Wednesday, October 27, 2010

How To Dress A Dummy (Cake, That Is)

Most people who start a cake business are faced with the fact that they don't have very many cake photos to show clients. Some people take the low road by cutting pictures out of magazines and saying that they can replicate them. Well, I doubt that, because if you knew that you could, you'd have a picture of the cake that you made to show that you could. Don't steal other people's pictures, just use dummy cakes to build your portfolio.

Dummy cakes are a great way to practice, but they can get expensive if all that you do is one design on each one. Theoretically, you can wash them off and reuse them, but the easiest thing to do is to start with a minimalist design then add to it. Every time you finish with one design, take pictures of it, then redo it and take more pictures.

Try to be more original than just changing the ribbon on it and adding different flowers. I can't tell you how many new websites I see pop up that have five cakes on them, all plain white fondant with a different colored ribbon and some silk flowers on the top. Booooring. Do something a little more interesting and you'll end up with better photos. Also remember that each cake has a front and a back, so you could do one design on the front and one on the back and photograph them both separately.

A reception site recently called me and asked if I had a cake that they could use the next day for an open house. The problem was that the color scheme they were working with was red and black, and the only cakes that I had available had orange and green as their main colors. I took one that had a white fondant base, then removed the orange and blue decorations from it and replaced them with black and red. It went great with the linens and flowers that they had in the room, and illustrates how you can "re-dress" a dummy.



 Kara Buntin owns A Cake To Remember LLC in Richmond VA, and cake supplies online at www.acaketoremember.com and www.acaketoremember.etsy.com

6 comments:

Veronica Yoshida said...

So I guess my question is, do you buttercream your dummies first? I never have and they've turned out just fine. One lady argued and said it couldn't be done right if you did't. She also told me if I wasn't using the special fondant they make for dummies (at $50 a pound) then I was also doing it wrong? I haven't had any problems, so am I wrong?
And by the way, this is a great way to practice and work out ideas!

Kara said...

The only time I've ever put buttercreamon a dummy was when I needed one covered in buttercream. You don't do it if you're using fondant. Just get the dummy damp (I run them under the kitchen tap and then blot semi-dry)and apply your fondant. I also use the same fondant I'd use to make a real cake, not "special" stuff. There are display icings that you can buy, but they're really unnecessary.

Kara said...

Heh heh...And I guess the cake police didn't come to arrest you for doing it "wrong", Veronica, so don't worry about one person's snotty remarks ;)

Veronica Yoshida said...

This is pretty much the method I've used. I just use my regular fondat and it's always worked well. I've never done a buttercream dummy. There's a thought...
Oh, yeah, no blue lights (made from sugar of course) outside the door for "failure to follow proper icing procedures!" Thanks for uplifting words of encouragement!

candace said...

I have covered a few dummy cakes in fondant and it works very well and even holds up outside at our local green market week after week. But I want to cover a dummy cake in royal icing to simulate a butter cream cake. My question is: Will that work out? I'm thinking it will look like butter cream and I can do piping, flowers and boarders with the royal icing as well. I guess the royal icing will have to be pretty stiff so it doesn't settle or look like it's gone flat. Do you have any tips for me?

Kara Buntin said...

I've iced dummies in royal icing before, they look like icing but a little rougher. Just ice it the usual way and decorate it the usual way then let it dry.