Creating Your Own Styles

September 1, 2015

My personal take on creating your own styles and attending classes-

When people ask me how I started doing Lambeth style cake decorating, it was not for the money, obviously too time consuming. It was because, I had an instructor sharing the old styles and her passion of keeping a method of cake decorating alive as well.

As with all styles of cake decorating, artist see something in architecture or read a book and decided to do their own version or style. Every artist gets inspiration from the objects and scenery around them. Each instructor who has a true passion and heart for teaching shares their own techniques to make it easier for students to understand how to use the designs to benefit their own businesses or as a hobbyist.

I find my own inspiration, with being a romantic at heart and loving Victorian styles; which stems from my ancestors / great grandparents from Europe. This gave me my own personal challenge; learning and practicing precision, dimensional work and adding my own modernized, romantic flair of my own style. This is not coping or trying to be someone else, this is true inspiration love of true art and being able to replicate it from sugar.

As a teacher, I’m able to share my passion of what I felt was a dying art in 2006, no one was using decorating tips, they were using rolled fondant, molded items and cutouts. I was asked by a longtime friend to bring back Lambeth and start teaching it again, which I had never stopped; I continued to use the styles in my bakery and teaching at the local schools and my shop since attending my first classes in 1980.

In September 2006 I started my website focusing on teaching the Lambeth style of cake decorating. I decided I would bring back the true art, cake decorating tips, the true beginning of cake decorating. This would be easy for me, since cake decorating is my passion. I decided to add a textured Victorian bow to a Lambeth style wedding cake, adding my own romantic flair, ideas from my heart. I truly love how to explain and showing how to properly hold and angle the decorating tips to achieve a clean design.

I truly admire my instructors showing and discussing their experience and passion for the art, while I attended a hands on, personal class. Learning from an instructor in person, was key for me and has helped me to become the instructor I am today. I will and always give credit, where credit is due. I do not teach something that I have not worked with or done before; I have learned many mediums and techniques since attending my very first classes from my instructors in 1980-1984 and continued to learn and perfect my skills while working in bakeries, owning my own and teaching.

My word of advice when creating your own designs and choosing classes to attend; choose an instructor with a true passion for the art and learn as much as you can from them, while they are teaching. I wish some of my instructors had a book or DVD as a reference.

When people ask me about video classes online, I recommend learning from hands on, passionate artist/teachers. Use video classes for extra tips and techniques, but not as your only source of learning. When I recommend my personal DVDs, it is for a reference, after attending one of my hands on classes. Video classes are great, but in no means something you should learn from and then decide to teach. Learn from several instructors in person. Take pride in yourself and learn the true trade from real people, in person and then create your own style and flair.

In closing, my wish for my students is; my experience and passion for sugar art help other artist and potential students to be passionate about creating their own styles, rather than just coping to be popular; add you o wn flair and passion to your artworks.

By Kathleen Lange

Int’l Instructor/ Master Cake Design Artist

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Thermometer Calibration

The following information shared,  is general information from the Food Safety Manuals.  It is very important to calibrate your thermometers, before making cooked type candies. Different altitudes and cooking temperature will effect your final product in candy making; the candies will be either under cooked or as an example; caramel will become either grainy or too chewy.

The simplest and cheapest way to calibrate a thermometer is through either the use of ice water or boiling water. Distilled water should always be used as dissolved solutes in tap water can significantly affect both freezing and melting points. Another important consideration is the altitude (Table 1) at which calibration is being performed. At sea level, pure water boils at 212° F but at 10,000 feet above sea level it boils at only 194° F. Barometric pressure also has an effect on boiling point but the effect is much less than that of altitude.

You may visit WorldAtlas.com to determine the altitude of your city.

Thermometers intended for measuring higher temperature items, such as cooked product, should be calibrated in boiling water while those used for taking lower temperatures should be calibrated in ice water. When calibrating in ice water both the water and ice should be composed of distilled water. In either case care should be taken to prevent the thermometer from contacting the container being used as this could result in erroneous temperature readings.

Calibration in Ice Water

    1. Add crushed ice and distilled water to a clean container to form a watery slush.
    2. Place thermometer probe into slush for at least one minute taking care to not let the probe contact the container.
    3. If the thermometer does not read between 30° and 34° F adjust to 32° F. Non-adjustable thermometers should be removed from use until they have been professionally serviced.

Calibration in Boiling Water

    1. Bring a clean container of distilled water to a rolling boil.
    2. Place thermometer probe into boiling water for at least one minute taking care not to let the probe contact the container.
    3. If the thermometer does not read between 210° and 214° F adjust to 212° F. Non-adjustable thermometers should be removed from use until they have been professionally serviced.

Thermometers that are found to be inaccurate (i.e. do not measure within +/- 2°F of the actual temperature) should either be manually adjusted or serviced by a professional. Thermometers that have a history of deviating from actual temperature measurements should be discarded and replaced. To assure accuracy, NIST certified thermometers must be re-certified annually.

Thermometers that cannot be easily calibrated through direct immersion in boiling or ice water can be calibrated by comparing readings with another calibrated thermometer. Thermometers that may be calibrated in this way include smokehouse probes and room temperature thermometers. When doing this it is important that the thermometer used for the comparison has been calibrated recently. All thermometers should be calibrated regularly with those used for monitoring CCP’s being calibrated either daily or weekly, depending on the volume of your operations. Any thermometer that has been subjected to abuse, such as being dropped on the floor, should be immediately recalibrate to assure accuracy. Hard to calibrate thermometers could be compared directly with NIST reference thermometers but this may be undesirable as many of these reference thermometers are glass and mercury and could present chemical and physical hazards in food production areas.

Table 1 – Relationship of Altitude to Boiling Point of Pure Water

Feet Above Sea Level
Boiling Point
Feet Above Sea Level
Boiling Point
0
212° F
4,500
203° F
500
211° F
5,000
203° F
1,000
210° F
6,000
201° F
1,500
209° F
7,000
199° F
2,000
208° F
8,000
197° F
2,500
207° F
10,000
194° F
3,000
206° F
12,000
190° F
3,500
205° F
14,000
187° F
4,000
204° F

GUIDELINES FOR CAKE SHOW JUDGING

The following information and  judging guidelines have been compiled by several resources and my personal  cake decorating instructors – Hall of Fame Decorators with ICES.  Great information and great guidelines for an cake competion and show.  In my opinion, the shows need to follow a general guidelines across the board; US and Internationally for the Judges and hold special  trainings.  I myself have only had one show in the US make sure, we as Judges were all trained and knew how to judge the categories we were judging and specific guidelines on what to look for and follow.  

SOME POINTS SUGAR ART JUDGES LOOK FOR

1. Neatness, on the cake board, cake covering, in the piping, and/or hand work in molding is important.

2. The cake board should be in proportion usually 3 inches larger than the cake (i.e. an 8 inch cake should have an 11 inch board). The shape of the cake board should correspond to the cake. The board should be covered with greaseproof paper, preferably embossed food safe foil. Board and foil should complement the cake. Silver, glass or plastic trays may be used. Thickness of the base should be in keeping with the weight of the cake. Boards may also be covered with fondant for fondant covered cakes.

3. The cake should be level on top with good straight sides. It should also be a good logical size. A tiered cake should be in proportion graduating sizes as you go up (i.e. 16,12, 8)

4. The cake covering should be smooth and as flawless as possible, no cake or dummy showing through. Avoid crumbs in icing.

5. Precision in dividing your cake accurately is a must. Preliminary markings should never show.

6. All piping tip work should be uniform and free of air bubbles. Stars should be equal and uniform in size and have no points on the star centers. All flowers should show definite petals.

7. Hand work should be smooth and free of small drying cracks. The petals should be thin and delicate.

8. Color should be appetizing. Colors should be soft and delicate, the exception being some holiday cakes, children’s cakes, etc. Color in icing the cake should remain the same throughout, unless marbling or gradual fading is the design.

9. Originality ideas copied exactly from books will lose points over original ideas. Build on an idea seen in books. Change it and add your own ideas. Some shows prohibit copyright work from other media.

10. Choose a well-balanced design. Larger borders on bottom should graduate up to smaller borders on top. Floral display on top should not overpower the whole cake.

11. Avoid over decorating. Extend yourself to the fullest, but do not go beyond what you have mastered. Do not use every technique you learned on one cake. It is better to do a technique well than to over extend yourself to do it badly.

12. Has contestant kept to the assigned theme in his/her division? If category calls for ‘Song Title’, by all means make sure design depicts a song that is recognizable.

13. Keep true to form in the foreign techniques as we know them from books and classes, unless the rules specify mixing of techniques.

 

JUDGE’S QUALIFICATIONS

1. A judge should have a good background in all cake decorating techniques and related fields.

2. A judge should have good understanding of the division they are judging. Read show rules and regulations carefully as show rules vary. Request clarification of rules, to make sure judges are judging by what entrants were told.

3. A judge should have taken classes in all areas of cake decorating including foreign techniques plus they should constantly read and study books by the professionals in every technique.

4. A judge should have taken at least 1 professional class each year and as many classes and demonstrations as possible.

5. A judge should have been a contestant in cake shows in order to have a clear understanding of what it feels like to be judged. It is helpful to have directed a cake show or been involved in the workings of a cake show.

6. A judge should be able to put himself/herself in the shoes of the contestant in all the different divisions.

7. A judge should be intelligent, honest, tactful, and reliable with a good conscience and strong character to be able to disqualify themselves from any unfamiliar technique.

8. He/she should have done it all; struggled and achieved from basics to professionals and is still out there doing and learning and never stopping. He/she should constantly keep abreast of current trends and new techniques.

JUDGE’S ETIQUETTE

1. Be punctual, courteous, friendly, open minded and unbiased.

2. Be prepared. Read the rules and regulations thoroughly so as to have a clear understanding of the divisions, categories, and the theme assigned to each.

3. Introduce yourself to the show personnel. If something about the show is not to your

liking, do not make a fuss. Give constructive suggestions after the show, if asked.

4. Be extremely careful of your remarks so as not to hurt or discourage a contestant, during as well as after judging. Be careful of hand gestures as well as facial expressions.

Some contestants have been turned away from decorating because a judge loudly criticized a cake, not knowing that the contestant was close by.

5. Show professional courtesy to the judges you are judging with. Do not dominate the judging; the other judges have opinions too. Listen, evaluate then come to a mutual agreement.

6. Dress neatly. Do not have jewelry such as long necklaces or bracelets dangling. Be careful not to damage a contestant’s cake. Do not touch or handle a contestant’s entry. Look at accompanying sheet if in doubt of method or material.

7. Do not enter a cake into the show you are judging, rather bring your work to display if requested.

8. Disqualify yourself immediately from a category if you recognize someone’s cake. Also disqualify yourself if you are unfamiliar with a certain technique.

9. Make constructive comments on the score sheets. Always remember to encourage not discourage contestants. Do not write o harsh remarks. Critical comments should not be necessary on a 1st prize cake and especially Master divisions.

10. Thank the director and show personnel for inviting you to judge

their show. Compliment them on having a nice show; they need encouragement too. A short note after the show is greatly appreciated.

11. If you have to cancel judging a show, contact the director immediately and suggest a replacement.

12. Respond yes or no to judging a show in the time requested. If yes, and you disagree with the fee, discuss it with the director. Perhaps you can come to a mutual agreement.

13. Do not repeat another judge’s opinion. What was discussed while judging should not be disclosed.

14. Not judging the same show year after year is a suggestion so that the judge does not become too familiar with work of the contestants. Good rule of thumb: judge every other year.

15. Do not judge with a close friend unless you can be objective

And express your opinion and listen to his/her opinion too.

16. Do not make any changes in the judging after all score sheets have been turned in, unless all judges confer and agree.

17. Attend the awards ceremony, if at all possible.

18. As a cake show judge, you should make yourself available after the awards ceremony to answer contestant’s questions. A judge should have a reason for everything that is judged both good and bad.

19. A judge should not criticize or discuss another contestant’s cake in a derogatory manner to other contestants or to observers. You could be wrong, plus your comments could conflict with other judges’ remarks made on the comment sheet.

Judging Guidelines and Definition of English Styles of Cake Decorating

The following information I compiled from different cake shows I have judged and added a few of my own personal preferences and guidelines,  as a Master Cake Design Artist and Instructor in Royal Icing and Foreign Techniques divisions.  I will be updating and adding more information periodically.  Again, this is my personal opinion added along with a few other show guidelines.  These are not general show rules set for the US.  Each individual show will have their own rules and regulations;  make sure you are well informed and read the individual rules carefully and thoroughly before entering any show or competition.  When in doubt, ask the show directors any questions you may have in regards to the individual competition or show.  

Definition of English Styles- (Guideline)

English Method- similar to Nirvana, but modified. These cakes usually have a collar and display that are equal in size. Sides are decorated with simple piping. They may or may not have side panels. Usually the top is a run sugar 3D scene.

Lambeth Method- usually has a bottom bevel/cone shape approx. 1 ½” – 2” high tapered 4” larger than cake. It is an English method, very ornate with fine overpiping and ornate gumpaste work. Covering is marzipan coated with royal icing or rolled fondant. The base of all borders should be precision and accurate: usually a # 16 or # 14 zigzag overpiped with a # 16 or 14 straight line, followed straight lines of # 5, # 4, # 3, # 2 and # 1, one on top of the other; at least 5 layers present somewhere on the cake.The overpiping should be accurate and uniform. Soft pastel colors are preferred with monotone decorating. A stucco finish may be used when icing is in color.

Flowers are used in abundance, are piped in royal or can be in marzipan. Petals should be well formed. Pastillage and gumpaste articles should be finely constructed. Lattice cushion work is delicate and neat. There is always more overpiping on a Lambeth cake than any other style.

Nirvana Method - named after an English cake decorator whose pen name was “Nirvana”. The cake is totally encased in run sugar (color flow, flood work) and is usually geometric in design. The flood pieces consist of splays, collars, side panels and risers. Collars and splays differ in size from one another by ¼ inch. It is built in a ‘pyramid’ fashion being larger on the bottom and graduating to a smaller top.
Nirvana means perfection, the ultimate. Run sugar pieces should fit accurately and should not have wide spaces or heavy borders to cover up where pieces do not fit.

South African – Combination of English and Australian Methods – Coverings range from buttercream, royal, marzipan and fondant. Within the South African method are two distinct styles: beautifully ornate and elaborate filigree work frequently with large wings, lace pieces and architectural work done with very fine piping tips. There are also the English overpiped scrolls called ‘hollow line work’.

Gumpaste flower molding has become extremely popular and has in some instances replaced the filigree work. The South African excels in molded flowers, sprays and bouquets, delicately, realistically and perfectly executed. Novelty cakes are covered on buttercream or fondant. Architectural work is also done in pastillage.

 

Contest & Judging Rules (Compiled from different shows and my individual recommendations)

  • Neatness, on the cake board, cake covering, in the piping, and/or hand work in molding is very important.
  • The cake board should be in proportion usually, 3 -4 inches larger than the cake (8 inch cake should have an 11-12 inch board). The shape of the cake board should correspond to the cake. The board should be covered with fondant or other techniques to flow with the design of the cake Silver, glass, mirrors, plastic trays may be used. Thickness of the base should be in keeping with the weight of the cake. Boards may also be covered with fondant for fondant covered cakes. This of the board should be considered as part of your design.
  • The cake should be level on top with good straight sides. It should also be a good logical size. A tiered cake should be in proportion graduating sizes or proportion to the design you are achieving.
  • The cake covering should be smooth and as flawless as possible, no cake or dummy showing through.
  • Precision in dividing your cake accurately is a must. Preliminary markings should never show.
  • All piping tip work should be uniform and free of air bubbles. Stars should be equal and uniform in size and have no points on the star centers. All flowers should show definite petals.
  • Hand work should be smooth and free of small drying cracks. The petals should be thin and delicate.
  • Color should be appetizing with the exception being some holiday cakes, children’ss cakes, etc.
  • Color in icing the cake should remain the same throughout, unless marbling or gradual fading is in the design.  New techniques welcome.
  • Originality ideas copied exactly from books will lose points over original ideas. Build on an idea seen in books. Change it and add your own ideas. No copyright work allowed.
  • Choose a well-balanced design. Larger borders on bottom should graduate up to smaller borders on top. Floral display on top should not overpower the whole cake, unless used well and compliments the design you want to achieve.
  • Extend yourself to the fullest, but do not go beyond what you have mastered. Do not use every technique you learned on one cake. It is better to do a technique well than to overextend yourself to do it badly.
  • Has contestant kept to the assigned theme in his/her division? If category calls for ‘Song Title’, by all means make sure design depicts a song that is recognizable.
  • Keep true to form in the foreign techniques as we know them from books and classes, unless the rules specify mixing of techniques.
  • All cakes must be made specifically for the show you are entering and not used or entered in any other previous shows.
  • The entry must be the work of only the person listed on the Registration Form and not be shown prior to contest on social media.
  • All cake entries maybe Styrofoam cake dummies; if dummy is used, it must be a design that could be duplicated with real cake. Entries in the Sculpted Cake style must be made with made with 75% real cake. .All Designs should be able to be replicated in real cake.   Pictures of construction should be included if doing a sculpture with work in progress pictures required.
  • Detail description of design, mediums and techniques used in in completing your design is highly recommended.  Judges love descriptions of the process and take all techniques very seriously.  Judges love to hear about new techniques developed and used on contestant entries.
  • Judges will be qualified and highly regarded in the field of Cake Decorating and piping techniques.
  • All entries must be completely edible except for items such as columns, cake toppers, supports, wires and stamens. Ribbons, tulle, etc. may be used to carry out a design. Don’t use non-edible items in place of sugar mediums; for example, plastic pearls instead of fondant pearls. Cold Porcelain is not allowed. “Edible Images” are allowed and will be judged in context with the entire entry. Use of other substances may cause the entry to be disqualified.
  • Each entry must have your name, address, phone number, division and style on the underside of the display board. No personal or business identifying marks, advertisements, special backdrops, photos (other than for the sculpted cake category), etc, will be allowed to be displayed along with the entry.
  • Entries should fit in a 30” x 30” space. Contact us for approval if your entry is larger. Electricity is not available.
  • Table dressing such as decorative fabrics or mirrors are allowed, but not required. To conserve room for all entries, table dressings should not extend more than 8″ beyond the base of the entry and should not exceed the 30″ space allocated. Entries may be put under Plexiglas or other such cover, but judges must be able to view the entries without interference. The covering must be able to be easily removed.

Divisional Judging

Most Divisional entries will be judged on the following criteria:

  • Precision of techniques used
  • Originality
  • Creativity
  • Skill
  • Color
  • Design
  • Difficulty
  • Number of techniques used
  • Overall eye appeal

The judges and Show Committee shall enforce policy and procedures. Any entry deemed in poor taste will be disqualified and removed. Judges and/or Show Committee have the right to re classify an entry if necessary.

Lambeth Judging Notes – By Betty Newman-May – February 1985

I thought I would share the following information I found recently, in regards to Judging Lambeth Method Cakes.  This was great information shared by Betty Newman-May.  They are written the same way she had written the info.  A piece of Royal Icing history:)            

The Following information was written by Betty Newman-May, Kathleen Lange’s Instructor 1980-1984 – Kathleen completed 150 hours in the Lambeth Method  Master Course with Betty who also taught internationally.   Kathleen as you can imagine was very honored to live in the same area and be able to study with Betty Newman-May.

FYI – 1995, 11 years after attending the classes with Betty Newman- May, Betty contacted Kathleen to have her make and decorate her doctor’s retirement cake; due to Betty’s blindness and illnesses.  Betty asked Kathleen, if she would make her special applesauce cake recipes and decorate her design for the doctors retirement cake? After completing and delivering the cake,  Kathleen asked Betty Newman-May permission, if she could teach the Lambeth Method Master Courses?  Betty was very excited and told Kathleen she could not have chosen anyone more skilled to teach and carry on the Lambeth Method.  As you can imagine Kathleen is very honored to carry on Betty’s legacy and by adding her own styles as well keeping Betty’s memory and skills alive!

An ironic note to this story, when Kathleen mentioned to Betty she would be opening her own store in El Cajon, CA; Betty asked the address, come to find out Betty’s very first cake and candy supply store, All About Cakes  was located in very same shop address Kathleen rented,  opening her cake and candy supply store..  How amazing to have to two artist who loved sugar art to open over 20 years apart in the same type shop and specializing both in Lambeth English overpiping.  Everything happens for a reason; you just never know:)  Shared by – Kathleen Lange – July 2014

Lambeth Wedding Cake - By Kathleen Lange, 1984 This cake was completed by Kathleen for her final project, after attending Betty Newman-May's Master Lambeth Method Class - All About Cakes, Lakeside, CA

Lambeth Wedding Cake – By Kathleen Lange, 1984 This cake was completed by Kathleen for her final project, after attending Betty Newman-May’s Master Lambeth Method Class – All About Cakes, Lakeside, CA

February 1985

Lambeth Judging Notes

By- Betty Newman-May – All About Cakes, Lakeside, CA -  ICES Hall of Fame Decorator- Deceased 1996

First let me know that for many years as I can remember, the Lambeth Method has been considered, by most decorators, as the “ultimate” in cake decorating; beautiful design, exquisite workmanship and color delicate where fitting.  The technique in the beautiful Lambeth book reach from the simple basic of lovely decorating to the heights of majestic regality and beyond; secondly, I do not consider myself and authority on Lambeth or any other method of decorating.  I am just one who loves our–sugar and ALL OF IT—and have been fortunate enough to have a bit of talent along with that love—and many people asking me to share both, for nearly 38 years (since 1947).

Therefore, the following are my personal interpertations on the how Lambeth could be judged.

  1. Design- the design does not always have to have a particular theme, but it always ties itself together, never leaving an unfinished look.
  2. Lambeth work should “flow” gracefully.  Sometimes appearing stark yet always finishing with a graceful continuity of line.
  3. There is a definite geometric line to most Lambeth work, yet with symmetry to soften.
  4. Templates on cake tops are always perfectly shaped; usually overpiped and always tie into division at cake edges, be they scallops, scrolls, crescents, “puffs’, or combinations.
  5. Cake top borders, though not always overpiped, usually are and with much expertise and precision, seldom over a line or scroll showing where one stops and another begins (again, continuity).
  6. Bevels – a bevel is really an extension at the base of a cake (thought occasionally, the top edge is beveled inward, facsimileing an extension of the top).  The bevel at the base is usually about

1 1/2” high tapering out to a flat edge and can be from as little as 1” away from the cake to more than 2”.  Of course, this should be taken into consideration according to the design and type of pattern to be achieved.

  1. Flowers – It seemed that the Lambeths LOVED tiny apple blossoms; violets, etc. used them lavishly (and/or used very few flowers, otherwise).  But, oh the beauty of the flowers used.  Each petal, stem leaf, sepal, even thorn, nearly always seemed to achieve perfection.

JUDGING

  1. Design – Need not always have a theme but if it does, tie all parts together, top design, top bevel edge, side design, and bottom bevel edge.
  2. Overpiping – Lines should be perfectly neat, no bumps, no nobs of icing in scallop, scrolls or what have you, hopefully never showing an ending or a beginning.  Overpiping tubes may consist of as few as 3 such as 14, 4, 2—i.e. zigzag, 14 overpiping straight 14, overpipe #4 and #2.  On center edge around templates or on top edge around cake with first a #16 crescent then followed by balance of basic overpiping by adding the #14 zigzag, #14 straight #4 and #2 directly on top edge.  Then continue down the sides in the same manner zigzag #14 on crescent, zigzag , straight, zigzag below crescent, #4  then #2 on cake all to be overpiped in this manner zigzag #14 overpipe straight #14, #4 or (#16, #5, #3) or as  many as #16, zigzag, #16 straight, #5, #4, #3, #2 and #1 or #199 overpipe #14 zigzag, #14 straight, #5, #4, #3, #2, and #1 or such as a cushion edges #1-#5 each direction, then #4, #3, #2  and #1.
  3. Bevels should of course in most cases match up with top and side overping on the cake.
  4. Wedding cakes- Know no bounds for height, expertise, difficulty of workmanship, overpipng and sheer majestic beauty.  Usually they are quite tall tiers, i.e. 6” round by 5” high –9” round by 8” high, 12” round x 12” high.  Drum cakes –top drum cake 4”x2”; center drum cake 6 ½” x 2 ½”—these are to replace separator sets or dividers making a lovely addition of cake.

There is much more—so much more, I do thing that all of you should student the Lambeth Book, then study a well-executed cake you have the opportunity to see.  Then Practice!!!

Attach Wired Flowers & Arrangements to Cakes

This is my personal opinion and recommendation as a cake designer and judge, on a few  questions asked by students.

I always recommend to my students when entering competitions to write detailed description of techniques used on your card, pictures when in doubt; especially if you are using a new technique that a judge may not know how to do or know about.

The problem, some judges do not know all techniques and in some shows, they will let things slide.
As an owner and head designer of two high end wedding cake shops in San Diego we had to deal with fresh flowers in which some are toxic and done by floral designers who have no clue about food safety or placing heavy arrangements or gum paste flowers on the sides of a cake.

I was taught over 30 years ago, all flowers need to be made into arrangements in containers or corsage sprays; ribbon bows placed or nylon Tulle between the cake and flowers, making sure flowers never touched the cakes and all stems had to be wrapped in floral tape to allow no cut stems touching the cake, due to toxic open cut stems; never sticking flowers or wires into cake and only using items intended for flowers to be stuck into cake; I would personally use the glass flower stem holders which could be sterilized.

To be totally honest, in all reality ribbon and tulle are not food safe either, but safer than wire, floral tape and toxic flowers; only ribbons made food safe are accepted.

As for holding flowers onto the side of cakes, I personally do not like wood toothpicks, cookie sticks or dowel rods to be used, I will only use white popsicle sticks coated with white chocolate to prevent from softening in the cake and white chocolate coating to adhere flowers or other items to a cake; which will set immediately on a refrigerated cake, fondant, whip cream/non-dairy and buttercream cakes.

These methods have been tried and true used by me for over 30 years of designing and delivering many cakes; our busy seasons were hot summers 30 mile deliveries with up to 10 different style fondant, whip cream and Buttercream cakes with royal and gum paste flowers attached to all cakes riding in the delivery vans and cars. My main account in SD was the Horn blower Cruise line- known for Harbor Wedding Cruises, cakes had to withstand delivery and rough waters at times.

My overall motto as a cake designer and judge is; if it can be done safely and on a real cake and withstand deliveries, and then it can be done on competition cakes as well. Also, would I eat something decorated that had a wire, wood stick or fresh flower placed into the cake? Is everything used, something that I would find in a safe food establishment? If not, then it should not be on a cake!

One more word of advice to my students, I recommend they all attend a real floral design class, as my first instructors recommended to me, as well. I attended an 18 week all type floral design class, including all wedding designs. I hope my insight on the subject is helpful and again my personal opinion. Feel free anytime to ask any questions. This is how we all learn.

“Cake Decorators Creed”

Written by Betty Newman May

I AM A CAKE DECORATOR…THIS IS MY CREED

Cake Decorating means many things to me…such as:

When I ‘m working with sugar to create beauty.

It’s all fashioned with love, and not from duty.

For when I’ve decorated a cake and then at first sight.

All eyes, young and old, seem to glow with delight.

But the delight that I’ve given may be selfish, you see…

Because decorating that cake was rewarding…to me!!!

It means wanting and working to learn more each new day.

Then trying to help others learn more…when I may.

It means wanting to do the very best that I am capable of.

Yet for those whose talents are greater than mine.

I’ll rejoice and pledge my love.

It means if I have talent I want to share…not deny it.

And let any, who will, light their candles by it!!!

It means that “God has been good to me…He has given

me passion for beauty, some talent with which to express

 it…and best of all, good friends with which to share it.

Thank you for being my friends.

 

Rochester, Minnesota

1982

Professional Cake Decorators

Spend an average of:

2 + hours of prepping (phone calls, emails, consults, designing, invoices, etc.)

2-4 + hours baking, making fillings and frosting’s – Simple 3-4 tier wedding cake

4-12 hours covering cake boards, filling, frosting, smoothing and decorating (longer for elaborate designs)

5 + hours of everything else (buying supplies at multiple stores and delivering)

 Per Wedding Cake

They invest thousands of dollars in equipment (pans, mixers, decorating equipment, cutters, stands, gas, electric, phone, water, etc.) and spend countless hours learning and perfecting their skills to produce beautiful works of art.

They don’t get paid vacations or sick days.  They don’t get bonuses for outstanding performances or for holidays.  They don’t get insurance plans or any benefits and 35% or more goes to TAXES.

Please understand that they are business owners and they have a LOVE for Cake Decorating/Designing but that LOVE won’t pay the bills.

Please RESPECT your CAKE DESIGNERS

 A  similar post  was posted for Photographers; I revised it for Cake Designers:)

By Kathleen Lange