“It’s the worst cake I’ve ever made!” I told my husband, disappointed. “That’s a bit dramatic, isn’t it?” he replied.
But to me it’s the truth. I worked on this cake all week; getting the components together, baking it and when the day finally came to bring my vision to life, I failed. It looks nothing like I intended and I’m ashamed to bring this cake to my dad. All I wanted was to make my dad this awesome cake because he deserves the best. And I feel like I let him down.
I know he will like it regardless, but that’s not the point.
I felt like I was jumping through hoops all day. I ran out of filling, so I had to stop and make more. I ran out of icing, so I had to make more of that too. I couldn’t smooth out the icing no matter how hard I tried. On more than one occasion I thought about throwing it in the garbage. I was in tears at midnight when I looked at my creation and realized it would never look like what I had dreamed.
Maybe it didn’t help that I started my day off on a bad note. Or that I slept in, when I really should’ve gotten out of bed and gone to church. Or that I had a bad dream that threw everything off. But I meditated for 6 minutes and that helped me get through my day.
And the mantra from the meditation that I carried around all day was “Every obstacle is a hidden opportunity.”
So, I’m still trying to figure out what this failure was for, but here’s what I learned from my last cake decorating project:
1. Square cakes are way harder
I thought frosting a square cake wouldn’t be much different from a round one, but I was wrong!! You have to get the corners perfect for it look good! And for someone who is not the best at icing, this was impossible.
2. Don’t bake the biggest cake to practice icing
Every time I bake something new, I like to add a challenge to help me grow. The challenge here was icing the cake perfectly (or as close to it as possible). Well if you’re not that great at it, start with a smaller cake! Not one that’s big enough to feed an army!
3. Measure everything. Twice!
I made these chocolate molds that look like picture frames and I printed out pictures to fit in them. I thought I measured both frame molds (I had two I was using) but apparently I didn’t because one was slightly different from the other.
4. Listen to the Wilton paper
I opened my new pan set and the paper said a 16″ square cake would be enough for 100 people or something like that. I thought “No way it will be that big!” So, I made 4 layers in that 16″ pan, because I figured they were really thin, so I should bake 4 not 3. I ended up with a huge cake!!
5. It’s better to have extra
Because my cake turned out so gigantic, I ran out of filling and icing. I had to stop to make more of each. I usually always have more filling and icing than I need for a cake, so this was a first. And I like it better when I have leftovers!
6. Check ingredients
I had planned on wrapping my cake in fondant, just the outside, to make it look like an actual frame. However, my brown fondant had other plans and ended up in the garbage. If you are planning on using something, check to make sure it’s still good!
7. Take breaks
I end up working till I drop on these cakes and I forget to stop. I don’t take breaks because I know how much stuff I have left to do and I honestly enjoy what I’m doing (usually, this cake was horrible!) so I get lost in it. However, it’s important to stop and eat once in a while! Maybe one day I’ll remember that 🙂
8. Practice makes perfect
Although my cake is not anywhere near perfect, I was starting to get the hang of smoothing it out. If only it wasn’t so big and I could fit it on my turntable! I had to stop multiple times to turn it by hand on my countertop (this thing weighs like a hundred pounds!!). I also had to keep putting it in the fridge to let the icing set because you can’t work with it when it gets too warm. But I think next time I will have an easier time icing a cake! (Not that I’ll be doing another one anytime soon! I think me and icing need a break!)
9. You can’t grow unless you challenge yourself
I knew this would be a huge challenge and I didn’t succeed this time. But I would never be happy with myself if I always did the same thing I know how to do just because I know I’m good at it. I’m a perfectionist and my own worst critic. I need to accept that sometimes things won’t go to plan, obstacles will get in my way, but I have to get back up again and keep going.
10. Don’t give up on your dreams because they seem impossible
Before I went back to university a few years back, I was actually considering going to pastry school. I could have learned so many things there that I love! But I chose the “safer” path. I thought I would never be the kind of person who gets up at 4 in the morning to go work in a bakery. I thought a career as a teacher or something like that would be more professional and what was expected of me. I always tried to make others happy without thinking if it was really what I wanted.
I was always encouraged to go to university and get a degree (not that that’s a bad thing). That would set me up with the perfect life. So that’s what I tried to do. But the thing is, that’s not what brings me the most happiness. I love to bake! I was up until 2 in the morning finishing this cake and then while trying to sleep, all I could think about was how can I make it better? Is there anything I can do now? Or should I just accept it and do better next time?
I want my kids growing up believing they can follow their hearts. That they should pursue their dreams no matter what. Even if it’s not the easy path. I want them to believe in themselves and know that they are good enough. I want them to know that if they want something bad enough, anything is possible.
What are some things you have failed but grown from? Comment below and don’t forget to sign up for emails to be notified of new posts 🙂 !