Busting 5 common cake decorating myths

Cake decorating is all the rage right now- every day, more people are discovering the joys of decorating birthday cakes, wedding cakes, baby cakes and any other cake you can imagine. There is a wealth of knowledge out there to help you learn how to create sugary masterpieces, but there’s also a lot of misinformation, so it’s important to know what’s what, so that your experience with cake decorating (and the results!) are the best they can be. Whether it’s an at-home hobby, you’re planning to build a business out of it, or you’re in the market for ordering a decorated cake, here are 5 common myths about cake decorating explained.

Cakes go in the fridge.

This has always been my number one question about cakes, from clients and students alike. If you are working with fondant, cakes DO NOT go in the fridge. Ever. Fondant does not like moisture. Once it is removed, it becomes sticky, wet, and delicate details can be ruined (including sugar flowers). Buttercream cakes/naked cakes can go in the fridge, but fondant does not.

Cakes are made ‘just like that’.

For many, the concept of making a cake seems like something that would ‘take an hour, tops’. The number of people who have told me they couldn’t believe it took them a whole day to create a simple cake is huge. And the same comes for customers who request elaborate cakes only a day or two in advance. The fact is, making (and decorating) a cake takes time. And not just in one day! Fully decorated cakes are actually made over a few days, from the baking process, to the prepping, covering, and then decorating. Some techniques take more time than others, and obviously, the bigger the cake, the longer it takes. So an overnight order is most often never a possibility!

Fake tiers are cheaper than real tiers.

Another big one that I get from many clients, thinking that opting for fake tiers and then a kitchen cake will be a cheaper option than having their cake completely real. I can tell you right now that is not true. Yes, there is a slight price difference for fake tiers (if not adding kitchen cakes), but it is marginal. Why? Because the majority of time, effort, and skill is spent on the decorating. So whether or not the inside of a cake tier is real, what is done to the outside of it is where the cost comes in. And for kitchen cakes, they cost too, because while they may not be decorated to the same level as the display cake, they still have to be prepped, covered, and finished to a level that matches the main cake.

Wedding cakes cost more than other types of cakes.

Not true. Unless you unfortunately come across someone who is dodgy or greedy in their pricing for business, on a per-serving basis, no, wedding cakes are not more expensive. There are factors that will increase the cost of a wedding cake- but the same factors are applied to any other cake. Size is the biggest one. The bigger a cake, the more it costs. Generally, a wedding cake will need to feed a lot more people than a birthday cake, so if you’re feeding 300 people for a wedding, yes, it’s going to cost more than if you were feeding 30 people for a birthday. Also, the level of detail and decoration changes the cost. If you opt for a cascade of intricate sugar flowers coming down the side of your cake, that is going to cost you more than if you opt for one large one on the top.

All cakes are fine at any time of the year.

This one comes with a great big sigh from me- because this has often been one of those things that will turn me grey too soon! Take it from someone who has been making cakes for many years, battling many different seasons, weather habits, and varying products. The fact is, cakes are both sturdy and fragile at the same time. Many factors can affect a cake, and in both positive and negative ways. Heat and moisture are two of a decorated cakes worst nightmares. So the height of summer is not optimal for a cake with intricate chocolate work, or soft icing (buttercreams and the like), and the middle of a wet period (winter, or a wet season) is definitely not great for sugar flowers, and even fondant itself. So when ordering a cake, or making a cake, it is important to look at what is best for that time of year, and decide accordingly. The best place for a cake to be at any point in time is in a cool, dry environment- air conditioning, and out of direct sunlight.