Troubleshooting My Melting Mess......

Decorating By Staceface81 Updated 17 Aug 2008 , 3:52pm by chrissycorrado

Staceface81 Posted 4 Aug 2008 , 6:21pm
post #1 of 21

Ok, so I had a big disaster this weekend and it's making me doubt my ability to decorate cakes. I worked on it for hours and nothing helped........I didn't sleep at all for worrying. Here is what I did and it's the same way I always do things without problems:
Baked 8 inch and 6 inch two layer WASC cakes. Dammed with stiff icing, filled with buttercream and let it sit overnight, like always. I used SugarShack's icing like always, and it was the right consistency. When I was ready to ice the 6 inch, I could NOT get it smooth or even. I took the icing off twice and started over...........nothing helped. I gave up and let it look just "ok" and went to the 8 inch which was just fine.
I stacked them using the SPS system, which resulted in a huge bulge around the middle (see photo). How could I have avoided this? The cake had settled for over 12 hours and I used a stiff buttercream dam.
Second issue - when I set the 6 inch on top of the 8 inch, the icing started separating from the side of the cake. What the heck?! I kept trying to smooth the bulge of the 8 inch and re-attach the icing to the 6 inch. Nothing. Nada. It looked like CRAP.
The icing would not stick to the cake. I have never had this issue. I tried to cover up the nastiness of the sides by using the icing "stripes" and thought it looked better, but not great...................then as time passed, the top layer looked worse (hourglass shape) and the bottom began showing another stinking bulge!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I gave up. I turned the car on and blasted the AC for 15 minutes to cool the car, set the boxed cake in the floorboard of the car with the AC aimed on it and tried to deliver. When I reached my destination, the entire back of icing on this cake had fallen off. It was horrible...........I was devastated.I did not charge anything for this cake, which was a blow to our budget.
Please tell me what I did wrong? !!!Was it the high humidity levels? Do I just suck? I produced a cake that looked like BUTT. How could I have fixed this? How do you avoid this??????????????????
LL

20 replies
Staceface81 Posted 5 Aug 2008 , 12:53am
post #2 of 21

No one else has had this problem? Man, my problem is worse than I thought. icon_smile.gif

Texas_Rose Posted 5 Aug 2008 , 1:00am
post #3 of 21

I actually read your post earlier, but I'd never used the SPS system so I had no advice about that.

I guess half a post is better than none at all icon_biggrin.gif so I'll tell you I think it was probably the humidity that gave you problems. Were you running your air conditioner while you were decorating it?

I know I have trouble with the heat and humidity here. If I take a buttercream cake outside, by the time I get it to the car, the borders are falling off. I've even seen the cakes in Walmart falling apart in the summertime. So if it's more humid and/or hotter where you are than usual, that's probably what went wrong.

By the way, your flowers are gorgeous!!!

Lindakbh Posted 5 Aug 2008 , 1:09am
post #4 of 21

Iâm really sorry to hear about that happening to you. You do NOT suck! It just seems like sometimes nothing will go right with a cake. That happens to me more times than I care to admit!

Iâm afraid Iâm not much of an expert-there are probably others that can give you a better answer. I have had some trouble with that icing in the past too, trying to get the right consistency. Did it seem like the ice was melting off or just falling off? If it was falling off, Iâd say it was probably a little too thick. If you used the same icing for the filling, though, I donât understand why it bulged if that is the case.

On the bright side, since you used the SPS system, the cake itself stayed intact and Iâll bet that it was delicious. It was also still a very pretty cake. I love those flowers and that was a good idea to pipe the sides. Hang in there- I'll bet the next one will be fine.

liapsim Posted 5 Aug 2008 , 1:16am
post #5 of 21

Hey, I had this problem about 2 weeks ago for the first time. I live in Georgia, so it's unbelievably humind here and I really believe that was my problem. I finally started over with my buttercream, added a little more meringue, and would only decorate in 30 minute incriments, then let it sit in the fridge for 30 minutes. That is what worked for me....thanks to the advice of several cakers on here! Good luck!

eneq Posted 5 Aug 2008 , 1:18am
post #6 of 21

its not just you, I live south of where you are and I had problems this weekend too. I had to remake my buttercream 3 times cause i thought maybe i was doing something wrong and making it too runny or something. i pretty much stored the cake in the fridge and it helped some. i transported the cakes semi frozen to prevent further disasters. it tooks me hours smoothing the buttercream too. lets keep our fingerscrossed that next time the weather cooperates. I was seriously questioning my ability and was just thankful the cake was for family. however, i really didn't want a 3 tier cake going to waste either. i would be in the hole if i was in business. oh wait, i AM in the hole already...lol. maybe i need to start charging. icon_lol.gif

Staceface81 Posted 5 Aug 2008 , 1:01pm
post #7 of 21

Thanks for the advice guys.........I don't think my icing was too thick, because it was the same consistency I always use. I just couldn't believe it. Yes, my AC was on. Weird!
So here's a question that comes from your replies. If you refrigerate a cake to keep the humidity from affecting it, doesn't it start to have problems once you take it out to transport?? I would think that the drastic change of temperature would make it a mess.
I got the low down from the man who ordered the cake. He said it tasted wonderful, but by the time they got it there the icing had completely come off the top layer. I still can't figure it out. The good news is that it didn't shift - so I know the SPS worked! Maybe Leahs will read this and let me know why the bulge occurred since I did everything like I was supposed to.
I still don't see how refrigeration can help.......

leah_s Posted 5 Aug 2008 , 2:17pm
post #8 of 21

Well, at least SPS kept it together, so that wasn't the problem!

I use an icing recipe that is heavy with meringue powder and don't have a problem with humidity. I have recently taken to putting a light weight on the top of my cakes as they're settling. It was a tip from someone on here. A paperback cookbook and really doesn't weight a lot works great. In culinary school we were always taught to place a cardboard on the top of the assembled tier and push down firmly. You have to stop right before you crack the layers . . . a learned skill for sure.

As for theicing peeling off, that;s similar to a giant bubble. That frequently occurs when cakes go in and out of refrigeraton/freezing. The other usual reason is that the icing is too stiff.

The right consistency for icing is just a smidge stiffer than whipped cream.

Staceface81 Posted 5 Aug 2008 , 3:58pm
post #9 of 21

Thank you leahs! I didn't know meringue powder helped with humidity. Should I just add some to my regular recipe when it's humid?
I know my icing was the right consistency, so that was what baffled me.
What a great tip on the weight! That would certainly cut down on any additional settling.
You guys are great!
I still can't figure out if I should refrigerate......that seems to cause it's own set of problems. ????

indydebi Posted 5 Aug 2008 , 10:45pm
post #10 of 21

The only time I've had icing problems was when I put the cake in the refrigerator ... which is why I never refrigerate my cakes.

Anything that stays "solid" in a cold environment, tends to start melting when moved to a warmer environment.

Staceface81 Posted 6 Aug 2008 , 12:13am
post #11 of 21

That's what I thought indydebi! So, are cakes in the humidity just a "no go?" What should I do different next time?????? I'm beginning to think I should just turn down cakes when it's this hot.

indydebi Posted 6 Aug 2008 , 12:44am
post #12 of 21

I'm not sure that folks realize what terrible humidity Indiana has. It's probably not at the top of your mental list of "bet THAT place is pretty humid!" (We know a lady from Conneticut who said, "I don't see how you people stand it here!" in reference to the humidity. We told her, "WE can't stand it EITHER!" icon_lol.gif ).

But I've never noticed a problem with heat or humidity affecting my icing. It always crusts well and holds up great ..... unless I put the cake in the refrigerator.

Staceface81 Posted 6 Aug 2008 , 12:51am
post #13 of 21

Indydebi, do you have any idea what went wrong then? I've done tons of cakes and NEVER had this happen. I'm stumped.

indydebi Posted 6 Aug 2008 , 12:54am
post #14 of 21

I can't add much to what leahs has already listed. You said it was the same icing you always use, so the fat/sugar ratio would be the same for the crusting effect.

This one may just fall into the "Stuff Happens!" column! icon_rolleyes.gif

Staceface81 Posted 6 Aug 2008 , 1:06am
post #15 of 21

Well thanks everyone for all the help. Hopefully it won't happen again.........I appreciate the advice. icon_smile.gif

chrissycorrado Posted 6 Aug 2008 , 1:06am
post #16 of 21

Hi - I had the same problem this weekend for the first time too! I did a lot of research about it so that it wouldn't happen again. What I found was a product called Icing Stabilizer. You add it to your icing recipe when it is hot outside. It is supposed to help keep it from melting. I found it on the KitchenKrafts.com web site. I hope it helps!

Shelly4481 Posted 7 Aug 2008 , 4:47pm
post #17 of 21

I checked out the stabilizer and the ingredients says cornstarch as the first one. The recipe I use now called for 2 tsp cornstarch but I quit putting it in my frosting because I didn't understand why I needed it. Maybe that is what it is for. I have a outside wedding in a few weeks and I think I will try that and see if it stabilizes it. Worth a try.

chrissycorrado Posted 7 Aug 2008 , 6:25pm
post #18 of 21

I hope to get the icing stabilizer in the mail this weekend, if so I am going to try it in a cake for Sunday. I'll let you know how it works. Let me know if adding the corn starch works for you. Thanks!

Staceface81 Posted 7 Aug 2008 , 6:35pm
post #19 of 21

I've had someone tell me to add Meringue Powder......does the cornstarch do the same thing?

dandelion56602 Posted 7 Aug 2008 , 6:53pm
post #20 of 21

One thing that has given me problems in the past w/ my icing sliding off is 1) the cake was still a little moist after thawing it---so now I thaw in the saran then take it off & let it air dry about 30 min before icing 2) The icing was too thin slid like an oyster down someone's throat!

I like to put a piece of wax paper on top (after daming & filling) then a cardboard & push it slightly. heard about putting a soup can or two & let it sit for a couple of hours. After pushing down & crumb coat & let it sit a couple of hours. not had a problem yet since starting this---crossing fingers.

chrissycorrado Posted 17 Aug 2008 , 3:52pm
post #21 of 21

I tried the icing stabilizer this weekend and I think it really worked! Granted it wasn't as hot yesterday as it was the weekend when I had my melting mess, but I had to travel an hour with my cake and it didn't melt a bit! The stablizer also made my icing smoother than usual. So I am giving it a thumbs up!

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