As she said, she is a self-taught hobbyist and has no clue what she is doing most of the time. She is obsessed with cakes and has a love/hate relationship with them. When she is not making cakes or playing around on her FB fan page, she is usually researching (or sharing) techniques, tutorials, recipes, cake photos, design ideas, cake wrecks, or talking to her best cake girls about CAKE!
1. How did you first get started with cake decorating?
When I was a little girl back in the 70’s, my grandma made gorgeous cakes for everyone in our town. I watched her, fascinated, never dreaming I would ever do anything like that. Two years ago, at the ripe old age of 43, I was watching someone cover a cake with fondant on a television show one night and I looked over at my husband and said, “I bet I could do that.” I had never decorated a cake in my life and had never touched a piece of fondant. To this day I have no idea why I thought I would be able to do it or what possessed me to say that out loud to him. For my birthday two months later, he surprised me with the mother lode of baking supplies. I made my first cake in April of 2010 and now 20 months later, here I am.
2. Why did you decide to decorate cakes?
Honestly, the “why” is a mystery. I’ve never baked before and I’ve never had an artistic bone in my body, so it’s just really weird that I ended up doing this. I found out something really cool about myself when I started doing cakes though; I’m ambidextrous when it comes to doing detailed painting. Before cakes, I never even knew that.
*3. What are some things you do differently now than when you first started decorating? *
Things haven’t really changed much for me in the kitchen, but something that HAS changed tremendously is the way I network with other decorators online. I’ve built some amazing relationships with new friends that I would have never even met if it wasn’t for my cakes.
4. What has been your greatest challenge?
The time investment can be pretty tough. And if you couple that with how embarrassingly slow I am, it’s a recipe for disaster. Based on my conversations with other bakers, I think this is something that a lot of us struggle with. Cake decorators are a special breed who can stay up until wee hours of the morning, night after night, and then still manage to function during the day, but it can be daunting. As far as overcoming it, time management is my highest priority for 2012. And I’m not even kidding when I say that one of my New Year’s resolutions is to try to get more sleep!
5. What is the most rewarding part of cake decorating?
The best part is backing away from a cake once it’s completely finished and feeling really good about it. I’m a terrible fuss bucket and I agonize over every detail. I take stuff apart and redo things over and over trying to get it all “just right” (but alas, that rarely happens). Making sure my work is neat matters almost as much as knowing it tastes delicious. I never achieve perfect, but I sure do strive for that.
6. What are your favorite cake decorating tools?
Oh easy question! I’m a butter cream girl all the way and I love my Viva towel and my fondant smoother!
7. Which one of your cakes is your favorite?
I was pretty happy with the frogs on my Princess & The Frog cake I did last winter. It’s hard to give sugar “personality,” but I quite liked the snarky look on the boy frog’s face. (But then every time I look at that cake, the first thing I see is how horrible the writing is!)
8. Could you give some tips to people who have just started decorating cakes or would love to start?
Well I’m sort of new at this, so I’m hardly in a position to be doling out advice, but I would just say this – if you’re wanting to try something cake related and you’re feeling at a loss, overwhelmed, or even afraid – don’t despair. Virtually everything you could ever want to know or see regarding cake decorating is available on the web! Youtube has thousands of fantastic “how to” videos and there are countless sites that offer tutorials on everything from ideas to techniques to shortcuts to best practice. If only my grandma had lived to see the day where if you wondered what a “5 little monkeys jumpin’ on a bed” cake might look like, all you had to do was run to Google!
9. How did you find CakesDecor.com and what is it that keeps you coming back?
One of my dearest friends, Lesley Wright of Royal Bakery, turned me on to Cakes Décor. I’m really grateful to her for that. Since then, I’ve done my best to drag every living, breathing soul I can here. The site is such a great fit for me because it’s exactly what I was looking for: a place to network, research, share, and showcase my cakes without a lot of difficult rules, regulations, or drama. Maybe it’s because I’ve been here since the site was brand new, but I feel a sense of pride and belonging here, and watching the site grow has been a real thrill for me.
10. What’s been the biggest surprise in all of this for you?
I couldn’t have anticipated the warmth of the caking community. I’ve been really elated over the last few months at the attention some of my cakes have gotten online from my peers. You know, you expect customers to be thrilled with your cakes, so although that’s where the real joy lies, I’ve discovered it’s not the ultimate compliment really. When it comes to cakes, nothing is more cathartic than heartfelt words of praise from a PEER. Some might say that I shouldn’t be looking for that kind of validation, but I’ll tell you what – genuine words of encouragement, support, and praise from a respected, admired peer (someone who decorates and therefore feels my pain, ha!), now THAT feels GOOD.
*Thank you Peggy for your time and answering our interview questions. *
Here are some cakes made by Peggy Does Cake: