I have officially started work on my next major cake decorating project. My parents celebrate forty years of marriage in around two weeks, and I offered a while back to make them a cake for their anniversary. They aren’t big anniversary celebrators, but even though they aren’t having a party or doing anything special, I offered to make them a cake anyway because I knew I’d be finished my beginner course by then and it would give me some extra practice. After all, it’s far more rewarding to decorate a real cake for a real occasion than to practise on a dummy then scrape it all into the garbage.
All I’ve done so far is make up a new batch of flower paste. The paste we made in class was basically made from royal icing mix with a bit of cellogen and copha added, but today I used the recipe from my cake decorating book. This recipe used icing sugar, egg white, copha, gelatine and glucose. It’s supposed to have gum tragacanth in it, but we were told in class that cellogen is a cheaper substitute, so I hope it works! The mixture was incredibly dry at first, but I was determined to see if it could be kneaded together before I added any more liquid. I couldn’t believe it… with enough time and elbow grease, the bowl of crumbly white stuff actually came together into a stiff but pliable dough.
I also decided tonight that I had better start keeping proper records of how much things are costing me to make, and how long they are taking me to do. I’m hoping to turn my cake decorating into a hobby-scale home business, so I want to get myself into the habit of costing jobs as I go, even if I’m not being paid to do them. Tonight I made a dozen rose centres from the pink paste that I have left over from my class cake as the first stage of determining my costs. I know, it’s going to be slow and painstaking, but hey, how else are you supposed to figure out what to charge and how much money you’re making!
- Kylie Skellams
- Newcastle, NSW, Australia
- I’m a former industrial chemist, and after deciding on a career change while at home with my two young children, I’m now a qualified pastry chef. In 2009 I started taking some classes in cake decorating and other pastry-related cookery, and taught myself many more decorating techniques from books and internet resources. In 2010 I started a pastry apprenticeship, studying Retail Baking (Cake & Pastry) Certificate III at TAFE, which I completed with Distinction in 2012. I completed my apprenticeship in December 2013, and am now working as a full time Pastry chef and Cake Decorator at 'Exquisite Cakes by Lennert' in Cessnock, NSW.