Need Suggestions On How To Hone My Skills

Decorating By valbos22 Updated 12 Aug 2008 , 2:35pm by cakedout

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valbos22 Posted 11 Aug 2008 , 3:00pm
post #1 of 9

I am trying to think of ways to inexpensively hone my skills. I volunteered to do a cake for hubby's work over the weekend-- it took hours, cost $$ and I kept thinking-- there must be a better way for me to hone my skills! Those of you who are or were hobbyists-- how did you do it?



8 replies
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cakedout Posted 11 Aug 2008 , 8:03pm
post #2 of 9

Best way I honed my skills was working in a bakery for 3 years! icon_biggrin.gif I learned how to work quickly and efficiently, which was a great help when I started my own business. Can't expect to make any money on a b-day cake that takes all day to decorate! icon_wink.gif

Seriously, make yourself a "practice" board: tightly wrap a 9x13 cake board with waxed paper. You can practice away at your borders, etc, scrape off the icing with your angled spatula and start all over! thumbs_up.gif That's how we do it in cake decorating classes!

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SeriousCakes Posted 11 Aug 2008 , 8:12pm
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Wow, I sent a lot of cakes in to work with hubby, but my recipes don't cost me too much to make a cake. And if I used just a pretty plate that cut out the cost for a cake board and foil. I started getting orders from his co-workers and now that pays for the supplies, not the time but that's not important to me because it's fun, it's like painting or drawing, sculpting, or other art mediums. It's a stress reliever for me icon_smile.gif

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PinkZiab Posted 11 Aug 2008 , 8:41pm
post #4 of 9

Like someone said above, to practice piping, just do it on a plastic placement or something and keep wiping off and do it over again... I used to practice on a TV table while I watched late at night.

You can make a cheap "practice" frosting by whipping up store-brand shortening, corn syrup and PS (the cheapest you can find, since taste isn't an issue) till it gets to the desired consistency. Just store at room temp and keep re-using for practice. Once it gets kind of nasty-looking, toss it and make more.

For fondant techniques and smoothing, pick up a couple dummies. Practice all you need then clear em off and start over!

Yes these things will still cost you money, because in order to practice you still need supplies and some you will go through, but you can practice more different things, more often, if you're not doing it on an actual cake.

Another alternative is to seek an internship (or job, if you prefer) at a bakery or cake studio. I did go to culinary school, but you really only get a base education (well at the school I attended anyway), so knowing I wanted to go into cakes, I went right into an internship and it was the best thing I could have ever done!

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kakeladi Posted 11 Aug 2008 , 8:56pm
post #5 of 9

There are 3 things that will help:


It cannot be stressed enough as everyone else has said.

If y ou really can't afford to invest in styro, turn your cake pan over and ice & decorat it.
Either way (styro or pan or placemat) nothing takes the place of working on a real cakeicon_sad.gif Sooner or later you will have to make some.
Maybe make a cake; ice & decorate it; get some pix then scrape it all off and fz the cake until another day to practice on. You can keep doing that until you feel comfortable.
Please spend the time & money to take pixQ! Even your failures. It will help you in the long run. Some day you will look back at those pix and say ... look how far I've comeicon_smile.gif
OR you will see something you didn't notice before so you can correct it in your next effort.

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need2sleep Posted 11 Aug 2008 , 9:05pm
post #6 of 9

HI!! I have a goofy question for cakedout...Did you work at a specialty bakery or a bakery in a grocery store? The quality of decorated cakes is so much pretty at a specialty bakery than at a grocery store. So I was just wondering.


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valbos22 Posted 11 Aug 2008 , 10:18pm
post #7 of 9

Thanks for the tips. Those of you familar with fondant-- would you say playdough (hey I have young kids, lol) or maybe clay would be a similar medium?

Also with school and pre-school starting up again, I am sure there will be more opportunities plus I saw somewhere where someone on here had picked 12 cakes they liked and were going to attempt one each month-- not a bad idea!

This place has been so amazing to find, I love it! The wealth of knowledge and the willingness to share it, just makes me grin!



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kakeladi Posted 11 Aug 2008 , 10:48pm
post #8 of 9

Yes either should be close enough. If y ou have it on hand (since you have little ones) just start playing around w/it.
If you can, invest in some polymar clay books that show you different critters, people etc. Try copying those and you will be well on your way to learning a great skill.
Try shopping at yard sales; thrift shops. Occasionally you will find those craft books and even some decorating pans, or equipmenticon_smile.gif

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cakedout Posted 12 Aug 2008 , 2:35pm
post #9 of 9

I worked in a small locally-owned grocery store, then later in a chain-type grocery store.

Sure, the creativity certainly wasn't there, but I had plenty of practice (20-30 cakes a day) to get my borders and flowers to look great! icon_biggrin.gif I may have learned a few tricks of the trade, but mostly I am grateful for learning the speed factor. Most of my skills were improved by taking professional classes and learning tons from other ICES members. thumbs_up.gif

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