Need Help With Some Basics In Cake And Fondant!

Decorating By Horrorxgirl Updated 26 Aug 2009 , 10:49pm by jclvs2

Horrorxgirl Posted 23 Aug 2009 , 6:03am
post #1 of 17

I am having soo much trouble on a few things and wanted some seasoned cakers to give me some tips please.

1. I can't seem to keep my filling from bulging. it doesnt matter how stiff it is. as it settles i get a bulgy cake. And when I transport it gets even bulgier, especially if its a 2 tier. the bottom tier gets so much bulge that it has a shelf sometimes!

2. Why am I completely unable to roll my fondant out evenly? I watch videos and people have these perfect round or squarish looking fondant laid out before putting it on a cake. Mine looks like an amoeba.

3. I think I must use too much buttercream under my fondant because it just looks lumpy.

4. When I cut into my cakes they are very crumbly. I use the WASC recipe.

5. When I roll out my fondant I usually use shortening instead of powdered sugar. But sometimes my fondant (Michelle Foster recipe) just tears into pieces when I try to lift it. Too much shortening maybe? I dunno. I know I have the ability to make some good cakes but these basic things are really getting to me. I spend a lot of time covering up lumpy torn fondant. If someone asks me to make a simple cake for them, I will probably be in trouble.

I don't think it's the recipes I'm using that are bad because I hear such rave reviews on them. I'm sure it's my technique. So if anyone has any good tips, I'm all ears! Thanks.

16 replies
mrsmudrash Posted 23 Aug 2009 , 6:30am
post #2 of 17

Oh girl I have SO been there...only a few months ago! I can say practise makes perfect, but there are a few things I've learned that work well for me!!

You can try using chocolate ganache until you figure out the fondant issues. The ganache sets up firm, so that way you can practise on getting your fondant on your cake, smooooth!! It is SO great in transporting because it doesn't really settle...it stays firm. I ganache/fill my cakes at night, let them sit overnight to settle, then fondant it the next morning.

Also, I just went back to using buttercream now that I've gotten comfortable covering a cake with ganache. After a few failed attempts at buttercream and my cakes sitting at room temp, I have decided to refridgerate it!! So, I filled/crumb coated my cake with SMBC (Swiss Meringue Butter Cream) and put it in the fridge to get NICE and firm!!! Then, rolled out my fondant with CORN STARCH!! - that is the key!! I've used crisco and powdered sugar, but there is NOTHING like corn starch...I could actually slide my fondant across my counter because it doesn't absorb into the fondant like powdered sugar does...not sticking - try it! It's amazing. Then, after I cover it in fondant, I'll let it sit in front of a fan to evaporate any moisture that may happen from coming to room temp. Then decorate away. After you're done decorating, store it back in the fridge. Before you deliver, take it from the fridge and put it in front of a fan again for a little while and then you should be fine!!

A few other tips: This last cake I made (the knitting bag cake) I put a generous layer of buttercream under my cake so I had enough buttercream to smooth down and get it nice and smooth. So, I think for me, I'm going to do that again....I love having the extra on there to slide the bench scraper on in order to get a smooth butter creamed cake. Remember, whatever your ganache/buttercream crumb coat looks like, your fondant will look like...it needs to be smooooth! icon_smile.gif Also, try brushing your layers with simple syrup before putting the buttercream on them..it helps with moistness.


This has worked for me!!! Good luck!!!

brincess_b Posted 23 Aug 2009 , 9:07am
post #3 of 17

1. ,sounds like your filling might be too thick. try a thinner layer. you might want to do a very stiff bc dam around the edge too - many posts of how to do this. let your cake settle for a few hours ov over night before doing the final layer of icing - some people sit a book on top to help.

2. i dont think this really matters, as long as you have enough to cover the cake. really though, it comes with practice, but it does have a mind of its own.

3. try using a thinner layer of bc. make sure your bc is smooth before the fondant goes on. and dont press down on the fondant too hard, or you will be mushing the bc underneath = lumps.

4.some cakes are crumbier than others. maybe experiment with different recipes - and different brands or ingredients, they can give different reults. maybe though, it is just your knife - it needs to be really sharp, and for fondant cakes, it is better to be non-serated.

5. some people have more success rolling out on ps, or corn flour, (or mats) experiment and see what happens. maybe you are rolling your fondant too thin? is your fondant the right texture to start with? if that shortening is getting kneaded into the fondant then that will cause trouble too.

hope that helps!
xx

prterrell Posted 23 Aug 2009 , 7:15pm
post #4 of 17

1. Make sure you have a good, stiff, thick icing dam in place.
Put in less filling than you have been.
Don't put your filling or the dam right at the edge of the cake. Have about 1/4"of space to the edge of the cake. When you put on the top layer(s) and allow it to settle, it will fill in this space instead of bulging.

2. Try rolling only in 1 direction (away from you and back towards you). Turn the fondant a 1/8-1/4 turn after each pass.

3. Can't say for sure w/o watching you do the cake, but it may be that the buttercream undercoat is just not smooth enough. You need to have it completely smooth before applying the fondant.

4. Sorry, I don't use the WASC recipe, I make my cakes from scratch, so I don't have any advice here.

5. I use Satin Ice, haven't tried MFF yet, but you may be rolling the fondant out too thin or you may be getting it too warm. Try covering the rolled out fondant with plastic wrap and letting it rest for 10-15 minutes after rolling it before transfering it to the cake.

Texas_Rose Posted 23 Aug 2009 , 7:28pm
post #5 of 17

Fill the cake the night before you frost it, and let it settle overnight. Then if you see any bulges they can be fixed...trim off ridges, smooth icing bulges, etc...

It doesn't matter if the fondant is a perfect circle before it goes on the cake. You can trim off any long, sticking out parts if you want, before you cover the cake, but they're going to get trimmed off anyhow.

Use a crusting buttercream and put the cake in the fridge for a while before covering it. Once the cake is cold and the buttercream has crusted, use your hands to smooth it as much as possible. Then mist with water and put the fondant on.

I use WASC and the variations of it and it's not crumbly. You can freeze it (wrap well) for a day or so before you use it, to make it more moist. You can also try adding the yolks too instead of just the whites and see if it gets any less crumbly.

Usually the fondant tearing happens when there's been a ton of color added or if too much shortening has gotten worked into it. Try rolling your fondant on a sheet of vinyl that has been lightly dusted with cornstarch, and now and then flip the fondant over, dust it and flip it over again. Once you've got it rolled out the way you want it, rub your hands over it to smooth it as much as possible before you pick it up and put it on the cake.

Skirt Posted 23 Aug 2009 , 7:44pm
post #6 of 17

I don't use anything to roll out my fondant. I use a plastic rolling pin (the one from Fat Daddios on GSA, not the more expensive Wilton one) and I roll it on a pastry mat (bought at BBandB for 6.99!). Granted, the mat isn't big enough for big big cakes but certainly big enough for a 10"x4" round. When I started rolling fondant, I rolled it thin and it was a nightmare. Roll MUCH THICKER than you think! Also, using the flexible mat, I can lay the fondant on the cake right from the mat, without having to lift the entire piece of fondant. HTH!

Horrorxgirl Posted 24 Aug 2009 , 12:59am
post #7 of 17

Thank you! You guys have given me some awesome advice. Cant wait to test it out with my next cake. Some of it is even common sense and I wonder why I hadn't thought of it in the first place.

I never thought to keep the filling a 1/4 inch from the edge. I've also been kneading too much shortening into my fondant for sure. And refrigeration sounds like a good idea. And I never thought to use cornstarch instead of powdered sugar. I was afraid it would alter the taste somehow. Thanks again!

Bonnell Posted 24 Aug 2009 , 1:08am
post #8 of 17

Also, using the thick dam between layers is a must. Thicken the icing for the dam to the point that it is almost firm enougn to roll into a ball. That was the trick that helped me turn the "bulge" corner. Also, let your cake sit at least several hours (best overnight) after filling and before icing. Leah advises placing a ceramic tile on top of the cake to apply an even pressure and letting that sit overnight. I have used a book for that purpose but honestly, after I started using the thick dam I really haven't had any problems. HTH

alanaj Posted 24 Aug 2009 , 1:15am
post #9 of 17

Just want to chime in and agree with Skirt on the thickness issue. I finally bought Sugarshack's Flawless Fondant video and realized I was rolling my fondant WAY too thin. (Smacking forhead moment!) Thick fondant really helps with the lumpiness issue.

Sidenote: Skirt--I'm a Californian in Canada! Maybe we should start an exchange program. icon_wink.gif

jclvs2 Posted 24 Aug 2009 , 1:32am
post #10 of 17

I have a question for you Prterrell (or anyone else that has) since you said you use Satin Ice Fondant . I just bought the dr.brown fondant from Satin Ice and I have to make lg. gerbera daiseys. I have a plunger set and I have done some with the wht fondant and not had a problem. The brown was very sticky and would stick to the plunger unless I made it real thick which I do not want. Could I use cocoa powder instead of cornstarch to help with the stickies? I'm going to be trying to add gumpaste to it also so it will be firmer but still edible. Another question will the gumpaste lighten the color of the brown fondant? What do you think? If anyone else can help or share what they have done I would appreciate it Thanks!

Skirt Posted 24 Aug 2009 , 3:25am
post #11 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by jclvs2

I have a question for you Prterrell (or anyone else that has) since you said you use Fondant . I just bought the dr.brown fondant from and I have to make lg. gerbera daiseys. I have a plunger set and I have done some with the wht fondant and not had a problem. The brown was very sticky and would stick to the plunger unless I made it real thick which I do not want. Could I use cocoa powder instead of cornstarch to help with the stickies? I'm going to be trying to add gumpaste to it also so it will be firmer but still edible. Another question will the gumpaste lighten the color of the brown fondant? What do you think? If anyone else can help or share what they have done I would appreciate it Thanks!



You could try adding Tylose to your fondant to get a denser texture that firms up quickly. I haven't noticed it changing the color of the fondant.

prterrell Posted 24 Aug 2009 , 4:43pm
post #12 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by Skirt

Quote:
Originally Posted by jclvs2

I have a question for you Prterrell (or anyone else that has) since you said you use Fondant . I just bought the dr.brown fondant from and I have to make lg. gerbera daiseys. I have a plunger set and I have done some with the wht fondant and not had a problem. The brown was very sticky and would stick to the plunger unless I made it real thick which I do not want. Could I use cocoa powder instead of cornstarch to help with the stickies? I'm going to be trying to add gumpaste to it also so it will be firmer but still edible. Another question will the gumpaste lighten the color of the brown fondant? What do you think? If anyone else can help or share what they have done I would appreciate it Thanks!


You could try adding Tylose to your fondant to get a denser texture that firms up quickly. I haven't noticed it changing the color of the fondant.




Yeah, the colors are a bit sticky...I think it's because they are super-saturated so that you can custom blend your shade by mixing with the plain white. Skirt's suggestion should fix that for you if you're wanting to use the color straight from the container.

jclvs2 Posted 24 Aug 2009 , 6:38pm
post #13 of 17

Ok thank you both I will try that. I am a bit relieved now. Is Global Sugar Art the only place I can purchase it online? So the sprinkled cocoa is not a good option???

brincess_b Posted 26 Aug 2009 , 2:00pm
post #14 of 17

cocoa would work, without leaving obvious marks on the fondant.
you can mix in the fumpaste, but if its white, it will still lighten the brown.
xx

jclvs2 Posted 26 Aug 2009 , 3:05pm
post #15 of 17

Thank you brincess_b . Since my last post I did try the cocoa and it was as you said fine. thumbs_up.gif I also mixed the gumpaste in with the dr. brown and it lightened up to the perfect shade! icon_biggrin.gif I was so pleased.

Now when I make the whole batch I hope it works just as well. I have a scale to weight the gumpaste and fondant . they both should be the same weight before I mix right? I know it needs to be equal amounts but now sure if it was by weight or by fraction. Thanks for the info. icon_smile.gif

brincess_b Posted 26 Aug 2009 , 9:35pm
post #16 of 17

a 50/50 mix is just a general idea, not an exact science. its a good starting point, but if you find it dries too fast, then add more fondant, if it tears too easily, add more gumpaste. so you might well find a different ratio works better for you.
i wouldnt worry too much about hitting the exact numbers, but just see how it goes.
xx

jclvs2 Posted 26 Aug 2009 , 10:49pm
post #17 of 17

OK brincess_b I know what you mean. Thanks for tips on: drying to fast and or tears ,very good things to know ahead of time !!!

Thank you, Thank you , Thank you !!!! icon_wink.gifthumbs_up.gificon_biggrin.gif

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