Newbie Here! Getting Started!

Decorating By annakat444 Updated 8 Jan 2012 , 1:45am by Unlimited

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annakat444 Posted 3 Jan 2012 , 7:10pm
post #1 of 19

Hi all! I just joined and am so excited I found this website. I just started doing cakes for my daughter's first birthday last August, and after that I was hooked! Since then I've done two more birthday cakes, and am doing my 4th next weekend. I've researched a lot, watched tons of youtube videos and Cake Boss (haha!) and spent tons of time on Pinterest and this website looking up cake ideas. I haven't taken a class yet, but will be starting them at the end of this month at a local bakery.

My main question is about how to get experience doing elaborate cakes (I've seen soo many I'm dying to try to make!) I'm a stay at home mom and don't have consistent babysitting, so I can't get a part time job decorating (daycare isn't an option either). I'm a little sad I didn't discover baking when I was younger so I could have gone to school for it, now with a family I feel like my options are so limited. Any suggestions or advice? Thanks so much!

18 replies
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Debbye27 Posted 3 Jan 2012 , 8:02pm
post #2 of 19

Hey Anna... we started at about the same time and for the same reasons icon_smile.gif I did my son's 3rd birthday cake, and was hooked after that! I find every reason to make a cake--friend of a friend's daughters birthday....son's kindergarten orientation....just to bring in to work or send in with someone else to work..... every cake I try is way out of my league, so I research a lot on it....but I am going to go for the Wilton classes at Joanne's/Michaels- because I really would like to learn the basics!
My suggestions would be to take classes, practice on cupcakes- b/c you can decorate each one differently using new techniques... and don't feel like it's too late- a lot of the shows I watch are from people who never went to school and are self taught! Are you looking to go into business? I am in the process of starting up one, slowly because I still have a long way to go-technique wise!

The more cakes you make, the more pictures you get - - and then you can have a book to market with!

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kakeladi Posted 3 Jan 2012 , 8:11pm
post #3 of 19

You can practice on styro or other dummies. Once you finish a 'cake' scarpe it off and start over. &/or do two designs on each cake dummy.
Even the scraped off icing might be used over - of course depending on color and if it has any hard pices of stryo in it. It can always be strained through a knee-hi stocking.
I started intothis when my oldest daughter gave us 6 wks to the day to plan/pull-off her wedding . Of course thiscaught us w/almost NO $$s so it was a ''home-made'' wedding icon_smile.gif

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carmijok Posted 3 Jan 2012 , 8:14pm
post #4 of 19

I'm just going to repeat some advice I gave earlier on a post to someone who wanted to expand their cake making to a more 'professional' look...and that is to pick a design (not TOO elaborate...but still challenging) and try to duplicate it.

Classes are great, but you don't really need them to start. I have only taken one buttercream class and that was to get over my fear of piping. I worked at a bakery for a year but I did not bake or decorate, however I did observe and learned a lot just from doing that. You can do the same by watching YouTube tutorials or asking questions here. The more specific the question, the better answers and advice you'll get which is why I think picking out a design and figuring out the best way to make it works great.

At least that's the best way I've learned. If I see a technique I like, I'll look up how to do it here...or ask the person who made the cake how they did it. You'll be surprised how helpful people are on CC! And, of course, practice always helps. HTH and have fun! thumbs_up.gif

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elliespartycake Posted 3 Jan 2012 , 8:21pm
post #5 of 19

I started this business a few years ago when my oldest daughter's best friend was getting married. I offered to make her wedding cake as my gift. What was I thinking? 4 tiers of buttercream deliciousness later I was hooked. I have not taken formal classes, but I have watched many videos, read every book available and I practice every chance I get on dummies, etc.
I don't know about you, but I learn by practice, practice.
I read in one of the cake books I have not to be afraid of cake is only food and you are smarter than food.
Have fun!

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HootersAlicia Posted 3 Jan 2012 , 8:37pm
post #6 of 19

A good way to practice piping skills is to get a plastic paper sleeve and print up letters or designs that you want to practice and slip it in. Then you can pipe right onto the plastic and wipe it off when you're done and you're ready to go again. Also, don't get frustrated if your cakes don't turn out as perfect as the pictures you're looking at; the people who posted those pictures started out at the same level you are now and have just practiced more.

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kickasskakes Posted 3 Jan 2012 , 8:38pm
post #7 of 19

as posted above...practice, know your ingredients (cakes, buttercream, fondants...) the more you work with them the more you'll know their limitations and uses. practice on upside down cake pans,scrape and start over (reuse the frosting many times) youtube is filled with ideas and how to's
it's never too late, julia childs started cooking school at 36, i start cooking school at 40. no you don't need school but a willingness to learn. make cakes and give them to family and friends.
don't be afraid to ask for advice
buy a small container of fondant and just play like a kid, you will learn a lot about how and when it gets soft, or dry, how to color it, cut it, roll it...when i started my friend thought i was crazy b/c i played all the time, making a lot of disasters but now i feel confident on what to do and what NOT to do

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Nyasalicious Posted 3 Jan 2012 , 8:43pm
post #8 of 19

Welcome Anna..
I too started decorating for the same reason as you. My daughter is now 2 yrs old. I do cakes for friends and Family. I usually get back my cost unless it is my gift to them. I am a home maker and yes i too cannot afford daycare or Baby sitting. I do the decorating part at night after i put her to sleep. It takes a lot of time.
I can Bake make fillings and Butter cream when she is up.

But one thing is true. It is not so easy to do all these with kids. I too took the wilton classes. I am sure you can do it without them but it was easier going their than to try it at home.

This website has all the info and there are many many tutorials on the web. So just start practicing. I have not yet done a dummy but i have so many designs in my head that i have to start with them.

All the best.

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melanie-1221 Posted 3 Jan 2012 , 8:45pm
post #9 of 19

I am a stay at home mom , who started doing cakes again after a pretty long hiatus. I did take classes ( 10 years ago ) and learned the basics.
Now the cakes are so much more elaborate than when I started so I search for tutorials on youtube, on here, anywhere. I use pictures as guides and sometimes I just wing it.
I wait until my son goes to bed some nights and I pull out my gumpaste and I practice.
It's never too late icon_biggrin.gif

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annakat444 Posted 3 Jan 2012 , 8:58pm
post #10 of 19

thank you all so much for the advice! i definitely think I need to get a dummy. I'm awful at piping and writing on cakes, I know that would really help. I have no idea what direction I want to go with this - start a business or just keep it a hobby - right now I just want to learn and have fun with it, and not let it stress me out. I'm just planning to see where it goes. I REALLY want to learn how to sculpt cakes like Cake Boss does for his specialty cakes, that's what I find most exciting!

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kakeladi Posted 3 Jan 2012 , 9:29pm
post #11 of 19

I'm a *very firm!* beliver in taking at least basic classes (Wilton is fine, as long as you resist buying everything they try to talk you into!). When I started I knew totally *nothing* and reading books made NO sense to me at all. Of course, 30+ yrs ago there was no YouTubeicon_smile.gif
Once I had a few classes under my belt then I could understand what the books were talking about.
You learn the proper way to hold a bag; pipe; make icings; and a whole lot more. I really urge anyone wanting to learn to take classes. Being self-taught may mean you are not doing things right/properly/the easy way. And some people are just very visual so seeing it done - being guided by a well trained instructor will help them more than reading books.

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CakeyC Posted 3 Jan 2012 , 10:04pm
post #12 of 19

I did a college evening class that was only 10 weeks long but I learned so much, they're well worth doing. I also got lots of books for modelling characters, animals etc.

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Momofjaic Posted 3 Jan 2012 , 10:33pm
post #13 of 19

Hey Anna, I too started doing cakes the same way most people do for my kids! I wanted one day in my dreams to do a cake and someone would say "that's a cake?!?" I made the treasure chest cake my gallery and people I didn't know were saying" that's a cake where did you get it!?" I was hooked on sculpted cakes. Just jump in and do it pick something and make a just because cake! Take plenty of pictures during the process and enjoy every min.

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Unlimited Posted 3 Jan 2012 , 11:34pm
post #14 of 19
Originally Posted by annakat444

I'm awful at piping and writing on cakes,

If you are a visual learner, it helps to watch others do it. You can watch my video on writing, if you click on the link in my signature. Hope it helps!!!!

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cangela4re Posted 4 Jan 2012 , 1:01am
post #15 of 19

Im a hobby baker transitioning to a home baking business so I'll try to share my complicated approach to expanding my skills with you in 10 Steps....

Ask for help if none of the above are working!

I guess Im trying to say: just have fun and dont be too hard on yourself (remember you can eat the evidence of your mistakes), read and practice as much as you can and ask the wonderfully creative and generous people here for help if you get in a jam or need help figuring something out. I do find that it helps me a lot to see videos of techniques because I get more feel for the consistency/texture etc of the medium I want to practice with, so far this has really helped me minimize the learning curve on some pretty cool techniques.

I was making some cookies the other day with my nephew and when I showed him one cookie (Thomas the train with a grouchy face lol)
he put it down and said "I dont like it" (hes 4)
so I crumpled up my face and asked (tersely) "you want me to make you another one"?
he says "yes" long pause "I love you Angela"
"I love you too" I reply (tight lipped)
"then let me see your happy face" he says lol sometimes its out of the mouths of babes that we are reminded not to take ourselves too seriously!

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Annabakescakes Posted 4 Jan 2012 , 8:39am
post #16 of 19

Hi Anna! (that was weird!)

I started baking here and there when I was a kid because my single mom couldn't afford cakes. I made my first roses at 8 and did a few basic 1979 or 1980 wilton yearbook cakes ( they were my new step dad's dead sister's books and supplies. I still have them!)

I did more and more after I went into a children's home because they didn't get us cakes, but they let me bake. Then I put it down for a few years and picked it up again to try to get a little money since I had twins and a dead beat husband. I did fancy cakes for less than Walmart, since they were professionals! icon_eek.gificon_eek.gif

And then got a job at a grocery store, but found it unsatisfying and quit and got a a job at a bakery. I made next to nothing but learnedR a lot and got a high paying bakery job I hated!! So I quit and had been working in a caterers shop, saving money, then bought a house and converted the garage to a bakery where I own my own business. Still love it, never took a class in my life.

I have 4 kids, 3 of which are in school. The youngest is almost 3 and he is rotton to the core, so I bake and decorate at night. I often go from Wednesday morning to Saturday night with NO sleep. Good times icon_wink.gif but I love what I do and it pays well, or it will once we pay for the bakery!

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annakat444 Posted 5 Jan 2012 , 11:30pm
post #17 of 19

Thanks so much for your personal really does make me feel better that I haven't completely missed the boat. To be honest, everyone has been very impressed with my cakes so far, and that makes me feel confident that I can do this without having a fancy baking education (and by "fancy baking education" I mean going to Culinary Institute Of America or something of the equivalent had I realized this passion before college)...I'm definitely taking as many classes as I can get my hands on but I also watch tons of YouTube. I still haven't been able to figure out how to pipe shell borders or roses even with YouTube, but I'll get there with the classes. Thanks again everyone for your support and encouragement!

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JenniferMI Posted 8 Jan 2012 , 1:08am
post #18 of 19

Welcome!!! I've been decorating for 37 years. You are very lucky to be starting in this place in time....when I started, all there was, was books. I taught myself. But today, there are so many sources to learn. UTube, DVD's (GREAT classes on disk), books, just having the internet in general. So many sources. My very best advice if you take a class, is take a QUALITY class from a quality teacher. Not all teachers do quality work. Always keep striving to kick your work up to the next level. You will never stop learning with this art icon_smile.gif

If I can ever help you with a question, don't hesitate to ask.

Jennifer Dontz icon_smile.gif

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Unlimited Posted 8 Jan 2012 , 1:45am
post #19 of 19
Originally Posted by annakat444

I still haven't been able to figure out how to pipe shell borders or roses even with YouTube, but I'll get there with the classes.

This might be helpful for piping shell borders (if not, let us know what's not working for you).

I mentioned my writing video before (on page 1), when you commented on your writing. I also have a video on piping bc roses on a stickclick on the link in my signature line below. Let me know if you have any questions and I'll try to help.

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