"Hey, I can do that!"

Friday, July 31, 2009

3 Different Methods: Lambeth, Australian, and Wilton

I just learned there are 3 main "methods" for cake decorating: Lambeth, Australian, and Wilton. This site was very informative:


There are three popular cake decorating styles that have influenced all the cake designers and all the cake decorating methods that came after them. The Lambeth Method, the Australian Method, and the Wilton Method. After reading a little more about each one you will have a better understanding of the history of cake decorating and a better understanding of what each type of cake decorating style represents and how it’s done.
There's even an Australian Museum of Cake Decorating and Sugarcraft!

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Signed up for Wilton Course 3

I signed up for Wilton's "Course 3: Fondant and Tiered Cakes" at my local Hobby Lobby. I've been researching all I could about this course. I'm not sure if the teacher will let me take this if I haven't taken "Course 1: Discover Cake Decorating". Some places insist that Course 1 is the prerequisite for the other courses, but other people have said as long as you can keep up, it's cool.

I'm not sure what the supply list is ... I don't know if I'm supposed to contact the teacher or if she is supposed to call me. I tried calling her once but got no answer. The supply lists I found online seem to be one issued by Wilton, so I figure what's on that list will be expected. I'm going to buy the Course 3 Student Kit and the Master Tip Set from Wilton.

Consider it an investment for future birthday cakes for my little girl (she's 2.5 months old now). I got a 50% off coupon from signing up at Michaels.com that I'll probably use on the tip set. Michaels usually gives me a 40% coupon along with my receipt whenever I shop there. There's a lot of money that's going into this hobby ... I better be good at it!

I really hope I can take this course. I've got a great idea for a birthday cake for my husband ...

Little bit of history

What prompted this little adventure of mine? I volunteered to throw my co-worker's wife a baby shower (they're due in late August). A proper baby shower has to have a cake! But I had zero experience decorating cakes :(

We had just recently celebrated my nephew's 1st birthday and my sister-in-law ordered a personalized cake for him. It was so cute! This was done by their local professional cake lady:


The cake was adorable and delicious. When I studied it further, you can see that it's got some simple elements with great execution. I thought, "Hey, I can do that!"

So I started researching on how to decorate a cake. I checked out cake decorating books from the library. I made my own buttercream icing and also some fondant. For practice, I made cakes for Mother's Day and Father's Day.

Some failures include:
  • funky tasting fondant (the recipe had way too much shortening ... I refused to eat it on the Mother's Day cake slices)
  • greasy looking fondant (again, too much shortening in that recipe ... but that's what I get for not wanting to buy glycerine and gelatin)
  • short cake (without baking strips, your cakes bakes up with a high center and low sides ... if you have any desire to level it, you'll be left with an inch high cake!)
  • crooked cake (I did my best leveling it with a serrated knife, but you just can't beat an actually cake leveling tool)
  • stiff buttercream icing (I'm not sure what went wrong, but my icing was so stiff, I broke my reusable icing bag!)
  • runny buttercream icing (opposite from the too stiff icing, this stuff made my designs appear melted)
But I did have my share of triumphs:
  • I learned to make a decorating bag out of a parchment triangle (so I don't have to use up one of those more expensive disposable bags for quick jobs)
  • I practiced some basic decorating tricks (e.g. stars, shells, zig-zags, basketweave, etc.)
  • home-made buttercream tastes and works great!
  • box cake saves a bunch of time and is consistent to work with

My first purchases towards my cake decorating arsenal included:
  • 9" spring form pan (which I later learned 8" was more of the norm)
  • parchment paper (wax paper can't hold its own against icing)
  • baking strips (so the majority of your cake doesn't go to waste)
  • couplers (which I use with parchment paper triangles)
  • a few metal tips (2 circular and 2 open stars)
I already had a lazy Susan, which is an absolute must. With all of that, I designed the baby shower cake after one I saw on the internet. Here's what I made:

Failures include:
  • not knowing how to cover a cake without getting the fondant ruffled on the sides (I covered up all the overlapping with a solid green strip around the entire cake)
  • not knowing how to hide a seam (you can see where the ends of the green strip meet)
  • not knowing how to hide a pinhole (the books said to release any air bubbles by inserting a pin at an angle, then rubbing the opening with your finger ... the rubbing did not close the hole)
  • dropping the fondant onesie in the wrong place (I had wet the back of it with water so it would stick to the white fondant, but it slipped out of my fingers while I was holding it. I was able to lift it up and place it properly, but it left a wet, green residue on the otherwise beautiful white cover!)
  • getting too small of a cake board (I thought a board for an 8" cake would be ok for my 9", but it left very little room ... room that is needed to protect the cake edges when in a carrier)
  • box cake and tub icing always tastes great (I use tub icing for the filling and the first coat instead of buttercream)
  • the baking strips made a more level and moist cake
  • several people at the shower thought the cake was ordered
  • the green was a lovely shade and matched all the baby shower decor
So I think I have a lot to learn, but I'm on the right track! It's a fun hobby, and there's always a holiday or birthday or anniversary just around the corner that you can celebrate with cake (unlike Halloween where I'm just itching all year to make a single costume for one night).

More to come!

First Post!

Hello, and thanks for visiting my blog!

This blog is intended to catalog my adventures in cake decorating. I can only hope that this blog helps or inspires others to dive into the realm of decorating cakes. It's the most delicious art out there!

I have a "no secret" policy.  I will do my best to describe the entire process for how I decorated my cakes viewed on this blog, what recipes I used, etc.  I will also do my best to try and not post anything that doesn't belong to me, but if a photo or except  from another site will describe something accurately, I will post it and include a link to the original page.

Another part of the "no secret" policy is that I will also try my best to show any flaws during my cake decorating adventures.  Don't be surprised if you see a high definition photo with a big honkin' arrow pointing to something ugly on my cake.  In my online research I got very discouraged when I couldn't find anything wrong with a nice cake.  I felt so far away from reaching my goal when I thought decorators never ran into any problems.  I will do my best to tell you all about my failures as well as successes and catalog where I can improve.  That will be the only way for me to really learn the lessons I encounter so as not to repeat mistakes.

Join me and the "Hey, I can do that!" attitude!!!

As Seen On

As Seen On Capital Confectioners