Frustrated Beyond Belief!!!!

Decorating By susieq01 Updated 19 Feb 2012 , 10:49am by AnnieCahill

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susieq01 Posted 13 Feb 2012 , 7:52pm
post #1 of 23

I am a new cake decorator, or at least that is what I am supposed to be. So here is my question.

How do I - Do everything??????

Seriously, I read posts were people say "I am new at this and everything just falls into place!" That person is not me. Everything is a challenge. I bake cakes and for one reason or another it didn't turn out right. The cakes fall apart, the edges break off..........

I try crumb coating.........what a mess
I try fondant................... what a mess
I try filling icing bags.... what a mess
I try.................................. what a mess

Guess you get my point.

Since my car accident December 29, 2010 (busted my leg and ankle), my independence is gone and so is my teaching career. So many days and weeks have been filled watching video after video about cake decorating. No classes offered in my area. However, Hobby Lobby is finally offering Wilton classes. Hope I can get there in time to sign up since I can't drive (my husband has to take me after work) and HL is 30 miles away. Plus, they are only taking 10-12 students. Keeping my fingers crossed on that one.

It isn't lack of patience because I taught six year old students for 14 years. That should explain my patience level. Just plain want something to work right. I have made some gum paste figures that were not bad and a couple of cakes that were not bad. But what a battle to get those done with so much going wrong.

Will keep trying. I am not a quitter but today is making me rethink cake decorating hobby.

P.S. Just took my cake out of the cake pan and it fell apart!!!!


22 replies
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Allie06 Posted 13 Feb 2012 , 8:15pm
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Hi! I am a new kid too, and I find myself sometimes biting of more than I can chew...are you new to scratch baking? or are you doctoring boxes? Have you tried getting the hang of butter cream before you went to fondant?
It seems like you are just beating yourself up with all these new amazing things you want to try! Give yourself a game plan or curriculum =) and then stick to it. "I will not try that recipe until I master this one" "I will not try fondanting a cake before I can get a smooth buttercream" have you purchased any DVDs? Sharon Zambito is remarkable, I now only say buttercream in her accent, and my kiddos followed suit! =)
Keep having fun though...have you ran into any of the amazing blogs out there? Sweetopia, Sweetapolita? those are my favs! Relax and maybe grade yourself on a curve for a little bit!!! =)

Happy caking!!

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jgifford Posted 13 Feb 2012 , 8:26pm
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You should have seen the first time I tried cake pops! Wow! icon_lol.gificon_lol.gif

I think you're trying to do too much at once. Take one thing and practice it until it's second nature. Then take the next thing, and so on. Recipes you'll be experimenting with from now on so concentrate on 1 or 2 that work for you every time. Starting with a mix is not sacrilege, so try that. And read, read, read - - this is a great site for information on everything and there are discussions in the forums for a lot. You tube is great also and you can see how other people do it. It's not going to happen overnight, so don't rush. And even the pros have days that nothing works. Really.

Let me tell you how to fix a couple of things now:

Mix equal parts (1/2 cup, 1 cup, however much you want) of oil, shortening and flour and keep it in the fridge. Use a pastry brush or paper towel to coat your panswith it before you pour in the batter. Easier than greasing and flouring. When you take the pan out of the oven, immediately set it on a wet towel. You won't ever have anything stick in the pan again. Your cake will flip right out in 2 minutes.

Filling icing bags - - have you heard about the icing plugs? Lay out a piece of plastic wrap on your counter. Plop a good pile of frosting in the middle of it. Roll it up loosely and twist one end closed. Put the whole thing in your piping bag - open end first. Voila! You're set to go.

Main thing is - - don't give up and don't expect perfection. Nobody starts new and has everything fall into place - - it just doesn't happen. They're either not part of the real world or they're not telling the whole truth. And everyone here is ready to help. Good Luck! thumbs_up.gif

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Unlimited Posted 13 Feb 2012 , 8:28pm
post #4 of 23
Originally Posted by susieq01

I try crumb coating.........what a mess
I try fondant................... what a mess
I try filling icing bags.... what a mess
I try.................................. what a mess

If crumb coating doesn't work for youskip it and just ice your cake.

If fondant is too messyskip it and just use buttercream.

Try filling your pastry bags with the tops turned down over your handthat way you can use your hand to "grab" the icing inside the bag--it stays in the bag, repeat until full to what you're comfortable with, then there's no mess that gets on the outside of the bag. It helps if you can keep your hands clean and your knife handles too.

I think cake decorating takes more than patience--it also requires an artistic talent. Are you artistic too?

Have fun with your classes!

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sillywabbitz Posted 13 Feb 2012 , 8:35pm
post #5 of 23

Ok here are some specific tips

Crumb coating - I no longer crumb coat since I started using home made cake release instead of grease/flour or spraying my pans. Cake release is 1/4 cup shortening, 1/4 cup flour, 1/4 veg oil. Mix it up really well and store in a sealed container in your cabinet. Use a brush (pastry or silicone) and paint a light coat all over your pans - Nothing sticks and I get beautiful falling apart or crumb coating. I do use the icer tip so that helps to keep me from crumb coating as well.

Filling Icing Bags - You will love this trick and never go back. Put a piece of saran wrap on your counter. Put a few big dollops of BC in the saran wrap and roll it up like a sausage, twist the ends. Cut off one end and drop it into your pastry bag. When you are out of buttercream, you just pull out the saran and drop the next one in. It's awesome and super clean. If you're visual there is a sticky with pics here

Fondant - now there is no easy solution to this. Just practice. Start with Wilton fondant. It taste terrible but has a great easy texture to work with. if you really hate the taste, add some of the Lorann's flavorings to it. You can get these at Hobby Lobby with the hard candy making stuff. . I like the lemon and orange to give a nice citrus hint and it goes with most cake flavors. You're not trying to "flavor" the fondant, just trying to get rid of the wilton taste. Once you get Wilton down then switch to homemade or a brand name fondant. They're more expensive and sometimes harder to work with so it's better to start with something easy.

In general, I LOVE SugarShack's DVDs. Start with Perfecting the Art of Buttercream and then move on to Flawless fondant and the others.
She does every single step so it's easy to follow. I re-watch them A LOT.

Hope that helps. Remember every person on here was a beginner and had the same struggles.

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JWinslow Posted 13 Feb 2012 , 9:04pm
post #6 of 23
Originally Posted by susieq01

Seriously, I read posts were people say "I am new at this and everything just falls into place!":

It is very important to remember that there isn't a member here who hasn't had their share of disasters. I read on different blogs how very experienced bakers (with shops) will be looking for help because something went wrong somewhere and they're not sure why.
I think you will find your Wilton classes very helpful. I still stay in touch with my Wilton instructor years later. I recently made a cake four times, yes four, and it still didn't come out. The people here showed me there was something wrong with the recipe and gave the best suggestions. This is fun stuff so hang in there!!


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DianeLM Posted 13 Feb 2012 , 10:09pm
post #7 of 23

OMG, you sound just like me for the first TEN YEARS! I only attempted 2-3 cakes a year, but each time I would throw something across the room and scream, "Why do I think I can do this????"

Yeah, a handful of people have a natural ability (and I hate those people), but the rest of us have to work at it. It's all about PRACTICE PRACTICE PRACTICE.

If you look at my pictures, you'll see that I finally got the hang of it. But, I can assure you that I do very few things the same way I did when I first started out. I always try new techniques. Some work. Some don't. Most require PRACTICE PRACTICE PRACTICE.

Sillywabbitz advice regarding filling icing bags is priceless. I use the Saran wrap method every time. And that was after I had pretty much mastered filling icing bags the regular way. There's a YouTube video on the plastic wrap method, but I don't have it bookmarked. Look it up, and try it. I promise you'll never go back. icon_smile.gif

I also encourage you to try SugarShack's (Sharon Zambito) educational DVDs. She is very thorough and takes the guesswork out of it all.

Regarding the Wilton classes, do you have a friend who might want to take the classes with you and would be willing to drive?

I wish you the best of luck in your journey. Cake decorating is too much fun to cause such angst. Believe me, I know. icon_smile.gif

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khewston Posted 16 Feb 2012 , 12:39am
post #8 of 23

OMG.... icon_lol.gif this sounds so much like me, that it made me laugh reading your post! I've gotten much better but I still have my days where nothing goes right! I buy lots of DVD's, plus I'm a member of yummyarts.

Hang in there!

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Ursula40 Posted 16 Feb 2012 , 2:37pm
post #9 of 23

I think, the biggest and most difficult part in this hobby is patience and this will be tested everytime you have a new machine, oven or new ingredients, different brands of the same ingredient. Ask all thode people, who use box mixes, sizes change and NOTHING is the same.

Filling piping bags, use a large drinking glass, put the assembled bag in it, and fill with icing. other than that, you need petince and a load of people willing to try your recipes (better for your hips, if others try) Choose ONE technique and practice until it becomes second nature, only then move on to the next. Keep notes, especially when trying new recipes, remember, it also can change not only when using diffrent brands but also for example altitude

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mplaidgirl2 Posted 16 Feb 2012 , 2:57pm
post #10 of 23

I make things up as I go along. I've come to near disaster about 40 times. Don't beat yourself up. It takes time, experience and a whole lot of experimenting!

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MsGF Posted 16 Feb 2012 , 3:56pm
post #11 of 23

I would phone Hobby Lobby and see if you can sign up for the class and pay for it over the telephone with your credit card. I do that, because I take classes that are 1 1/2 hours from my home. Yes I'm crazy, but I love the teacher, she is awesome.

Don't give up on decorating, take a deep breath and remember to keep breathing and relax. You will get it, like everyone else says, practice is the key. But take it one step at a time, sounds like you are moving too fast.

This is really a lot of fun, I love it. I put on my music and relax and just go to it in the kitchen. Good thing no one has me on camera, I'm in there singing and baking & decorating, LOL. Neighbors must think I'm nuts! LOL

You should also check the Wilton website:

They have a section called new to decorating and it is very informative.

Good Luck and don't give up, we all know how you feel, been there too. We will help, support and hold you up when you need us.

Take Care & Remember to Breathe

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susieq01 Posted 16 Feb 2012 , 10:43pm
post #12 of 23

Thanks to all of you for your encouragement. I want to do everything yesterday. Believe it or not, I am patient and try over and over without frustration. After about the 8th time of failure is when it gets hard.

Again, thanks to all of you. I will look up the suggestions and use your advise.

Jackie (Susieq)

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bobwonderbuns Posted 16 Feb 2012 , 11:02pm
post #13 of 23

The easiest way on the planet to fill a pastry bag is to stick it inside an empty Pringles can, then fold the top over the can. Fill up and grab -- easy peasy!! icon_biggrin.gif

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susieq01 Posted 16 Feb 2012 , 11:09pm
post #14 of 23

Thanks for the Pringle can idea. I will try that out. So many good people offering good advice.

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DianeLM Posted 16 Feb 2012 , 11:20pm
post #15 of 23

A tall drinking glass works too. But, I still swear by the plastic wrap method - especially when I need to fill an extra large bag.

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ChefAngie Posted 17 Feb 2012 , 12:05am
post #16 of 23

These are excellent items to have:
The cake icer tip and an18 inch bag-no need to crumb coat.
Turntable and an offset spatula.
Straight edge-decorating comb or drywall spreader to smooth the top in one motion.
I use the washable decorating bags(10 and 12-inch) to decorate cakes, parchment bags for chocolate work and royal icing (18 inch parchment triangles)
An air brush.
Happy Baking and Decorating,
Chef Angie

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DDiva Posted 17 Feb 2012 , 12:29am
post #17 of 23

If you are anywhere near classes take as many as you can. Having someone guide you through the early stages will be invaluable. If you have a good teacher you'll learn to do things correctly, which will be invaluable later.

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kakeladi Posted 17 Feb 2012 , 12:49am
post #18 of 23

As for filling a bag for piping: only fill it 1/2 full and use 10" bag. Anything bigger will hurt your hand! After you really master piping then you can go to larger bags.

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luv2bake4u Posted 17 Feb 2012 , 1:23am
post #19 of 23

My first cakes were pathetic. My co-workers got to eat alot of my mistakes so they were really happy. Hang in there!!! thumbs_up.gif

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GarciaGM Posted 17 Feb 2012 , 2:35am
post #20 of 23

Ursula40 mentioned keeping notes. When I first started cakes as a hobby, I was only doing birthday cakes for my family. Because I would have long stretches when I wouldn't do any cakes, and because I would forget what had worked and what hadn't, I started keeping a cake journal in Word, with pictures, recipe names, cake sizes, methods, etc. It was a tremendous help while I was trying to weed through so many variables to come up with what worked for me. Hope that helps! Good luck!

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swishykitty Posted 17 Feb 2012 , 3:01am
post #21 of 23

I feel your frustration. I am so inspired by the beautiful cakes here on CC, and my attempts at them are rather pitiful. BUT everyone started as a beginner, and everyone had failures before successes. In the end it is cake and icing and it tastes good no matter how it looks. I agree with the suggestion to write everything down. I keep a binder of my recipes with lots of annotations after I have tried them, I also take pictures of every thing I bake, the good and the bad, with notes as to flavors and future improvements.
Shaq said he practiced thousands of times to get his signature slam dunk perfected. It all takes practice, (and lots of good neighbors to eat the failures!). icon_smile.gif

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emmie81 Posted 18 Feb 2012 , 9:15pm
post #22 of 23

I am glad I am not the only one who feels like that. I have been decorating cakes for 12 months now so am fairly new and initially mine were a disaster but one thing I have learnt is that you need to do things over and over again to get them right, especially icing mine kept breaking and had makes all over it far from the nice polished finish of professional cakes.

I went on a basics course and they taught me that it broke and started to crack for one of three reasons: 1) fondant was too thick 2) fondant was too thin and 3) too much icing sugar on the surface and rolling pin.

The older cake makers will probably correct me if I am wrong but the reason your cakes fall apart could be to do with the mixture you use, the batter may not be very stiff (more like a cupcake batter rather than Madeira sponge).

Hope this helps and remember when you are struggling and frustrated there are a million other cake decorators new and experienced doing the same thing.

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AnnieCahill Posted 19 Feb 2012 , 10:49am
post #23 of 23

LOL, I have been decorating since I was a kid and I still have bad days. It happens to the best of us and the worst of us LOL. Every now and then you will see posts on here where people (even pros!) just have bad cake days. It happens. Then there are times when the heavens open up and all is right with the cake world, and sometimes you are even surprised at how easy something went.

To fill a decorating bag, use a glass or just fold the cuff over your hand while you fill. And make sure you don't overfill. That's the easiest way to keep it from getting messy. I actually like using the bigger decorating bags because I can get a lot of icing in and minimize my re-fills.

For your crumb issue, if your recipe forgiving you can try adding an extra egg white to bind up the crumb a bit more. I say egg white only because egg whites are binders and the yolks provide additional fat and moisture which it sounds like you don't need.

Good luck and don't give up!

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