Ahhh...the age old question.
It’s interesting how some people see this as black and white situation - surely one must be better than the other, right? Wrong!
BOTH of these elements - taste and appearance - are equally important as each other. The cake should be an amazing centrepiece, but it’s still a dessert and MUST be delicious.
Unfortunately though, so many cake decorators “pick sides”. So instead of trying to master both the taste and the appearance of their cakes, they’ll put all their energy into perfecting one element (while ignoring the other). This is a massive faux pas!
A couple of years ago, I was speaking with a local restaurant owner who regularly catered for weddings. I was horrified by some of the cake stories she told me...
One of the most memorable stories included a beautiful wedding cake, that was SO overcooked it crumbled away as the catering staff were cutting it. Cue the horror!
In the end, the kitchen team had to mould the cake crumbs onto the serving plates (yep, you heard that right), before serving the “cake” to the wedding guests. The cake was barely touched - it was a disaster!
The bride understandably was so upset - she paid HUNDREDS of dollars for a cake that was completely inedible.
I’m sure the cake decorator in question must have been horrified. Although she was a great decorator, she learnt the hard way that she needed to focus on perfecting her recipes and baking skills.
To be truly successful at cake decorating, you have to master both the look AND taste of your cakes. There’s always a trial and error process, but it should be your ultimate goal.
One of the BEST compliments I ever received was “Wow, your cakes look amazing and taste great! It’s so rare to find someone who does both so well”. I felt super proud in that moment - I had worked my butt off to get to that point.
I want everyone here to achieve that same success, so here are some simple steps that you can follow to master both the taste and appearance of your cakes.
Think you’ve already mastered both? STILL read on, you could be missing something...
Taste (aka baking):
You might think your cake recipe is “fine” - you’ve been using the same recipe for ages and you’ve never received any complaints. But that actually doesn’t mean your recipe is good or the best it could be.
Your cake should be able to stand alone - with no buttercream or ganache - and STILL taste moist and delicious. If you need icing to make your cake taste better, then you haven’t mastered your cake recipe.
To really nail down and perfect your baking, you should:
- Fine tune your baking process
Be meticulous about your baking times, ingredient measurements, etc. Make sure you follow your recipe thoroughly and don’t take any shortcuts.
- Spend time recipe testing
Try out multiple recipes and ask your family and friends to taste test. I’m sure they’d love any excuse to eat cake! You want to find a recipe that tastes delicious. Just make sure that they give you constructive and honest feedback.
- Fine tune your baking process
- Invest in quality ingredients
Spending a bit of extra cash on good quality ingredients can make a difference to the taste and quality of your cake. If you can afford to, I’d recommend splurging on the good stuff.
Appearance (aka decorating):
To perfect your decorating skills, it really is all about ‘Practice Makes Perfect’. There are so many great avenues that allow you to improve your cake decorating skills - think online learning, in-person classes or cake blogs. It’s just knowing where to start!
- Master the basics before going in deep
Mastering the basics of cake decorating is 100% the key to success. Quite a few people try and rush through the basics so they can learn the more interesting cake techniques - this is ultimately their downfall.
The main difference between a professional and ameatur cake decorator, is that the professional decorator is much more adept at basic skills which are fundamental for success in cake decorating.
Take your time to REALLY learn the basics. Once you’ve aced the basics, you can dedicate more time to learning all those fancy cake decorating techniques you’ve been dying to try!
- Experiment and learn from the results
The only way you’ll get better at cake decorating is if you practice and experiment with different techniques. Ask yourself questions that will push you to try new ways to create something.
For example, say you’re making a rose for the top of your cake. What happens if you rolled out the fondant thinner? What happens if you arrange the petals differently? Add texture? Experiment and learn from the results.
This will ultimately sharpen your skill set while also giving you more knowledge on cake decorating techniques.
The time and dedication to perfecting those recipes and basic decorating skills is 100% worth it.
Your cakes will not only taste delicious but also look stunning - people will RAVE over your creations.
What do you mostly struggle with - taste or appearance? Let me know in the comments below.
P.s. If you haven’t already, take a look out our Boss Bakers Membership. It’s aimed at helping you achieve those fantastic cakes you see on Instagram and Pinterest. New classes will be coming soon!