Stacked Cake Problems

Decorating By CookieMeister Updated 29 May 2009 , 6:52pm by __Jamie__

CookieMeister Posted 29 May 2009 , 12:14pm
post #1 of 21

I shouldn't have tried something for my son's graduation party that I've only done once before (and not very successfully)! What a disaster!

So what is the secret of stacking buttercream covered layers without absolutely destroying your buttercream? All the time spent smoothing it was absolutely for not because I ended up getting my fingers all in it when I was trying to stack the cakes. Is there a way to "re-smooth" crusting buttercream?

And I made sure my cakes were very level. I even used a level! But the top layer is leaning slightly to the left. What can I do now about that?

Help! I'm freaking out!

20 replies
Kiddiekakes Posted 29 May 2009 , 12:19pm
post #2 of 21

It's all about practice and how to get the fingers out of the way the fastest....some use long spatulas but I find those hard to use and in the way...I use a non-crusting BC so if I do get my fingers in the side a bit I can smooth it out.Leveling also gets better with practice...Some use a small level from the hardware store before you ice it...I've seen Duff do that with fondant cakes.

Frecklepuss Posted 29 May 2009 , 12:23pm
post #3 of 21

Ohhh ... that is a shame! I haven't actually made a stacked buttercream cake but I thought you would stack first and frost after from top to bottom. That way you can fiddle with your layers until it is level. I hate to say it but I would remove the BC and re-do once your cake is stacked and leveled to your liking.

I hope it turns out for you, I bet it will taste great anyway!

IDoCakesinTX Posted 29 May 2009 , 12:26pm
post #4 of 21

Have you seen Sharon Zambito's successful stacking DVD? It has awesome methods which avoid the fingers in the buttercream dilemma.

peg818 Posted 29 May 2009 , 12:30pm
post #5 of 21

I refrigerate each tier before stacking, it makes it easier for me to man handle the cake, without a lot of damage

Kerry_Kake Posted 29 May 2009 , 12:31pm
post #6 of 21

I have never stacked a buttercream cake yet. But I will be in the future. Actually probably this weekend for my own anniversary (my husband hates chewing his frosting!). But I do know that you cover them first in buttercream and then stack. You can still probably go in and smooth even though it has crusted. It will just remove the crust and it will re-crust after you fix it icon_smile.gif As far as it not being level. My guess is that is coming from your dowel support. If they aren't all cut evenly your cake can lean to the lowest dowel there for making your cake look unlevel.

Here is a great tutorial from Edna on stacking and they are buttercream cakes:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NvaCSW78ybc&feature=channel_page

Ps. I could watch this video everyday. It's awesome!!!

Please post pics of your cake when your done. I'm sure it's not that bad! icon_biggrin.gif

HamSquad Posted 29 May 2009 , 12:32pm
post #7 of 21

What you experienced is normal with getting your fingers in the frosting.
You may want to try adding a little frosting in areas where your fingers touched, smooth a little with a small spatula or butter knife, I then let it crust for 10-15 minutes if using a crusting bc, then take a smooth paper towel (Viva)with a fondant smoother and smooth it with light pressure or you can just use your hand with paper towels achieve the same effect. hth
Hammy

PennieK Posted 29 May 2009 , 12:48pm
post #8 of 21

Don't push your dowels all the way into the cake. That will give you some room for your fingers when you stack. The weight of the cake will push the dowels in the rest of the way.

kcmarie Posted 29 May 2009 , 12:58pm
post #9 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by PennieK

Don't push your dowels all the way into the cake. That will give you some room for your fingers when you stack. The weight of the cake will push the dowels in the rest of the way.


Thanks for that suggestion! I will try that next time!

stephaniescakenj Posted 29 May 2009 , 1:04pm
post #10 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by PennieK

Don't push your dowels all the way into the cake. That will give you some room for your fingers when you stack. The weight of the cake will push the dowels in the rest of the way.





SeriousCakes has a youtube video demonstrating this. Her videos are great! I use a non crusting BC so it is a little different, but I make sure my cakes are cold (rock hard) before I stack that way it minimizes the damage. What little finger mark i may get in it around the edges, I cover with a border. And like it was said earlier, your dowels are probably unlevel. I'm not sure what type of dowels you're using, but I use bubble tea straws, they're easier to cut than wooden dowels.

Ps... definitely ice your cakes before stacking otherwise you'll have no frosting between the tiers

CookieMeister Posted 29 May 2009 , 2:39pm
post #11 of 21

These are great tips! Will definitely try them next time, but what can I do to correct this problem now? (other than strategic placement of piping and embellishments, which only covers so much! icon_sad.gif )

stephaniescakenj Posted 29 May 2009 , 2:43pm
post #12 of 21

do you have a picture so we can see it? I would say if it's really unlevel, pull off the top tier and fix the dowels, then restack. As for the buttercream, if possible, cover with embellishment if you can't resmooth.

indydebi Posted 29 May 2009 , 2:54pm
post #13 of 21

Use your icing spatula to help put the tiers in place. Your fingers never touch the cake. Another tip is to work from the back, so if you DO slightly mess it up, it's in the back where no one will see it.

Any smudges I might do are easily covered with the bottom border (icing or ribbon).

CookieMeister Posted 29 May 2009 , 2:55pm
post #14 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by stephaniescakenj

do you have a picture so we can see it? I would say if it's really unlevel, pull off the top tier and fix the dowels, then restack. As for the buttercream, if possible, cover with embellishment if you can't resmooth.




I'm at work, so no, I don't have a picture. icon_sad.gif

I guess I'm freaking out more about the buttercream than I am about the leaning. It's fairly slight but is leaning nonetheless. I'll take your suggestion and and just try to fix the dowels. Maybe one is shorter than it should be.

Should i scrape it all off the sides and just re-ice? Or can I just smooth the buttercream as always, even though it's already crusted?

poohthebear Posted 29 May 2009 , 2:55pm
post #15 of 21

I agree pull the top layer off with a long spatula and fix those dowels. Then to fix the fingerprints and things in the second layer you could use the edge of a spatula to scrap off some of the top of the second layer reice. To blend in with the sides use a hot spatula dipped in water. Hope this helps.
Just a hint, I'm not very good at getting some dumb dowels right either so after I cut and place into cake, before I put the next layer on, I place a blank cake board up there and use my level. Then I know if I have to straighten them out before the next tier goes on.

indydebi Posted 29 May 2009 , 2:59pm
post #16 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by CakeMeister

Quote:
Originally Posted by stephaniescakenj

do you have a picture so we can see it?

Should i scrape it all off the sides and just re-ice? Or can I just smooth the buttercream as always, even though it's already crusted?



Even if you had the fattest fingers in the world, I'm at a loss to envision how you mess it up so much that you have to scrape the whole thing off? icon_confused.gif I'm assuming you didnt wrap your hands around the sides to set it in place ... icon_lol.gificon_lol.gif ..... the mess-ups should be just some smudges at the bottom. When you get a chance, pics will help.

mmgiles Posted 29 May 2009 , 3:01pm
post #17 of 21

I use a big hard kitchen knife. Its almost just wide enough to balance the cake on top of it, if my hands were stead enough. I lide the knife between my hand and the cardboard underneath. Then I sit the front edge of the cake on and work from the back like indidebi. I then slide my hand out from underneath, careful not to sit the knife down onto the top of the lower tier, although if I did, you wouldnt see it. I just dont want to pull off all of the buttercream and its easier to remove the knife if its not all caked in buttercream. Anyway, I just lower it slowly and remove my hand and knife from the back. If there's any smudging its at the bottom in the back like indidebi and and the border will cover that.

alvarezmom Posted 29 May 2009 , 3:11pm
post #18 of 21

Kerry_Kate thanks for the tutorial! Edna makes it look like such a breeze!

__Jamie__ Posted 29 May 2009 , 6:41pm
post #19 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by kcmarie

Quote:
Originally Posted by PennieK

Don't push your dowels all the way into the cake. That will give you some room for your fingers when you stack. The weight of the cake will push the dowels in the rest of the way.

Thanks for that suggestion! I will try that next time!




Dittttttooo. And chill the heck out of your tiers, less marring and icing doesn't get all over your hands.

Kerry_Kake Posted 29 May 2009 , 6:50pm
post #20 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by __Jamie__

Quote:
Originally Posted by kcmarie

Quote:
Originally Posted by PennieK

Don't push your dowels all the way into the cake. That will give you some room for your fingers when you stack. The weight of the cake will push the dowels in the rest of the way.

Thanks for that suggestion! I will try that next time!



Dittttttooo. And chill the heck out of your tiers, less marring and icing doesn't get all over your hands.




Ummm, I have a question. Is this for crusting buttercream? If so, does it get moisture on it when coming back to room temperature and will have to re-crust?
I'm only thinking because if I take a cake out of the freezer and it's not totally thawed before I frost it, it won't form the crust until it's room temperature.

__Jamie__ Posted 29 May 2009 , 6:52pm
post #21 of 21

No, I use SMBC, not crusting at all. No moisture, maybe because I keep my house very dry. And I don't freeze cake, so I don't know about that question.

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