Back In February 2017 I decided I had enough confidence to enter not one, but two cake decorating competitions. – using the same cake!
The first one was in Canberra and the second one was in my home town of Goulburn.
I entered in the Wedding Cake division, the top of the competition. I thought go hard or go home!
I thought I was cool enough to enter along side the big guns!
I don’t know if it was a bold or stupid move but I really am glad I did it.
I still remember most of the painful process of making this cake, from the first initial decision to enter the comp (which was exciting because I thought, yes I am ready to do this, I have enough experience and confidence so why not!) to the first cake design in my head, and to the countless other designs I came up with after the first one haha
I felt like I was sketching for weeks!
I had such big expectations of this cake that I just wanted it to be perfect in every way. I may have set the bar too high for myself as it became the most stressful week of my life!
There were so many rules I had to play by which made it difficult in the design process, because I had to come up with some ideas that I had never done before. It had to be fondant, it had to be a certain size, I had to use real flowers, they had to be carefully inserted as to not touch the cake, there had to be weight constrictions, the list went on and on..
Of course I wanted flowers on there as I use them on most of my cakes and they are kind of essential on a wedding cake, but I have only ever used fake ones, so I had to learn how to make them out of fondant. I initially made two and only one looked good enough to apply to a cake and look half decent lol
But that was the least of my worries by the end anyway.
This was by far the most painful cake I have ever made, it was trouble straight from the beginning and never stopped testing me the whole way through.
It took a whole week starting from the baking, then the construction, ganaching, applying fondant, changing ideas, and redoing, I could go on…
Absolutely everything that could go wrong with this cake did, from burnt cake in the oven (which didn’t matter because it wasn’t going to be eaten), to split ganache – a few times! I’m pretty sure I made about 10kg of ganache in 4 different batches only to have about half that was actually suitable to apply to this stupid cake lol. Then the crumbly fondant – my worst enemy! Which just did not want to co operate at all! I ran out of fondant actually and had to get my dad to drive to Canberra and get me some more, and a bunch of other things about 4 different times during the week! lucky he works over there.
I then ended up having to cut and re cover the middle and top tiers a total of 6 times over 3 days because they were wonky, or the fondant ripped or broke! Yes 6, talk about frustrating!
I had Mum, Dad and my boyfriend Daniel all helping me cover the cakes in fondant, and then help me with washing up, cleaning all while trying to keep me sane! It was full on!
There were many tears, tantrums, and failures. One night I remember sitting on my kitchen floor at midnight after everyone had gone to bed, it was 2 days before the delivery to the show and I just wanted to give up then and there and throw the cake in the bin! I had definitely had enough. I was exhausted, cranky and definitely over it all.
I had no sleep for most of the week, I was the most stressed I have ever been over a cake, and very cranky at myself.
I was constantly researching new ideas because every one of mine kept failing, the original design I had come up with was far from what I was looking at and that made me more frustrated. Nothing was working or going to plan. I was so doubtful and so down on myself that I questioned everything about my cake skills and ability. It was so hard!
I finally got to sleep that night around 2-3am and the next morning I woke up 1 day before I had to deliver and I didn’t want to continue, I hated it, but knew I had to finish.. if not for the comp, but for myself..
I woke up about 6am when Dan went to work, (3 hours sleep is not good for me as I don’t function very well), I jumped in the shower and had one last massive cry and refocused myself. I told myself that it was going to be a good day and I was determined to not give this up! This cake will not beat me!
The end result was not what I pictured or wanted at all but i was more proud of the fact that I stuck it out and finished what I started.
The fondant ruffles I decided to apply at last minute covered all the imperfections I hated and it didn’t actually look too bad.
My friend Amelia came over and sat with me white I applied the finishing touches and took all the photos. It was very heavy, I could hardly move it outside where I usually take the pics so it had to be on the kitchen bench.
We still laugh about this, but I remember looking at the cake thinking yeah it’s good enough, but I still hate it. As I’m taking he pics i kept muttering “I hate you” haha. it just wasn’t what I wanted.
We drove over to Canberra at 7 am on the Wednesday morning. My cake was the first one there. I had to stack the cakes and apply the flower there in the cabinet while the judges were watching me. It was a bit daunting.
I finished setting it up, took more photos (still muttering that i hate it lol) stuck my entry number on the cake and walked away.
I didn’t know what to expect out of the competition, I knew then and there that there was no way I would win.. but I was just glad that week was over! I felt a massive sense of relief as I drove away.
I didn’t end up placing anything in the Canberra show but the judges were really nice and gave me awesome feedback for next time-if I decide there is a next time! You should have seen the other cakes, they were amazing! My cake looked so out of place there.
After posting my struggles with this cake on my public business page, I received some lovely feedback from fellow cake makers who also entered the comp reassuring me that I did a wonderful job and congratulating me on entering and not giving up! they told me their stories about their cake fails and how it still happens to them sometimes, it was good to know the pros still have troubles sometimes. It made my day and made me want to refocus, gave me back the confidence I had lost that week and made me realize that I am still talented and not to forget that just for one bad cake experience.
From that I then decided when I brought it home that I would enter it in the Goulburn show.
So I gave her a makeover!
She went from a purple/grey cake to a pretty in pink cake in a matter of a few hours.
I removed the bottom tier and it was such an awesome feeling when I tossed it into the bin!
I applied what I had originally designed on this cake and she was beautiful! It took about 4 hours to reconstruct and add the final details but I was so much more happy with this design then the initial one.
I decided to add a fake flower because the rules weren’t as strict this time, and the fake one was better then the one I had made too lol.
And later found out that I would have won if I had used my real handmade flower instead of the silk one!
I placed second! I was so happy and proud of myself.
Over the course of the show weekend I received lots of beautiful msgs and photos of my cake on display from friends, family and people who follow my page who went to the show. It felt so amazing to have that local support around me.
I didn’t actually know what I placed until my friend Alyce sent me a pic and said congratulations! I was at work and jumped for joy! It totally made my day!
Such an awesome moment and finally something good come of this difficult cake lol
For placing second I received a certificate, ribbon, a gift voucher and some awesome feedback.
I was back! I was confident again and once again fell in love with cake decorating!
I took the cake home and it literally sat on my laundry bench for about a month. I didn’t want to throw it away.
I framed my certificate and ribbon along with a picture of my cake:)
I am so proud I entered both these competitions and it gives me the confidence to one day enter again, maybe with more planning involved this time!! 💕
At least I can say I did it, slowly but surely knocking of my cake goals one at a time 😀