What Could I Have Done Better!?!

Decorating By patticakesnc Updated 30 Mar 2009 , 1:05pm by janelwaters

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patticakesnc Posted 30 Mar 2009 , 3:28am
post #1 of 16

Ok I did this cake for a customer, last minute order for a baby shower and was delivered today. Now I am overall happy with the outcome especially since I cook for a private club on the weekends and had to finish it when I got home at 6 am and meet her at 8 am this morning.

But...what could I have done better? I don't like how my corners are. they are a little sloped especially on the left side (see pic).

I still can't smooth buttercream to save my life. I did the viva method on this one but I think I let it sit too long. I iced it last night before going to work and smoothed it at 6 this morning.

The ribbon isn't tight. I tried to pull it tighther but it started sinking in the cake.

So what do you suggest I had done better? This is important to me since I am working hard to get better and do this for at least a part time living.

By the way it is WASC (vanilla version) and Vanilla/Almond buttercream.


15 replies
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Deb_ Posted 30 Mar 2009 , 3:44am
post #2 of 16


I think the cake is adorable.

At first glance the only 2 things I would have done different are......1) the cake board. I think a larger more substantial board would have really showcased the cake better, especially being a tiered cake. Sometimes I just take a few cake circles, glue them together and then cover them w/foil, a nice ribbon around the edge really finishes it off nicely. It really makes for a sturdy base and a nice presentation.

2)I think I like the fondant ribbon better then fabric ribbon. I never did until I started seeing it more and more in the galleries here and I just think it lays better on the cake and makes for a more cohesive design. Especially since you used fondant circles.

As far as the Viva method, it takes some practice. I don't think your time frame was bad, it does need to crust before you smooth that way. Square tiers are the hardest I think to get perfect......it's all those sides and corners that are buggers.

Remember we always see the flaws in our work and non-cake people don't even notice them. I'm sure they were thrilled with their cake.

Great job!

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SweetSweetCreations Posted 30 Mar 2009 , 3:48am
post #3 of 16

Ok so I love the cake, it is very cute. I am trying to find something to tell you but it looks so good. I have recently been playing around with decorating my cake boards it takes some time and I don't charge enough for it but the clients love it. I only do them for my tiered cakes or cakes I make for gifts.I'm sure this didn't help but I tried!

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patticakesnc Posted 30 Mar 2009 , 3:49am
post #4 of 16

Thanks Deb,

I agree on the ribbon part, but she really couldn't afford this cake anyway so for what I sold it for I opted for the satin. I have a heck of a time making that big of ribbons from fondant or gumpaste.

The board actually was sitting on a large 16x24 in wooden board covered in silver paper. I never planned for it to stay on that little board, only for decorating but then I couldn't get it off the board LOL!

I appreciate the feedback. I know I need more practice. I want to go take a Wilton course or something but just don't have time at this point so I am just trial and erroring it with my self teaching.

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Deb_ Posted 30 Mar 2009 , 4:00am
post #5 of 16

Well for someone that's self teaching you're doing great. Honestly, I took the courses and depending on the instructor they are a hit or miss. I've learned more on here then I did in the past 25 yrs of decorating and classes. icon_smile.gif

One good tip for doing fondant ribbon is to measure the circumference first then roll out your fondant and use a straight edge or ruler to cut it. Take a strip of wax paper the length and width of the ribbon and roll the fondant and wax paper up. (jelly roll style) The wax paper will prevent it from sticking.

Slowly unroll the fondant ribbon onto the cake after you stack it.

LOL, I've done that too with cake circles. Do you have the very large Wilton cake lifters? If you do you can sometimes go in with 2, one on each side of the cake, slide under the tier and lift off gently. Have someone pull the board out as you lift the cake tier. Unfortunately if the cake is already stacked that won't work. icon_rolleyes.gif

Believe me I've been doing this for a long time and there aren't too many of my cakes that I don't see mistakes on. It's a daily learning experience, especially when we want to try something new.

That's the greatest part about this site........I learn something every time I log on thumbs_up.gif

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BlakesCakes Posted 30 Mar 2009 , 4:06am
post #6 of 16

I agree with a lot of what was said above.

I do think that a fondant ribbon, even a pieced one, would have served the purpose a bit better.

I always put my tiers on boards the same size as the cake. If the bottom tier was a 12" square, it would have been iced on a 12" square board. I would then transfer it to a larger decorative board, no less than 14" square, but more likely 16" square. I'd have covered that in coordinating paper covered in clear contact paper or in fondant.

I use foamcore for my decorative boards. This cake is small enough that 3/16th board would have been fine for the decorative board. On a larger cake, 1/2 inch is better support.

To get completely square corners, you need to level carefully and often need to buid them up with several coats of icing.

Looks like you're on the right track.
Happy Decorating,

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patticakesnc Posted 30 Mar 2009 , 4:13am
post #7 of 16

Thanks guys, I am working on it. I know there are several things I would have loved to do different, including covering it completely in fondant then decorating it. i am much better with fondant than buttercream. The thing was she really wanted a version of a cake she sent me a picture of. It is Pink Box Cake's bear cake. Hers is in fondant and smaller tiers, but she could only pay $50 for the cake. So I couldn't do a lot of what I wanted to. Really she got a HECK of a deal on the cake as it is.

I don't have a cake lifter. That is my next purchase. 50% off Michaels this week!!!!! That and a bench scraper. I am sure once I get the hang of it, it will help me a lot!

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Deb_ Posted 30 Mar 2009 , 4:16am
post #8 of 16

Yes $50 is a heck of a deal for that cake.

BTW I just had to post again to tell you that your little girl is absolutely beautiful, I love that picture! icon_smile.gif

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patticakesnc Posted 30 Mar 2009 , 4:21am
post #9 of 16

Oh thank you...she is actually my grandbaby! I am a 39 yr old granma and LOVE every minute of it!

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SaraClassic Posted 30 Mar 2009 , 4:36am
post #10 of 16

I love cons. critism. Isnt there a group on here that does that? I saw it one time and couldnt find it again. Id love to be a pat of that, I like hearing compliments but sometimes the much needed advise is a big help!
Check out SugarShacks DVDs, she really helps you get the smoothing down and the fondant dvd is great too. her site is www. sugaredproductions .com

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Deb_ Posted 30 Mar 2009 , 12:15pm
post #11 of 16

Yes there is a group called CSM or Critique Subgroup Member. I just started a thread about it yesterday because I noticed a few comments in the galleries from members identifying themselves as a "CSM" member.

One of the members PM'd me and explained that you need to be a member to ask for a critique and to become a member you first need to be a "Gallery Supporter".

I think the best we "non-members" can do is exactly what Patti did with this thread.......start a new thread with a pic of the cake and ask for honest, helpful criticism. I too agree it's a great way to help us grow our skills. I love the positive comments but sometimes it's even more helpful for another decorator to give us some helpful advice on how we could have improved the design.


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springlakecake Posted 30 Mar 2009 , 12:39pm
post #12 of 16

Very cute cake! I am sure you were under a great deal of pressure and fatigue also!

My two cents: for a crusting buttercream, I wouldnt wait much longer than 15 or 20 minutes to smooth it. Once it custs over hard it will just crack. It may make a difference though depending on your ratio. If it is higher in fat content then you may have longer time frame to smooth it.

Personally I think satin ribbons are fine on a buttercream cake. I think what would help is to chill or even stick the cake in the freezer for a bit, then apply the ribbon. That way you wont mess up the icing since the icing gets hard.

As for the sloping corners, square cakes are difficult mostly because that is the way they bake. You could either try and level the cake more or try and build up the corners with more icing.

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eldag0615 Posted 30 Mar 2009 , 12:43pm
post #13 of 16

I love the bear. Sugarshack dvd's are great, I have perfecting the art of buttercream and succesfull stacking, I just ordered flawless fondant and bows and boxes, can't wait to get them. Still, a lot of practice is needed but you learn a LOT with those dvd's.

BTW, do you have a link for the 50% coupon from Michaels?

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CakeDiosa Posted 30 Mar 2009 , 12:56pm
post #14 of 16

There is a tutorial on here in the articles section on frosting square corners. The method is fool proof and works great. I have all of Sugarshacks DVD's and LOVE them and her (did I say "LOVE" totally understated!!!) however the square corner method here on CC works better for me than hers. Different strokes for different folks.

Great idea for the two cake lifters. I'm taking my 50% off coupon to get a second today!

Good luck!

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sweet_teeth Posted 30 Mar 2009 , 1:02pm
post #15 of 16
Originally Posted by eldag0615

BTW, do you have a link for the 50% coupon from Michaels?

I just put into google "michael's coupon" and one always comes up. I don't think in the past 1/2 year that i've been in cake land i've found a week that a coupon doesn't come up.

To the OP, great cake. Any critque i'd give has been said... but i'd like to remind you.. 50 is wayyyyy too good of a deal! They would have gotten an 8inch round from me and that's about it. =)

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janelwaters Posted 30 Mar 2009 , 1:05pm
post #16 of 16

I just got Sugarshack's DVD's and was going to recommend getting them! they are FANTASTIC!!

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