When you're creating an intricate fondant or gum-paste cake topper, there's a world of difference between "That's a-MAZE-ing!" and "Um ... nice try?"
If you really want to blow people away, there are a few important things to keep in mind. The tips below, reflecting our own work experiences, will help you nail your next design.
Tip #1: Be Your Own Worst Critic
If you want a stellar rep you need an eye for perfection and the desire to constantly improve. We'll start a project over from the very beginning if we spot a flaw. Even the slightest crack in the fondant can lead to a re-do.
Step back and evaluate your figures as you work. Are the limbs out of proportion? Why does that fondant character you just created look a little off? Spend the time to identify the problem, then fix it.
Tip #2: Patience is Everything
Sure, you can pull together a less-than-awesome cake topper in 15 minutes. But if you want something amazing, that's just not enough time. We spend, on average, one to three hours on a figure. We custom-color all our fondant and gum paste, then sit down with a few photos of what we're trying to copy and keep working until we're 100-percent happy.
Tip #3: Keep Cool
Warm hands are never good for cake decorating. If you're in a warm climate or have naturally hot hands, keep the room cool, have a fan going or even use chilled towels and a bag of ice.
A little sprinkling of tylo or CMC powder in your fondant can also help make it more stable in the heat. Some decorators swear by a 50/50 mix of modeling chocolate and fondant.
Tip #4: Plan Ahead
Please: Don't wing it. At the beginning of each working week we have a meeting to discuss the details of the cakes we'll be focusing on in the days ahead. We write down the duties that each of us needs to take on and when. With fondant, for instance, it helps to color what you need the day ahead. Things can pile up if you don't plot out your responsibilities.
Even if you're just making cake toppers for fun, make sure you've given yourself enough time to work through allllll the steps.
Tip #5: Practice
It sounds cliché, but it's true. If you keep practicing you'll grow more adept and more confident. Why not design and create a new character cake or topper if you're facing a quiet week? Not only will this boost your skills and creativity, it will also add to your portfolio of work.
Bonus tip: Don't forget to have fun! Creating these designs is the world's best gig. Enjoy it!