I am trying to make a pregnant belly cake for a shower this weekend but my 9x13 cakes keep falling apart. I fell in love with didi5's belly cake and I thought the belly would be the hardest part but I can't master the base cake! It seems like my cakes are too soft, can anyone tell me what I can do to a cake mix to make it more stable?
At first I tried baking 2 thinner layers so I wouldn't have to worry about torting something that size but the layers were too thin and fell apart. I just tried a full cake mix and it looked great and turned out of the pan great. I trimmed the top to make it level but then the crumb coat wouldn't work, it kept tearing up the cake. Would freezing the cake help with this? I was using a buttercream with a little bit of crisco. Should I have thinned it better? It seemed like the cake was just too soft.
I don't know what to do, the cake is a gift for a mother of 6 and I want to make it special but at this point I'm considering buying a sheet cake and constructing the belly on top of it.
Are you making a chocolate cake, perchance? Chocolate is always so much more crumbly than white or yellow.
You answered your own question! Yes, chilling the cake is the answer. Chill it before you torte it. Then, chill the layers before reassembling them. Don't freeze them solid, but a good 30 minutes or so in the freezer should make them much more managable.
Again, chill the cake before applying the crumb coat. And yes, definitely thin out your crumbcoat icing. It should glide on effortlessly. If you're tearing the cake, the icing is too stiff.
If you are using a crusting buttercream, keep in mind that it will take longer for your icing to crust on a well-chilled cake. Condensation will keep the icing sticky until the whole cake returns to room temp.
I also chill my cakes for at least 30 minutes after i crumb coat them as well as before. I have never attempted to torte a sheet cake. well, i never torte any cakes, i just make layers. using the extender recipe and/or adding pudding to your batter helps to make a more firm cake as well.
One thing I have noticed myself is that sometimes if I am using a store brand of pan spray then the cakes bake funny....they are not as sturdy...so I would also check to see if this may be an issue for you as well. I would use either bakers joy or use crisco and flour to coat the pans....you just never know....maybe this could be it for you....
Here's a cake troubleshooting chart which gives several reasons why a baked cake layer would fall apart:
(The most common reason is overmixing.)
Here's a link to Wilton's cake preparation and servings charts:
(Gives batter requirements by pan sizes, recommended baking temps. and times - and more.)
(A 13x9x2" pan requires 7 cups of cake batter.)
The WASC cake combines the reliability of a cake mix with a more homemade taste. Also the cake is moist and full recipe makes a tad over 14 cups of batter (using DH white cake mixes) so it's great for larger cake pans or multiple smaller ones.)
If your cakes are falling apart when you're frosting them, it might be that the frosting consistency is too stiff so that you're actually pulling the cake layers apart (whenever you lift your spatula).
Crumb coating should be done using a thin frosting. However, final frosting should be done with a medium consistency frosting.
Wilton's cake making & decorating help links:
Here's an overview of the different frostings by type:
(Also includes a troubleshooting chart on last page.)
Don't know if you want to try a different frosting recipe, but indydebi's is very popular:
Look forward to seeing pics of your belly cake!
You know what I've thought for awhile. Someone "in the know" ought to make up a simple chart for us learners to say what to use each consistency of icing for. I generally crumb coat with the same icing consistency that I finish it with, and also have noticed that some cakes "crumble" more. (especially chocolate)
So here's a mission for experienced decorators... make me a list of what to use when! Or point me in the direction of a modern list.
I've have done the method of chilling, stacking, chilling, carving, chilling crumb-coating for my Thomas cake, and it actually worked out very well. (though was sticky for such a loooong time!!) But I have also done my hockey jersey cake (rushed and and last minute due to a cake breakage) on a barely cooled, then lightly carved, soon after filled and crumb-coated cake, and it set much quicker, but was stressful.
you could just be having an "off" cake experience. Especially if you're stressed about it!
Take a breather, and relax. I'm sure it's going to turn out just fine!
Can't wait to see it!
Thanks for the advice ladies. I will try again tomorrow and hopefully this weekend I will have a beautiful picture to share with you!
I never freeze my cakes and don't have a crumbling problem.
Which brand of cake mix are you using? Betty Crocker and Pillsbury both have the pudding added to it so it's a little firmer than undoctored DH. I don't care for an undoctored Duncan Hines mix because I find it to be too soft and crumbly. If you are using DH, add 1 small box of instant pudding and an extra egg, it will firm it up.