This isn't a personal cake disaster, but something happened this weekend that left me dumbfounded. I delivered a wedding cake on Sunday for a friend who made it, but had to go out of town and wasn't able to deliver it herself. She baked it Thursday morning and decorated it later that night as she had to leave Friday morning.
It was a 3 tier square cake with bc icing and had fondant branches with some decorator cherry blossoms she purchased. I was there when she assembled and iced the cake, and I even rolled the branches and twigs out of the fondant for her. I suggested adding gumpaste to the fondant, but she didn't have any so we had to use the fondant as was. It was Satin Ice's dark chocolate fondant by the way. I left before she started decorating because I had to work the next morning.
Fast forward to Sunday when I went to pick up the cake. I open the fridge and low & behold the branches had melted a bit and bled into the icing! Some of them even pooled a little on the board!! It was even worse when I got the cake to the venue, even though I had my ac on full blast prior to picking up the cake and during the entire 12 minute drive! I had to add the twigs that she left off to harden and whenever I touched a branch it was like the fondant had liquified! I had never seen anything like it before!! What would cause that to happen?!?!
I have a couple of theories.....first, she pushed the branches into the bc. I asked her before she started decorating it if she was going to "glue" them on with ri or bc and she said bc. So imagine my surprise when I picked the cake up and the branches were pushed in. I texted her to ask her why and she said she was making too much of a mess using the bc to attach the branches.
Second, I think she decorated it too early. When I used to work at a bakery many years ago, you could tell which cakes were fresh and which were not just by looking at the border and flowers. The longer a cake sat the more the colored icings would bleed. Is it the same thing with fondant?
So would either of these things or a combination of both be what caused the fondant to liquify? Or could it have been the brand of fondant itself?? I've only used Satin Ice myself once before, but never the dark chocolate one so I don't know how well it holds up. Maybe it was old? Would this still have happened if she glued the branches on? They would have been still technically touching the bc, right?
Sorry so long and sorry for all the questions, but I want to understand what happened so it won't ever happen to me! I felt bad just delivering the cake! I couldn't imagine putting all that work into it only to have it melt!!
Has this ever happened to anyone before?
Just sounds like an issue with condensation/humidity to me and perhaps an issue with whatever BC recipe used. Either, or both, could have caused this problem.
Any cold object that comes in contact with a warmer object or warmer air in the presence of moisture will yield condensation.
As for the cake in the fridge, I'd guess that she has a pretty humid refrigerator, hence the puddling.
If the cake had a filling that would spoil, then it had to be in the fridge, but if the filling was shelf-stable, then it would have been better on the counter.
Buttercream won't hold much weight and my choice would have been to attach the branches--and probably the flowers, too--with chocolate. 2nd choice would have been royal icing.
I've used Satin Ice dark chocolate. It's very stiff because it has a lot of chocolate in it. I think that to melt, it had to have been exposed to moisture/humidity/condensation.
I agree with BlakesCakes that this sounds like a condensation/humidity issue. Fondant can get gummy in the fridge and even though I refrigerate almost all of my fondant cakes, whenever I am working with dark fondant on a light/white cake I always cover the cake with a garbage bag while it's in the cooler. Small cakes you can just put in the bag and tie at the top. On big cakes you can put the bag over the top of the cake and tape to the sides of the cake board, just keep the bag nice and loose. This will keep almost all of the condensation at bay.
Thank you both! I never even knew it was possible for a fridge to have humidity! I'll have to ask her if she's had any other issues and maybe we can track it down to the fridge. The cake was shelf stable, but she didn't want to leave it out for 3 days. Plus she rents from and works out of a local deli so it would've been a disaster to leave the cake out with other people working around it.
So it was stored in a commercial cooler/deli fridge until you picked it up?
Many commericial coolers are designed specifically to BE HUMID, unlike home refrigerators which are designed to be dry.
Yeah. I didn't know that about the commercial fridge/coolers. I bet she doesn't either or she wouldn't have put it in there. I'll definitely let her know. Thanks Rae! By the way, I love your first quote in your siggy. My husband always tells me something very similar to that when I'm down to the wire on a cake and freaking out! I'll have to share that with him!