Humidity And Cake Decorating

Decorating By staceyboots Updated 18 Aug 2008 , 6:38pm by staceyboots

staceyboots Posted 18 Aug 2008 , 3:44pm
post #1 of 14


I am soooo confused!! Can someone please explain âhumidityâ and its effects on royal icing, fondant, etc.? I always thought that humid conditions referred to hot and dry weather but some of the threads here on CC explained that humidity occurs when there is too much moisture in the air (like dampness?!).

Also, if the temperature in your kitchen is too hot, does this have an effect on how well buttercream crusts?

13 replies
millermom Posted 18 Aug 2008 , 4:06pm
post #2 of 14

Yes! Humidity is when there is too much moisture in the air icon_razz.gif

When this happens, the icing, BC or RI, cannot dry out properly. Humidity is also at its worst in the heat, and BC is softer when it is warm, so the combination of the two is LETHAL on cakes! icon_cry.gif

I just had a wedding cake to do earlier this month when it was around 100 degrees, and the humidity was around 60-70%. I have never had so much trouble. The entire cake was iced in BC, and it just started sliding down the sides of the cake before I had even started decorating. I ended up scraping it all off, adding more sugar to my frosting, and starting over. It still didn't co-operate very well, but I managed to keep things together. I was disgusted with the cake, but fortunately it was for a friend who was very appreciative.

I later found out, through this forum, that meringue powder will help in the humidity as it stabilizes the frosting. I have done one other cake since, and I added about 1 1/2 Tbsp. to the batch of frosting and everything was fine, but our temperatures have been more in the 80's recently with MUCH less humidity, so that was a factor as well.

Hope this helps clear things up.

staceyboots Posted 18 Aug 2008 , 4:16pm
post #3 of 14


thanks for the response!

i also use a high-humidity buttercream (with added cornstarch) for my cakes. if the weather outside is hot, the BC takes forever to crust and i get problems smoothing the cake using Sugarshack's technique...the BC starts to pull away from the cake.

Do you think that placing the cake in an air-conditioned room or close to a fan for a few minutes would help?

DebBTX Posted 18 Aug 2008 , 4:19pm
post #4 of 14

When people talk about hot and humid they are saying the air has a lot of moisture in it. I live where it is hot and humid a good portion of the year. People who do not live here would probably feel like their breath was taken away the first time they stepped off a plane and felt the hot, wet air for the first time.
I keep my indoor temperature fairly cold. If I allowed the kitchen to be hot, or the sun to shine directly on a cake for a while, my butter based frosting would be softer than I would want.

There are quite a few ladies on CC that use a hi-ratio shortening for their frosting base, and they do not have to worry as much about the temperature. They have even been able to let their cakes remain outside for certain lengths of time.

-Debbie B.

staceyboots Posted 18 Aug 2008 , 4:22pm
post #5 of 14

so, generally speaking, hot ruins buttercream and humid ruins royal icing, fondant and gumpaste?

Misdawn Posted 18 Aug 2008 , 4:26pm
post #6 of 14


DebBTX Posted 18 Aug 2008 , 4:26pm
post #7 of 14

Do you have Sugar Shacks DVD?

-Debbie B.

staceyboots Posted 18 Aug 2008 , 4:39pm
post #8 of 14
Originally Posted by DebBTX

Do you have Sugar Shacks DVD?

-Debbie B.

i have the Buttercream DVD

GenGen Posted 18 Aug 2008 , 4:55pm
post #9 of 14

i had a three tierd cake last summer- temps were in the high 90's maybe up to 100.. my ac back then wasn't tops, had a small one and a swamp cooler and a fan going.. was still in high 80's in the house..

with the way the new crisco is with 0 transfat makes the buttercreams alot softer and less tolerant to heat now..

course thats when i discoverd this.. (rolls eyes at self)

the icing was melting on the cake w hile i worked on it. *sigh* so i'd have to work about five minutes; toss it in the fridge for 15, rinse repeat so to speak..

next day was the delivery and had a ten minute trip i dreaded. i had hubby go out and "warm up the car" so to speak.. had the ac running for about ten minutes to chill the car down.

right now the last few days we've been Averaging 110 (keep in mind this is Northern idaho lol) and i have another 3 tiered cake for the same family coming up (wedding cake this time) so i think i'll be adding some meringue powder to my buttercream.

Hmm question.. can you add meringue to cream cheese frosting will it still do alright taste wise etc?

DebBTX Posted 18 Aug 2008 , 4:57pm
post #10 of 14

I believe Sharon has included recipes with the DVD. Her recipes would be perfect for a hot and humid environment. She lives near New Orleans, so that kind of climate is just a way of life for her.

I'm not sure what the weather situation is at your home, but here we run the A/C most of the year. I keep things pretty chilly inside.

-Debbie B.

Mike1394 Posted 18 Aug 2008 , 5:16pm
post #11 of 14
Originally Posted by staceyboots

so, generally speaking, hot ruins buttercream and humid ruins royal icing, fondant and gumpaste?

No, if it's a butter based BC, like SMBC, and IMBC yes heat kills. If it's a powdered sugar, and shortening based then no heat doesn't genrally bother it.

Humidity is moisture in the air. Sugar is hydroscopic. It attraects moisture. If something has sugar in it, and it is humid it will attract more moisture.


staceyboots Posted 18 Aug 2008 , 5:19pm
post #12 of 14

does anyone have a dehumidifier in their kitchen? does it make sense to purchase one for cake decorating?

sarahnichole975 Posted 18 Aug 2008 , 5:49pm
post #13 of 14

I'm close to Sharon, actually across Lake Pontchartrain from her, so even more humid. It's always like a game of chance how things are going to go. I've seriously considered a dehumidifier. I'd guess that her buttercream would be great for high heat and humidity. It's always damp here, even in the winter, and to be honest, I dislike making cakes 60 degree 100% humidity more than 100 degree with the same humidity. When it's cooler, it seems like everything just stays wet. I've had bow loops hard as a rock, put them on the cake, wake up the next morning and they're wilting from the humidity. And I've done plain fondant, mixed with gumtex, 50/50, and gumpaste, with all similar results. Though for me, I get the best results with fondant mixed with gumtex. I only use wilton fondant for all my bows and figures and find it works best for them. The high quality fondants I find don't do as well for bows and figures, at least not here.

The amount of moisture in the air (humidity) is also the reason I can't freeze cakes, even for carving. Once they come out of the freezer, they get so much condensation on them, they're a mess. Forget icing a frozen cake. I tried it a few times at the suggestion of someone, the buttercream will never crust!

Humidity, definitely the enemy of the cake decorator!

staceyboots Posted 18 Aug 2008 , 6:38pm
post #14 of 14
Originally Posted by sarahnichole975

Humidity, definitely the enemy of the cake decorator!

True that!!

The phrase "Make haste whilst the sun shines" also holds true for me as a cake decorator. There is nothing worse than having the rain fall on the day that i am planning to make decorations. UGHHHH!! icon_mad.gificon_mad.gif

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