Every successful business has some sort of standardization, rules that they live by. Processes that result in consistency, producing the same product with every project. In the many hours that Megan and I have spent baking cakes, making fondant and working with gumpaste, we’ve come up with our own set of rules. Please remember, we don’t have the benefit of formal training. Our learning process has been trial and error with lots of trials and tons of errors. We’ve learned, mostly the hard way, that there needs to be a standardization to our efforts. You may think that our rules border on the ridiculous but they reverberate through our heads as we attempt to come up with the a consistent product.
Rule number one – don’t do stupid things around cakes. Okay, I can hear you saying to yourself, “That seems pretty self explanatory,” but when you’re working in a relatively new medium, you’re not exactly sure what things are stupid and what aren’t. You learn pretty quickly what the stupid things are. For example (and I will state that when you are stressed about how a product will turn out, you’re not always thinking very clearly), don’t try to flip a half sheet cake out onto two separate cooling racks by holding the whole thing upside down. Example number two, fingernails poke holes in fondant. Example number three, if you don’t let the heads dry, they will sag into your gumpaste person’s body. Example number four, storing fondant in a sealed container results in gummy, sagging fondant like these cupcakes that we did for Easter. Notice the sagging flowers that had seemed so perky the day before.
Rule number two – live and learn. We are pretty much self taught and that leaves for a tremendous margin of error. I can’t tell you how many times we’ve attempted something and said to ourselves later, “Well, we won’t do it that way again.” Our best example for coming up with that rule is the gumpaste shoe that sank into the cake because it was too heavy. I had watched a video about making gumpaste shoes and rather than listen to how they did the heel in the video, knowing what a rebellious heart I have, I decided to do it my own way. As a result, we ended up going back after we had already set up the cake, to fix the shoe that was sinking into the cake. We had to reposition the shoe and it all turned out well in the end, but, believe me, there were several bouts of panic until everything was fixed.
Rule number three – use the right tool for the right job. Again, you may think that any idiot would know this stuff but when you’ve never worked with gumpaste and fondant before, you have to figure out what each situation calls for, especially when not even all the professionals agree……corn starch or crisco…..painting fondant or coloring it by hand……..you get the idea.
Rule number four – stick to the rules.