This year, I was thrown with a very interesting and big challenge. I was asked to bake a cake for a wedding! That’s right, a wedding cake that has tiers and beautiful decorations. While I do have some experience with baking, it’s mostly limited to simple homemade cakes with little to no decorating. Up until that point, my real decorating experience was simply putting apple slices on a cake. However, I decided that it would be good to challenge myself to bake this wedding cake. It was a nice way for me to contribute to the wedding of this close friend and also grow my skills. So here’s the process I went through to challenge myself!
The first thing I did was research! It is important to learn as much as you can beforehand so you have knowledge to rely on. Even if it is only theoretical. My biggest concern was the frosting because I am unfamiliar with fondant (which is what most wedding cakes use). Therefore, I made that my starting point. After reading through a few articles that feature a bit of experimenting, I discovered that cream cheese frosting is one of the hardiest frostings out there.
Next, I talked to the couple about their preferences and possible options. In the end, we went for a carrot cake with cream cheese frosting. Thankfully for me, both the bride and groom are big fans of carrot cakes!
And then it was back to research! This time, I turned to the world wide web (the power of the Internet!) to look for recipes. In fact, I went through several different recipes and compared reviews by other bakes. By the end of my researching, I had narrowed it down to two different recipes.
My Experimenting Process
Now it’s time to experiment, experiment, and experiment. First up was Recipe A, which the title describes as incredibly moist and easy. Was it moist? Most definitely. Was it easy? Surprisingly, yes! Carrot cakes in general require very simple ingredients and techniques. My biggest efforts here actually go into grating all the carrots the recipe needs.
For the sake of this experiment, I also baked Recipe B, which I had high hopes for because it has over 7,000 reviews and a 4.7 star rating. Unfortunately, the cake did not taste up to expectations. There was a strong baking soda taste and the texture was not as moist as Recipe A. Well, now I know for sure! However, I noticed that the consistency of the frosting from this recipe did a bit better when left out in the heat.
So I baked the cake from Recipe A and frosted it with the frosting from Recipe B, and the couple loves it! As you can see in the image above, I still have much to learn in terms of frosting and decorating the cake. But everything comes one step at a time and for now, I am happy to have a recipe that everyone loves!
I also made sure to share each cake with family and friends to get feedback. For example, I am upping the cinnamon and decreasing the amount of sugar and baking soda in the cake. Baking soda is important in helping the cake become fluffy so I’m only decreasing it by a small pinch.
My next step is to perfect the decorating! I want to make sure that I actually do a decent job for the final cake. That’s why I have actually signed up for a cake decorating course where I will learn the different ways to decorate cakes. In fact, one class is specifically for multi-tiered wedding cakes which is perfect!
How to Challenge Yourself
While this is a very specific example that might not apply to most of you, I hope it can be some form of inspiration for you to challenge yourself with something new. After all, a wedding cake is definitely a big deal to an amateur baker! To a certain extent, I am also kind of surprised as how well my progress has been thus far.
When you challenge yourself, it will definitely be an interesting experience. In the beginning, it will definitely be scary, a bit stressful, and also exciting. That’s how you know it’s a good challenge!
Taking from this experience, my advice is to follow a few steps for anything that you’re challenging yourself with. Firstly, start as early as possible. For example, the wedding is only happening at the end of the year (and will follow all SOPs in place then) but I have already started my process.
Next up, make sure to do your research. Sit down and think of the different pain points you will need to address. What is the biggest question that you will need to answer? Use that as the starting point for your research process. It will definitely help you to create some flow of direction on what you need to know.
Be sure to experiment if possible. No matter how big or small your project is, you can definitely benefit from experimenting and getting feedback. Even if it’s as simple as writing an article, try new styles and see how different people react to it. You will want to keep your target audience in mind when you consider what needs to be modified and what can remain.
Lastly, have a game plan! You already know all the steps that you need to make and probably have a rough timeline of how things will go. If time permits you, sit down with a piece of paper and pen (or maybe at your laptop) and trace out everything that you need to do. Think about the ‘what if’s’ and how you can prepare for the different scenarios that can play out.
When you challenge yourself, you might be surprised at the results. All too often we can get stuck in a place of complacency. The only remedy to this is to challenge yourself!