Any Amateurs Ever Just Wanna Quit?

Decorating By Heatherly30 Updated 13 Sep 2010 , 11:47am by KayMc

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Heatherly30 Posted 15 May 2009 , 1:24pm
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I've been at this for 3 years now, and in some ways, I don't feel like I'm any better now than I was on day 1.

Can't get a smooth cake for the life of me. I've tried all the recipes, I can't even get the Sugarshack method right. I've spent tons of money on tools, dvds, etc, but's just not happening for me.

Everytime I make a cake, I think to myself that this is the last cake. I do enjoy it, but maybe it just doesn't enjoy me.

Anyone have similar experiences? Advice?

49 replies
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splash2splat Posted 15 May 2009 , 1:33pm
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Yeah - I have also been at it for three years - especially this week I have flelt very fustrated. I've spent so much money because I love to decorate cakes but I feel like why, why am I doing this? I'm not legal so I can't make money and if I don't make cakes I lose the ability to do it well. And I dream of owning a bakery but I know that the $$ that goes into it? WOuld it really be worth it.

And - I think your cakes are beautiful!! - so will stick together and have fun making cakes! icon_smile.gif

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Heatherly30 Posted 15 May 2009 , 1:43pm
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Wow, I'm not alone! You sound just like me! I'm not legal, and that's not realistic right now, but I do dream of a cute little shop in a small downtown area somewhere (when the kids are older and not trying to stick their fingers in the icing)!

You've branched out and tried fondant...I'm to scared! I am making a doll cake for tomorrow, and played around with fondant, but I'm not brave enough to cover the whole thing.

Ugh...I guess the other part is just being a perfectionist and too critical of myself. Who isn't though?

Thanks for your reply!

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destinyrn Posted 15 May 2009 , 1:48pm
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I too want to give up every time. My buttercream is getting better, but not that up to par. Glad to know I'm not alone either.

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Ahunt Posted 15 May 2009 , 1:51pm
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I dont have any encouraging words except again you are not alone!! Glad to know others feel the same way.

I do agree that being too self critical is probably a major part. People could be drooling over a cake I have done and I am just staring at all the screw ups and thinkin how I "should have" done something.

Keep your head up your cakes are beautiful!

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chrissypie Posted 15 May 2009 , 2:00pm
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You aren't the only one, that is for sure! I too have so many issues with my cakes that I hoped would be perfect by now. I guess I just need to practice more. If it doensn't come out perfect, or perfect in my mind, I am embarrassed. I always feel it could be better. I also think having enough time to do the job I want helps. Sometimes I am rushing to finish a cake and it shows. I need more skills! Hopefully I will get there, but yes, have felt that with all the time and money (so much money! I could own a prada bag!), that I would be better at it, but I realize I have not made enough cakes to say I am no good, and that gets me to realize I just need to slow down and practice more. Best of Luck to all!

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Heatherly30 Posted 15 May 2009 , 2:02pm
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Any of you have young children? I think that also is part of the issue. I need to hire I babysitter for my next cake and see how that one turns out!

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LadyG33 Posted 15 May 2009 , 2:04pm
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I understand how you feel. Your cakes look great.
I am my own worse enemy when it comes to my cakes. Everyone else likes them but I can see every mess up.

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tirechic Posted 15 May 2009 , 2:04pm
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I feel that way right now, but im still just starting out. I made a cake for a lady yesterday, and she thought it was so cute but i was like "how"! Its the "bust"cake. I used fondant for the first time to cover, i have made figures before np. It was just not what i wanted it to be. I was like I cant take her money for this, but i spent so much time. It just gets very frustrating. I enjoy it so, and want to finish my classes, and learn all that i can, but sometimes i wonder if its worth it.

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crazyteach Posted 15 May 2009 , 2:12pm
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I went and looked at all of your work-- I think you do a great job with buttercream! Keep with it!! icon_biggrin.gif

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loriana Posted 15 May 2009 , 2:25pm
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Originally Posted by Heatherly30

Any of you have young children? I think that also is part of the issue. I need to hire I babysitter for my next cake and see how that one turns out!

Hye, I just want to encourage those with young kids: I have a 2 year old too, and in certain processes during cake assembly, I HAVE to have my DH watch our son, like smoothing and piping. I mean, it's hard to stop piping halfway around a cake. And when you are smoothing? You have icing drying and can;t stop either... so I agree.

But, something I do with him is put him in the kitchen with me while I am bakining. I lay a clean bath towel down in the corner of the counter, against the wall and take his shoes off and let him sit on it, cross-legged. Then I put my kitchen-aid mixed next to him so he can watch me mix. He happily plays with his toy horse or car and sings, "mix mix mix" and watches the blades go 'round. I've taught him not to touch, but once in a while, I'll get a plastic spoon out and let him taste my fresh batch of icing.

If you teach kids early about the oven being "hot" and what you are doing up there at the counter so long, they are less impatient I think. Then they feel like they are more of the action. You might want to try that if you have little ones!

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Texas_Rose Posted 15 May 2009 , 2:39pm
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Hey, I can't smooth buttercream perfectly either. My solution...cover it with fondant. I have had much better luck with Indydebi's buttercream than I ever did with the Wilton one, my old standby for....gasp!....8 or 9 years.

Sometimes I wonder if it's possible to get really good when you're not selling cakes. I make cakes for the relatives birthdays and sometimes for friends, but that doesn't feel like enough to really practice with. I just can't justify the expense of the ingredients for all the cakes I want to try making for practice.

My kids are helpful in the kitchen. My 7 year old can make fondant flowers and pearls. My 3 year old brings me ingredients. I also let her measure and sift. She's learned to count that way and I've heard her telling her daddy which measuring cup to use (he always looks for a 2/3 cup measuring cup icon_biggrin.gif and she'll get the 1/3 and say, just use two of this, dad!) It was easier to let them in and put them to work than to keep them out.

Oh, the doll cake is one of the easiest shapes to cover in fondant. Try it, you'll be surprised at how well it works.

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Heatherly30 Posted 15 May 2009 , 2:48pm
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I think I tried Indydebi's bc recipe once. Is it a real "whippy" texture? I'll have to try it again. My husband likes the gritty taste, so that may be why I didn't make it again. He can get over it!

I have thought that about fondant. I'll have to try it on a practice cake (I have extra batter, so I'll give it a go next week).

My kids like to help with ingredients too. But on decorating day, they're all about sticking their fingers in the icing, whether it's on the cake or in the bowl. All kids are different, and some parents have more patience than others...I'm not one of those parents. I include them when I can, but at some point, they have to be out of the way.

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DeeDelightful Posted 15 May 2009 , 3:05pm
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I have had that problem, too. I've found that putting heaps of icing on top of the cake and smoothing downward works. Also could use a putty knife for wider strokes. If crusting BC, let sit for 20 minutes and smooth with paper towel or parchment paper. Look at local bakery. Every cake is not as smooth as you think.

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Texas_Rose Posted 15 May 2009 , 3:09pm
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I used to have a gate for my kitchen icon_biggrin.gif So I know what you mean about keeping them out of the way. I'm lucky that my youngest is good at listening but when my older one was 3, she was banned from my kitchen. I remember making oatmeal cookies by myself when I was 3, with the electric mixer (mom did the oven part of course) so I guess my younger one takes after me. I know the little lightbulb over her head is on already icon_biggrin.gif but my oldest's didn't seem to come on until she went to school.

Indydebi's recipe is the one with the dream whip powder in it. It's not as fluffy as Wilton buttercream and it makes a nice crust.

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playingwithsugar Posted 15 May 2009 , 3:18pm
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It sound to me like you're putting too much pressure on yourself to be perfect.

Even high-end cakers have flaws on their cakes. Trust me - I've seen them close-up.

You do not mention how often over the 3 years you do cakes. Is it a weekly thing, or just occasional? How often you do cakes is going to reflect in your skill level. Turn your cake pan over and use it for frosting practice.

One day something will click in your head, and you'll be fine after that. That's what happened to me. It just all came together one day.

Theresa icon_smile.gif

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Brownie1954 Posted 15 May 2009 , 3:25pm
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Heatherly...I was just looking at your cakes, and you do a great job. You aren't giving yourself enough credit. I have been doing cakes for a long time, and I run into problems. I just got a magazine from a bride, as the cake she wants is in it. and I was amazed when I looked at one of the cakes featured. The border was a mess, and there were some other issues with it. I'll bet a bride looking at it may have not noticed, but like any caker, I know we really look at the work, and see things others might not. Don't give up as you have some good work that you've done! thumbs_up.gif

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FullMoonRanch Posted 15 May 2009 , 3:38pm
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I too was wondering how everyone else with young kids do such beautiful cakes! Mine are 7, almost 4, and 1. My oldest always wants to help me decorate, the middle one has her hands in any frosting she gets near, and the youngest is climbing up something! Running them everywhere they need to go and trying to keep up with the laundry, dishes, cooking, cleaning, etc. by the time I have a moment to bake I'm too tired! My cakes look horrible and I am discouraged. Heatherly, I just keep thinking they won't be little forever. Your cakes are beautiful! Keep on caking!

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patticakesnc Posted 15 May 2009 , 3:40pm
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I thought I was going to click on the photos and find some really really amaturish cakes. Heather your cakes are wonderful! You should not feel that way at all. I have felt like that before with the buttercream and all. I can't smooth for crap, but you know what? I decided to start doing more of where my strengths lie. You will notice the difference from the first cakes I have done to the more recent. I can sculpt much better than I can ice. Just find your strength and stick with it. But from what I see you have many strenghts so you have nothing to worry about.

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BCJean Posted 15 May 2009 , 3:54pm
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I have been decorating for 33 years now, and I still remember how I felt the first year of my career...... I loved every minute of it and was excited about each new challenge. My secret... I am NOT a perfectionist, as is evident in my photos. I do this to have fun. I am also not a home decorator...I have always worked in bakeries. I love the fast paced decorating. I love working with buttercream and sheet cakes. I don't worry if my frosting is completely smooth or if my figures are exactly right. I have fun making a cake that has the interest the customer expressed to me.

When I first started decorating that was what it was all about, just make a cute cake. They knew it was cake and icing and did not expect it to look lifelike. You didn't have to pull wires or sticks out of the cake or peel the icing off to eat the cake. After admiring the design they sliced down through the cake and served it.

I know some customers are looking for a center piece...but most just want a cute cake which is delicious to eat. Try decorating this method...I think you will like it. And decorating a cake never takes more than an hour of your time.

Best of expense. You only need 10 basic decorating tips, some bags and a spatula....and the rest is up to you and your imagination.

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JCE62108 Posted 15 May 2009 , 10:06pm
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Originally Posted by Heatherly30

Any of you have young children? I think that also is part of the issue. I need to hire I babysitter for my next cake and see how that one turns out!

I have a 10 month old. I HAVE to have my husband watch him if Im doing something that takes a lot of concentration. If Im just puttering around in the kitchen or making a simple cake, I open up the bottom cabinets and let him go crazy. He draps out all the pots and pans and spins them around and pushes them all over the kitchen! lol. Keeps him entertained while Im working. Ive had to tell my hubby to leave me alone too, because he makes me nervous by inspecting my work. He'll stand there and be like, "hey what is this over here? your going to smooth that, right? I think this corner isnt level." Ok I love you honey, but, GO AWAY! lol.

It really just takes a LOT of practice. For you guys that dont do it all day, every day, its going to take a while to perfect icing and decorating techniques. The only reason I can do it is because I do it full time in a production-type bakery. I do anywhere from 10-50 cakes a day so I get plenty of practice. Dont feel bad if it takes you longer. You will get it. Its really just practice practice practice. AND if you can get someone to show you some tips HANDS ON (not an internet article) it really helps. Sometimes just having someone stand there with you and show you what you are doing right and wrong is really helpful.

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Heatherly30 Posted 16 May 2009 , 11:58am
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Thanks everyone for your words of encouragement! I know I'm hard on myself, so I guess I just need to chill. Funny that this doll cake I made for today turned out beautiful (after all of this stress). Not perfect, but really cute. I think I'm going to try get a babysitter for my next cake and see if that calms me some!

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kyoung24 Posted 16 May 2009 , 1:11pm
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Heatherly30, I am with everyone else, stick with it!!! I'm a newbie too and everyone on this site keeps me so encouraged and I keep going! Your work is really beautiful. If you look back at all your photos, you can see your progress. You can see how far you have come and how much better you become with every cake you do. You are always your toughest critic, that's what makes you stronger and better. Keep the determination, follow your dream and you will succeed!

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pinay_ako Posted 14 Aug 2009 , 1:57am
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im a little bit happy knowning that i am not alone with this feeling of quiting. sometimes i am thinking that i'm not doing my best and other people never appreciated my work. i also sometimes get dissapointed if my cake didnt turn out the way i like it. there are times that i question myself will i be successful if i pursue on having bakery business. but still i am glad i am not alone with this feeling. thanks cc'ers. icon_smile.gif

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angelicconfections Posted 14 Aug 2009 , 2:15am
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Most of us have felt like quitting at once I think. I have been doing this for almost five years now and just last month I did a baby shower cake for a good friend and felt like I botched the whole thing. I did a 3D bear cake and it was one of those cakes that just nothing went right. I had to rebake twice, the face wouldn't come out right and she showed up to get it 5 hours early and I wasn't done. I think she is still miffed, Iasked her daughter what she wanted for her birthday cake this year and my friend glared at me and said we weren't invited to her birthday party this year. Still not quite ready to give up, I just thought I was beyond all that already!

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indydebi Posted 14 Aug 2009 , 2:28am
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What BCJean said .... all of it. thumbs_up.gif

Even now, 30 years into this, I have those days when I want to cut my throat with the spatula. thumbs_up.gif

BCJean made a good point about fast-paced. Push yourself to ice faster. In my case (and it could differ from person to person) the slower I try to ice (i.e. "being careful"), the more work I have to put into it. The faster I slap that icing on there, the better it looks!

I remember my rookie days, icing a cake and doing stringwork 'n such .... moving and working so slow under the geise of being "careful" to get it right.

It was by accident that I was in a hurry and in one of those moods that I couldn't care less what the cake looked like and wow, it turned out to be one of my best cakes to that point! LIght bulb goes off and I figured out the trick. thumbs_up.gif

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Elise87 Posted 14 Aug 2009 , 5:38am
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What are you talking about? i looked at multiple cakes of yours and they are perfectly smooth!

Especially love the Gerbera daisy cake!

I have those days too, keep with it icon_smile.gif

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madgeowens Posted 14 Aug 2009 , 6:00am
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I think everyone can get to feeling that way from time to time. I know everytime I make a cake that I don't think is as good as it should be I am ready to take up crochet again. But I am an amateur and I get better at some things and others are taking longer, but you have to keep plugging away, unless you find you just are not enjoying it anymore. The day I don't enjoy baking and decorating I guess I will hang up my spatula. Hope you keep with it.

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cathyscakes Posted 14 Aug 2009 , 6:09am
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I remember years ago when I couldn't get buttercream smooth. I talked everyone into letting me do basketweave on the sides, because I hated trying to smooth the buttercream. I was good at basketweave and terrible at smoothing. Now it seems so easy. Discovering the crusting buttercream and paper towel method, I hardly ever have problems anymore. Keep trying the sugarshack recipe, it works great for me. I absolutely love it. You'll get it. You just have to learn the tricks that make your life so much easier. I use to have a horrible time with cakes sticking, then I started using bakers joy or the wilton pan grease, now I never have problems, they just plop right out. I use to hold my breath, and usually part of the side would break off, now I never expect anything to go wrong, and it doesn't. It just takes practice, everyone has been where you are, don't give up, you'll look back one day, and think why did I have those problems

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AKA_cupcakeshoppe Posted 14 Aug 2009 , 9:10am
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In a way I have given up.

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