Is This A Bad Thing?

Decorating By Island girl Updated 28 Apr 2015 , 7:35pm by Apti

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Island girl Posted 19 Apr 2015 , 11:02pm
post #1 of 15

I am a newbie that has only done 6 cakes or so for friends and family. There is an amazing local cake decorator a few towns away but same county. I've had friends buy birthday cakes from her in the past and her buttercream is so smooth it looks like fondant. She's amazing. Would it be rude to ask her to show me/teach me how she gets her buttercream so flawless? Of course I'd pay her for it but I'm just nervous to ask. Tia! 

14 replies
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DeniseNH Posted 19 Apr 2015 , 11:23pm
post #2 of 15

It depends.  1.) on the temperament of the decorator and 2.) if she considers you a "threat".  It takes a very long time to develop the perfect technique and usually depends on the type of icing she uses - so to teach you - she would need to also give you her icing recipe and hints on how she builds her cakes and fills them because they're all interrelated.  You say teach me how to ice a cake like you do  (one thing), the decorator sees five things she now needs to teach you and if she does, will you take some of her potential customers?  So, like I said in the beginning, it really depends.  You can start out with a compliment and see where that goes - she'll either say yes or no and then you'll know.  There's so many videos now on you tube about how to do this - have you tried that avenue?



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Gingerlocks Posted 19 Apr 2015 , 11:25pm
post #3 of 15

Well ya you could ask and see what she say's..but honestly when people ask me to teach them my trick's; even when they offer to pay the answer is no. Think about it you are competition and you want to know her "signature" technique...I'd say no if I was her. Sure you have every right to ask..but if I were you I'd expect her to decline. 

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Island girl Posted 19 Apr 2015 , 11:45pm
post #4 of 15

Thank you for the replies. I kinda figured it would be a no but, I didn't want to offend her either. I know she's been in the business over 15 years and has tons of customers. I was just so wow'd by her cakes. I bought the sugar shack DVD and its helped tremendously but I still can't get it like Sharon's or the local decorator. I'm just going to keep practicing! Also, she uses a crusting buttercream and I prefer smbc so its making it even harder to get smooth since I can't use the viva paper towel method. I'm going to try the upside down method next. Thanks!!

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Hassan01 Posted 20 Apr 2015 , 12:39am
post #5 of 15

I know that this might sound weird, but why don't you just experiment and try until you get a perfect version of yours? One thing I know for sure, is that she is using ingredients that both of you are able to buy and use, so keep trying and changing a little in the recipes you read, until you reach what you're looking for.

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MBalaska Posted 20 Apr 2015 , 3:22am
post #6 of 15

or she could be using the acrylic circles to get clean edges.

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Jedi Knight Posted 20 Apr 2015 , 4:17am
post #7 of 15

.... she's got 15 years worth of cakes on you. I'll bet your cakes will look fine in fifteen...

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Pastrybaglady Posted 20 Apr 2015 , 4:19am
post #8 of 15

If you use SMBC over frost, smooth, refrigerate until really firm and then scrape to you

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Pastrybaglady Posted 20 Apr 2015 , 4:22am
post #9 of 15

I wasn't done and it posted - what?  

I was trying to say scrape the hard frosting to the smoothness you want.  You patch the holes along the way as well.

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costumeczar Posted 20 Apr 2015 , 10:37am
post #10 of 15

Meringues are never going to look the same as a crusting buttercream. They can both be smoothed out but it's not the same look. Smooth meringues buttercreams have a glossier look to them, but the smooth crusting buttercreams can look like fondant because they're made with confectioner's sugar like fondant is. Don't try to imitate hers, just work on your own style, it just takes practice.

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Island girl Posted 20 Apr 2015 , 1:14pm
post #11 of 15

Thanks everyone for the responses and tips! 

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Snowflakebunny23 Posted 20 Apr 2015 , 2:16pm
post #12 of 15

You could always email her to ask if she has/does any tutorials or classes?  It is a subtle way of asking for help... x

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basketpam Posted 27 Apr 2015 , 10:26pm
post #13 of 15

I rather agree with most of the people here in the other replies. I have a very good friend who has been doing cakes for a LONG time.  In fact, MANY years ago when her husband was stationed in Germany as clergy in the Army she spent her time learning how to do the most incredible gingerbread houses.  I had been baking but not decorating basically all of my life. a good 40+ years and about 6 years ago when I decided to take some Wilton classes and began my "decorating" career I asked if she had a recipe for a decorating icing that wasn't so sickening sweet like the Wilton one they use in the classes which myself and most of my family & friends definitely dislike.  She shared a great recipe with me and asked me not to share it with anyone else, I never have.  I've even "tweaked" it a tiny bit to work better for me.  She's the one person that I've shared a few of my special recipes with and I know she won't pass them on to others although honestly, I think most people who order items from me such as my cheesecake, etc., wouldn't worry with making it themselves even if they had the recipe.  Most people don't want the work or the bother and many don't have the pans, equipment etc. to do a lot of things.  Still we bakers are rather possessive about our recipes.  

I have ones that have been passed to me from prior generations that have to be a good 150 years old at least and the only ones that will get them are our family's next generation.  It's been my experience that almost all bakers and decorators have a repertoire of icing/frosting recipes and don't always stick to just one.  Your favorite meringue isn't going to work or be appropriate for every cake you do. Look at the red velvet for example since what most people REALLY like about that cake isn't actually the cake, it's the frosting.  It's like my favorite cake since I've been about 5 years old, the traditional German Chocolate Cake with Coconut Pecan Frosting. As far as I'm concerned the cake is just the vehicle to transport that scrumptious frosting, same thing with the red velvet. (I used to be one of those kids that ALWAYS scraped the icing off of cakes when it was put in front of me. When I was a kid they didn't have all these frostings in a can like they do today and ALL the women made those sickening sweet ones, including my mom because that's all they knew. My great-grandmother got tired of it and introduced me to the German Chocolate one, I was hooked).

 I have an entire notebook of frosting recipes, some so similar the difference is almost unnoticeable.  I'm always trying new ones just in case someone out there comes up with something better.  It's just like my chocolate cake recipe. That recipe alone gets me orders people love it so much but I never use the frosting that came with the recipe since it uses raw egg whites, something I refuse to use under any condition. (If anyone out there believes the whole salmonella thing is a joke boy do I have a story about someone who not only caught it from raw eggs but actually died, if you want to hear it, drop me a line).  

I always use my "go-to" chocolate cake but that doesn't stop me from trying new recipes all the time and also lately, I've begun to experiment with using liqueurs, beers, and hard liquors in cakes. I've learned many people usually LOVE it.  But that's what fun, trying out new things. My problem is, being single AND having now to eat gluten-free I can't do a test-tasting on most of what I bake so I'm always having to find "guinea pigs" and not everything is a winner.    

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yortma Posted 28 Apr 2015 , 11:51am
post #14 of 15

I am not a pro and never charge for anything so I have no reason to be "territorial".  I am happy to exchange ideas and recipes, but I agree with the comments above that everything worth doing well takes practice practice practice, and lots of trial and error.  I think most  pros would not be happy to hand over something that took years of time and effort to perfect. Even knowing the technique does not mean it can be immediately copied, since most things take coordination ,skill and practice.  We are fortunate in this day and age to have access to so many experienced helpful bakers via CC and youtube, etc. so the learning curve is shortened, but everyone needs to experiment with and develop their own repertoire and practice and discover their own special talents and techniques.  If you haven't checked it out already, there are lots of youtube videos about creating smooth buttercream and those might be helpful in giving you a head start.  Your work/school/church/neighbors will love all those practice cakes!

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Apti Posted 28 Apr 2015 , 7:35pm
post #15 of 15

Well said, Basketpam and yortma.

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