The 'cakewalk' Book By Margaret Braun

Decorating By DesignerCakes Updated 15 Jul 2014 , 7:41pm by asaek781

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DesignerCakes Posted 24 Mar 2007 , 12:12pm
post #1 of 32

I just received this book yesterday and I was completely awed by the beauty and extravagance of the colors and photography of this gorgeous book. With that said, I was extremely disappointed by the limited, or lack of, instruction provided. The cakes in this book are extraordinary, if not unrealistic, and I am wondering what others think of it.

Has anyone found this book helpful, outside of it being 'eye candy'? There is a great deal of unrelated text in the book than there is text pertaining to the cakes it showcases, by about 100 to 1. I would consider this book more of a coffee table or showcase book than an instructional one.

I'd love to make some of these cakes, but have no clue how to even go about one since the book is so limited in terms of instruction. There is some basic info on icing, and structuring but not much else.

Sorry for the rant. I tend to get really excited and attached to my cake books and had high hopes for this one. Perhaps a class by Margaret Braun might be a better option, but where to find one? I've searched high and low and found nothing so far.


31 replies
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emmascakes Posted 24 Mar 2007 , 3:23pm
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I LOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOVE this book and would happily give up all my others if I could keep this one. I think if you're looking for instructions I can see why you'd be disappointed - but I enjoy working out how to make things from looking at images and I like her writing on her inspiration and idea finding. I personally think photos with a cres of instructions are boring as I don't want to make the same cake everyone else does - I just love her colours and found her book a total inspiration. Maybe you'd like the new Toba Garret book - I hated it for exactly the things you're looking for - I found it too instructional.

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playingwithsugar Posted 24 Mar 2007 , 3:25pm
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I agree, the cakes in that book are gorgeous. I do not own this book, but I have seen it on several occasions. This is the first full review I have read, written by a decorator, and I thank you for saving me the money I would have spent on it.

You can learn most of those techniques in Colette Peters' books. I do not own all her books (yet!) but the ones I do own have all the information you need to duplicate her work, including minor details like wire gauges used. If you mix and match the various techniques, and practice at them, you will be able to create something comparable to Margaret Braun's work.

On a side note, it comes as no surprise to me to hear that she did not share most of her secrets. I have found that there are several high-end decorators who honestly believe that they are doing something "different", and that they must keep their tips, tricks, and techniques to themselves. I do not see their work as being different. I just think they have a better eye for design than I do.

Most of the unique ideas I have found, other than online tutorials, I found in the forums, from us. Not from the famous names who lurk in the background to see what we are saying about them, and rarely, if ever, post threads or responses.

Theresa icon_smile.gif

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bethola Posted 24 Mar 2007 , 3:37pm
post #4 of 32

Cakewalk was the FIRST of many cake books that I have purchased. I do think the cakes are beautiful, but, if you look closely you will find her cakes are SMALL (like 8" and 6" rounds). This just isn't reality for ME!

I enjoy Colette Peters' books much more. I find the instructions more complete and as I have actually seen her DO cakes.....well....let's just say "she has a CLUE"! LOL No offense to the Margaret Braun fans on CC!

Beth in KY

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ShirleyW Posted 24 Mar 2007 , 4:13pm
post #5 of 32

I consider this book to be "eye candy" more than practical learning. I have never made anything from it, I just use it as something beautiful to skim through.

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DesignerCakes Posted 24 Mar 2007 , 5:15pm
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I, too, like to experiment, and while I am not a long time decorator, can appreciate some sort of clue. I think there is great value to having some basic guidence, particularly when attempting such extreme decorating. A perfect example is the page on Baroque techniques. While the photo is gorgeous, there is no clue provided as to how to shape those beautiful swirls on page 47, titled Rococo Relief. I used the triangle disc on my clay gun, but that only helps with one of the sizes. How in the world were those shaped? I guess I'll never know...LOL.

Ironically, there is great detail provided in the way of step by step instructions with accompanying photographs on how to torte, ice and stack cakes. Clearly, anyone who attempts to tackle these projects would have those sort of basics down already. Like I said, lots of cake 101 stuff, but not much else. A perfect example, two full pages of text and only four lines with information on the showcased item.

I have Toba Garrett's books in my collection as well. I did find these books very useful as well as inspirational when I first started learning about cake decorating. I highly recommend them to anyone in place of a Wilton class! But I am in no way in need of any instructional hand holding. Just a few tips and techniques would be helpful.

I guess Colette still rules in terms of teaching her craft.

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JulieB Posted 24 Mar 2007 , 5:27pm
post #7 of 32

Colette rules in terms of anything!

Of course, that is just my opinion.

I had never heard of this book, but now I want it! LOL I did go to her website, and wow, the cakes.......

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ShirleyW Posted 24 Mar 2007 , 7:06pm
post #8 of 32

I appreciate the beauty of Kerry Vincents cakes in Romantic Wedding Cakes, but I really like that she explains each step in how to recreate the cake, plus a few patterns as well. If you don't own this book see if your library has it or can borrow it from another library.

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bobwonderbuns Posted 24 Mar 2007 , 7:15pm
post #9 of 32

I love Margaret Braun's use of color, but would have been happier with a little more "how to". I couldn't justify the price so I passed on it. I have so many other decorating books anyway -- Kerry Vincent, Mich Turner, Peggy Porschen, Toba Garrett, Scott Woolley, etc. etc. icon_rolleyes.gif

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crumbscakeartistry Posted 24 Mar 2007 , 7:19pm
post #10 of 32

I have this book and feel the same exact way. I like to look at it for inspiration. I like Toba Garret and the Sugarcraft series for instructional techniques. They are the books I most heavily rely on. Check those out.

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CakeDiva73 Posted 24 Mar 2007 , 7:27pm
post #11 of 32

That is ironic....I am reading that book right now. It is very inspirational to me but I would not clasify it as an instructional type of book. I love hearing her talk about her love for pastry and especially the family setting and love for food in which she grew up. I think you are right and it is more of a coffee table book but I am going to try some of her recipes, etc...She also has some great graphics like the running dog..... This is one of the few cake related books that I can read cover to cover.

Gotta laugh when she says "About airbrushing cakes.......paint your cakes and save the airbrushing for t-shirts and vans" .

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mthiberge Posted 24 Mar 2007 , 7:38pm
post #12 of 32

Oooh oooh...I'm excited now! That book is in my shopping cart on amazon I think I'm going to order it right now. I don't have the patients to read all the instructions that go with say...a "Wilton way" cake...I'm a "looker dooer" and you guys have me stoked about this book!

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nglez09 Posted 24 Mar 2007 , 7:42pm
post #13 of 32

Thanks for the info. And I agree with Theresa, the famous people who believe to have their own special technique don't want to share. I guess Toba's the only one who really doesn't care.

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paolacaracas Posted 24 Mar 2007 , 7:50pm
post #14 of 32

Margaret Brown's book is bar none the most beautiful cake decorating book. It's a book that is intended for teaching you how to expand your imagination so you can imagine your own cakes. Read the book, I mean READ IT, as if you were to read a novel and you'll see my point.
As for trying to make what she makes, I agree that is not for beginners. But any expert cake decorator can tell how she do what she does. I think beginners can find the inspiration to push them self forward.
In my gallery there's a blue and red cake inspired by her. I did jut by looking at what she did rather than at following specific directions.

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CakeDiva73 Posted 24 Mar 2007 , 9:01pm
post #15 of 32

Perhaps I am missing something but upon further review of this book, I see that she has provided many recipes, sources & graphics, as well as instructions of how she gets her cakes to look like they do. There are even step by step instructions on working with pastillage, making the borders, etc.

I think it is an unsaid thing that this book is not intended for beginners since anyone attempting to make one of these cakes would already have a basic knowledge of cake decorating and the architectural structure of creating tiered cakes....that's why I think she starts off with the cakes made, frosted, covered in sugarpaste and stacked. I actually think this book is far more detailed with instruction then Collete Peters book.....and I am a major CP fan icon_lol.gif

** edited to add: sorry if I sound all wordy and working on a college paper and it's hard to go from 'school' mode to 'chat'.

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DesignerCakes Posted 24 Mar 2007 , 9:48pm
post #16 of 32

How would you make the swirls on page 47? Here's a pic of my attempt, but I can only get it one height size. No where does it even address this. I guess that's where my disappointment lies. The Ursulas are another big question mark for me. The instructions pertain to the skirting, but that's the easy part. I know how to do that just by looking at it. I was wondering how to mold the top parts - they are so perfectly shaped.

Everything is doable, even if by hand, but I am wondering about the shortcuts - tools used. Info like that would be most helpful in saving time. That's where I'm coming from.

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CakeDiva73 Posted 24 Mar 2007 , 10:08pm
post #17 of 32

I think you swirls look excellent....... if you want them higher (I am interpreting wider, but correct me if I am wrong) can you make them longer with a slightly larger arch at the middle? Sorry if I am missing what you are saying icon_smile.gif

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mthiberge Posted 24 Mar 2007 , 10:18pm
post #18 of 32

They're gorgeous, practically perfect! I just ordered my book from amazon today, I won't see it for about three weeks though, then I'll know what your talking about...LOL

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DesignerCakes Posted 24 Mar 2007 , 10:59pm
post #19 of 32

Cake Diva,

Yes, I want to make them higher in the center, but not sure how, though. I had to try to figure out how to make these on my own (excited but frustrating after seeing it in the book) and decided to use the triangle disk in my clay gun. This worked well, except that there is only one size in the triangle shape.

I tried molding it with my fingers, but that didn't work. It lost it's shape and disfigured it even with the slightest touch. So, this is why I am frustrated. I am itching to do this as well as many other things in the book, but am wasting so much time trying to figure it out. That's why I'm venting. The book is lovely, don't get me wrong. I'm glad to have it. But it left me wanting so badly!

On a personal note, I have a 15 month old. My husband is away at work most of the week and comes home on the weekends. This translates into little free time to do 'cake stuff'. So when I try new things, I have to do it as efficiently as possible due to time constraints - hence my frustration...LOL.

But in the end, it's all good since it's all about the cake, right?

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DesignerCakes Posted 24 Mar 2007 , 11:00pm
post #20 of 32

mthiberge - we have the same message...'Let them eat cake'. Ain't that the truth!

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mthiberge Posted 25 Mar 2007 , 6:23am
post #21 of 32

That's funny, I didn't notice until you mentioned it.
What are the scrolls made of? fondant? They really are quite pretty.

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emmascakes Posted 25 Mar 2007 , 10:48am
post #22 of 32

Roll pastillage sausages out and taper them at the ends by smoothing your hands down the two edges and leaving the middle part alone - then you have a sausage with a thick middle and tapered edges -m when you shape this into a swirl you'll have a fatter middle. I think she does her modelling by hand - tue Ursulas certainly look hand modelled to me as they're all slightly different.

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DesignerCakes Posted 25 Mar 2007 , 12:00pm
post #23 of 32

Thanks so much EmmasCakes. This will be my project for today! I can't wait to try it. I attempted it yesterday but it wouldn't work. I'm going to try the Ursula's, too.

BTW, your cakes are simply AMAZING! I'm so impressed. I make it a point to attempt something new very single day, even with limited time. In that manner, I move closer and closer to my ultimate goal of learning higher end techniques. I couldn't do it without some tips from the experts like you!

Thanks again.

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DesignerCakes Posted 25 Mar 2007 , 11:30pm
post #24 of 32

Today's Cakewalk Project: The URSULA!

Ok, what am I doing wrong here? It looks funny! I think maybe the tops are too long, but I can't really tell. I think I need to place this on a petal pan in order to really see what is off about it. Of course, that means buying one from Australia since I refuse to spend a single penny on any Wilton pans and they are the only company that makes them here in the US. So I guess I'll be making Ursulas for awhile before I can get my imported pan! LOL

Has anyone tried these before?

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mamacc Posted 26 Mar 2007 , 12:20am
post #25 of 32

I just ordered this from Amazon too, LOL! I think I should get it tommorrow in the mail!

After seeing her on Sugar Rush I just HAD to buy her book, even though I've already heard that she doesn't give a lot of instruction. I love how she carves her tiered cakes and how she paints them.


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paolacaracas Posted 26 Mar 2007 , 1:38am
post #26 of 32

Why don't you want to buy the Wilton pans? there very good I have some and love them

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DesignerCakes Posted 26 Mar 2007 , 2:23am
post #27 of 32

I don't like the Wilton pans because they are not very sturdy. They tend to dent easily. Worst of all, I don't like the rounded edges. I love my Magic Line pans, but they don't make petal shapes. I've become hooked on baking in 3 inch tall pans, too. The imported 'tins' are available in the taller sizes in all shapes.

I really like the heavier guage of the commercial pans. Unfortunately, the petal pans used in Cakewalk cost around $75 plus another $50 for shipping.

Paolacaracas, I loved your tribute to Margaret Braun, by the way. Your cake was gorgeous.

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paolacaracas Posted 26 Mar 2007 , 2:57am
post #28 of 32

Thank you, I meant to do it more like the one on the book, but I'm not very good at copying something exact, so at some point I just move the book away and do my own thing. You are doing great too, I don't know why you feel you need more explain than what is on the book. cake decorating is more about trying and error than it is following explanations

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DesignerCakes Posted 26 Mar 2007 , 3:22am
post #29 of 32

I like having a starting point. I have done some things in the past by hand only to learn there is a mold or a short cut that would have saved me hours of time. Hence, my frustration at seeing very labor intensive designs with little to now guidance. I guess that just means I will have to challenge myself even more, right?

How did you do the curves in the top and side of your cake? It's so perfect.

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paolacaracas Posted 26 Mar 2007 , 3:37am
post #30 of 32

Carved. Frize the cake, and frost while is frozen.

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