Help Please! Fragile Cake, Unsure If It Will Hold!

Decorating By Larkin121 Updated 31 May 2009 , 4:07pm by underthesun

Larkin121 Posted 30 May 2009 , 11:47pm
post #1 of 9

Ohhh no, my cake layers are super fragile! I used a chocolate cake recipe I got from a thread here about someone who tested 4 chocolate cakes and deemed this the winner... it's from Epicurious.com and the recipe has 4 stars and 1200 reviews!! So I baked it up and it rose perfectly and smelled great...i had enough left for cupcakes, which tasted amazing and were moist and great.

So I start torting my cake layers and the edges begin to come off in clumps. I work extra carefully, build my layers and try to do a crumb coat...and while icing, more wants to fall off and I have to push the icing rather than drag it. Panicking, I stuck the two tiers in the fridge with a badly done crumb coat and tried to breathe... What do I do?! I don't think I baked it wrong, baking is my first talent, not decorating, and I follow recipes absolutely exactly and have done tons of research and practice on technique. It's very hot here today (Seattle area) and we don't have AC, so maybe the heat is causing a problem? Will the fridge help? I hadn't planned on refrigerating the finished product overnight because I can't fit it all assembled in my fridge and the party is first thing in the morning. The cake is for my son's best friend who is turning 4. I have all the decorations already done (gumpaste and fondant) and they look so cute. I'm scared to go on because if it falls apart after that, it's over... i can't redo the decorations in time. The only thing I can think of is to start over with a box mix (which I really don't want to because the mom knows me for my baking and really wants a yummy homemade cake), but if I do that, all this cost goes down the drain, AND i'll be up til like 3 in the morning and I have a 3 yr old and 5 month old who wake up by 6am.

Do I just build and pray??? If I get it all to hold shape with a coat of icing and fondant, will it be strong enough to be stacked? It's just a 6" on a 10". Somebody help me stop freaking out!

8 replies
-K8memphis Posted 31 May 2009 , 12:22am
post #2 of 9

Get it nice & cold and keep it cold--wow wonder what happened.

Bonjovibabe has recommended ganache here lately for under fondant.

If it was me, I'd go get the cake mix & have it on hand.

Is it doing any better for yah cold???

I mean you can always eat it if it doesn't ultimately fly for you as a tier cake.
Make (cake truffles) cruffles.

Hey what about some cake spackle? Where Toba combines cake crumbs and icing and spreads it all over the cake. Wonder if that would help.

I've never used it--I'm just trying to brainstorm.

KitchenKat Posted 31 May 2009 , 2:36am
post #3 of 9

Hi! This recipe IS very moist and tender and tends to break apart if your torte it at room temperature. I freeze it immediately after baking, take it out shortly before working on it and torte, fill, crumbcoat it while partially frozen. Once it sets up it holds together well. I always spackle my cakes and for this I most often use raspberry preserves and ganache as the spackle binder. I've used this recipe for stacked and carved cakes, fondant and bc with no stability issues.

I don't refrigerate after assembly. In fact, I let the spackled cake sit at room temp up to 24 hours in advance before I cover with fondant so that the layers have a chance to settle. That means that when I decorate and deliver the cake is completely at room temp and it remains stable.

So....just chill your cake until it's cold and firm enough to work with.

Let us know how it goes

Larkin121 Posted 31 May 2009 , 5:04am
post #4 of 9

Thanks so much for your replies. I let it chill some in the fridge and when I pulled it out it was easier to work with. At that point I just kept going, and now I know to really let it chill. I think I should have left it longer, but I ended up not checking back here til after I finished it once I started up again. I love the taste, so I will definitely use this again and just really get it cold before I work with it. I just hope it holds up overnight, but it feels really solid now, and I think that might be because my filling is a super thick fudgey filling which probably is kinda gluing things together.

Can either of you explain spackling a cake to me? One of you mentioned with cake crumbs, one mentioned perserves and ganache? That is super intriguing to me. I'm still a super newbie - this is my 3rd stacked cake, 4th fondant cake - so I love any tips I can get.

sweetiesbykim Posted 31 May 2009 , 5:25am
post #5 of 9

I feel for you, and have been there. In the 1990's, I did a wedding cake for a family friend's daughter, at an exclusive country club. Made white cake mix tiers, and baked some that morning. When I was layering, BIG ENTIRE SIDES of the cake started falling off like an avalanche! Every time my mom walked in to check on my progress, another area was falling. Of course this was like 2 hours before having to leave with the cake. After patching, smearing, etc., I couldn't even take the bottom tier -so embarrasing icon_redface.gif I seemed to remember knowing at the time that the cake was too fresh and soft, but it was too late. A mistake I still get sick to my stomach over. I now make butter-based cakes and SMBC, and freeze/fridge the cakes at least overnight before assembly.

Yours will be fine -it probably has butter in the recipe which will firm up, and you can already tell the fridge has helped it. It will be great!

KitchenKat Posted 31 May 2009 , 8:40am
post #6 of 9

Spackle or spackling is a mixture of cake crumbs and a moistening agent. Toba Garret, who explains how to use it in her books, uses a mixture of cake crumbs, jam and buttercream. Others just use the crumbs and bc or crumbs and ganache. Basically you just combine the cake crumbs and the frosting to make a mixture that's thick but spreadable, like very stiff bc. Just use the trimmings you get from torting or carving the cake.

It's applied to a chilled cake after it has been torted, filled and crumbcoated. (I skip the crumbcoat and just spackle the filled cake). Apply it like crumbcoat to smooth the cake's surface and to fill in any cracks. Then chill till firm before applying your final coat of frosting.

It Gives my cakes a really smooth surface for frosting & fondant. It also seals cracks and craters. I love this technique and I use it all the time

underthesun Posted 31 May 2009 , 1:23pm
post #7 of 9

Just taking a break for baking and decided to go on. I'm mixing Toba Garret's Chocolate Fudge cake right now. I'm just testing out a few recipe's today for a 10 and 8" cake on Friday.

Is this the cake recipe you're talking about???

Too late not to continue, but would like to know before I decide it's as delicious as everyone says and decide to use it later in the week. Rather not deal with a cake that breaks apart.

Larkin121 Posted 31 May 2009 , 3:09pm
post #8 of 9

Nope, not Toba's, but if yours is a good recipe, would you mind sharing? icon_smile.gif Mind is called Double Chocolate Layer Cake on epicurious.com and is also posted here somewhere on Cake Central from what I saw in a thread here, but I'm not sure under what name.

My husband ate the scraps today and said it tasted awesome, so I do still think it was a good choice - I just didn't know to get it really cold first. It rose almost perfectly flat and came out of the pan super easy, so that's a couple things in favor of this recipe. icon_smile.gif

underthesun Posted 31 May 2009 , 4:07pm
post #9 of 9

I can't tell, yet. I've gotten to the point where I only want those cakes which can be leveled and carved easily. Can't stand to be in the process of putting on buttercream and start having issues like you did.

There is a thread going on right now, where some CC's are going to evaluate scratch cake recipes. They are starting with yellow, I believe. Can't wait to see how everything is evaluated. Look for Great Scratch Off, if you haven't seen it already.

This one has been raved about. I will say, it sank, about 1/8th inch just away from the edges , which from experience, tells me it's really moist. I like cakes that stay above the cake pan, so it makes leveling easy. it feel fairly dense, but I have a feeling, it's one of those that are hard to crumb coat. I might still use it, but at least I know to freeze it as others suggested on your post.

http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Chocolate-Fudge-Cake-109712

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