A Beginners Story

A Beginners Story-

This has been my experiences over the last couple of months As a newbie/beginner I thought I would share my experiences for all other newbies-you may pick something up- and maybe for some others you may get a chuckle out of my inexperience- Everything listed was learned by NOT doing it the right way- Just learning all this as I go.

So, let me begin by saying that EVERYTHING takes 3x longer then you think it will and it seems I use 3x the amount of product I think I will need!

The first cake I made- can I just tell you my kitchen was a complete disaster- really a disaster. I have gotten a little better, but there is still *at least *an hour of clean up involved at the end. That darn powdered sugar and buttercream has a mind of its own. Here are my suggestions in reference to that:

1) Start with a clean kitchen- dishwasher, sink- empty garbage pail (one that open with your foot is great)

2) Have plenty of paper towels, off the roll, stacked for easy access and plenty of clean dishtowels (I seem to go through 4 or 5 for one 2 – 3 tired cake- Is that a lot??)

3) I line as much as possible now-(under my mixer, on my table when torting and filling etc.)- lately I have been using the packing paper from the *many *shipments of cake supplies that I get. It seems I never have what I need- the right sized pan, fondant, cutter -I don’t think there has been one cake that I have just used what I had on hand, I just have to buy/order something.

4) Two clean sponges (one is in hot soapy water at all times)

5) I leave a large bowl of hot soapy (Dawn) water in my sink- I throw all my used utensils in as I go

6) A pump liquid soap dispenser is absolutely one of my most favorite things-I’m now thinking the ones that dispense automatically when you run your hand under it might even be better!

7) A swifter wet and dry would be great to have- on my list to get.

8) CLEAN AS YOU GO!!!!

9) Take the time to clean everything before you go to bed-(* IF you go to bed, for my first cake- I stayed up _ALL*_ night and then had to take the day off work to finish) no matter what time it is now, I clean everything-I even mop- this way I can enjoy my coffee before going to my real job. (Ha)

Baking also presents some challenges- especially if you don’t have multiple of the same size pan. I’m gathering at this point you are picking up on the mistakes I have made- ugh!

1) Make sure you use parchment and/or cake release
2) The bake even strips, flower nails and heating cores are from heaven (fab tip I picked up from other posts)
3) Seems silly but a cake tester is a necessary tool- I tried to improvise- not a good idea.
4) Bake ahead of time- don’t wait till the last minute- actually freezing the cakes helps to keep them moist
5) Check your supplies/ingredients (again –the hard way)
6) Cooling racks are your friend (3 is working well for me)
7) Make sure there is room in your freezer ahead of time if you plan on freezing your cakes-which usually entails me cooking some really large dinners for my son ahead of time- he’s thrilled.

Now on to the decorating, the fun part: My first few times were not fun for me at all, I didn’t have the right tools- I didn’t even know what tools I needed:

1) Organization-although next to impossible, is helpful. I can’t figure out how to move these bins and boxes from my dining room- where is everyone putting/storing their supplies???I’m in a wreck over here and it is only getting worse!

2) If making flowers, bows, etc. make sure you leave time enough for them to dry – I had an issue with a cross I made from RI- (make extra of necessary pieces, they tend to break-at the worst possible time)

3) Borders are an important detail. I had not been giving it much thought until the very end, consider it part of the design. The cake bases as well, use your imagination to cover them and add ribbons to the edges- I still have not mastered this- I always run out of time

4) Crumb coats are exactly that, crumbs will get in- after many tears and frustration, I have learned to accept this

5) The first cakes will NOT look like the beautiful, smooth, level, gorgeous ones posted here and they definitely will not look like the cakes from TV.

6) SPS IS THE BEST THING SINCE SLICED BREAD!!!

7) Prep more ganache, buttercream and filling then you think you will need, you can freeze the extra- that is if you can find room in your freezer.

8) Make sure you damn your fillings- this will help with the dreaded bulge

9) The Silicone Mat to roll fondant is great- but DO NOT use your exacto knife on it- it is NOT self-healing (ugh!!) I have recently discovered “The Mat” by Sweetwise- LOVE IT, also not self-healing, don’t cut on it!

10) I’m still having so much trouble with moving cakes around – from the cooling rack to the cakeboard, to the drum-etc- I seem to go through so many cake boards- I know I’m doing something wrong here- just haven’t figured out what yet.

11) Take pictures along the way- you will be happy you did when you are done

12) Air bubbles- in the cake, buttercream AND fondant-ugh!!! HATE them- enough said.

13) Make sure your base is strong enough- the cakes are much heavier than you think

14) No matter how hard I try- I never seem to have out what I need- ensuring that I will have to rummage through the bins and cardboard boxes that I have all my supplies in-

15) An Agbay would be a gift I would cry over- aahhh someday…..

16) Lie to yourself and have your cake “due” the day/night before its actual due date- believe me , you will thank me for this one. Also, leave yourself much more time to drive the cake to the location- go slow and bring a repair kit

And lastly- be patient with yourself, accept the praise you get, you deserve it. Most people have no idea how much work, effort and cost goes into the making of the cake- that’s what CakesDecor is for (ha).

After reading this- can you just imagine what went on here during the creation of my first few cakes- it was NOT pretty- and my first cake should have wound up as an article in a Cake Disaster section- it melted, literally melted, in the car while I was at the Graduation Ceremony-yeah, the one I stayed up all night and missed work for (many tears were shed- actually I’m still not over it)

So this is my tale of what I have garnered over the last few months- hope it helps someonethat is beginning- and lent a chuckleor two to the pros.

Happy Caking

Mo

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4 Comments

pearlg ...

Great article, I feel your pain regarding that first cake, I have been there.
Oh! The disaster zone, that’s my kitchen every time I have to bake and decorate.
I never seem to have/find the one item I need when decorating.
Very good advice especially the one on cooking ahead for family, you can’t live on cake crumbs. LoL.

Jenniffer White ...

Mo, it sounds like you are a fast learner! :) Here’s one thing I will add to your list though… Putting a clean wet towel around your mixing bowl while your sloshing around all that powdered sugar will keep it from going EVERYWHERE!

Fun Fiesta Cakes ...

LOL – I LOVE your story because that was me (and still is most of the time) when I make cakes. Just today I was wondering if I’ll ever be like those TV cake chefs who always look so “put together” when creating those wonderful cakes that always rise so beautifully and never look dry or overdone. Where do they hide the confectioner sugar that LOVES to land on my counter and floor? Where are the blobs of buttercream that suddenly drop from the palette knife at the worst possible moment? How come their decorating tools are always accessible – I swear there’s a tools fairy in my home (not to be confused with a tooth fairy) who loves to play tricks on me – I suppose such perfection is the magic of Television… us, mere mortals, just have to keep on trying!

Happy Baking, everyone!

Kendra Hicks ...

Ditto on what cupadeecakes said about the wet towel. I recently discovered this and it has saved me from the dust cloud that settles on everything. I justify most of my equipment purchases with each cake I sell so one of these days I might actually make a profit :) I bit the bullet and purchased an Agbay a few months ago and my life has never been the same. It’s truly amazing. Cuts out so much time and energy spent making sure things are level. I had two cheapos before and they were awful… one even broke. I keep my Agbay in bubble wrap in the box and guard it with my life. My supplies are stacked to the ceiling now as we are in the process of building a new home so trying to rummage through and find what I need is a major task. I resolve to be much more organized when the house is done. I’m a beginner as well (sold my first cake in January 2011) and I agree with this entire post!