My Love-Hate Relationship With Cake Decorating

Decorating By pattiverde Updated 4 Mar 2009 , 2:53am by jlynnw

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pattiverde Posted 3 Mar 2009 , 8:46am
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Hi all,

Tonight I have, once again, finished a cake in about four times the amount of time I expected, leaving me up waaaaay past my bedtime (it's 12:30 a.m. right now and I have to be up in 5 hours for work) and pretty much vowing never to make a cake again. I'm not kidding that this happens every single time I make a cake. I get really excited about it, sketch a design or come to this site for inspiration, and all I can think about for days is the cake that's on my mind. Then, when I finally get to make it, I'm into it for awhile, say, oh, 2 hours or so, and then I start to fizzle out, usually because it's late at night, but I keep going either 'cuz the cake needs to get done or because I can't stand leaving things unfinished, and then, as I said, I am so sick of cake - the frosting on every last surface of the kitchen, the fondant scraps here and there, even the sight of the finished cake ('cuz all I can see are the flaws) - just sick of the whole thing! So I think, Good heavens, why did I take those cake decorating classes? Why do I spend time on the weekends reading (as if it were a novel) the Cake Bible? Why is it that the only website that interests me of the millions on the internet is this one? And always: why did I decide to make this very cake that took me six hours - this little 6" round cake covered in fondant and with only one polka-dotted bow as decoration? Why, why, why?

Give me a few days and I'll be back into my usual cake obsession. For now I am just wondering if anybody else shares this love-hate cake thing? Any wisdom is appreciated!

icon_smile.gif patti

16 replies
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Melnick Posted 3 Mar 2009 , 9:16am
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I'm with you! But it's mostly because I have so much to do in the run up to the party, that I'm exhausted by the time I attempt the cake. As time continues, I'm just so focused on finishing the silly thing as I want to go to sleep, but I make more and more mistakes because I'm trying to shortcut things! Then I'm cranky when it doesn't turn out the way I wanted it to - but more cranky for not having the energy to do it properly when I'd been so excited! Thank God I don't do it for a living. It doesn't take long for me to feel keen again! And I love the times my hubby cleans up for me!

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miscue Posted 3 Mar 2009 , 9:59am
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OMG - this is me exactly! If you read pretty much any of my posts you will see the same frustration that you have!
It's a terrible thing isn't it.
Why do we think we can do it next time?? But everyone on this lovely site tells us to keep trying..... which is what we will do.

I have vowed to make sure I have all ingredients accounted for, and plently of time on my hands next time I make a cake!

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AKA_cupcakeshoppe Posted 3 Mar 2009 , 12:37pm
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Originally Posted by miscue

I have vowed to make sure I have all ingredients accounted for, and plently of time on my hands next time I make a cake!

me too! Has never happened...

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sweet_teeth Posted 3 Mar 2009 , 1:04pm
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Ahh.. do you know how many times i've gone to the store in the middle of baking a cake.. only to come home and realize I need another ingrediant!??! I'm very organized in life.. until it comes to cake decorating and then all my OCD-type organizational skills go straight out the window.

I think I just get so excited about doing a cake that I forget the basics, such as remembering my ingredients.

Oh.. and YES i'm totally with you on pooping out on a cake midway through. It always takes me so much longer than it should, cake crap is EVERYWHERE.. fondant scraps EVERYWHERE.. and to top it off.. I usually feel sick as a dog cause I can never stop eating that damn buttercream!!

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majka_ze Posted 3 Mar 2009 , 1:13pm
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Originally Posted by cupcakeshoppe

Originally Posted by miscue

I have vowed to make sure I have all ingredients accounted for, and plently of time on my hands next time I make a cake!

me too! Has never happened...

I have to say, my family has trained me to be prepared. My parents have a 2 families house and I rent a flat there - well, not "on paper", but I pay rent to them. It happens often that my mother comes and asks to bake a small cake for family (6" or 7") as right now.

The last time I was at my parents' for lunch and it was like "we forgot, your uncle has birthday and he comes at 4 pm - could you bake a cake for him?" Well, whole 4 hours is lot of time - once before I had a cake on the table 30 min after my niece came. MW is your friend and some cakes can be microwaved - please don't tell anybody tapedshut.gif
I have to have ingredients for simple cake. The flour holds for quite a lot of time, sugar is the same. The eggs can be in the fridge for some time and you can have a stick of butter in a freezer - you need simply grate it to defrost quickly.
The only problem is the mess in the kitchen. I am lucky that my parents entertain the guests and I deny the existence of my kitchen until the guests leave.

But guess what: Today is the 3rd day I am buying eggs /they are on sale/. Hopefully, till Thursday I get them finally. The egg in the fridge feels lonely. icon_biggrin.gif icon_biggrin.gif

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sweetjan Posted 3 Mar 2009 , 1:18pm
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pattiverde and melnick, I'm so glad you wrote! I thought it was just me. I think about a cake, draw it on paper, thoroughly enjoy planning it.
Then half way through it, I'm like, 'Shouldn't this be finished by now?'....
But I sure do love it! And I love the comment about 'reading the Cake Bible like it's a novel'....ha ha ha ha ha! (because that's what I do!) icon_lol.gif

Thanks to all of you for sharing....I feel a little more normal ??? n ow!!! icon_wink.gif

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jlynnw Posted 3 Mar 2009 , 1:21pm
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Sounds to me like you have too much going on and your hobby is burning you out! Try to plan ahead. Bake, make icing, fillings, etc on the first day, the next finish the cake. Maybe you are just trying to do too much all at once and the would overwhelm anyone. Don't let it get to you. It takes a bit of balance and then the cakes take half as long as you thought and turn out twice as good. Sleep deprived decorators don't work good!

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IcedTea4Me2 Posted 3 Mar 2009 , 1:40pm
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Have you been peeking through my windows watching me?? Just this last Friday night I was up about 11:30 staring zombie-like at a truly ugly cake that was due at 8 a.m. the next morning for a business convention. (My colleagues) My STBH walks through and says, "OMG, you NEED to go to bed. It's fine." I was exhausted after a long week at work, including a night with only 2 hours sleep, BUT I could not walk through the door with that cake. There was no way my name was going to be on that. So, I grabbed a knife, sliced it up, put it on a pretty platter and delivered it that way. Now, I was supposed to have a "beach-theme" cake and blah, blah, blah. I have had fabuous ideas for well over a month. I've thought about it at 2 a.m. many nights all excited about what I was going to do with this cake. I definitely over-extended myself that week. I'm figuring out that the wonder woman routine is over-rated. I did two cakes to take the convention - one in slices and one whole. Everyone raved about it and I was thinking, "You've got to be kidding." Then it occurred to me that they aren't privy to this site and the wonderful ideas that I had in my head. They don't know what they missed! But, I do. It takes me forever to do a cake and I'm slowly learning that more preparation is the key for me. Freezing cakes is a wonderful thing. I've actually done that on occasion and just to be able to pop them out of the freezer and decorate on a different day was truly nirvana. I'm the same woman who was planning to make her own wedding cake when the venue will only let us in one-hour before I actually walk down the aisle. I'm going to be so frazzled spackling my face and trying to get my hair to look decent the last thing I'm going to want to deal with is cake. Wonder woman. I need to put her out of her misery.


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jlynnw Posted 3 Mar 2009 , 2:02pm
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Seriously, who wants to be wonderwoman? She ran around in sequined panties and bustier! icon_lol.gif icon_lol.gif Please don't get so sleep deprived you think it is OK to wear your undergarments with a little bit of embelishments on them. Then you will run into how to make your outfit not about the cakes and you will only end up wearing the pretty white coat the nice people are "letting" you wear! Start early, if you have your thoughts together a month in advance, get the stuff together a month in advance. Icing can be made ahead, fondant too, gumpaste decorations, the cake baked early in the week. Please stop the all night marathons trying for perfection. Do the best you can and walk away! That is it, you may see that little spot on the cake is not as perfect as it should be but it is not screaming at anyone but you. There are times when perfection is the only way but at 2 in the morning it is not. It is amazing what people see when all we see is that is simply not right, they see the most amazing, oh you are so talented, cake you should be on TV.

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rocketmom1985 Posted 3 Mar 2009 , 2:03pm
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I agree with jlynnw...I used to be disorganized and it showed. I don't work so but I can identify with the losing sleep issue and then having to get up to go to work. I had a small homebased soap making biz around 12 years ago. This seems to be a common problem among us homebakers or hobby bakers. Those in biz have to be organized and have ready supplies on hand or they will be out of biz rather quickly. The messy kitchen issue is also dh had the nerve to declare that he forbade me to make anymore cakes icon_razz.gif ...he hated the mess and he said I took over the kitchen....well, duh! BTW, I still make cakes. I just try to clean up as I go along and make sure everything is available before I start. I pretty much know what the cake is gonna need. Having cake mixes, ps, vanilla, flour, sugar, sour cream, buttermilk and all the other stuff on hand is not a problem once you get the hang of it...I have a dedicated cabinet for my supplies and when I grocery shop, I check my "stash" to make sure everything is well stocked. I make a list...cake ingredients, prep work needing to be done, and allow plenty of's like home improvements...if you think it will take two hours, plan four.

I try to plan ahead... icon_rolleyes.gif I always have frozen cake layers in the freezer...I love bc and playing with fondant so I try to make sure I have plenty on hand at least 3 days before I need it. MMF and Michelle's fondant are easy to make and store well. If I need flowers or fondant decorations, I make them ahead of they dry. 2 to 3 days maybe? When I make my bc and fondant, and I know what my cake is going to be (like you guys I like to sketch it first) I also make the colors at that time. I hate mixing colors and it is worse when you are in a hurry or tired. I also use the plug method of putting bc in saran and then popping into a prepared bag. When I clean up my tools, I always put the coupler back on the pastry bag. Simple enough to do. I have a tip organizer I made up with little compartments, each labeled with the tip number etc. All my gumpaste/fondant tools are in one handled carry case, measuring cups, spatulas, meauring spoons etc are in one "baking" drawer. I guess it all comes down to planning and organization...when everything is at your finger tips and the "grunt" work is done (I put making icing/fondant in the grunt work category) then my enjoyment of the decorating process is greatly enhanced. I sure hope I don't sound like I am tooting my own horn...I have several health issues and I gotta be ahead of the game...or the cake just won't get made if I have a problem.

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jlynnw Posted 3 Mar 2009 , 2:20pm
post #12 of 17

rocketmom got it goin on! Having your own cabinet and storage system is another great idea. Approach this like you have a 2nd kitchen business in your house. Your family is the other and who comes first? Plan times that are the family and have a contengency plan when they can't have the kitchen or dinning table. (TV dinners, take out, soup and sandwiches, grill nite) Think of it more like a business in organization and like a hobby when you work!

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Sweet-Kakes Posted 3 Mar 2009 , 3:12pm
post #13 of 17

[/quote] Is there really a cake bible? What is it called, and where can I get one?

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jlynnw Posted 3 Mar 2009 , 3:23pm
post #14 of 17

Sweet Kakes, you are going to kick yourself it is called "The Cake Bible"

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pattiverde Posted 4 Mar 2009 , 1:42am
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Wow you guys are amazing! I am so happy to read all your replies - and to see that others feel the same way I do, and also to read your great advice on streamlining the process. I like the idea of pacing myself over a few days, and especially making an effort to do the decorating part (the fun part!) on its own day - with all the prep done before so I can really enjoy the decorating. Thanks so much everyone for your empathy and humor and ideas!

The good news is... it didn't even take me a few days to love cakes again! It took only a matter of hours - precisely the seven or so hours between going to sleep at 1 a.m. and arriving to work at 8 a.m. with the cake in hand, when immediately I was showered with amazement and compliments! That's all it took. Lots of attention and fanfare over it, and I'm hooked again.

I think this next quote is excellent! It's a quote to live by:

Originally Posted by jlynnw

There are times when perfection is the only way but at 2 in the morning it is not.

Thanks again!
icon_smile.gif patti

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cgcreation Posted 4 Mar 2009 , 2:06am
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It's great to hear that someone else has the same feelings about cake. After a particulary profane moment with a decorating attempt, my husband asked if I actually like cake decorating. Without missing a beat, I said, "I love it!"

Okay, I'm a little nuts. If you need proof see my thread, what am I doing wrong (small rant). I was ready to give it up because nothing went right today and it was just a practice cake. Then I just spent the last hour looking through recipe's on here for my next cake. Go figure.

Don't give up. Your next cake will be easier, or at least not any harder.

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jlynnw Posted 4 Mar 2009 , 2:53am
post #17 of 17

I am so glad we didn't lose you to the hater side! It just takes a bit of practice and in a few cakes, you will look back and go, what was all the fuse about!

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