Let me tell you the story of...El Pimpioso.
When I lived in Boston I was sitting at a stoplight. I looked in the rearview mirror and saw a green car that had something written across the windshield, so I tried to read it. It was backwards in the mirror, so it took a minute...
I just about died when I saw that it said "El Pimpioso." What the heck was that? Did that mean it was the Pimpiest? The best part was that the car itself wasn't any kind of really fancy model, it was just a regular sedan, but it was obvious that someone had put a lot of work into it.
I really wanted to turn around and get a better look at it, but I didn't want to be caught staring at a random car. So I just came home and told my husband about El Pimpioso. I remembered it every now and then over the years, though, because it was a pimped out SEDAN, for pete's sake, and the name was awesome.
15 years later, I decided to put "El Pimpioso" into google.
I totally freaked out when I found pictures of the SAME CAR from 15 years ago on a website in Boston! It turns out that El Pimpioso is an actual show car, and that it HAS been pimped out to include a swanky interior and a suicide hood. It's also won a bunch of prizes, since I notice that there's a photo of it with a group of trophies.
The car club that the owner belongs to has a website saying that they want to "give to society, starting with keeping our youth away from negative activities and provide them with a positive direction." Not a bad ambition, and even a non-car person like myself has to admit that it's fun to go look at the ways that people modify their cars. I know that people who work on their cars really love them and take a lot of pride in the results. I've taken my son to car shows and even if you don't work on cars, you can still be impressed with some of the work that goes into these things.
I still think that the best thing about this car is that it's a Toyota Corolla, which isn't a model that you immediately think of as being the pimpiest. That kind of car is the equivalent of a basic white wedding cake with some dots on it. It gets the job done, but its not the flashiest thing going. Until you start working on it.
If you think about it, modifying a car is a lot like making a fancy cake. It's all about the effort and the skill, not necessarily about the NEED to do it. There's really no need to make gumpaste instead of using real flowers. There's no need to make a bunch of little figures out of fondant when you could just stick some plastic toys on the cake. But doing that wouldn't be the same display of skill. And whether you admit it or not, a lot of what we do as cake decorators is done purely to show off our skills.
If you take pride in your work, your product will speak for itself, even to someone who has no knowledge of how to do the work themselves. And that a basic product can be made special by someone making an effort.
So the next time that you get an order for a cake design that you think is too plain, or too boring, remember the humble Toyota Corolla that is now El Pimpioso (I just love writing that.) Even a basic design can be made special if the decorator takes pride in it. Dots on the cake? Use fondant pearls instead. Piped lattice? What about doing something a little different and imprinting it instead? Piped design? Why not take it up a notch and paint it on by hand?
Don't slap it together and call it a day. Put your best effort into it, and that will show through in the final product.
Kara Buntin owns A Cake To Remember LLC in Richmond VA, and cake supplies online at www.acaketoremember.com and www.acaketoremember.etsy.com