Friday, April 29, 2016

How to Paint on Fondant Part 1

I did these videos this week...There's actually part one and part two, and it's a little long but it goes over some tips for using the most basic of "paints," airbrush colors.

When I paint on fondant I generally reach for the airbrush colors for a few reasons. The main one is that they're already formulated to be used as a liquid color, so there's no need to mix them and try to get the right consistency.

Next week I'll finish this little cake tier by removing some of the color and adding more, so keep an eye out for that. I have to let it sit around so that I can think about what I need to do to it...

Kara Buntin owns A Cake To Remember LLC, custom wedding cakes in Richmond VA, and cake supplies online at and

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Sometimes It's Our Job To Say No

There was a recent conversation online about a very unrealistic request from a bride to her decorator. The decorator got some good advice about telling the bride that it couldn't (or shouldn't) be done, but she brushed that advice off.

Her rationale was that "It's my job to figure out how to make her dreams come true."

No, no it's not.

It's our job as professional decorators to understand the limitations of the medium (cake), and to educate the customer about those limitations when necessary, while giving her alternatives if possible.

If the bride's dream is to have an ice cream cake at her beach wedding in July, it is not our job to do that. It's our job to tell her that it isn't a good idea, and to explain why.

You are never required to take a job if you know that the outcome is going to be a bad one. I have a friend who repeatedly told a bride that what she wanted wasn't possible, and the bride just ignored her and kept demanding that she do it. The bride finally said something along the lines of "Listen...The question is, are you going to do it or not?" My friend said "no" and was met with a shocked silence as the bride probably encountered the first person who refused to make her impossible dreams come true.

Here's the thing...If you go along with something that you know isn't a good idea because you're pressured into it by the customer, you have to remember that when things go wrong the customer isn't going to blame themselves. Oh, no. They'll blame YOU. Because you told them that it could be done, even though you knew that it was risky.

So take responsibility and tell customers if their idea isn't a good idea. Don't overpromise because that never turns out well. If you're the expert, you know what can and can't be done, and it's your responsibility to tell the customer what the limitations are.

Kara Buntin owns A Cake To Remember LLC, custom wedding cakes in Richmond VA, and cake supplies online at and

Monday, April 25, 2016

What To Do If One Color In Your Edible Ink Printer Isn't Working

If you have an edible ink printer, you'll eventually run into problems of some sort with it. A common problem is having one color stop printing while all the other ones are still working.

Here's an example on the left of a sheet I just printed out that had no yellow on it. After cursing the printer for a minute, I checked the ink levels and saw that they were fine. I'd just run a printer head cleaning a couple of days ago, so I didn't want to do that again.

One thing I noticed about the cartridge when I checked it was that the sponge in it looked like it wasn't pulling the color through to the exit hole area. I'd had this happen before with other colors, and I had tried something that worked then, so I did it again. The sheet on the right in the picture was the result, printed the way that it was supposed to.

What I did was "prime the pump," so to speak. Since the sponge looked like it had dried out a little in the area where the color comes out, I took the refill ink that I have and put a few drops onto that section of the sponge. For some reason, that seemed to get the color flowing into that area again once printing started back up.

The next time this happens to you (and it isn't a matter of if, it's a matter of when) give the priming method a try. If the sponge looks like it's dry in the area that the ink exits the cartridge, just put some ink on it and see what happens. Of course, you should also go through the cleaning cycles if it's been a while, but priming the cartridge might be a simple fix.

Kara Buntin owns A Cake To Remember LLC, custom wedding cakes in Richmond VA, and cake supplies online at and

Sunday, April 24, 2016

How Do You Like To Learn?

I've been yapping about the business side of making cakes for the last 5 or 6 years in this blog, and I've noticed that there are a lot of "cake coaches" popping up over the last couple of years. I have no intention of being a cake coach other than the basic business guides that I've written and a couple of people I kind of slightly sort of mentor in an informal way, but apparently people think they can sell coaching services to other bakers.

If you're looking for a cake coach, what should you look for? Part of it depends on how you like to learn. I'll use myself as an example of finding the right approach...

I'll be the first to say that I'm not interested in history as a subject. Borrrring. I do like to look at old stuff, like at the antiques mall, but only if it's interesting stuff.

A few weeks ago we were driving out west of Richmond, and we happened to be passing through Appomattox. I had a vague idea that something happened there, and my daughter said that it's where the Civil War ended and they signed all of the surrenders blah blah blah. So that was boring, but then my daughter said "yeah, and they took all the guy's stuff for souvenirs."

Now this was interesting, so I asked her to explain. This is the way she told the story: "They needed a place to sign all the paperwork, so this guy said 'You can use my house.' They met up there and signed everything, then all the people who were there started taking the guy's stuff for souvenirs. He was like 'hey, that's my stuff, put it back,' but they were like 'no way, souvenirs, we're taking it.' So he was pissed off."

I liked this story so much I made a 5-minute detour to see the house where they took all this guy's stuff, I just did a drive-by, which is about as close as I wanted to get anyway. My daughter was curious about why I went out of my way to see it, since I never do that, but I liked the story of the angry homeowner having all his stuff stolen, and that's what made me interested in learning about history that day.

Now this relates to finding a cake coach in a roundabout way...In order to get anything out of a cake coach, you have to like their approach. I liked the approach that my daughter took in describing the event, but when other people describe it, it just put me to sleep.

There are many approaches to cake coaching out there...

Some people will do cake coaching through a bunch of pre-made tutorials and worksheets that you buy. but you have no personal contact with the coach.

Some will do a series of videos and put together an online group where everyone who's paid for the coaching program talks to each other and gives each other advice.

Some will work one-on-one with you but you don't interact with their other clients.

Some coaches will put up a Facebook group and lure you into buying things piece by piece...Instagram training, Facebook training, etc etc., but they don't do any individual coaching.

If you want to hire a business coach, the first thing to do is to research the coach to see if they know what they're talking about or if they're coaching because their business failed, if they even had a business. After that, look to see what approach they take as far as the level of interaction they offer. Then think about how you learn best. 

If you're less interested in getting advice from people who don't know what they're talking about, you might want to skip the group-based programs and go for the one-on-one approach. If you prefer a program that you can do at your own pace, you might like the programs that have a lot of worksheets but not as much one-on-one.

Think about what you want to get out of the program, too. If it's something that you'll have to pay a ton of money for, it had better be worth it. Only you can decide what makes it "worth it."

Don't be afraid to email the person who's offering the program and ask them if they think their program will be helpful for you if your goals are X, Y and Z. Most people will let you know if they think you'll benefit, or they might offer you a limited-time trial. Or ask them if you can have a trial period to see if their approach will fit with your learning style.

There's nothing worse than shelling out a bunch of money for a program that turns out to be something that isn't helpful. Do your research before handing over your credit card number, because there will always be people who make their money from telling you they know what they're doing when they have no success in what they're coaching you on.

Kara Buntin owns A Cake To Remember LLC, custom wedding cakes in Richmond VA, and cake supplies online at and

Monday, April 18, 2016

How To Make A Polymer Clay Succulent (Or Gumpaste If You Prefer)

I was making some polymer clay items, so I took photos to show the process. I'll go through the process for polymer clay, but this will work exactly the same for gumpaste.

The cutters that I used are from Sugar Art Studio, which has a lot of good specialized cutters for specific flowers.

Cut out 7 of the longest petal and attach them to each other in the center. Make a snake of tinfoil and form it into a ring. Place that on top of the petals to support the next layer. If you're using gumpaste, moisten the center of the petals with gum glue before attaching each layer.

Make the next two layers of petals the same way as the first, with a shorter petal cutter each time. Alternate the petal placement so that they don't sit exactly on top of each other.

Add one more row of shorter petals and press down the center with a ball tool to firmly attach the layers of petals together in the center. 

Using a small cutter, cut out three petals and attach them together in a Y shape.

Press the center of the three petals into the center of the formed succulent and attach firmly by pressing down with a small ball tool.

If you're using polymer clay, bake the succulent according to the instructions on the clay. If using gumpaste, let the succulent dry for at least a day before removing the tinfoil. If the gumpaste isn't dry when you remove the tinfoil supports it can make the petals sag, so don't remove it if that happens. Leave it supported for another day to make sure it will keep its shape.

Kara Buntin owns A Cake To Remember LLC, custom wedding cakes in Richmond VA, and cake supplies online at and