Practice Makes Perfect

by Jeanne on June 5, 2012

Hey folks: I’ve been getting a lot of the same or similar questions from folks, so I thought I would address them in a post in addition to individual replies.

It is celebration season. That means weddings, graduations, and mother’s and father’s days. And many of you are baking celebratory cakes for these things. And I applaud you for that!

But. Many of you are writing to me and asking how to make sure the cake recipe you are making will work on the big day. My answer: practice that recipe before the event. No amount of advice from me is going to substitute for good, old-fashioned experience.

When I was baking wedding cakes for people (I only did this for a short time because it was too stressful for me) I always made a few practice cakes to make sure everything was working correctly before I made the actual cake for the big day. I would never make a wedding cake without making at least one or two practice cakes before the actual wedding. I would have been mortified if I got to the big day and the cake didn’t work for some reason.

I know the ingredients are expensive. And I know it takes time. But you owe it to yourself and to your recipients to make the best darn cake you can and that means doing at least one test run. I know you will have a lot of cake leftover–but that’s not horrible, right?  Your friends, family members, mail deliverer, whoever, will be delighted to be the recipients of practice cake.  There are no sweeter (heh) words to d’Ahub’s ears than “recipe testing day.”

Also, you want to practice on an actual cake. One of my readers practiced on cookies instead of the cake recipe and then wrote to me to say that s/he was worried that the wedding cake would be flat like the cookies. People, people. If you are making cake, then practice on that cake recipe. If you are making cookies, then practice on the cookie recipe.

This rule also works for your everyday baking.  If you have never made something before, and it doesn’t work out the first time–don’t despair.  Do it again (and again) until it does work out.  This is especially true of things that are a bit tricky or that require a bit of experience to do well, like pie crust.

Remember: practicing makes you a better baker. And better bakers make for a sweeter world. Happy baking!

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