Late Night Cake Anxiety--- Please Help Me

Business By MasterBakerRumpShaker Updated 18 Jun 2013 , 9:08pm by KayMur

MasterBakerRumpShaker Posted 2 Jun 2013 , 6:16am
post #1 of 23

Background: I have delivered hundreds of wedding cakes with out a hitch in a very dry cool climate where I went to culinary school and was mentored and taught cake decorating and the business. 


I moved to a VERY humid and hot state where I had my first summer wedding delivery today. The humidity was 97% today with a 40% chance of thunderstorms at 76 degrees at an outdoor venue. 


This cake was 5 tiers, fondant covered with buttercream under and in each layer. 4x4, 4x6, 4x8, 4x10, 4x12. I assembled the 8, 10 and 12" tiers together and the top two together for delivery and then finished assembling on site. 


I am having so much anxiety about this because I have never had to contend with this much heat and moisture before when decorating and delivering. 


I pulled the cake out of the cooler this morning to finish decorating and then it started to sweat. I had two fans on it and then wheeled it in to an air conditioned, isolated room until delivery (about 3 hours). I delivered the cake at 2:00pm and the ceremony was at 3:00 with dinner service starting at 5:00pm. 


It was dry when I delivered it but it had been sweating so it wasn't perfect, I had lots of people complimenting it as I was setting up but it was just so humid and wet today that I am so worried about it. 


I always use straws as support- the amount is based on the size of the tier it is supporting. For example at 10" cake gets 10 straws stuck in to the 12" tier. 


I am 5 months pregnant and I wasn't going to take any orders moving forward but I ended up agreeing to do this for one of my employees friends. Lots of discounts, no contact- you know, all of the worst things that I could have done to not protect myself. 


I am second guessing myself on everything. I always deliver a cold cake so it can come to temp during the ceremony and be ready for cake service but since I delivered it at room temp in terrible conditions I am just sick with worry. 


What am I responsible for in this case? I felt good about it as I left it but I am not confident that straws and warm buttercream were enough to combat the humidity. 


I can't sleep. This has been such a humbling experience for me. Reaching for anything....



22 replies
MasterBakerRumpShaker Posted 2 Jun 2013 , 7:45am
post #2 of 23

I have been researching SPS. I think that is something I will start doing if I can build my confidence back up enough to tackle another Midwestern summer outdoor wedding. But if anyone has any other advice for me moving forward or how I could have done this better I would be so thankful. 


I just feel awful and am looking for a friend in cake. :-(

810whitechoc Posted 2 Jun 2013 , 11:02am
post #3 of 23

As awful as an experience as this was for you, take a deep breath and relax, it was just a cake. I know you don't want to disappoint anybody and your personal credibility has been challenged by this experience, but it is still just a cake.


I'm in Australia so understand what you mean about the heat and humidity. You now have the opportunity to learn a whole lot of new skills around learning how to bake and create in heat, and as you now realise there is a whole new skill set for you to get your teeth into.


Congratulations on your pregnancy, your baby needs you to take a deep breath and when you can, have a good laugh and realise it was just a cake.

DeliciousDesserts Posted 2 Jun 2013 , 11:16am
post #4 of 23

AI'm in South Carolina. We are below sea level & always humid.

I'm sure the cake was fine.

I will say I have heard horror stories about heat & only dowels. I seriously highly recommend SPS. It's also important to pick a fondant that does well in heat.

I personally stock dry ice on the car around the cake to help keep it a bit cooler during transport.

remnant3333 Posted 2 Jun 2013 , 2:11pm
post #5 of 23

I am sure everything went well with your cake!!! We are always our worst critic because we see every little mistake but normally others think it is beautiful!! Worry not and just try to calm down. Hang in there and let us know how the outcome was. Probably nothing to worry about!!! Congratulations on the baby!!! my daughter will be having a baby girl in August!!!


Delicious deserts, where are you at in SC? I am in Charleston, SC. I hope to move one day closer to the Mountains where the weather would be not as humid!!!



MasterBakerRumpShaker Posted 2 Jun 2013 , 3:28pm
post #6 of 23

Thank you for all your support. I needed it. 


The bride ended up emailing me this morning saying that everything went great and she thought it was delicious. 


I'm just glad she didn't know how "at risk" her cake was with just minimal support. 


I am the Executive Pastry Chef at a hotel and I took this job to take a break from "wedding cake season" stress and just bake and design for awhile. I have to say a part of me misses it (you have to be a little crazy to put yourself through this, right?!) but I think I'll stick to party cakes for now- at least until I feel like I have developed my hot and humid skill set a little more. 


You're right, I have a TON to learn about dealing with cake in this humidity. I think I am an SPS girl now for sure. I'll just have to order some and play with it before I make any major commitments. How humbling!


Do you guys ever take any continuing education classes or go to any of the cake, sugar, chocolate shows and find that you are learning new tools of the trade?  YouTube and here seems to be the best source for learning that can translate to real life. 


Anyway, thank you again for your help and support. I'm so glad that this community of cakers exists for these momentary melt downs! 


Best to you and yours. 

DeliciousDesserts Posted 2 Jun 2013 , 3:32pm
post #7 of 23


Original message sent by remnant3333

Delicious deserts, where are you at in SC? I am in Charleston, SC. I hope to move one day closer to the Mountains where the weather would be not as humid!!!


Mary, I'm in Charleston! Well, I'm really where N. Charleston, Goose Creek, & Hanahan meet. What a small world!

DeliciousDesserts Posted 2 Jun 2013 , 3:34pm
post #8 of 23

AAll the time! Our industry is, by nature, very creative so there are always new techniques to learn.

Between my little business & my 2 year old I don't get enough time. I like that crafty is so convenient.

MasterBakerRumpShaker Posted 2 Jun 2013 , 4:48pm
post #9 of 23

Oh! I forgot to mention that I use (and love) Satin Ice fondant. Good for heat and humidity or should I try to investigate some other brands? 

liz at sugar Posted 2 Jun 2013 , 4:57pm
post #10 of 23

I haven't used it, but Massa Ticino Tropic is supposed to be the best fondant for high heat and humidity.  You could try that during the summer months.



MasterBakerRumpShaker Posted 2 Jun 2013 , 5:06pm
post #11 of 23

Even the name sounds like it would be great in the heat an humidity. Thanks, I will for sure try it out. 


I feel so much better. I can figure this out, I just need to change my game plan. 


Turns out all is not lost and my career is not over... :-) Maybe a late night overreaction. Hormonal fun! 

Krypto Posted 2 Jun 2013 , 5:36pm
post #12 of 23

I am also in Charleston. birthday.gif

DeliciousDesserts Posted 2 Jun 2013 , 6:03pm
post #13 of 23

I just purchased my first batch of Carma Massa.  I must say I do really like the workability.  I also really like that it is white white.  Sadly, I don't like the taste.  I'm a big Fondarific fan.  I put some of each on a plate and asked my husband to taste.  Hands down, much so that he told me to get rid of the Carma.  


Krypto, You too?!  Awesome!


Are either of you members of the SC ICES Chapter?

HellenChristine Posted 2 Jun 2013 , 7:20pm
post #14 of 23

AWhere can you order the carma massa from?

DeliciousDesserts Posted 2 Jun 2013 , 7:25pm
post #15 of 23

AI ordered it from Fondant Source. It is also available on the Weinbecklers site.

Krypto Posted 2 Jun 2013 , 10:24pm
post #16 of 23

I am not a member of ICES but I have been on their website several times. Are most of the members hobbyist or professionals? I really should join. I know I would enjoy meeting other like minded people in my area.

DeliciousDesserts Posted 2 Jun 2013 , 11:39pm
post #17 of 23

The website isn't nearly as great as all the people.  I would say it's a good mix.  Some have small home bakeries, some are hobbyists, and a few are serious pros.  


It's a really great place not only to meet people but also to trade skills.  A couple of years ago, Bronwen Weber came and did a demo.  She also offered 3 amazing classes after the demo.

DeliciousDesserts Posted 2 Jun 2013 , 11:40pm
post #18 of 23

This is a link to the SC ICES facebook page.  That will help you get an idea of the kind of people & talent that are members.

810whitechoc Posted 3 Jun 2013 , 12:51am
post #19 of 23

Glad to hear everything turned out well.  Most of what I have learned about dealing with heat and humidity has been by trial and error and believe me there have been a few of both!  With your background you already have a wealth of knowledge behind you to start going further.


I have been doing this long enough and have built up enough of a reputation in my area to be able to pick and choose my orders.  I will not deliver tiered cakes to outside marquees in the middle of our summer.  I'm the one who has to have several days of worrying, stressing and planning.  No matter how and what you tell customers about what is going to happen to their cake, all of that goes out the window when they see a cake starting to wilt throughout the reception, and it makes the cake decorator look like they have failed.  When the reality is if you put a 2/3 tiered cake in a hot tent for 3 hours - it will melt, along with all the guests. 


My adult daughter has come with me on quite a few deliveries and after standing in hot sweaty marquees, has vowed to never have a summer marquee reception - aircon all the way for us.


I thought I would tell you about the last (the one that made me go, RIGHT! THAT'S IT!) summer garden marquee wedding I did.  The bride, her mother and myself had several meetings, when they told me where and when the wedding was, an area that is renowned for being very hot, on the last weekend in February (for those not in Aus, think major heat and humidity), I talked to them seriously about how hot the marquee the cake would be in would be.  They dismissed it and said they wanted a summer wedding.  I tried again to explain to them that cake will only hold up for so long in heat and that we would not be responsible for damage caused to the cake because of the heat.  They again dismissed it, but I made sure I put it in writing and pointed it out to them.  We agreed I would deliver the cake 15 mins before the reception was due to begin, this was fine with me as it was my last delivery for the day. 


I delivered the cake and as I walked into the marquee it was like walking into a wall of heat, the DJ was the only other person in there at the time and was looking at the candy/lolly buffet they had set up.  He looked at me and laughed and said something like "These chocolates look good" and put his hand in one of the jars to pick out a chocolate (as I'm sure a lot of you know after you have done enough weddings, you have seen everything) and he looked over at me horrified, all the chocolates had melted together into a bowl of liquid chocolate, it just wasn't obvious until he touched it. He pulled his hand out and his fingers were covered in liquid chocolate.  I figured this was his and the bride's problem not mine and finished setting up the cake and left just as people were starting to arrive.  TWO HOURS later, long after I had finished work, I was driving along one of the main roads here and saw the bridal cars with my bride in it heading back to the reception.  I felt sick, it meant the cake had been sitting in the heat for 2 hours and the reception had not even started!  I went home almost in tears of panic to my husband, who pointed out that I had done everything I could do and at some point they had to take responsibility for the choices they made including being so late back to the reception.


These customers were not from around here and had travelled with their guests here to have a destination wedding out of the city.  I never heard anything from the bride, and I must say I was a bit of a coward because I didn't want to know what had happened to the cake.  Even telling you about this makes me feel anxious remembering how bad I felt.  After that I decided I needed to take care of myself more and made the decision not to put myself in that position again.  I have had other people come to me in similar situations and I have politely declined the order.


Yes, you have to be crazy to do this, but I choose to work on my work/life balance more and not knowingly add that much stress to my life.   It's probably wise of you to cut back and concentrate on yourself and your baby for a while, good luck through this next exciting phase of your life.

cake0610 Posted 4 Jun 2013 , 12:06am
post #20 of 23

AWhen you do chocolate ganache to use under fondant for a wedding cake, how many recipes can I do at once for a 4 tier 8" each one . I mean the batches?

howsweet Posted 4 Jun 2013 , 1:00am
post #21 of 23

I live in Houston and always make sure the cake is room temp in a warm kitchen before delivering. I could be wrong, but as far as I know cakes don't literally sweat, but a cool cake will collect condensation just like a glass of ice water. A warm cake prevents this in my expereince.

meokha Posted 10 Jun 2013 , 9:25pm
post #22 of 23

Hey I live in super humid conditions, its often 100%! which means whatever you take out of the refrigerator sweats, and its so hot (often above 104F) that I just have refrigerate my cakes. Tho sometimes I do use buttercream under the fondant I prefer ganache. I leave the ganached cake in the fridge overnight, and take it out in an air conditioned room an hour before I need to cover it. which means its slightly sweaty so the fondant sticks alright. I refrigerate after finishing the decor too. and take it out like half an hour or 20 minutes before delivery, again in an air conditioned room, and leave it infront of a fan, its dries up nicely, and any sugar/cornstarch marks it might have had also disappear icon_biggrin.gif But this is not possible with tiered ones once they have been assembled, so I assemble an hour or two before delivery and leave them all in an air conditioned room!

KayMur Posted 18 Jun 2013 , 9:08pm
post #23 of 23

ALike some of you I live in the HOTTTTTT Caribbean and I have a 5 tier wedding cake coming up in sept and I've had countless nightmares about the cake collapsing I don't think the dowel system will be enough so I'm looking into other cake support systems any suggestions?

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