Baking cakes was my first food passion. I loved buttercream but jumped on the fondant train as it became popular. I recently made a semi naked cake without my normal tools (it was a destination wedding and my cake toolkit was sitting happily on the counter at home). Just like when I cook, I just rolled with the punches and improvised. I used a brisket knife instead of my offset spatula. Flour and cinnamon dusted the "bark". that had been rolled out with a wine bottle. I also used a toothpick instead of a brush to add food coloring where needed. My sister @shefollowsflowers did the arrangements and added some to the cake for an extra pop.
While I noticed every flaw and where my tools make a difference, the guests oohed and awed over the finished product.
Whenever I make a cake for decorating, I use boxed mix with a twist. I always use duck eggs for baking and in the case of a cake, I throw in an additional egg yolk. For buttercream, I have always stuck with the @wilton original recipe.