Grad Cake's Sad Smooshing

Decorating By helen3743 Updated 16 Jul 2009 , 3:23am by Sarsi

helen3743 Posted 24 Jun 2009 , 5:26am
post #1 of 27

icon_cry.gif

So this forum category makes me feel a lot better that i'm not the only one that experiences this horror...

things I learned from this cake experience... im such a newb! (any added advice would be appreciated!)
* I read somewhere that serving buttercreamed cakes in room temp is best to help for taste. I can't help but to think this was a factor that caused the smooshing.
* Summer humidity sucks for cake, even with full blast of AC during a car ride.
* I've heard that people don't recommend fondant to be refridgerated, but if there's buttercream underneath, I would rather have sweating and spots on my fondant, than for what happened to my grad cake...
* Dam the buttercream filling
* Too much syrup maybe also caused the smooshing?
* anything else....? ( i had dowels, base boards, & center dowel...)
LL
LL

26 replies
nelikate Posted 24 Jun 2009 , 5:38am
post #2 of 27

Im sorry this happened to you! But it made me laugh because smashing my books is exactly how I feel when i finish a subject at university! The individual cakes looked good and I love the pencil and extra details.

Before stacking cakes I put them in the fridge again to harden a bit. If I can, I also put it in the fridge after stacking. - but Im not living in a really hot location. Hopefully someone else can give you a few tips.

Good luck and dont let this discourage you.

Nel

mustang1964 Posted 24 Jun 2009 , 5:39am
post #3 of 27

Wow, sorry that happened to you. Did it happen in transport or just after setting it up?

helen3743 Posted 24 Jun 2009 , 5:50am
post #4 of 27

* sigh... =]

Yeah.. I have a lot more respect now for a cake that looks well made... i didnt realize how much skill/experience is involved!

nelikate - Yes, I am going to chill the heck out of my next cakes... =] I heard somewhere else that fridging/freezing takes away some moisture from the cakes..? i dont know if that's true, but if so, i will take that over smooshing

mustang 1964 - Well after assembling, some pieces of the fondant weren't holding up as well, but definitely the cake was still presentable. But while on the drive to deliver, by the time I reached the entrance, the cake itself turned into mush... which i didnt think could happen with the dowels and stuff....

i'm learning a lot!! haha

Unlimited Posted 24 Jun 2009 , 5:51am
post #5 of 27

I don't see any cardboard supports... you need cardboard between every 2 layer cake.

helen3743 Posted 24 Jun 2009 , 5:53am
post #6 of 27

I used foam boards for every book & the cap...

maybe i did it wrong...?

Unlimited Posted 24 Jun 2009 , 5:56am
post #7 of 27

so where are they? I still don't see them?? or any dowels poking out???

umgrzfn Posted 24 Jun 2009 , 5:56am
post #8 of 27

Yeah, it looks like you didn't have support between EACH layer...if you did, I appologize. Also, when you stack your cakes, do you put a dowel at each corner and one in the middle when stacking a cake like this? I mean, a dowel on each corner and then ran down the middle of the entire cake? I would much rather over dowel then have a cake collapse on me. I just kinda decide on a cake by cake basis. HTH

nelikate Posted 24 Jun 2009 , 5:58am
post #9 of 27

I make gluten free cakes which are known for being dry but if I refrigerate or freeze they become more moist for some reason. I havent refrigerated fondant before - I too would be curious about peoples opinions on freezing and refigerating fondant.

N.

umgrzfn Posted 24 Jun 2009 , 5:59am
post #10 of 27

It also doesn't look like you had good support to the right (of your picture). Also, you say you used "foam". Was it possible that the cake was too heavy and therefor the dowels went through the "foam board"?

helen3743 Posted 24 Jun 2009 , 6:08am
post #11 of 27

Unlimited - Yeah you cant really see from the pic. But you can kinda tell if you look at the bottom of the yellow book on top. You can kind of see the foam board on the left side... It also looks like a really straight edge.. that i dont think cake by itself would look like...

The center dowel I'm guessing leaned over with the cake...
Maybe I didnt put it through the bottom base board which I should make sure to do next time...

umgrzfn - i did have a support for each layer =( I made measurements for each one and cut them out...
I did noT put dowels on each corner! Maybe that was part of the problem?
I put them near the middle of each book, because i wasn't exactly where each book would be on top of each other because i wanted them to look kind of angled...
I will remember that for next time though, to have more rather than less dowels..

helen3743 Posted 24 Jun 2009 , 6:13am
post #12 of 27

umgrzfn - Yeah you're right.. it doEs look like the right side had less support.
maybe the cake was too heavy? but the dowels i used were bubble tea straws.. so i dont think they could go through the foam....? maybe?

I appreciate everyone's responses.... i definitely don't want this to happen again..

Unlimited Posted 24 Jun 2009 , 6:16am
post #13 of 27

okay, so it's not a foam core board with white on both sides, but rather a waxed top cardboard with plain brown color on the bottom - right? And, I still can't see any board under the next book. You can get away with using a board every three layers, but not in this design because the books are staggered and not three layers tall to begin with. hope this info is helpful... better luck the next time.

helen3743 Posted 24 Jun 2009 , 6:39am
post #14 of 27

Hmm......


* I used Elmer's foam board underneath each book... they were 1/2 centimeter thick. Maybe that was too thin. I used the cardboard bases under each book & base just for during decorating and stuff...

* the brown you see I think is from the chocolate buttercream


I think theyre sooo many good reasons y i failed in this cake... but i dont think not having bases is one of them.. unless they were too thin?.... but everything you said does teach me I need to make sure to have a really good support system...

sweetiesbykim Posted 24 Jun 2009 , 6:45am
post #15 of 27

Yes, I use the thick straws, too. I put one every 3 inches directly under the corners, edges, and then fill in the center of those with more straws. I've had soft BC cakes with far away deliveries, but with enough good supports, they are fine. So sorry this happenedicon_sad.gif

helen3743 Posted 24 Jun 2009 , 6:59am
post #16 of 27

sweeties - my cake did noT have that many dowels like you're mentioning =T

i will definitely remember to do that as well next time.
thanks so much for sharing that advice! =)

Unlimited Posted 24 Jun 2009 , 7:29am
post #17 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by helen3743

Hmm......


* I used Elmer's foam board underneath each book... they were 1/2 centimeter thick. Maybe that was too thin. I used the cardboard bases under each book & base just for during decorating and stuff...

* the brown you see I think is from the chocolate buttercream


I think theyre sooo many good reasons y i failed in this cake... but i dont think not having bases is one of them.. unless they were too thin?.... but everything you said does teach me I need to make sure to have a really good support system...




1/2 cm is fine for even supporting wedding cakes, but you have to use them on the cake (not just under the cake while decorating and then remove). I can see the boards on the glass table during decorating, and was wondering where they went on the final product when it fell. Not using the boards IS the cause for the collapse, so it doesn't matter if you think "unless they were too thin?" if they weren't used.

Yes, you must use supports. Remember,
1.) 2 layers of cake on base board then add dowels/straws
2.) 2 layers of cake ON cardboard then add dowels/straws
3.) 2 layers of cake ON another cardboard then you're done stacking.

If transporting the cake, you should drive one long dowel rod through all of the stacked cakes, through all of the cardboards too until it hits the base cake board.

Also, keep in mind that you can over dowel. Using too many will weaken the cake just as though you were slicing/scoring through it with a knife, so only use enough to get the job done like no closer together than 4-5 inches.

helen3743 Posted 24 Jun 2009 , 7:41am
post #18 of 27

Thanks Unlimited for taking the time to help me out...

But for the foam base boards, I did nOt remove them when stacking. The foam boards were all there.
I diD remove the cardboard base boards though. (the big bases you see from the before picture. i had the cakes with the foam bases, on top of the cardboard bases during decorating).

The center dowel i used went through all the foam bases, but I think I did not make it go through the very bottom base board. Like, it hit it, because I could hear the sound being different when it touched the bottom base board; but I'm not sure if next time I should make sure for it to also go through the base board a little, as well, for more support?

Thank you so much for the tip about over doweling..
I can see how that could weaken the cake.
=)

Unlimited Posted 24 Jun 2009 , 8:11am
post #19 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by helen3743

Thanks Unlimited for taking the time to help me out...

But for the foam base boards, I did nOt remove them when stacking. The foam boards were all there.


I guess I can't help with a diagnosis then, sorry but I still can't see them and you said the darker area wasn't cardboard but rather choc. buttercream. Perhaps the confusion is what we're calling all of these boards!!!! I call base board the very bottom one; could be plywood, and I call cardboard what's on the bottom of all of the rest of the cakes (like corrugated cardboard circles on wedding tiers).

Quote:
Originally Posted by helen3743


The center dowel i used went through all the foam bases, but I think I did not make it go through the very bottom base board. Like, it hit it, because I could hear the sound being different when it touched the bottom base board; but I'm not sure if next time I should make sure for it to also go through the base board a little, as well, for more support?




Naaa... you did fine with that. It isn't necessary--you wouldn't want to hammer all the way through to the base of a wedding cake if it was on your fountain plates and they cracked in half!

Happy decorating!icon_surprised.gif)[/quote]

Loucinda Posted 24 Jun 2009 , 1:53pm
post #20 of 27

Just to add to all the above - when I dowel a cake, (using the bubble tea straws on a cake like this) I always use the amount of straws for the cake that is going to be on top of that particular layer (if it is an 8" cake going on top, I use 8 straws) All but 2 of those will be on the outside edges of where that top layer will be setting - then those remaining 2 off set in towards the center. I then would put the center dowel through all layers INTO the 1/2" foamcore base. If the center dowel isn't through the base, it doesn't do any good IMO. Make sure all dowels are in there straight - if any of them are crooked, it compromises the structure too.

jimandmollie Posted 24 Jun 2009 , 2:26pm
post #21 of 27

I am by no means a professional and I am probably wrong but........

How long did you let those cakes sit before you covered them?

One of the first fondant cakes I made got really soft and almost liquified on me too. I figured out that it was because I didn't let the cakes cool off enough and kind of dry out a bit before I covered them. It is almost like once you put that fondant on there it seals in the cake and it gets even more moist, especially if it is still warm and all that steam gets trapped under there. I always let my cakes sit in the fridge overnight now before I put fondant on them. I think humidity could prob do it to a cooled cake too though. Think of the steam that gets in a greenhouse. Maybe that is the same thing that is happening under that fondant?

Just from my personal experience, I have never put any kind of syrup on a cake. My cakes are always so moist that I would be afraid of something like this happening. I also would like to add that if you are using a box mix you can add a half packet of instant pudding to the batter to firm it up a bit for better stacking/carving. It makes it taste better too. I never make a cake now without adding some kind of pudding to it.

I am so sorry that this happened to you. It looked great before it collapsed! Keep your head up and work on the next one! icon_smile.gif

aswartzw Posted 24 Jun 2009 , 2:42pm
post #22 of 27

Was your foam the stiff kind or the crafty type that is flimsy? The foam must be super stiff (like cardboard).

aswartzw Posted 24 Jun 2009 , 2:47pm
post #23 of 27

Also, to what height did you cut your dowels? Were they all cut to the same height for each book and cut slightly above the cake? If you make the dowels even, you are smashing the cake underneath and forcing it to smoosh out. No amount of doweling would keep the cakes together if that happens.

matthewkyrankelly Posted 24 Jun 2009 , 2:55pm
post #24 of 27

Beautiful cake. Sorry that happened. It wasn't the foam board. It almost looks like the cake was canted(hanging over) too much. Also, the top book was right over that. If you can imagine, all of the weight was on that back edge of the lower book. I wouldn't trust that to straws or dowelling. In the future, the SPS system attaches the columns to the base that supports each layer. The cake and its support becomeone structural unit. In this case, The boards are basically balancing on the ends of straws. This is OK in very limited circumstances. Canted designs are engineering nightmares and require extreme support. If your books were simply stacked, it would have worked well.

I loved all of the original work! Beautiful.

umgrzfn Posted 24 Jun 2009 , 6:42pm
post #25 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by Loucinda

Just to add to all the above - when I dowel a cake, (using the bubble tea straws on a cake like this) I always use the amount of straws for the cake that is going to be on top of that particular layer (if it is an 8" cake going on top, I use 8 straws) All but 2 of those will be on the outside edges of where that top layer will be setting - then those remaining 2 off set in towards the center. I then would put the center dowel through all layers INTO the 1/2" foamcore base. If the center dowel isn't through the base, it doesn't do any good IMO. Make sure all dowels are in there straight - if any of them are crooked, it compromises the structure too.



VERY WELL SAID!!!! This is what I was trying to say...thank you! I do disagree with unlimited though, your center dowel does need to go through the bottom. UNLESS you are using the SPS system, but since you used board, the center dowel really should have went through the bottom one. All dowels/straws should be cut EXACTLY the same.

umgrzfn Posted 24 Jun 2009 , 6:44pm
post #26 of 27

BTW, you did a BEAUTIFUL job on decorating them!!

Sarsi Posted 16 Jul 2009 , 3:23am
post #27 of 27

OH dear!! I'm so sorry!!! They looked so great before the collapse!! icon_sad.gif I'm very sorry!! Hopefully though, it will be a lesson for next time...since thats usually the ONLY good that we can get from these terrible cake mishaps!!!

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