If the old axiom of having your cake and eating it too fits your lifestyle,
then this is for you! Cake decorating is the act of creating edible art. Some
people do it for fun as a hobby, while others turn their cake decorating skills
into deliciously profitable businesses.
"Cake decorating is an expression of yourself. It can be as simple or as
complex as you want it to be. Every cake is an example of art -- edible art,"
says Nicholas Lodge. He is a cake decorator.
Many cake decorators work at home. This includes those who have turned
their cake decorating talents into home businesses. Other professionals work
in their own specialty shops or bakeries.
In any case, cake decorating is usually done in a nice, warm and clean
environment. It's an area always filled with the wonderful scent of baking!
Cake decorating is done on so many levels that it's really impossible to
guess how many people consider themselves cake decorators. The International
Cake Exploration Societe (ICES) has over 4,000 members worldwide.
ICES members include men, women and children, from beginners to professionals.
Most of them are from the U.S. and Canada. There are probably thousands of
other cake decorators who do not belong to organizations.
Like any creative art, cake decorating is always evolving. People involved
are always looking to improve and do better.
"The cake decorating industry is constantly changing. In England, they
used rolled fondant and gum paste for a number of years before it became popular
here in the United States," says Joseph Ash, a cake decorator.
"Roll fondant and gum paste give you a much smoother icing. However, most
people still prefer the standard butter cream icing for eating."
Since cake decorating is basically edible sugar art, it's definitely not
for the faint of heart, calorie-wise! Most recipes involve sugar, and lots
of it. Creams, milk, butter, and chocolate are often in the mix as well.
However, it is possible to create low-cal frostings. You just have to look
for the recipes.
It doesn't cost very much to get started in cake decorating. All you need
are some basic tools and ingredients.
"Cake decorating is just like any other hobby or business. You can start
off with just a few basics and as your desire and talents grow, so can your
list of equipment," says Lodge.
"One of my associates started decorating cakes about 10 years ago and the
original investment was about $40. The more specialized you become in a particular
area or aspect of cake decorating, [the more you] will usually require...more
specialized tools and equipment."
Probably the most important ingredient you need is patience! Creativity
and imagination rank high as well.
"I have always felt that most anyone could learn to do cake decorating,"
says decorator Carolyn Lawrence.
"Unless you have a natural talent for it, you need many hours of practice
to perfect it to the point of being a good decorator. You need a good level
of stress tolerance if you do it on a continuous basis or have a home business.
You need to have good stamina because many mornings you are up early to get
orders done or up late to finish orders."
Cake decorating can be an ideal hobby for people who are physically challenged.
It just depends on one's particular limitations. People bound to wheelchairs
can do this with little help as long as they have full use of their arms and
hands. Cake decorating can also be an excellent recreation for people who
are hearing impaired. This would not usually be suitable for people who are
Cake decorating is not a dangerous activity. But Ash says there are a few
things you should be aware of. "At times, having to lift the larger cakes,
such as wedding cakes, one should be extra careful lifting them," he says.
Many people who start decorating cakes as a hobby take it a step further.
Home cake decorating businesses are quite common, and many do very well. Others
take their skills and find work in commercial bakeries. Some people become
teachers. Once you get good at cake decorating, the sky is the limit.
Look up cake decorating sites on the Internet. There are many excellent
sites filled with tips, tricks and wonderful recipes. As well, pick up a few
books or magazines. You may also want to see if there are any cake decorating
schools in your area.
"The average person can take a cake decorating class for about $20. There
are also schools where you can take more in-depth classes," says cake decorator
The International Sugar Art Collection
Learn from cake decorator Nicholas Lodge
Get advice and information from a cake decorating school
International Cake Exploration Society
Check out the photo gallery