Recently, I shared with you guys a cake for my sister's 21st birthday. As well as it being her birthday, the 27th of September marks an important milestone for me personally as it was for her birthday 3 years ago (4 cakes, 3 years? maths is weird) that I made my first attempt at cake decorating. I made sporadic attempts at entering this hobby, usually waiting for family members' birthday to attempt it again. It was a while before I started seriously getting into the hobby, but I still regard this as my starting point.
So her birthday every year marks in important self-checking point for me. It's a time to reflect and look back on what I've achieved in the last year.
Here's a breakdown of the above:2009:
Sister requests a chocolate ripple cake. I come up with the idea of transforming the log cake into a rounded cake. I look for ways to ice and decorate it: I attempt making ganache and fondant for the first time. Ganache works, but is hardly the glossy, perfect ganache I wanted. Fondant is a disaster: I make all the beginner errors it is possible to make and wind up with horrible roses. 2010:
I buy myself a cake decorating book and sister chooses a cake from it. First tiered cake. Fondant skills have improved enough to be able to cover whole cakes with fondant, but lacks finesse. Surface isn't smooth and edges are messy. Fondant Pegasus is a disaster and collapses and breaks everywhere: have overcome most beginner errors, but still some to work on. 2011:
Sister requests a cake with mousse. I come up with the idea of making a mousse cake stuffed with profiteroles. Attempt chocolate garnishes for one of the first times. Cake looks nicer than 2009, but lacks in taste (insofar as my standards said, recipients liked it). Chocolate base cake was dry and mousse had too much gelatine and as such had set too much. 2012:
Sister requests a chocolate ripple cake. Difference of skill level between this one and '09 is large. I wrap it with a joconde imprime and fill it with chocolate mousse. Have perfected the mousse recipe since 2011 and the result is a perfectly light, smooth and delicious mousse. Have learned to balance flavours so it is not overly sweet as in '09. Ganache is much better than '09, and the garnishes use much more advanced techniques than in '11. Need to refine the finish on the joconde, as well as work on the chocolate techniques as the chocolate ruffles were streaky.
So I hope this can encourage those who have left me comments saying they believe I have talent, lamenting that they cannot do what I do, telling me they can't bake. Whatever art form we begin, we're all terrible at the start. No one is born able to make masterpieces. We all require time and practise. No one taught me how to bake: I leanrned everything I know by trial and error. So get in the kitchen and have a go. Document your progress. Don't be frustrated by mistakes and failures - embrace them, for you will learn much more from getting it wrong than you ever will from getting it right. And most importantly; never compare your ability to anyone elses
. Judge yourself only against yourself, for that is the only comparison that matters. One day, you'll also look back and say, "Wow, I've come so far."