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should I just give up? cant decorate if you cant bake.

post #1 of 22
Thread Starter 
i LOVE decorating cakes. it is so relaxing and i can be creative and tune everyone out and just go at it. I have never had a job in a bakery i just do it on the side but im a perfectionist and im very detail oriented and have somewhat of an artistic ability so cake decorating is perfect for me.

BUT i have one huge problem....

I CANT BAKE

I have been using the durable for 3d and wedding cake recipe but your so limited to what flavors you can offer with that recipe and I feel that using a doctored box cake is cheating and I really want to be able to say my cakes are fresh using the most freshest ingredients and etc but i cant do that with a box mix and i have had the problem of the store not having the box mix i needed so i was totally messed over.

I have tried atleast over 30 recipes between chocolate , vanilla white and two strawberry cakes.

every one thastes funny. either it is way too dense and totally dry, or its way too moist for holding stacked cakes. or it has no strawberry taste at all. or it tasts like nothing but cocoa powder.

I have no money left to practice recipes. If i cant find good recipes I feel like I should just give up what I love doing and have no hope in knowing what would have been.

what should i do? i cant keep using my husbands pay checks to buy new baking and decorating stuff if i cant even get a cake that is good enough to actually decorate.

I have used recipes from here and crumb boss and just cant find anything. can you please share your recipes ? I have tried all the most favorites and just cant find good completely scratch recipes that are fluffy for cupcakes but durable enough for stacking bigger cakes and carving and covering with fondant. please help.
Slow and steady wins the race.... as long as the cottage food law says in place.
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Slow and steady wins the race.... as long as the cottage food law says in place.
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post #2 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by Krista512

I feel that using a doctored box cake is cheating and I really want to be able to say my cakes are fresh using the most freshest ingredients and etc but i cant do that with a box mix and i have had the problem of the store not having the box mix i needed so i was totally messed over.


First of all, using box mixes are not cheating. You can still claim that your cakes are fresh and made with the freshest ingredients if you use a mix, and as long as you are satisfied with the results there shouldn't be a problem.

If your local store doesn't carry the mixes you need, find a different store or order online. Amazon.com carries several flavors and types of mixes, and they offer free 2-day shipping or $3.99 next day shipping with Amazon Prime ($79/year).

The only other alternative would be to find a partner who enjoys baking more than decorating.
post #3 of 22
You're right, if you don't have money for ingredients you can't bake. Sounds like you don't have a choice but to quit.
post #4 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by CWR41

You're right, if you don't have money for ingredients you can't bake. Sounds like you don't have a choice but to quit.


It sounds more like she doesn't have the money to continue pursuing R&D for scratch baking, if she can come up with a product line based on mixes with minimal further investment she can still make it work.

Once you have your recipes down you should only be spending money when you have an order, aside from whatever limited overhead you have as a home bakery. And -- this is critical -- your prices must be set so you will be profitable. You will need a cushion though, for example your business account should have enough cash so you can keep operating if your next 5 customers don't pay. You'll also probably have to pay for liability insurance up front, so you're looking at a rough estimate of $1000 in startup costs ($500 for insurance, $500 for the cash cushion). If you don't have this much saved, you will want to put the business on hold until you do.
post #5 of 22
Pm me with a flavor you want and I'll share the recipe and the method.

I think you may have several things working against you... bad recipes, oven out of calibration, needing a few pointers on method.

I agree there is nothing wrong with baking from a box, but if your goal is scratch, I and I'm sure plenty more people will help.

Watch out for threads discussing scratch recipes, chime in, tell us your problems, and we will help.

Always looking for a scratch convert. Susan
post #6 of 22
Check out the chocolate mudcake recipe on CC by Pam - i use it all the time now - its so easy to make & delicious - i make it at the start of the week for delivery on the weekend. Very dense cake - i am no good with carving but she says its easy to carve. Good luck! icon_smile.gif
post #7 of 22
I too don't think using a cake mix is cheating. Most people are used to box mixes and grocery store cakes anyway. Has anyone else told you your scratch cakes taste funny? Usually we are too critical of ourselves and we need an outside opinion. Maybe you are too used to box mixes and grocery store cakes as well and don't know what to expect from a scratch cake. Obivously not something that tastes funny, but again we go back to has anyone else said it or are you just being too hard on yourself? It's a vicious cycle lol.

There is nothing wrong with using box mixes to get started. I use them all the time lol! I doctor them though so they are more dense and have no problem with stacking them or covering them in fondant. I don't have any luck with scratch recipes myself. There's only one that I've tried so far that is simply amazing! It's the apple-nut spice cake on Wilton's website. I highly recommend it!

I looked at your cakes and they are pretty good. Your Ninjago cake was awesome!! So don't let not having scratch recipes down pat stop you from doing what you love. Just practice them as you go along. It takes a lot of tweaking to get a recipe just right. Good luck!
post #8 of 22
Since you're just starting, start small and easy. One of the favorite, most versatile recipes on this site is the WASC - White Almond Sour Cream. And it starts with a mix. You can adjust the flavoring, stack it, carve it, whatever. A lot of bakers use that and nothing else. When I start with a mix, I use the generic store brand. I don't use mixes much anymore, so it doesn't pay me to buy them in bulk. Mixes are very forgiving, so you can start with a basic white or vanilla and change the flavor to whatever you want.

I understand the lack of funds. Ask friends and family for ingredients and equipment instead of birthday gifts. Go for gift certificates instead of Christmas or anniversary gifts. Don't be in a rush to accumulate all the latest baking stuff - - it takes time. And improvise - - repurpose the tools in your kitchen.

I hate to think you'll get discouraged and give up - - just relax and give yourself a little more time. And if using mixes is cheating - - hey, whatever makes it work. thumbs_up.gif
post #9 of 22
I don't think you should give up on decorating or aspiring to bake from scratch.

I have some tips for you in terms of baking generally that may help you though. Bare with me, this could be a long post!

Baking is a science, in order for your cake recipe to work there are a complex set of chemical reactions that need to take place. We as bakers don't need to know the minutae of it but we do need to know how to combine our ingredients and create the optimum conditions for the reactions to occur.

I'm English so here we use weights in either grams or ounces and we measure butter, sugar and flour rather than using the cup method.

Accurate measurements will give you a head start on getting a good bake. I would get yourself a set of digital scales and try a weighed recipe. This will give you absolute control on the correct balance of ingredients.

The second thing to ensure is that when you combine your butter and sugar, you cream the hell out of it. I use a Kitchen Aid but an electric hand whisk will work too. Just keep beating until the butter and sugar are lighter in texture and have increased in volume by at least a third.

At this stage sieve your flour into a bowl whilst on your scale. This will ensure you get the correct ratio of flour. As an example of an issue with the cup method, a cup of sieved flour is lighter in weight than a cup of packed flour so which is correct? again measuring the weight takes out the guess work. Sieve the flour and add your raising agent at this point to the flour.

The next stage of adding your eggs is an important one too. Break your eggs into a dish or jug first and beat them up a little. Ensure they are room temperature if possible as they should combine with the butter and sugar mix better. If you now dump the entire egg mixture into the butter and sugar the batter will probably split so do it a little at a time and beat well in between additions. I also tend to add a spoonful of my flour after each addition as this also helps to prevent the batter from splitting.

Once your eggs are combined with the butter and sugar you can now add your flavouring.

The next thing to do is to gently add in the flour. If you beat too much at this point you will stretch the gluten in the flour and this will make your cake tough. Just mix the flour in enough to combine, if it is well sieved this will not take long.

I should have said at the start of all of this, have your oven heated to the required temperature and your tin lined. I find that most cakes are better cooked at a slightly lower temperature than the recipe states but for a slightly longer time. This will ensure that the cake cooks in the middle but does not dry out on the edges. I'd recommend an oven thermometer too.

So as soon as your flour goes into the wet ingedients the raising agent starts to give off the gas that is going to help raise the cake. It is therefore important to get that batter in the tin and in the oven sharpish! Before you do it though, give the bottom of the tin of batter a few bangs on your work surface. This will force out any large air bubbles and improve the finished texture of the cake.

When the cake is in the oven, don't open the door for at least the first half of the bake. If you do have to open it, do it quickly so the temperature does not drop too much.

Towards the end of the bake you should check it frequently, a few minutes either way will not affect the finished cake but if you are making cupcakes these few minutes can be a significant percentage of the baking time.

Sorry that this is really long and I hope it doesn't sound too complicated? I think that scratch recipes generally work really well and it is usually the method that is the culprit of cake failures. All of the above tips are learns that come with practice but once you have baked a few successful cakes it really does come as second nature. In no time you will be able to take any recipe and make it work for you.

I hope you try this when you have the opportunity to do so and let me know how you get on.
post #10 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by Krista512



I CANT BAKE





I am a baker. Not formally trained, but I work in a cake/coffee shop making cakes for the shop and birthday/wedding cakes. I bake, a lot, and sometimes my cakes sink. Sometimes my cakes are terrible, and I have no idea why. I feel your pain. Baking takes practice, and even when you have had practice, flawless results are impossible to get every single time.

There is a blog i read a lot which has some great baking tips, http://sweetapolita.com/2010/11/50-tips-for-baking-better-cakes/

Otherwise, look around for beginners baking classes, and start from scratch learning the basics the official way.
Claire
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Claire
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post #11 of 22
There is a blog i read a lot which has some great baking tips, http://sweetapolita.com/2010/11/50-tips-for-baking-better-cakes/

Otherwise, look around for beginners baking classes, and start from scratch learning the basics the official way.[/quote]


Those are good tips on that link. All of these can make a difference in scratch baking. I've thrown out whole cakes before. I've learned to 1/2 a recipe to try it out. I also babysit my cake while its in the oven. I don't get into anything else until they are out. You may also want to check out Sharon Zambitos baking dvd. I don't have this one in particular but do have two of her other dvd's and she is really good.
post #12 of 22
I am an experienced baker and I have failures, especially when I'm experimenting.

I changed the chocolate by 10% in a recipe I have made many times and it sank. One of my vegan experiments could have been a spare tire (and it tasted like it too). I recently experimented with an angel food cake recipe and I had to make it 4 times. I still haven't perfected my stout gingerbread. It sinks every time, but the taste is gingerbread nirvana.

I have always felt that what makes a good scratch baker is the ability to keep going when things don't go right. It isn't fun to put in so much time and effort studying and planning... not to mention the cost... and have a cake fail. But I found that if you immediately do it again and again, researching what could have gone wrong, you will most likely fet a great recipe that you keep for life.

If you repeatedly have problems, you may want to get a book on the science of baking or one from a baker that explains everything step-by-step. Relying on the web for good recipes will be disappointing at times.

Part of a great recipe is method and having the proper tools. It's too much to write in a post, but my opinion is that anyone can bake given a good recipe, the proper tools, and a little knowledge of method. It's just like riding a bike. Once you have some success, you will find less and less failures and many successes. I actually have had items on my menu before I make them because after awhile, you will know the outcome.

So remember, we've all been there. we just didn't give up.
post #13 of 22
I also prefer to do completely scratch baking . But I think the WASC recipe is very good and people seem to like it . I dont sell I bake for family and friends .
Dont be so hard on yourself . If you have ample decorating skills use the doctored mixes to make cakes to sell. if they taste good your clients wont care . This will help you make money and in the mean time you can practice your scratch baking skills.icon_wink.gif
post #14 of 22
The forums at realbakingwithrose.com are a good place to get help with scratch baking questions.

If you're trying to learn to bake, don't just try out recipes, learn why they work the way they do. The Cake Bible has a lot of information about why each recipe works the way that it does, so it's a good starting point. They should have it at the library or you can get one used from amazon. If you know WHY certain ingredients do what they do you'll be able to figure out what went wrong if you do have a problem.
post #15 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by costumeczar

The forums at realbakingwithrose.com are a good place to get help with scratch baking questions.

If you're trying to learn to bake, don't just try out recipes, learn why they work the way they do. The Cake Bible has a lot of information about why each recipe works the way that it does, so it's a good starting point.



I agree and intend to purchase CB as soon as I can. I use RLB's recipes from youtube and her website. I have successfully adapted her downy yellow butter cake into strawberry, orange and lemon with essence and real fruit. She has some short videos on flour, measuring etc on youtube. Very helpful.
Life is short. If there was ever a moment to follow your passion and do something that matters to you, that moment is now. -quotebites.com

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Life is short. If there was ever a moment to follow your passion and do something that matters to you, that moment is now. -quotebites.com

http://m.facebook.com/Edible.Elegance.cakes.Zimbabwe
http://www.flickr.com/photos/73178569@N05/
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