Saturday, 6 December 2008

Torn..............

Last Thursday afternoon I had a request like no other I had had before. A very stressed put Bride to Be was on the other end of the phone asking for my help to "Fix" a cake that her Aunt had made for her wedding (on the Saturday coming- yes in 2 days time!!)
I was going great with my pre booked cakes- and I was eager to help a girl in need. I asked her to firstly send me some pictures- so I could see if in fact there was anything I could do to help- she did- and although the cake looked not too bad she came over , and bought the cake for me to have a look at.
Now remembering that this cake was made by a hobbyist and not a professional cake decorator- the finish wasn't actually that bad. I really felt for the Aunt who had put all of her love and hard work into this cake - for it then not to meet her niece's expectations.
My emotions were torn between helping a stressed out Bride and The poor Aunt- who would be turning up to the wedding on Saturday- to see a slightly different version of the cake she had delivered only days before to her Niece's home. I expressed my concerns for the Aunt to both the Bride and her mother- reiterating that not only was the cake a fair job for a hobbyist- but also conveying how the Aunt may feel when she turns up to the wedding to see that her cake was "fixed" as it was not good enough. Personally for me- the love and heartfelt enthusiasm put into the cake is worth more than its picture perfect image- but that is just me. In the end it is only a cake- and a relationship with a family member should greatly outweigh a small ceremonial detail. There would have still been a cake- which you could proudly tell everyone that "My Aunt made this" even though it had its flaws- it was still your wedding cake.
With that said- the Bride was still keen to have the cake repaired by me. In the Aunts defence- she would have struggled with the black icing ( it was a brand which I find notoriously dry and difficult to use- and I do this for a living!) and the design itself was not as "simple" as it may have looked too.
Simple designs require skill and refinement to execute a smart finish. Just because it looks like it is easy doesn't mean that it necessarily is.
As the cake was a black and white design- I was limited as to what I could actually do to "neaten" it up.

The cake when I received it on Thursday afternoon- the ribbons were loose and the icing marked- but overall a great homemade effort.


I removed the base piping- the stripes on the mid tier- the piped dots- and all of the ribbons. Then I set out with my cotton bud and Vodka to try and remove some of the black from the icing so that I could reapply it.
Where there was piping around the base I put a 15mm Gross grain ribbon. I then reattached the 2mm ribbons using sugar glue to hold them in place ( a trick of the trade that ensures they stay where you want them too- without having blobs of icing under the bands).
I reapplied thinner ( but the same width) vertical black icing bands to the mid tier.
I re piped the Tri dot detail- having to make the dots the same size as the past ones- due to the icing being stained by the black. Then to complete the cake I made a sugar bow to top it off.
It was definitely neater- but it lost allot of family love.

So where did the design go wrong? Firstly the tin sizes were too close together- but the depth of the cakes was fabulous. Inexperience meant little tricks- like how to apply thin ribbons- meant an obvious battle to get them to stay on and taught. Piping fine dots is a skill- and the royal icing the was used was a little too stiff- which left the "dots" elongated instead of round. The stripes would have been an nightmare- as the brand of icing makes it impossible to roll it paper thin- it also makes easily and looses it shape when handled. Having used another brand- and cutting the bands less thick would have improved the design also.
As a whole the design was not an easy one to attempt- but none the less a fine attempt was made.

The end result- complete with sugar bow.


I hope that the Bride was happy with her end result- and that the Aunt can walk away feeling proud of the job she did- because in my opinion- It really wasn't that bad.

9 comments:

Rachel said...

Thanks for posting on how you improved the cake. You are right, it was a great cake for a hobbyist. I am trying to learn how to take my cakes to the next level and that is why I read blogs like yours, it helps so much!

Anonymous said...

That was a terrific fix, and you were so kind and obliging to help the bride, I'm sure the bride was very very appreciative! I really enjoyed that post.

Every professional cake decorator can think of this cake (in its original state) every time they lose an order and are told "my aunt/family friend [insert relative] will be making the cake". Simple designs are probably the hardest to execute well because every little flaw will be visible.

Anonymous said...

Keeping in mind that I am looking at it with untrained eyes, I honestly don't think there was anything at all wrong with the first one. The bow did add something, and I suppose some of the little details would stand out to a baker, but I don't think it really needed to be "fixed." I understand the bride wanting to have everything perfect (I'm one of those girls who's been planning her wedding since she was 5, lol), but I think the cake was fine. In fact, if I had seen it at a wedding, I would have thought it was a nice-looking, professional cake, without a second thought.

Kind of you to help her, though. I can definitely see how that would have been a tough spot to be in on your part.

Sarah-Jane said...

Anonymous wrote:
"Keeping in mind that I am looking at it with untrained eyes, I honestly don't think there was anything at all wrong with the first one. The bow did add something, and I suppose some of the little details would stand out to a baker, but I don't think it really needed to be "fixed." I understand the bride wanting to have everything perfect (I'm one of those girls who's been planning her wedding since she was 5, lol), but I think the cake was fine. In fact, if I had seen it at a wedding, I would have thought it was a nice-looking, professional cake, without a second thought."

This is Exactly what I told the bride- her guests would not have noticed the flaws she saw- but would remember the fabulous cake her Aunt made.
This is the purpose of the post.

Rachel said...

I meant to ask earlier, what is sugar glue? Can I make it or would I buy it? Thanks!

Anonymous said...

Hi I love reading your blog and i have to try and make a checker board cake and you said one brand of black icing is better than the others. Would you be kind enough to tell me so it might make my job a little bit easier. LOL!!!!!!!!!

Sarah-Jane said...

Rachel- Sugar glue is made from Gum Trag and water.

Anonymous- where are you located??
I prefer to make my own black rather than using the premade colour.

Anonymous said...

The best trick in keeping ribbons taunt and perfectly in place is to wet the ribbon, run them through a clean towel to remove excess water and then place them around the cake. You can measure and pin to ensure perfect placement.

Sarah-Jane said...

The wet method works well with ribbons so long as you don't mind the fact that they stay darker than their original colour.