Please Give Tips On How To Improve My Skills

Decorating By babyblue113 Updated 29 Oct 2007 , 2:42am by diamondjacks

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babyblue113 Posted 18 Sep 2007 , 4:58pm
post #1 of 23

I've only started decorating cakes in March of this year....I've done about 6 cakes so far for family/friends and I have not been happy with ANY of them! I don't feel like my skills are improving any.....especially when it comes to covering a cake in fondant and getting a smooth finish with my buttercream icing.

Can any of you please give me tips on how to improve my skills. I'm getting frustrated.


22 replies
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awolf24 Posted 18 Sep 2007 , 5:08pm
post #2 of 23

There is SO much information here on CC. I've learned more from this site than any class I've ever taken. Take some time to read about different topics or search for topics you are interested in - i.e. try searching for smooth fondant or smooth buttercream, etc.

Also, nothing can replace practice, practice, practice. I sometimes get discouraged seeing all of the absolutely flawless beautiful cakes here on CC but this site is for everyone of all skill levels. I try to measure my progress against myself and my earlier cakes and it is gratifying to see my own progress. You'll get there too! Keep making practice cakes or you can also practice piping techniques on your cake pans - just whip up a batch of icing and flip your cake pans over - instant practice surface! Hang in there and have fun. icon_smile.gif

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woodyfam Posted 18 Sep 2007 , 5:10pm
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I am sort of a newbie too. Have been decorating for years but just for fun and friends until recently. There are great tips on this website. Read it frequently. Pretty much whenever I have a question I look on this site and it is answered the same day. Also, take some simple classes at your hobby store. If you post pics on this site and ask for specific advice then your fellow CC'ers are great at giving positive advice. Good luck and don't be so hard on yourself!!!!

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indydebi Posted 18 Sep 2007 , 5:10pm
post #4 of 23

can you post some of your pics so we can see your work? that will help us with any suggestions.

But the bottom line is practice, practice,practice. Buy a couple of dummy (styrofoam) cakes that you can practice on, wipe off, and start another cake. Get some simple cake cardboards and decorate those like you would the top of the cake.

Having the proper tools is a big plus. They don't have to be anything expensive, but an icing spatula is much better than a knife out of your silverware drawer; a Kitchen Aid mixer (while not necessary) mixes better than a low powered hand mixer. For cookies, use good cookie sheets and always use parchment paper (not sure if you do those, just thought I'd throw it in).

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DCHall Posted 18 Sep 2007 , 5:11pm
post #5 of 23

Hang in there! It takes a lot of practice to master these skills. I am still learning how to get smooth buttercream and cover a cake with fondant. I just recently tried the Melvira method for smoothing buttercream. It works wonderfully!

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bobwonderbuns Posted 18 Sep 2007 , 5:12pm
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And practice, practice, practice!! You'd be amazed at how far that will go to helping you. icon_biggrin.gif

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Meg72 Posted 18 Sep 2007 , 5:17pm
post #7 of 23

I am pretty new at decorating too, and I know how frustrating it can be to have a picture in your mind of what you want your cake to look like, and it doesn't turn out nearly as well! I also used to get very frustrated seeing the gorgeous cakes on this website and would feel like I'd never get to that level. Keep working at it though. Practice, practice, practice. I've picked up a lot of tips from this website. You may also want to call cake decorating/specialty shops in your area to see what classes they offer. I've done this a few times and it has helped tremendously. I'm getting ready to take a fondant class and a class to get buttercream as smooth as a baby's bottom. Hang in there! Your skills will improve with every cake you do. Good luck!

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lionladydi Posted 18 Sep 2007 , 5:18pm
post #8 of 23

Go to the home page on CC and look under "New Cake Decorating Articles" and click on "view all articles". You will find a ton of helpful hints. I think my favorite one is the "Melvira Method" of smoothing buttercream.


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Melvira Posted 18 Sep 2007 , 5:25pm
post #9 of 23

I, too, am a big fan of the Melvira method! Hehehehe. I'm sorry, I had to throw that in there. Forgive me!

But Debi is right, if you wanted to post a few pix, we could see kind of what you're doing, then we could offer some FRIENDLY, helpful advice on things that might help you improve! Or, if there are specific things you're trying and having trouble with, (like the smooth icing) mention it and we'll see if we have any tips for you!

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bobwonderbuns Posted 18 Sep 2007 , 5:31pm
post #10 of 23
Originally Posted by Melvira

I, too, am a big fan of the Melvira method! Hehehehe. I'm sorry, I had to throw that in there. Forgive me!

ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!!! icon_lol.gificon_lol.gificon_lol.gif ha ha ha (grabbing tummy) icon_lol.gificon_lol.gif ha ha ha ha ha ha, oh stop, you're killing me... icon_lol.gificon_lol.gif ha ha ha ha ha!! icon_biggrin.gificon_razz.gificon_wink.gif

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MissyTex Posted 18 Sep 2007 , 5:43pm
post #11 of 23

Well, dont get frustrated just keep at it! I dont do fondant but for your BC heres my advice. Add enough liquid to make it smooth and silky. When I started out I tried to frost my cakes with icing straight from the recipe. But you need to thin it more for frosting. If you are not going to use your whole batch to frost your cake then take some out of the bowl before you add more liquid, because your decorations and borders will need to be a stiffer consistency. I cant really describe the consistency I use or a specific amount of liquid as I dont do a lot of cakes and dont have any tried and true measurements. I always play it by ear. But the frosting I prefer is 1 1/2c. Crisco, 1 stick softened butter (I prefer butter), 2 lbs powdered sugar (I only sift if it needs it), flavoring and milk. I usually test the consistency by spreading some around the wall of my bowl until it seems right. Your spatula should glide easily. Youll have to play with it. And, like everyone else, that is really the most important tip I have to offer, practice, practice, practice! You WILL improve! Especially if you hang out here enough! There are tons of tutorials and so many helpful people here!

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lionladydi Posted 18 Sep 2007 , 9:42pm
post #12 of 23
Originally Posted by Melvira

I, too, am a big fan of the Melvira method! Hehehehe. I'm sorry, I had to throw that in there. Forgive me!

Oh, REALLY?????? I would never have guessed. icon_eek.gificon_lol.gificon_eek.gificon_lol.gif

Hadn't seen your name for a while. I should have known this thread would bring you out of the kitchen. icon_lol.gificon_lol.gificon_lol.gif


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Melvira Posted 18 Sep 2007 , 9:46pm
post #13 of 23

I'm just here trying to help out! icon_wink.gif Can't live my whole life in the kitchen, right? icon_rolleyes.gif Not that I'd mind!!

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cakenutz Posted 18 Sep 2007 , 9:48pm
post #14 of 23

Ditto Indydeb .

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cakedreamer13 Posted 18 Sep 2007 , 10:07pm
post #15 of 23

I'm a new kid on the block when it comes to cake decorating, and I too have had my moments of frustration. But what I realized is that I'm not going to be great if I don't make the mistakes. Those mistakes helped to fine tune my decorating abilities. And also I've done my research here on CC, and have seen what works for some and what doesn't, and I've tried somewhat to incorporate some if not all of what I have learned here into my own skills. And I know I may sound a little redundant, but PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE!!!!This website is an excellent resource for any cake decorator either beginning or seasoned.

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nicolevoorhout Posted 18 Sep 2007 , 11:07pm
post #16 of 23

I'm in complete agreement with everyone here, practice, practice, practice, in the big scheme of things 6 cakes is not that much so don't despair. I'm obsessed with books at the moment, any kind of decorating book but particularly ones with step by step instructions, I made cakes for a couple of years but could never get my head around the instructions for sugar flowers until I took an 8 week evening class which totally turned the light bulb on and I feel that in the last year my skills have continually improved.

Tutorials like Aine2's I think are fantastic, especially if you can't get to an evening class, because instructions and pictures together I feel are the best way to put things together, she even has some videos on her blogs, trolling websites for advice, checking out all the tutorials on here and as mentioned practice, practice, practice.

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babyblue113 Posted 28 Oct 2007 , 3:19pm
post #17 of 23

Thanks everyone for the great tips....I now have some pics posted. Tell me what you think.

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srod911 Posted 28 Oct 2007 , 3:35pm
post #18 of 23

from what I can see in your pictures, your cakes are fabulous. We are our own worst critics...don't be so hard on yourself. I promise you that all the tiny flaws you see, the common person doesn't! Keep up the good work. icon_biggrin.gif

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step0nmi Posted 28 Oct 2007 , 3:49pm
post #19 of 23

I know I hadn't chimed in before to give you some advice but I would like to now....
Your cakes are really nice! I LOVED all of them! Great work...especially the Wizard of Oz and your ducky cupcakes were adorable!! OMG! Soo cute, everything. There were just a couple things that I noticed that I could help you on.

1. if you would like to have constructive criticisms on your cakes then you should put that in your description under the photo
there are so many times when all of us CCers don't know who wants nice comments or critiques! If you say so we will give some to you! We LOVE to do that! icon_lol.gif

2. I Love your horse cake! The colors were great and the horse cut out was soo cute! I noticed that you had some cracking in your frosting. You can one, add like a teaspoon of vinegar to your frosting....that wont change the flavor. OR two, you could add a couple more boards under your cake for more support. I just loved the design of that cake and with the bigger cakes you need more boards for support.

3. This may just be me! icon_lol.gif But, I like my boards to look really professional. I think it kind of makes the cake look more like a gift! I know there are many ways to wrap your boards with all kinds of stuff. You can do the regular foil from Wilton, wrap with wrapping paper then add clear contact paper, some use actual wood and wrap that, and also you can use foam core that you get at the local craft store. then I also like to add a little ribbon to my edges with hot glue to make it nice and neat!
Here's a link of how to do round boards....
Square you can just wrap like a present! icon_biggrin.gif

I hope this helps a little!? Your designs are GREAT and you just need to keep practicing! That is what I have been doing for the last 2 years now! Stick with Cake Central and you will learn LOADS of stuff!

Have a great day! icon_biggrin.gif

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babyblue113 Posted 29 Oct 2007 , 1:32am
post #20 of 23

Thanks for the compliment srod911

StepOnmi, those were great tips, I have learned to double up on my cake boards for more support and to keep my icing from cracking....still working on my icing technique as well.....I never knew about adding vinegar to the icing, I will try this next time.

You are right about wrapping the cake boards, they add a nice touch to the finished cakes...I have started using the wilton paper to cover the cake boards, I never thought of using actual wrapping paper and contact paper, that gives me a lot more options than the usual Wilton Silver and Gold foil paper.

I will also add comments to my pics requesting constructive critcism, never would've thought of that one. Thanks again.

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step0nmi Posted 29 Oct 2007 , 1:37am
post #21 of 23

well, glad I can help! I know that if I asked for help I would want great tips! I DON"T KNOW EVERYTHING! icon_lol.gif but some people on here might! icon_lol.gif Wish I was some of em'!

I am going to keep a look out for you! Your designs are really great! icon_smile.gif

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cakemom24 Posted 29 Oct 2007 , 2:32am
post #22 of 23

I am new to cake decorating. I started doing them for my kids and others started to tell me I should sell them. I didn't think I was improving much until I went back and looked at pictures. I saw a big difference then. All you can do is practice!!

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diamondjacks Posted 29 Oct 2007 , 2:42am
post #23 of 23

Ditto... I am always learning everytime I do a cake I just finished my first 2 large cakes this past weekend I can count the flaws! OH My I thought they were horrible until they were set up and displayed then out of my dismay they were MY WORK OF ARTS! They not being the greatest in my eyes really were jaw dropping to the on lookers so though you are your worst critique you can only learn by doing and doing over and over again.

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