I confess that I am addicted to watching cake decorating tutorials on Youtube! As my television gives me access to Youtube, I frequently watch tutorials while I work. I thought I’d share some of my favourite videos, the ones I’ve found most useful and hope they help you too.
One job I used to hate was cleaning piping bags/nozzles. I use the tips in this video all the time and it has saved me so much time and hassle over the years!
I used to make a lot of cakes with fondant pearls around the bottom edge but it irritated me a lot if they weren’t even in size. I use the technique in this tutorial every time I make them now.
I love Cake Style videos, not just the decorating tutorials but these type too. Here are two of my favourites. I’d definitely suggest checking out Cake Style on Youtube, Instagram and their website http://cakestyle.tv/
There are so many awesome and talented cake artists willing to give away their knowledge and I appreciate every single one of them. Yes I am also willing to pay to learn (I’m also a Craftsy addict) but I love how helpful the cake community is.
I recently had a request from a customer for a cake featuring a bottle of champagne. She picked an ice bucket design. This was not a design I’d made before and searched online for any hints or tips. The one problem I came up with was that most of the tutorials I found used a lot of cake, several stacked up and carved. The customer only needed to feed up to 20. The solution I came up with was to use my ‘doll’ cake tin. Here it is lined and ready to go.
Its been a while since I used this tin so was unsure how much mix to make. I use Quaint Cakes recipes and mixed up the 10 inch recipe but I had lots left over. I think the 8 inch mix would probably be sufficient. This is the cake as it came out of the oven with cocktail stick markers to help me get the bottom of the ice bucket level.
And the cake after carving into shape.
I halved the cake, filled it with a thin layer of jam and buttercream and gave it a crumbcoat. Once the crumbcoat had firmed up in the fridge I covered the cake with grey icing.
I gave this some time to firm up before turning the cake up the other way ready to decorate. At this point I got immersed in decorating the cake and forgot to take any more photos until I had finished!
Once the cake was the right way up, I covered the top in fondant also. I rolled a length of fondant to go round the base of the ice bucket and cut a strip of fondant to go round the top of the bucket. I also added handles on each side. I then gave the bucket a coat of silver food colour.
The bottle was also trial and error. I’d bought a small champagne bottle mould, meant for using with melted chocolate. I had planned to make the bottle from gum paste but left it too late to make and it wasn’t going to harden enough to be a success. Instead I used RKT, shaped each half of the bottle and then stuck them together. I covered them in a layer of fondant first to smooth out all the bumps and then covered in a light green fondant which I then painted in various shades of green and sprayed with a couple of coats of edible varnish.
I wanted to make the ice as realistic looking as possible. Again I searched the internet for ways to make it that were fairly easy and not too costly. Options available were Isomalt, melted sugar, both needing a silicone ice tray to form the cubes, something I didn’t have. I’d previously used melted Fox’s Glacier Mints to make blue ice shards for a Frozen cake and thought they’d be good for this cake too. Before adding them to the cake I used some grey icing round the bottom of the bottle and all over the top of the cake to give a shape to the ‘ice’, I also painted this silver. I then smashed the mints into pieces, I liked how the smaller bits looked like crushed ice but I also left some larger bits too.
The finished cake
When I first decided to start a cake business I can’t say I gave the business side of it much thought. Yes I knew I had to register with the local Environmental Health Department, sort out insurance etc but deciding what customers I was aiming for, how to advertise, what to charge, these things didn’t cross my mind.
If I’m honest, I’ve only just started to really consider the business of making cakes even though I’ve been selling my cakes for several years.
What has made me think of these things?
I can’t remember where I discovered Cake Coach Online. I think it was via a post on Facebook, I downloaded a couple of free guides and signed up for email updates. A few months ago I purchased the order form and cake pricing calculator, these both quickly became invaluable in keeping track of orders/costings. They are both excel spreadsheets that are quick and easy to complete.
Recently I’ve also signed up for the Cash for Cakes online course. I’ve completed the first month’s module which deals with starting up a cake business, figuring out the market you are aiming for, setting up an action plan and more. The course has made me think of things I’d never considered regarding my business and I think as the course goes on I am going to learn a lot that will definitely make me more successful.
Whether you’re just starting out or been making cakes for a while but are unsure as to how to run the business side of things, I’d definitely recommend checking out all that’s on offer from Cake Coach Online.
Purple fondant that is. A notoriously difficult colour to achieve with fondant. The problem, apparently, arises from the ‘red’ tone in the paste colours fading quickly, especially in daylight.
I’m making a wedding cake next week that needs purple flowers. This is the fabric sample I wanted to match them to.
I mixed a few paste samples to test the different purple paste colours I had. These are the results.
The Wilton Violet turned out to give the best match to the fabric.
However, when I mixed it with flower paste rather than fondant it did not behave the same. I mixed the paste to match the colour and made a couple of flowers. The next day when I checked them I found the colour had faded considerably and was more blue than purple.
I started investigating ways to improve the colour and keep it more stable once mixed. There isn’t that much information available online. Some posts suggested adding baking soda others adding extra red paste colour. I didn’t know whether the baking soda would affect how the flower paste worked so didn’t want to risk that. I thought I’d try adding different colour pastes to it. I added a lot more Violet colour to one sample (left in the photo), I added a touch of red to another sample (middle in the photo) and a touch of pink to the last one (the colour I wanted to make had quite a pink tone to it). These are the results.
Adding red changed the colour too much, adding pink gave a nice tone but it faded quickly. So far I’ve achieved the colour I wanted by adding a lot more Violet colour to the paste. The flowers I’ve made with that haven’t faded and are still a good purple colour. I’ll post a photo of the finished cake after the wedding.
Its been a while and yes I did forget to post a photo of the finished cake – here it is.
Fortunately, most cake problems I’ve had have happened before a customer has collected a cake. I’ve had cakes I’ve had to re-bake because they weren’t cooked properly, cakes I’ve had to re-cover because I’ve not been happy with the design but I’d not had one fail after delivery until a few months back.
After many emails back and forth the customer finally decided on an art deco, peacock feather design cake in pale blue. The cake consisted of two tiers but each tier was double height. Each cake layer was placed on its own cake card, dowelled (apart from top layer) and the whole thing seemed pretty sturdy and stable before collection. This is the cake as it left me.
About half an hour later I got a phone call. The customer had had a ‘disaster’ on the way home and the cake had collapsed in some way. The cake was for a big party the next night and the customer asked if I could do anything to repair it. Usually I would apologise and say that once a cake had left me it was their responsibility but the customer was a good friend so I wanted to see what I could do. I requested that she sent photos so I could see the damage and assess what needed to be done. I could have cried when I saw these photos.
The whole cake had slid but also collapsed somehow at the bottom, causing cracks in the fondant and damage to the decoration. At this point I took a very deep breath! I arranged to visit the venue where the party was to be held once the cake had been taken there (in case any further damage occurred on its way there) and prepared a repair kit. I knew I wouldn’t have that much time once I was there so decided to try making some extra peacock feathers before I went. As I made them I placed them in a plastic box, layered them with cling film and hoped they’d stay soft and flexible enough until the next day. I had no idea if this would work or not but fortunately, when I got to the venue, the feathers were still soft.
I’m not really sure why this cake collapsed but whatever the reason, I learned quite a lot during the repair process.
The most difficult thing to deal with was the collapsing at the bottom. I had to find something quite sturdy to ‘prop’ this up and ended up using some cardboard covered in clingfilm to get the cake level again which I then covered with fondant. I then replaced the ‘beading’ round the bottom of the tiers, added peacock feathers over the ones that had been damaged, repaired the piping detail and then repaired any remaining cracks with a paste of the coloured fondant and water.
I forgot to take a photo of the repaired cake but I was happy with the result and the customer was very appreciative that I’d gone out to help.
So, what did I learn from this experience? Repair techniques and maybe that its a good idea to deliver tall cakes!
I’m back with some more colour tests for you. These are the colours I found most difficult to get accurate photos of. For some reason, when photographing the pink colour pastes, I found they lost the cooler, blue tones of the pastes. I’m not a photography expert, maybe someone from that field could explain why this happens and any way to deal with it. Here are the best photos I could get. I advise testing these yourself to get more accurate colour representation.