Achieving Clean Work

Decorating By cheatize Updated 31 May 2011 , 5:40am by cheatize

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cheatize Posted 29 May 2011 , 11:55pm
post #1 of 9

So, after another frustrating cake where the final results had too many little flaws for my taste, I started thinking. How do you move from "I know how to do that" to a cake that looks clean. By clean, I mean, all the little things are very few- such as small fondant tears, level and even fondant strips, perfectly round looking cake, etc....

Is it just years of practice, slowing down, paying attention to detail, experience with how to fix flaws perfectly, all of the above, or something else?

At what point did you realize you had moved into the Clean Work Zone? Please enlighten the rest of us about what it's like. It's Sunday evening and I'm sure some of us delivered cakes this weekend that we wished looked just a bit better and cleaner. Give us some hope, lol, that some day we can do it, too. icon_biggrin.gif

The cake of which I speak is the bass drum cake in my pictures but it could be any of my cakes.

8 replies
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bakencake Posted 30 May 2011 , 12:25am
post #2 of 9

I second this. i have been working on cakes for about 2 years and im like you. I know how to do it but i have problems making them clean. im sure things like practice and taking your time do help but gosh!!

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Unlimited Posted 30 May 2011 , 12:49am
post #3 of 9
Originally Posted by cheatize

Is it just years of practice, slowing down, paying attention to detail, experience with how to fix flaws perfectly, all of the above, or something else?

I think it's all of the above and figuring out a way to hide the flaws.

Even the pros make mistakes, yet they find a way to fix it. NOTHING is perfect in this worldyou just do the best that you can do, challenge yourself to do better each time by learning what not to do, don't point out flaws that nobody will notice, and don't be too hard on yourselfit should be fun.

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Lelka Posted 30 May 2011 , 2:07am
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Practice would be number one. Another thing that I discovered for myself would be the recipes that work for me and my designs. Watched a lot of videos (Sharon Zambito's would be a great at any level). And then when you are striving for perfection, sooner or later you will achieve it! Look at good cakes, analyze them, how those sharpness and cleanliness was achieved, and may be practice on some faux cakes. If you want something hard enough, you will get there!!!

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amygortoncakes Posted 30 May 2011 , 2:23am
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I am not the baker type, so when it comes to baking, getting cakes out of pans and icing I find myself rushing just to get to the "decorating" part. But I know that if I slow down and make sure the cakes are cut evenly and iced properly the end poduct is ultimately better. I also have to work late at night because I have small kids and sometimes at 2 am I just don't care that the strip is uneven. LOL.

I have a Tangled cake coming up on the 17th and I want it to be perfect. So I have spent time the last few days making about 75 miniature gumpaste flowers, the gumpaste people etc. This is stuff I would usually try and do right after I iced, covered in fondant etc. By the time I normally do all this I am way too tired to do all the detail stuff.

So I guess the answer for me is:

1. Take yout time on the basics...make sure the cake is even and iced perfectly before covering.

2. Do as much detail work ahead of time so you have time to fix other stuff that comes up.

3. Fix the things that aren't even or straight. Don't think "oh well", because all those "oh wells" add up and it affects the end product.

Thanks for this post, because I have been thinking this same thing about my cakes but haven't put it into words yet. For me too, I am not getting any compensation so its hard to stop and fix something when really its for a bunch of 3 year olds that don't know any different. icon_smile.gif

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nicunurse Posted 30 May 2011 , 2:27am
post #6 of 9

Cheatize, I think your cake is fab!!! I have only been making cakes for 4 months, and I can only dream of one day achieving what you and countless other decorators have. Perfection is an illusion! Keep up the beautiful work! icon_biggrin.gificon_biggrin.gif

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EnglishCakeLady Posted 30 May 2011 , 2:37am
post #7 of 9

I am completely new to this and delivered a cake to my very first paying customer this weekend! (The red and gold graduate cake.) I have learned such a lot in a short space of time and feel I am on my way to achieving a better look on my cakes.

Most important, I think, is take as much time as you can. Make as many of the embellishments in advance (flowers, bows, lettering, logos, even the little balls) as you can.

I must have watched a hundred YouTube videos about fondant, buttercream, ganache, etc - such a great resource. The 'upside down' ganache method I found is amazing!

I think you learn about how to handle fondant the more you use it, too. For example, covering a cake you have to find just the right thickness that works (I'm going for about 3mm - I'm English) and you have to work fast. Smooth the top then the top inch smooth upwards, rather that down. you get fewer cracks at the edge this way.

However, with stripes, cut while the fondant it's soft, but apply after a few minutes when it's less elastic and you'll be less likely to end up with wonky lines. Once my stripes are stuck on, I always knock the sides with the back of a knife to make sure they end up straight. There's no denying that having the right tools helps too - however, I much prefer to cut my stripes with a sharp knife dusted with cornstarch with the blade angled slightly inwards that to use a ribbon cutter. You get a smoother edge.

But, and this is my favourite, someone on here wrote, 'there's always a back of a cake' and this has been an inspiration! So, you get a crease, or your quilting doesn't quite line up - it's the back!

You've done some amazing work - your drum is brilliant! Sorry to be a newbie giving advice, but I've learned SO much from this site that it's great to share.

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cabecakes Posted 30 May 2011 , 2:46am
post #8 of 9

As has been mentioned on here countless times, I think we are always our own worse critics. We notice the little details that aren't perfect, where a customer may not. I can always find imperfections in my cakes...ALWAYS. But others say they look great and get better with each one I do. I just keep telling myself to prepare, prepare, prepare. It seems the more organized I am, the better my cakes look in the end.

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cheatize Posted 31 May 2011 , 5:40am
post #9 of 9

First, thank you for the compliments.

I am preparing as much ahead of time as possible and I make extra parts, just in case. This weekend all that didn't prevent a crumbling layer so I rebaked at 4 a.m. Blah.

The drum cake in particular had a few torn places on the fondant that I couldn't repair. Water, shortening, and fondant dissolved in a little water didn't repair. Actually, the dissolved fondant thing, although it has worked for me in the past, it stays shiny so it's not a complete repair even when it works. One side of the round had a rather large bump in it that I couldn't remove. I'd take off some icing, but then the cake would show through so I would put more icing on and the bump was back. I assume this was a problem with the cake not being completely round but it sure looked like it before the icing was put on. The other problem was getting the strips of fondant to match up. In spots, no matter how much I pushed up on it or tried to stretch it, it wouldn't meet up completely with the piece next to it.

I started icing the cake on Friday night. I tried to repair the layer that was crumbling with cake spackle. I actually spackled the whole cake. It didn't work. I then tried to coat the cake with ganache and still the 2 crumbling spots would not repair. It was at that point that I rebaked the whole bottom tier. Thanks to all that, the cake that I started Friday evening for a noon Sunday delivery was shorted in the decor department. The board lettering is too small but I didn't have time to recut it. The top band of fondant needed to stand up more and the seam needed to be better hidden, but again- no time. It's crazy how I can start early, prep as much as possible, and still end up with a cake that could have been cleaner.

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