When you are a hobby baker, you can sometimes find looking at cakes online somewhat intimidating. It can be hard to understand how your home-made cakes can ever look as great as the ones you see on Pinterest for example.
But it is important to remember that most of those cakes were also home-made and with a few simple tricks you can make your cakes look just as good!
1. Cover your board
My pet peeve is seeing a stunning cake on an ugly silver cake board. So many times cake decorators spend hours making flowers, models and other decorative elements, they then spend time putting it all together only to ruin all their hard work by using an undecorated silver cake board.
By spending 10 minutes covering your cake board with fondant you will make your cakes look 100% more professional! 10 minutes is actually an exaggeration, once you know how to do this simple technique, your cake boards can be covered in far less time!
Many hobby bakers think covering the board is a waste of time or fondant but it is important to remember that, after that cake has been eaten, the only reminder you will have of how great it looked is in a photo and trust me, silver cake boards suck in photos!
Of course some people say there is a time and a place for a silver cake board, maybe you are making a space themed cake or something, but I still would never leave it uncovered. Instead I would cover it with white icing and paint it with a silver lustre paint to give it a really great finish. Yes it would take an extra 5 minutes to do that, but it would look so much better!
2. Trim with ribbon
Once you have covered your cake board, a really simple way to finish it off is to trim it with ribbon. Your cakes will also look far more professional if they are trimmed with a pretty coordinating (or contrasting) ribbon. You can find out more about this technique and how much ribbon you'll need in this blog post:
Ribbon can also be used as the decoration to save time but allow you to create a stunning cake just like this one from Brides Magazine
3. Less is more
One of the issues that comes up time and again in my classes is that students want to put every single decoration they make, onto their cakes! And whilst it may seem silly to make decorations if you aren't going to use them, it is also important to remember that less is most certainly more when it comes to cake decorating.
Some of the most stunning cakes you'll see online have very few decorations and it can be very helpful to spend some time looking at cakes you like and taking note of how many decorations they've used and where they have been placed.
4. Odd numbers
Decorations always look more visually appealing in groups of odd numbers, especially when it comes to flowers. So always add them in odd numbers, eg one, three or five rather than adding two or four. If you are planning to add three flowers but break one, don't add only two, either stick with just one or make an extra one so you can still have an odd number.
These days we live our lives through a camera lense and photograph everything to put it on social media. So remember that it is unlikely that you will be the only one who sees your cake! With this in mind, make sure you get one great photo of it so that you can share that one first. Following these very simple tips will ensure a much more professional photo:
Put your cake on a cake stand. And if you dont have one then put it on a flat, clean surface. Don't photograph it on the ugly plastic turn table! I have several cake stands but if you can't afford one or have nowhere to store one then you can compromise by using a short fat candle stick like this one from Ikea - this is great for photography but remember it is not sturdy enough to leave your cake on when you come to serve it!
Move everything! A simple way to ruin your cake photo is to leave the dirty washing up behind it! Move everything away from around the cake and move your cake so it has a plain background behind it. Make sure there are no plug sockets in the background for example! One very simple way to ensure your cake photos look better is to invest in a back drop. I love the Sugar High Inc Bake Drops.
Move yourself! Make sure you are taking your photos at the best angle. Cake photos taken from an angle looking down on them rarely look good. Position yourself so you are eye level with your cake and shoot from there for the best shot (with this in mind, make sure your decorations are at eye level on the front of your cake!)
Photograph in daylight. This might sound obvious but some people still take their photos in the evening or with the kitchen lights on. Simply turning off the overhead lights and moving your cake close to a window will make your photos that much better, and that is such a simple thing to do.
Photoshop! Do you really think those photos on Pinterest haven't been photoshopped?! You don't need to invest in expensive software to touch up your photos, there are some great apps out there for your phone. My go to app is called VSCO.
Take a class. I don't teach photography (mainly because I'm a bit pants at it) but you might like this online tutorial from Craftsy which guides you through lots of great ways to improve your photos. If you prefer hands on learning then I can highly recommend Gavin Hooey who hosted the food photography class I was lucky enough to attend back in 2015.
Hopefully these simple tips will make your cakes look more professional and we will start to see them on social media. Tag me on instagram @enchantedccworthing when you post your next photos, I'd love to see them.