The phrase ‘We are our own worst critics’ gets repeated daily, maybe even hourly between people in the cake industry.
There are some cakes that we are absolutely beaming over. The biggest smile that you couldn’t wipe off with a slap from a dead fish.
Then there are the cakes that have you moping around for days after, waiting to hear feedback from your customer because you simply weren’t happy with what you supplied.
And then you hear back, and the customer expresses the utmost gratitude and raves about your cake. The looks, the taste, the tiny little cachou detail you spent hours securing to the cushion effect of your cake… and you instantly perk back up with this amazing news!
And some cakes, you are a little confused as to why your customer could be even remotely happy with what you have given them.
The truth is, and we all know it… that WE are our own worst critics. Look at it from a beginners angle, and then a practiced cakers angle:
Cakers Are Their Own Worst Critics!
You are starting out and practicing. They say practice makes perfect. So you know that you won’t be at that perfect stage just yet, and every now and then you have a happy dance moment and really nail whatever the technique it is that you were practicing that week. But then you also have many frustrating moments in which your creations may not look exactly how you pictured it, or like the photo the customer supplied.
Usually, though, the customer is so absolutely wrapped that they didn’t have to put the time, effort and mess into creating their cake, that they will look at your edible art and think that it is gorgeous! Even if it’s slightly off shade of colour, or maybe a few less/too many flowers that should be one there.
You’re providing a service, and you’re getting better with each and every cake. Anybody looking from the outside in might be able to see this, but being our own worst critic and a beginner, you always think there is MAJOR room for improvement.
Now from a practised cakers point of view, such as myself. I am not a pro by any means, but I have been in the business for 4 years now and still doubt myself and my work. I’ll show a few of my recent doubts below in a moment.
When you are a practiced caker, you know what aspects of your cake should be up to a particular level. You also know that not everything goes to plan. So why do we beat ourselves down when we have little mishaps, or maybe our fondant figurine is a little rough around the edges?
Because we know we can do better.
However, honestly, when you are a practised caker and are doing extravagant fondant cakes, amazing buttercream cakes and are on point 9/10 times… the customers hardly notice. They see a masterpiece.
A masterpiece that is worth the tens or hundreds of dollars that you have charged them, and they usually are so wrapped that they instantly appreciate what you have just handed over to them. Any old Tim, Dick and Harry can create a butterfly shaped sponge cake… but can they create it WELL? Or, can they create a 3 tiered fondant cake that doesn’t collapse, or a beautiful floral arrangement on their semi naked wedding cake? I think not.
NOT TO MENTION… Another factor that comes into play is Personal Preference. I have done some cakes in my time that I have just gone *puke* at the style and colours and am not happy with the end result. But the customer absolutely digs what they have suggested and how the cake has turned out.
Personal preference is a huge part here.
This cake here. A simple #1 shaped vanilla cake with messy buttercream and sparsely scattered sprinkles on top. Exactly what the customer ordered. I don’t think this cake is the bomb diggity whatsoever, and I don’t think that it was completely awful either. However, the end result wasn’t my cup of tea.
Come pickup, I was ready to ask the customer if they wanted a few extra sprinkles, or maybe a quick buttercream piped edge around the base… just something extra, ya know? But when I opened the box to show the customer, she responded with ‘It’s beautiful! Exactly what we wanted!’, before I could even ask.
Look at this cake. It’s gorgeous right?! Colourful, contrasted and a bit shiny! My personal problems with this cake before I handed over to the customer were:
*You could see the black edge through the colour drip ever so slightly
*I should have done the colour drip to cover the entire top of the cake, and the records black
*Maybe it just needed a little bit of edible glitter on the black
I’m not sure what you think, but that’s my personal opinion.
The customer’s opinion was that it was a ‘masterpiece.’ Literally wrote that in her testimonial. Jumping for joy I was!
So you see, sometimes even though you think your work of edible art is complete and utter crap (because let’s face it, sometimes those words go through our head), hands down, 9/10 times, your customer thinks that it’s bloody brilliant!
- We are always our own worst critics.
- Don’t be so hard on yourself.
- Changes are, the customer does not even notice!
- Beginner: practice makes perfect and you WILL get better with every cake.
- Practiced caker: you got skills and you know it. It might not be perfect but the customer will love it!
Written by Krystle Armstrong from Magnificent Mouthfuls Cupcakes & Catering Townsville