Smash Cakery Posted 25 Jan 2013 , 11:45pm
post #1 of

I just started doing stacked cakes. This would, actually, be my second. PLEASE help me figure out why this happened. This is my sister's 30th birthday cake...well, was. I stacked it and crumb coated last night, and chilled it overnight in the fridge. It held up beautifully. I took it out this morning and let it sit on the counter for about 5 or 6 hours, until the moisture had evaporated from it coming to room temp.

 

I applied the buttercream over the crumb coat, and thats where things started to slightly go south. It started to lean a bit. I figured maybe because of the height (10"), that because i was pushing too hard one one side during icing, i had caused it to slip a little. I admit, I am guilty of trying to "push" it back into place when it started looking lopsided.

 

This is my construction- stacked a filled 3" tall, 6" round, and a 2" tall, 6" round, then doweled with five regular drinking straws. Put one last 3" tall, 6" round filled tier with a cake board underneath on top of that, then crumb coated. This is a betty crocker french vanilla cake mix, with crisco buttercream filling and icing (my sister's fav...not mine!)

 

I feel so disheartened, and feel like I should just give up the layer cakes and try to stick with cookies and sheet cakes. This is my sister's cake, so i was using the opportunity to try something new. I sent my husband to the store for bubble tea straws, which I read on these forums are much better for stacking.

 

What do I do?

 

starting to really go!

 

After checking the freezer, and just HAVING to laugh at this awfulness...

 

42 replies
savannahquinn Posted 26 Jan 2013 , 12:03am
post #2 of

Maybe not enough straws? I use wooden dowels to stack so I'm not sure.  looks like it just couldn't be supported by the straws underneath.

Izzy Sweet Posted 26 Jan 2013 , 12:58am
post #3 of

Were the cakes all level... I have taken up using a construction level for the cakes that i have been doing recently. I am really by no means an expert yet but if it is off even a little this could make it tip.

CWR41 Posted 26 Jan 2013 , 12:58am
post #4 of

Was it straight or topsy turvy to begin with?  A center dowel (or two) may have prevented the tiers from sliding apart from one another.

CakesByJen2 Posted 26 Jan 2013 , 1:00am
post #5 of

I would say maybe the straws weren't all cut to the same length, or not inserted completely straight so they started to tilt??  Also, I never let the cake warm up before icing.  Much easier to ice when the cake & crumbcoat are firm.  Also, for one that tall and narrow, I would have put a center dowel all the way thru.

 

It's a shame, it would have been a very cute cake!

-K8memphis Posted 26 Jan 2013 , 1:07am
post #6 of

what jen & izzy said--did you put the straws into the cake and cut them the height of the top of the cake?

 

or did you

 

  • put one straw in

 

  • mark it

 

  • take it out

 

  • cut all straws that same length

 

except for the obvious it was so well done

 

since you've laughed about it do you mind me saying that

 

that is one spectacular demise--y'know usually it's just a little too wonky  or something --

 

you got that allllll outa your system in one fell swoop

 

now it's alll it's gonna be smooth sailing!!!!

 

<high five> (((big hug)))

tickles130 Posted 26 Jan 2013 , 1:09am
post #7 of

AMaybe dowels would have been better :-( I feel your pain I've had this happen too and looked into dowelling for such cakes , best of luck and remember - don't give up just learn and have fun xx

Smash Cakery Posted 26 Jan 2013 , 3:14am
post #8 of

AI put the straws in the cake, and then cut them one by one. What is the correct method? I am about to try a do over with bubble/milkshake straws. They are HUGE! The bag actually says "extra strong".... Made me wonder if people who are buying straws really need them to be "extra strong". Haha...

Anyway, I decided that my another factor to consider was the density of my cake. I have read great things about the WASC cake extender recipe, and I just baked up the cakes and they seem much denser, which I like.

I don't have the ability tonight to dowel straight through the center, as my stores are closed! I'm hoping it will be okay. I am going to ice the cake up and down, instead of around and around, on my turntable. I think that will help to prevent things shifting.

OH! I left out the BIG mistake that I believe did me in completely... I decorated the entire cake on the turntable, and then moved the cake (it was sitting on a small cake circle). When I moved it onto the fondant covered cake board, the back was totally caved in, and the lean was immediately worse...

Okay, so my big question again is what is the correct way to cut the straws??

3craziescakes Posted 26 Jan 2013 , 3:23am
post #9 of

AI always use the dowels. I put one in a measure it, then use it as my guide to measure the rest.

CakesByJen2 Posted 26 Jan 2013 , 3:33am

You made a very common mistake, that I have even seen "big time" celebrity decorators do on TV.  You do not put the straws in, then cut them off even with the cake.  Cakes are not ever going to be completely level.  Therefore, the straws/dowels need to be cut to the same length *as each other* so that they will provide a completely level surface for the next tier to sit on.  You need to follow the method K8 described, put one straw in, mark it just even with the surface of the cake, and remove & cut.  THen cut all other supports to the exact length as the first straw.  Line them all up next to each other and double check that they are the same length and cut flat.  Then, insert into the cake, making sure they go in straight.  It is better to use an odd number rather than an even number.  There is a reason, but I'm not good at explaining it, but it's the same way a 3-legged stool doesn't rock, but a 4-legged one can.

 

I have almost always used straws (unless supporting larger than 12" tier) and have never had a problem.

Smash Cakery Posted 26 Jan 2013 , 3:40am

Jen,

 

Thanks so much for that how-to. I am about to stack this bad boy, and I will update you guys on my *HOPEFULLY* success in stacking. Off to the kitchen...
 

CWR41 Posted 26 Jan 2013 , 5:36am
Quote:
Originally Posted by Smash Cakery 

I don't have the ability tonight to dowel straight through the center, as my stores are closed!

Do you have bamboo skewers? You could tap them in strategically as far as they'll go.

Smash Cakery Posted 26 Jan 2013 , 6:39am

Alright, I can't thank everyone enough for their help tonight in troubleshooting my award winning catastrophe! Ha...

 

I rebaked the cakes, the bottom "tier" is french vanilla WASC cake, a 3" deep, and 2" deep six inch round. The top "tier" is a 3" inch deep chocolate WASC. The WASC recipe produced a cake that is MUCH more dense and sturdy than my previous go-to recipe. The previous recipe was super moist, but tempermental and fell apart a lot.

 

I used SIX bubble straws, just to be sure. I arranged them in a circle that was perfect for the cake round on top. I did the insert, mark, take out, cut, and use as a guideline method. I was very careful to make sure they were exactly the right height, all six of them.

 

I inserted them, and the cake board ended up sitting maybe a centimeter above the icing, after all was said and done. I used a level (iPhone app), and it was perfectly level. Praise GOD. haha. I filled in the gap between tiers, and covered in fondant! It's so sturdy!

 

Had a scary moment when I moved the cake board onto the larger drum, but nothing happened, no shifting at all. I did not center dowel the cake at all, because for the life of me, I couldn't find a THING in my house to stick in there, that would be remotely long enough. This cake stands about 12" tall, maybe 13"? It's about 2-3 inches higher than the disaster cake! And 100X as sturdy!!! YAY!!!

 

I couldn't be prouder of the cake. I've made the decision not to refrigerate the cake, due to the painting on the fondant. I don't want to play with fire. I'll experiment with that later.

 

It turns out, we are going out to dinner tomorrow for her party....!!!. Any tips for the drive to the restaurant? I'm so nervous.

 

Cakechick123 Posted 26 Jan 2013 , 7:47am
Quote:

 and then moved the cake (it was sitting on a small cake circle). When I moved it onto the fondant covered cake board, the back was totally caved in, and the lean was immediately worse...
 

 

I think that this was a huge contributor to your problem. From what I understand cake cirlcles are a thin cardboard, right? I think you cake was too heavy for that circle and when you moved it the cake buckeled and the staws sifted.

Evoir Posted 26 Jan 2013 , 11:21am

ABeautiful job on the remake. And kudos to you for taking the advice offered in the right spirit! The results peak for themselves!

Izzy Sweet Posted 26 Jan 2013 , 1:11pm

That looks great!!!!

-K8memphis Posted 26 Jan 2013 , 1:42pm

wow what a recovery

 

your cake is beautiful!

 

first i'm so glad you got the correct measuring thing down now--but the 1st way you did it--i've seen that on tv and i just cringe knowing that your exact scenario will be played out across the land

 

 and you are a really good artist -- good call about the paint and chilling --probably be fine to just box it and carry in your lap then just balance it in your hands/on your knees to lessen the g forces inherent in driving-- someone else is driving right? 

 

here's a coupla extra ideas for you~~

 

 

next time--even after you cut your dowel or straws scoot them back & forth with a ruler--if one jumps ahead of the others then trim that till there is no movement and they are indeed perfectly even

 

 

 

back & forth

 

 

then this picture is a bit dark--but see the bamboo skewers sticking out on either side??? the ones used for grilling kabobs--

 

when using corrugated cardboard you can reinforce it by sliding those all the way down intp the grooves if needed--

 

i just stopped short to make a visual--just get them in so far then press the skewers on the table top to force them the rest of the way in--flush with the edge of the board

 

sometimes all you need are two cardboards with the corrugation criss crossed --

 

add skewers for larger cakes or bottom boards

 

the pictured board was for a cheesecake--so needed to be more heavy duty

 

congrats on a stunning save!!!

 

 

Smash Cakery Posted 26 Jan 2013 , 3:54pm

AThank you guys SO much. Checked the cake this morning, and she still stands!! I am terrified of another mistake, as its crunch time now (party in 7 hours), and no time for another re do. I may be searching for issues, but it looks like in settling, the cake is ever so slightly leaning backwards. LORD.

I think I may be imagining it, though. I am not going to worry anymore. I did everything correctly and when I slightly jiggle the table it's sitting on, hardly moves at all. So, we will see how to car ride and big reveal goes!

remnant3333 Posted 26 Jan 2013 , 4:45pm

You are probably just paranoid because of what happened before.  I am sure everything will be just fine!!! Think positive and nothing will happen and most of all drive very carefully!!!! Let us know how things went!!!

-K8memphis Posted 26 Jan 2013 , 4:58pm

t minus 6 (hours) and counting...

 

icon_biggrin.gif

Annabakescakes Posted 26 Jan 2013 , 6:52pm

AI like to put my cakes in the freezer for about twice as long as the drive, up to about 2 hours. Meaning, if I have to drive a cake 30 minutes, I freeze it for an hour before I leave. It doesn't freeze it all the way through, just firms it up for the drive, and it is room temp about 10 minutes after I get there, which tastes best when you go to serve it.

3craziescakes Posted 26 Jan 2013 , 7:41pm

ALooks great!!

CWR41 Posted 26 Jan 2013 , 9:19pm
Quote:
Originally Posted by Smash Cakery 
I did not center dowel the cake at all, because for the life of me, I couldn't find a THING in my house to stick in there, that would be remotely long enough. This cake stands about 12" tall, maybe 13"?

Skewers don't need to be long enough to pierce through the entire cake if you'd use them strategically as you build it.  (I guess that opportunity is missed now.)

 

You've had all day to buy or borrow a dowel.  You may get away without a center dowel on graduated tiers, but I'm afraid a 13" tall tower of tiers will be too top heavy to survive a transport much farther than to the car.  Sorry... sounds like another disaster, but good luck.  I'd highly recommend getting a dowel in there.

-K8memphis Posted 26 Jan 2013 , 9:50pm

t minus 72 (mins) and counting

 

i think if you're careful in the car

 

and drive as if there's a raw egg rolling free on the dashboard that you do not want to break

 

you should be fine

 

hope someone can be holding the cake to gently react and balance it out from the g forces from driving in a car

 

maybe bring a little paint to re-touch the top in case --but if the paint is dry now--you should be fine

 

don't just put it on the floor if you don't absolutely have to

 

t minus 62 and counting...

-K8memphis Posted 26 Jan 2013 , 10:36pm

smash cakes buddy

 

if you're still reading this at t minus 22 and counting

 

could you give us a little text that you and the Seuss chapeau arrived intact?

 

icon_biggrin.gif

Smash Cakery Posted 27 Jan 2013 , 3:33am

Well ladies, we made it!!! All in one very solid and supported piece, I might add!! :)

My husband drove us to the restaurant, and he was so incredibly careful during the drive. I'm grateful for that. I held the cake in my lap, and was able to anticipate everything and accomodate for that.

 

My sister was incredibly surprised, and FREAKED out at the cake. I am so proud of myself, and SO SO SO grateful for all of your incredible suggestions. I feel so confident in my skills today, thanks to this thread! Here are the final pictures.

 

(Thing 1 lost a foot this morning, due to a little slip...so I made them "pop" out of the cake. Worked pretty well!)

 

 

 

crushed Posted 27 Jan 2013 , 3:46am

AJust fantastic!

-K8memphis Posted 27 Jan 2013 , 2:29pm
Quote:
Originally Posted by Smash Cakery 

Well ladies, we made it!!! All in one very solid and supported piece, I might add!! :)

My husband drove us to the restaurant, and he was so incredibly careful during the drive. I'm grateful for that. I held the cake in my lap, and was able to anticipate everything and accomodate for that.

 

My sister was incredibly surprised, and FREAKED out at the cake. I am so proud of myself, and SO SO SO grateful for all of your incredible suggestions. I feel so confident in my skills today, thanks to this thread! Here are the final pictures.

 

(Thing 1 lost a foot this morning, due to a little slip...so I made them "pop" out of the cake. Worked pretty well!)

 

 

 

wow a decorator is born

 

(and what a harrowing experience that was!! ;)

 

far beyond very very cool

 

welcome to the collection of the creative and the crazed

 

<high five>

3craziescakes Posted 27 Jan 2013 , 3:52pm

AYeah!!!!

mareg Posted 27 Jan 2013 , 5:31pm

AYay!!! Looks great!

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