Mega cringiness lies ahead in this post. I’m so serious. I was an angry ball of fuming wrath by the time I finished with this cake.
I think it has to do with my tendency toward minimalism when it comes to cake decorating, but I am trying to push myself out of my comfort zone here and I ventured into (purposefully) uncharted waters as far as my cake design education goes.
Allow me to explain. Do you have people in your life who inspire or motivate you? Who make you think to yourself “yes, maybe I can actually do this!”, or “wow, that person isn’t giving up and is putting in so much work to improve when they’re already doing so well! Why shouldn’t I?” I have several people in my life who come to mind when I think about that, but the one who has inspired me today is my Man Candy™.
There are some excellent lessons that I can learn from this guy. For instance, good is never good enough for him. As most of you know, he’s a fantastic marathoner and triathlete who frequently competes in marathons across the globe, as well as IRONman and half IRONman races - just for fun! #crazy
And although he’s been doing this for years, he still sought out help from a swimming coach to improve that portion of his triathlon. He’s been improving steadily, and even though he’s been going through some aches and pains that come with changing your swim stroke, he knows that it’s all for the best and will totally be worth it in the end.
And that’s where my baking practice comes in. I’ve been an aspiring cake artist for more than a decade now. A DECADE. I can’t even believe it!
And when I’m in a bakery with heavy duty equipment,
and my chef attitude on,
I’m unstoppable! I used to make wedding cakes and cupcake displays and had 13 different flavors of macarons available daily in my display case, not to mention eclairs, salted caramel brownies, and mini fruit tarts.
People loved all the flavors that I would make, they would always be so happy when they came into the bakery, and I always wanted to give them more, more, more! (I will eventually because it’s still my dream to own my own cake shop.)
But then I got out of the restaurant biz and started baking from home on the side.
In home ovens.
In home temperatures.
With my home attitude.
And producing the quality of designs that I used to is considerably harder from my home kitchen.
*sorry about the typo in this GIF.
Again, part of why I started this blog is to keep my skills sharp since I’m not baking full time anymore. But, after looking at my cake skills I kept thinking to myself, “Self...”
Actually what I thought to myself was, “Self, [still recognizing myself for the aforementioned reasons] we could be doing so much better than this. Why don’t we [me and myself] take some classes to work on some cool new skills so we’re happier about our own work?”
So that’s exactly what I did.
Which brings me to why I am so angry.
I tried a new thing. And it’s not that I’m angry because I didn’t do well (not to brag, but I compared my photos to the ones other people in the class posted, and I definitely understood the assignment), it’s just that I
H A T E
this style of cake decorating. It’s very 1980’s, when more was more. To me, it looks like this cake put on leg warmers on top of leggings with an extra large set of shoulder pads, plus big hair and blue eyeshadow.
The class instructor even said that this style of cake decorating is often referred to as “over piping” and I definitely agree. The official term is called Lambeth Piping, which originated in the 1930s and was typically done with all white royal icing.
I do believe that it started off with good intent, but then morphed into something else that I find excruciating. Multiple colors, large format detailing, and lack of planning have really seemed to plague this style, which is why my eye was twitching more and more every time the class instructor said, “and next we’ll add…” as we continued to decorate our cakes.
Finally, in the middle of instruction, I just stopped. I’m working on learning when to call it, and this was definitely the right time. There was already way too much decor on my cake in my opinion, so I put my piping bag down and just listened for the rest of the class. (It sounds more docile than it was. I was still fuming and really angry about what a waste of a cake this turned out to be, but later I decided to scrape all of the decorations off after I photographed it, and changed it into this cake instead. #WIN)
So my tip of the week is this: less is more. If you appreciate the Lambeth method, more power to you. Enjoy it. Have fun. Dazzle us with your work. But please, just rein it in a little so that the style can still be considered elegant, not garish and overwhelming.
One piece of this monstrosity that I was almost a little proud of was my pumpkin topper. It was cute and pumpkin shaped (not at all like the instructor told us to make. She wanted us to have extra tall pumpkins with white decor. I mean really, could you just not!? I’m surprised that she wasn’t wearing blue eye shadow and leg warmers at this point.). Again, I called it and went in my own direction and I am super glad that I did. I used the closest color I had to brown to make the stem and leaves and it came out really well.
All in all I’m glad I took this class because it made me stop to appreciate at least a few elements of this design style. I have signed up for a few more classes, too, one of which is a pumpkin cake decorating class and I am so excited about my opportunities to keep improving my skills.
Happy eating, y’all!
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