My Worst Cake Yet, and What I’ve Learned

In the words of Hannah Montana, “Everybody makes mistakes. Everybody has those days. Everybody knows what I’m talking about. Everybody gets that way.”

I guess I’m having one of those days. It’s harder to squeeze cake-making into my school/work schedule than I thought it would be. I felt rushed and unprepared today. I had about two hours yesterday and two hours today to work on the cake for my co-worker, Ridgely, who is moving on to a better job. He’s been with us for years, and it’s sad to have him go, and that makes this cake feel even more disappointing to me.

It felt like everything was going all wrong! I wanted to make this gorgeous naked cake full of berries and whipped cream. This proved impossible. My first realization was that whipped cream frosting does not last long. I had a container of leftover whipped cream frosting from my last strawberry shortcake, but it was not usable, so I purchased a new container of heavy whipping cream to make more. Instead of getting a pint, I got half a pint, because I normally have leftovers. Not this time… When I got to the last layers of the cake, there was only a scant amount left.

My blackberries, which I purchased just yesterday, had gotten moldy. I believe this to be a result of leaving the container of berries in the bag, which allowed for condensation. Moisture causes berries to go bad, so always keep berries in anti-moisture storage.

Another mistake I made was slicing the cakes into layers. They ended up being extremely thin, and one of them fell apart. I laid it on the previous layer, putting it back together like a puzzle.

I’ve found that trying to write on an un-frosted cake is barely doable.  The frosting would not stick to the cake. I struggled to get the words piped, and after writing “We’ll Miss” on it, I realized what an awful job I’d done. It was off-centered, so I scraped it off, which left black marks on the cake. The clock was ticking and I rushed to get the words on the cake. I finally finished piping out the words “We’ll Miss You Ridgely”, but it was still totally off-centered.  Shaking my head, I thought “good enough”.  I accepted it and decided it was complete, for if I were to scrape it off and try again, the whole face of the cake would be a blackened smudgy mess. It would just have to do.

But the problems didn’t end there. I did not have a box in which to transport it. Earlier, I had thought to myself “should I stop at the party store to get a cake box?”, but instead I decided I would use my plastic cake container. What I didn’t realize is that it is not very tall. The cake height exceeded the containers height.

The whole cake, to me, looks terribly sloppy. It’s not the worst cake ever made, it just doesn’t meet my standards. You’ve probably heard the saying “you’re your own worst critic”. This is true. Never has there been a more accurate statement for me.

It may not look as neat as my other cakes, but it will not be lacking in taste, that’s for sure. I will explain what went wrong to my coworkers, and I’m sure they will still say it looks great. They love all the cakes I make.

Overall, there is a lot to be learned from a fiasco like this one. Here is a list of every lesson that can be gleaned from this. May no one ever make the same mistakes.

  1. Always buy more ingredients than you think you’ll need.
  2. If using fruit, it’s best to buy it the day you are making the cake.
  3. Trust your instincts. If you think “maybe I should get a…” do it. If you think “maybe it’s not a good idea to…”, don’t do it.
  4. Never make assumption about things you have in your kitchen. That’s how you end up running out of something.
  5. Plan ahead so you don’t end up rushing.
  6. Always have extras of everything. In my case I didn’t have any cake boxes.
  7. Store berries in moisture-free conditions.
  8. Homemade whipped cream frosting has a short storage life. Use within a week of making it.

 

That’s all I have for now, but if more words of advice come to me, I will add them in.

 

 

 

 

*****The next day*****

In hindsight, it really wasn’t so bad. Just as I had expected, my coworkers adored it, and it tasted great. The whole thing was gone by the end of the day. I made a mountain out of a molehill, which I tend to do. I’m learning that in most cases, things are never as bad as they appear to be. Overall, yesterday wasn’t a great day, and not just because of the cake. At least it was an opportunity for growth. This is my new outlook on life, on mistakes and failures. Next time I have to make a cake I will remember all that I have learned from yesterdays cake.

The Story of Liv With Cake

Baking was one of my many interests growing up. In middle school, after making cookies in a home ec class, I began making them everyday, and would bring them to school with me. I almost always had a little brown baggy of cookies. Some people were only my friend because of this…

That was sort of a phase, but I never stopped enjoying baking. In fact, a friend of mine wanted to start a cake business with called Sassy Cakes. It was in the works, but then she decided to join the navy.

This same friend knew I was good at baking. When she got engaged to a man she met in the navy she asked me to make the cake. I had never made a wedding cake before, but I gladly accepted. It seemed like a fun challenge.

She told me she wanted a naked cake, which I’d never heard of before. I must have made about ten practice cakes. I would bring them into work, which my coworkers absolutely loved. They would tell me to keep practicing. 20170525_133055

The day of the wedding was stressful for me and the bride. She was having wedding anxiety and I was just stressed because I had to assemble the cake with limited time. I had twelve layers of cake to stack and then lightly frost (since it was a naked cake) and cover with berries and flowers. Oh, and I forgot to mention I was also the maid of honor. So I had some other duties as well.

I didn’t finish the cake until about half an hour until the ceremony was to start. I ran upstairs to change and have my makeup applied. The wedding went beautifully, and the cake was a hit!

cake

The day came and went, and the following one was sad for me, because it was all over. I’d spent months learning how to make a wedding cake, and once it ended I didn’t know what to do with myself anymore.

Life went back to normal. I went to school, and worked as usual. One day at work my old supervisor came to visit us. She was engaged, so we talked about the wedding.  I mentioned I’d made my friends wedding cake, so if she didn’t have anyone yet, I’d be happy to do it. Turned out, she had no cake maker yet, and was going to attempt to do it herself. She was overjoyed that I could do it for a fraction of the price of a professional. I was overjoyed that I would get to make another giant fancy cake, and get paid this time!

She urged me to make up business cards to place next to the cake at the wedding. I didn’t have any plans at the time to start a business, but it seemed like a good idea. I would just have to think of a clever name first.  It took some thinking, but finally one day the perfect name came to me: Liv With Cake. I do love puns, after all.

I made my practice cakes, and got my business cards, as pretty much everyone suggested. The day of the wedding was an adventure, as I had to deliver the cake about 45 minutes away. I was also a guest at the wedding. On the way to the wedding I got lost, and arrived just as the ceremony was to begin. It was a rush just like the last wedding. Another beautiful wedding, and another cake that was a success! I thought I was getting pretty good at the whole cake thing. caake

Everyone at work, having tasted all the practice cakes, was telling me to start a business, or open a bakery. I brought in my business cards and distributed them. That day, my boss informed me that they were going to buy a cake from me every month to celebrate employee birthdays. It was exhilarating to know I already had a steady cake gig.

From there I made many beautiful cakes, and had requests from others, mainly friends and coworkers. Still, it was a start. Right now it’s commission work, but I am considering going to culinary school, and starting a legitimate business.  I hope to one day make many more wedding cakes!

 

 

Tell me what you think 🙂

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