made in two weeks if this is your first time.  Do you have a recipe for you cake and icing?  First of all your flowers and what not need to be made ahead of time and have time to dry.  Yes, they dry hard and are not usually eaten.  If you haven't piped before you need to start practicing today.  Another thing is that a 9 serves 31 and a 12 serves 56 servings so that is way more cake than you need.  You also need to research support systems, there are systems like SPS or you can use cake boards/dowels/straws.  But this is vital for a stacked cake.  I would suggest if this is your first cake that you really, really scale back your design.  Doing baking, icing, learning to work with fondant, learn flowers, learn to figure model, learn to support a cake, etc, etc is a huge task.  I don't work with fondant so can't help with the supplies you need, sorry.  With your art background you will probably do well, it is just a LOT to learn in less then two weeks.  Good luck with it.

post #3 of 26
I do agree with Denetebb I'm afraid!! I was truly shocked when I re read and realised its your first ever cake!! Speechless in Fact!! :/
post #4 of 26
Thread Starter 

I made a carved Teddy Bear cake (half of him was under a decorated fondant blanket) many years ago for a girlfriend's shower, which was more like a sheet cake. The cake I was thinking of making for my niece's shower was to be 2-tiered and I've absorbed a lot of info after watching a number of You Tube videos, Cake Boss, Next Great Baker, and other cake related TV shows. As a visually oriented professional artist, I'm able to recreate what I see, and has been what I do for the last 30 years. That said, I'm sure there are many techniques to cake decorating that take time to y major concern are the parts I don't see. I'm sure there are many details that are cut from the TV shows and videos so they aren't boring or redundant. And the shows don't seem to go over the equipment you need, so I feel I'm making an educated guess on a lot of that.


Thanks for the thoughts on the overall cake size, Denetteb. I looked at a few sites that calculated how many servings you'd get and they must have been counting on larger slices. After reading your post, I searched further and found a nice site ( that gives 3 serving options. Taking into account this will be a Jack & Jill shower, there may be more than a few guys going back for seconds and possibly serving themselves healthy portions, so I don't mind if there's extra, but perhaps I was over-shooting with a 12” & 9” cake.


I'm also thinking a more simple 2 layer cake with filling may be a better way to go, and less fussy. I'll make flower decorations a couple days ahead so those will be done and will practice piping before working on the cake.


Thanks for any further thoughts or tips you might think of, and I appreciate your input.


post #5 of 26

You've undertaken a pretty big challege but it may not be impossible.  I do hope you will post pictures when you have completed it. 


Not knowing where you are located and what you may have available, but if you have a local cake shop consider renting your pans to start trimming your upfront cost.  You need either the 14" drum or the masonite, not both.  I'm going to assume the drum is covered in since you said "white'  no need for the foil either.  


You can go to a fabric store (JoAnn's) and get clear vinyl that can be used to roll out the fondant.  Much less expensive than "the Mat" and it will work just as well.


The poly dowels will be fine, just make sure you measure them all to the same length.  Don't put each one in and cut it off.  If your base cake isn't level neither will your top tier. 


Don't put a ton of money into brushes, just go with the medium grade, if you continue with cakes, you will find that you can go thru brushes pretty fast.  If you are planning to paint with the Americolor, you may find you will need some Lemon Extract or EverClear (Grain Alcohol 75 or 90 proof depending on where you live) to mix with the color to thin it a bit. 


For me personally, I have found Fondex to be difficult to work with and much prefer Satin Ice.  I'm sure others will disagree.


Tylose, you will only need one jar.  A little goes a long way.  You can mix it with your fondant and it will help speed the drying process, but will still be edible if someone chooses to take a bite out of a figure or flower. And yes you can make Peter Rabbit from the fondant mixed with Tylose.  Give it PLENTY of dry time.  When I make figures out of fondant, I use un-cooked spaghetti to help support the limbs and head, don't use any sort of wire within your figures.

Lucite roller - any rolling pin will do, it may be a bit cumbersome but not impossible. 


Lettering - I've not seen the lettering you are talking about, but if it is in fact printed on an edible paper product, they it should be easy to handle.  Carefully read the directions.  Or since you have an art background why not just paint the message on the cake if you really feels it needs one.  Not all specialty cakes do.


If you haven't looked at the Global Sugar Art website, you may want to check them out too as they carry a huge selection and you may be able to get everything on one order. 


I hope this is at least somewhat helpful.  I'm happy to answer any other questions you may have.  Feel free to send me a private message as I don't always monitor these feeds.

post #6 of 26

I really admire your ambition and love for your niece. Not to discourage you, but there are some really cute store bought toys/figurines out there. If you have trouble with the fondant, buttercream with beautifully tinted drop flowers and store bought figures would be super pretty too. (Plan B in case the fondant gives you a hard time.) Best of luck! :)

post #7 of 26
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the tips and encouragement! My sister passed away 7 years ago and perhaps we would have worked on this jointly. She was incredibly creative and though I'm no fill in for her daughters, I'd like to do something I know their Mom would have done, hence my ambitious project! I'm still trying to decide whether to make a layer cake of all the same size layers, or do a 2- tiered cake. Both would be covered with fondant as I like the smooth, professional look. If any one has thoughts as to which cake option might be less problematic, I'd be very appreciative of your input. 

Miss Lisa, thanks so much for all your ideas and taking the time to go through those details! I have a question, regarding the Mat (from Sweetwise). You mentioned getting vinyl instead (understandable cheaper), though I read somewhere since it isn't food-grade vinyl it shouldn't be used. Would the fondant end up tasting like plastic? I used to work at a company that manufactured vinyl products and the chemicals in vinyl are nasty.

You use Satin Ice - how does that differ from Fondx and why don't you like Fondx? Thanks for the Global Sugar Art website - I'll check them out!

Lastly, has anyone purchased from Sweetwise? Would you purchase again? 

post #8 of 26

If you go with a two layer (one tier) cake that does simplify things because you don't have any worry about support system, dowels, cardboards, stacking, travel concerns.  I say do a two layer 9 by 13, 10 or 12 inch.  Then you only have to use one pan (filled and baked twice).  You really need to be starting on the flowers soon though.  Another thought instead of doing fondant to get a smooth cake is to do a rustic finish with buttercream.  That would eliminate needing a mat or any learning curve for rolling fondant and getting it smooth.  A rustic finish is pretty basic to do and would go with a woodsy Peter Rabbit theme.  Then you could focus more on your figures, flowers and do a simple border.  But those figures really need to get started asap so they can dry though, especially since you still have to place your order and wait for the materials to be shipped.  And you really shouldn't try to think about what your sister would have done or try to fill her shoes with the cake.  Just do the best job you can within the short time you have available and your niece will love whatever you provide. Cake plus all the other things you have probably done with her.   Since you will be at the party, you do the cutting and serving and that will make for a much neater cake and more appropriate sized slices, no one to start hacking it up.  Use this method to cut the cake.  Makes for a great size serving and if people want a second they can. 

post #9 of 26


Indydeb's blog is still there, but that link goes to "Sorry, the page you were looking for in this blog does not exist.."

There. Their. They're not the same.


I hope I die before "your" becomes the official contraction of "you are."


There. Their. They're not the same.


I hope I die before "your" becomes the official contraction of "you are."

post #10 of 26

I just cut and pasted the address from her page.  Weird.  Ok then do this. google         cater it simple blog              then click on How to cut a wedding cake.  I am sure there is a better way but that is what I did.

post #11 of 26

Well, that's weird. I did as you suggested and there it was. And the URL is the one you posted. Curiouser and curiouser.

There. Their. They're not the same.


I hope I die before "your" becomes the official contraction of "you are."


There. Their. They're not the same.


I hope I die before "your" becomes the official contraction of "you are."

post #12 of 26
This reminds me of a thread from last year where a young gentleman posted asking for some help on a purse shaped cake for his lady friend. It was his first cake ever, but he had an art background and he nailed it!! I say go for it, but make sure you don't tell anyone how easy it is to make cakes, if it turns out great, since your background makes it easier for you icon_wink.gif I don't want anyone else wondering why we charge so much!
Beginners, be sure to parrot advice and get your post count up as fast as you can. After all, it's not what you know, it's what people THINK you know.
Beginners, be sure to parrot advice and get your post count up as fast as you can. After all, it's not what you know, it's what people THINK you know.
post #13 of 26
Thread Starter 

I clicked on the link and got to the page. Thanks!

post #14 of 26
Thread Starter 

It's been my lifelong experience that artists - regardless of what their particular interest is - are never fully appreciated or compensated for their time and talents. I've always wondered why it's so. Perhaps because those who are paying (and don't posses the talent) have no idea of the expertise and time that it takes to create a beautiful cake or painting or _?_ .(fill in the blank)  


Years ago I preserved bridal bouquets, drying the flowers individually in silica gel, then creating an arrangement under glass in a deep shadowbox as a keepsake for the bride. There were many labor-intensive steps to each piece and they weren't inexpensive. I recall one young bride-to-be at a bridal show where I had a booth coming to my table, and after taking a moment to look at the framed samples, turning to her mother to ask, "But what do you do with it?" She then inquired about the cost, and her expression left no question she thought it was a waste of  money. It's been 25 years and it still makes me smile. Some folks will never feel your creation is worth $5. Thankfully, there are those who do and help keep the arts (and us starving artists) alive.


After the exhaustive research I've done for this cake-to-be, I can easily see why I might pay $150 or more for an amazing cake. Actually, I don't think that's a bad price, knowing how much time it would take. If I hadn't already committed to baking/decorating it myself, having it made would have been an excellent idea! 

post #15 of 26
Thread Starter 

I searched the web for cake ideas and wonder if it's 'kosher' to post links to the couple I'm considering as inspiration for my own creation? Then you might see what I have in mind and could comment on whether one might be easier than another. 

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