I Really Need Help..what Am I Doing Wrong?

Decorating By woohooimallie Updated 1 Aug 2008 , 4:03am by mom2owen1

woohooimallie Posted 29 Jul 2008 , 2:26pm
post #1 of 14

Yesterday I made the ugliest cake ever. Luckily, it was just for fun for my friends and I to have. But I was trying to practice and everything. So basically I was in a hurry and I forgot to use bake even strips. I baked my cakes at 325 and patted them down with a towel when they were done. I used Wilton cake release which, everytime I use that it forms a hard crust around the edge of my cake. Anyone else have the problem? So then I torted the two layers but once I filled them I had super jagged edges and tried to cut them down (after I had tried to get the "cake release crust" off) but all the happened was big chunks were just falling off after I tried to shape it. Not to mention I have a hump on top and for some reason I am never able to trim the top off my cake.

I just hear people talking about settling and waiting a day to frost it and blah blah. Well what does settling mean? What am I doing wrong? I made the entire thing in 3.5 hours but Ive had some of the same problems before. Can anyone help?!

13 replies
DianeLM Posted 29 Jul 2008 , 2:46pm
post #2 of 14

I'm sorry your cake didn't come out the way you wanted. On the plus side, you have identified many of the problems yourself.

First, bake-even strips definitely would have helped. As for the 'crust', if you haven't overbaked your cake, you really don't need to worry about that. Icing with soften the cake so it won't be crusty.

You fiddled around with your cake too soon. A freshly baked cake needs several hours to rest. As you found it, it's way too fragile when it's fresh, resulting in the 'big chunks falling off'.

It may sound like 'blah blah blah', but there is validity to the concept of allowing cakes to rest. There's lots of air and remnants of leavening gasses that need to stabilize and release. You'll notice a big difference if you bake a day in advance. You'll notice an even BIGGER difference if you freeze your cakes overnight and let them thaw before decorating. I don't know why, but they're easier to work with while remaining extremely moist.

Why aren't you able to trim the top off your cake? Does it give you problems? Or do you have some sort of moral objection? icon_wink.gif

After you've torted and filled, rather than trying to trim the sides of the cake even, try applying a crumb coat to fill in the gaps and give a smooth surface for icing.

tiggy2 Posted 29 Jul 2008 , 3:25pm
post #3 of 14

DianeLM gave you excellent advice! When filling your layers if you use a thicker icing and pipe a damn just inside the outside edges you should not have the uneven sides. Fill inside the "damn" and set a layer on top. Push down gently, smooth icing around the sides and fill in any open spots with the thick frosting and smooth again then let it settle a few hours before icing.

Sugarshack (cc member) has an excellent DVD on buttercream you might want to invest in. She shows step by step how to fill and frost. Her website is www.sugaredproductions.com

woohooimallie Posted 29 Jul 2008 , 4:23pm
post #4 of 14

Oh, gosh. I am sorry I wasn't trying to make it sound like all the "blah blah blah" was a bad thing. I just meant that I don't know what all those terms mean or what order they are supposed to come in.
When I said I can't trim the top off my cake, it might just be me because all my cakes are vegan, as am I and I don't know maybe it's that but it's super moist on top so when I try to trim the top it just balls up. But maybe like you said I just need to wait. I have just been so busy this week and actually the cake was meant for today but we had a quick last minute rescheduling leaving me with no time to to do everything. And I guess it showed. I tried freezing my cakes and it made it easier to frost but when it came time to eat it, it tasted dry and stale..although I did freeze it for about 5 days...
I maybe invest in sugarshack's video, because I thought I knew how to do everything but I keep having problems...Anyways, thank you both so much for your help!!

CakeWhizz Posted 29 Jul 2008 , 4:33pm
post #5 of 14

My advice will be not to be too hard on yourself. The best way to learn is to make mistakes and try to recover from them. Definitely invest in bake even strips if you can although old towels cut into strips and soaked very well will do. Linning your cake pans with non stick paper also helps. I will also suggest you get Sugarshacks DVDs as they are awesome.

aswartzw Posted 29 Jul 2008 , 4:41pm
post #6 of 14

Let's see.... Lots of advice so this might be a bit long.

before doing anything, test the temperature of your oven with an oven thermometer. Your oven might be off.

Baking...

1. Use homemade release (equal parts veg. oil, shortening, and crisco). Brush on bottom and sides with silicone brush (generously).
2. Soak your bake-even strips for 30 minutes (i promise this works).
3. Bake at 300 for 20 minutes and then the remainder at 325.

No more humps. I swear.

To freeze... Wrap your cake well. It should last in the freezer for several months if wrapped correctly. Wrap in a couple layers of saran wrap and then a couple layers of aluminum foil.

alliebear Posted 29 Jul 2008 , 4:44pm
post #7 of 14

i always bake ahead its so much easier to work with a cake thats been rested for 24 hours i learned this the hard way as well. i like to look on you tube. there are alot of short videos that help with the concepts some are incomplete but u get the idea. maybe invest in a good cake decorating book that outlines the basic concepts... its all about practise. when i first started i used to compare myself to the cakes on here but i realized i cant. i have only had a few years doing this and some of these cake decoraters have decades. its all about trial and error. good lluck

Texas_Rose Posted 29 Jul 2008 , 4:52pm
post #8 of 14

I don't know if you've tried it yet, but Wilton makes a small cake leveler that works pretty well. It's just a wire stretched across a frame. You slide the wire up to the height that you want, then use it to cut the hump off the cake. It works really well for me, always has, because it comes out even and the wire goes through the cake without tearing it up.

I use cooking spray on my pans. I've noticed the outside of my cakes gets a lot harder when I grease and flour the pan, and it doesn't come out any more easily with the grease and flour, so I just stick with my Pam spray (or generic equivalent).

woohooimallie Posted 29 Jul 2008 , 5:46pm
post #9 of 14

Thank you for all the help!! The Wilton cake leveler is actually the method I use. It works fine for cutting the cake in half but maybe I just need to wait longer before I try to take the top off. Thanks again for all the tips! You have no idea how helpful they are!!

chefjulie Posted 29 Jul 2008 , 6:10pm
post #10 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by alliebear

i always bake ahead its so much easier to work with a cake thats been rested for 24 hours i learned this the hard way as well. i like to look on you tube. there are alot of short videos that help with the concepts some are incomplete but u get the idea. maybe invest in a good cake decorating book that outlines the basic concepts... its all about practise. when i first started i used to compare myself to the cakes on here but i realized i cant. i have only had a few years doing this and some of these cake decoraters have decades. its all about trial and error. good lluck




When you let it rest for 24 hours, do you cover it? I usually let mine cool on the cooling rack for 3-4 hours then just wrap it and freeze. Also, how long do you let it defrost before decorating? Im always worried that Im not giving it enough time. I have a big cake this weekend, and Im trying to decide when to bake. I have enough time that I could do it all on Fri/Sat but if it's better to freeze it first, I may bake on Wed., freeze Thurs and then thaw on Fri and decorate on Sat. (party is Sun).

sfunky67 Posted 30 Jul 2008 , 11:17pm
post #11 of 14

Try using unflavored dental floss to cut your layers. They must be totally thawed to use this method, but it "cuts" the cake so much nicer than a knife or the Wilton leveler for that matter. Just wrap the floss around each index finger, start on one side of the cake and slowly pull through the cake. I usually hold my left hand stationary at the 'entry' point, then go around the cake with my right hand. To pull the layers off, I slide my Airbake cookie sheet (rimless) between layers and lift off! You can also poke half of a toothpick in each layer of the cake before you separate the layers to know how to line them up again. Just a few thoughts...hope they help!
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andromedaslove Posted 31 Jul 2008 , 2:19pm
post #12 of 14

I can definately tell that I will NEVER make the mistake of not letting my cakes settle again. Yesterday was my Mother in Laws birthday and I put making the cake until the last minute. Literally, I baked, decorated, and everything just in time to go to dinner. I had to take a tooth pick with me so I could pop the air bubbles that kept appearing. Luckily I was able to hide them under the decorations, but it was really annoying.

I always use cake release, I have never had a problem with it. Once the cake is covered in icing the crust softens and isn't noticeable at all. I don't think I would bake cakes if I had to try and cut the crust off of every edge. I have a hard enough time torting without the cake falling apart on me!!

woohooimallie Posted 1 Aug 2008 , 3:17am
post #13 of 14

Thanks all! You've all been so helpful!

mom2owen1 Posted 1 Aug 2008 , 4:03am
post #14 of 14

my vegan cakes are nearly impossible to level on the top as well. the tops are always very gummy and sticky. although, most of the time i wouldn't need to anyway. they never seem to rise much.

i only bake vegan about 35% of the time though, so i don't have tons of experience in that area. i always seem to use the same 4 or 5 recipes as well.

i tend to push the limit on baking and decorating too. i need to learn to space myself out.

kris

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