Cake Blow Outs!

Decorating By Valscake Updated 23 Mar 2014 , 12:43am by lilmissbakesalot

Valscake Posted 19 Mar 2014 , 6:44pm
post #1 of 38

Hi all.

I just started managing a high end boutique bakery and they are having some issues with the last few cakes that have been done by a particular baker who happens to have gone to a prestigious pastry school and seems to have appropriate credentials.  Her cakes have side blow outs where the entire side just falls off.She happens to be kinda difficult anyway so I want to make sure I know what the issue is before I address it.

 

I've watched her frost and fill cakes and I want to know what my fellow cakers think the issue might be. We are using shortening based (no butter) crusting buttercream.  The "falling cake" or side blow out seems to happen no matter what the cake is filled with, etc. So, what she does is fill and frost the cake. She uses her bench scraper to smooth and continually sprays her cakes with water to smooth the frosting. The cakes are not "bulging" where the filling is. It's as if the whole cake "droops" or a side just falls off, icing  and all.

 

I've been doing cakes for years and haven't had these issues, but my technique is different and I'm self taught. I don't use water to smooth.  I frost and fill, dirty ice the cake, chill and then put a good thick coat of buttercream.

 

My theory is that the water is destabilizing the buttercream and it's acting as sort of a sponge, soaking fluid into the cake and the cake becomes to moist and loses it's firmness.  She doesn't seem to be putting thick icing on the sides of the cake.

 

Anyone have any ideas?  I have to address this, but I don't know if what she is doing is "taught" in pastry school.This is getting expensive and embarrassing since this is a high end bakery and our customers don't take kindly to any mistakes!

 

Any advice....

thanks. Valcat..

37 replies
AZCouture Posted 19 Mar 2014 , 8:19pm
post #2 of 38

ADirty iced? Is that a Buddy Valastro term for crumb coating? :D Just kidding...but not really. So that's a problem that only happens with that kind of icing. Kind of surprised to hear "high end" "pastry school" and then "no butter" in the buttercream. What will solve all of your problems is switching to a meringue buttercream, which doesn't require crumb coating, and doesn't produce blowouts. I would think a buttercream like that would be more appropriate and attractive for the clientele of a high end pastry shop that employs a professional pastry chef, no? ;-)

Valscake Posted 19 Mar 2014 , 8:37pm
post #3 of 38

Quote:

Originally Posted by AZCouture 

Dirty iced? Is that a Buddy Valastro term for crumb coating? icon_biggrin.gif Just kidding...but not really. So that's a problem that only happens with that kind of icing. Kind of surprised to hear "high end" "pastry school" and then "no butter" in the buttercream. What will solve all of your problems is switching to a meringue buttercream, which doesn't require crumb coating, and doesn't produce blowouts. I would think a buttercream like that would be more appropriate and attractive for the clientele of a high end pastry shop that employs a professional pastry chef, no? icon_wink.gif

Well, yeah...that's a Buddy Valastro term....I always thought it sounded so crude and I used it "tongue in cheek", and it kinda stuck....I agree, about the buttercream, however, with the volume of this bakery, I don't think the owners will be convinced to change frostings.  Also,  I am in the high desert SW and the shortening based icing makes sense because of the extreme heat, IMO.  I know that Wilton recommends adding Meringue powder to buttercreams for crusting and stability...any thoughts?

 

I am concerned because this baker doesn't seem to understand that baking, frosting,etc, isn't necessarily "textbook" perfect. Cakes and techniques need to be altered if necessary to match ingredients,environment,etc.  I am concerned for her.  The owners have heard every excuse in the book about why the cakes are failing and I think they're tired of excuses.

costumeczar Posted 19 Mar 2014 , 8:41pm
post #4 of 38

Teach her how to do it without the water, I've never heard of that, especially with a non-butter icing.

Valscake Posted 19 Mar 2014 , 8:45pm
post #5 of 38

Would that cause the cake sides to blow out....costumeczar?

-K8memphis Posted 19 Mar 2014 , 8:51pm
post #6 of 38

fwiw-- i have had smbc blow out--i'm glad it's never happened for you, jamie, but i have had blow outs occur with different types of icings and ingredients and with room temperature, chilled, never frozen and frozen cakes, sheet cakes, tier cakes--

 

what works for me is to poke a discreet hole in each layer through the icing into each cake layer in an un-obvious place -- and keep the hole open so that air can continually escape--i've never figured out why but that works for me--i use a toothpick or hat pin angled up so it is more concealed--place those in the 'back' --

 

i think leah's method of placing the tile on top of the cake tiers to 'settle' them also helps--

 

but also for entire sections of icing failing--it could be the pan grease that's used is not allowing the icing to bond to the surface of the cake or something like that too--i've used water to smooth icing--that's not necessarily the problem but i think there's a better way to do it without water--but that doesn't cause 'cake farts'

 

just tossing out a couple ideas--

costumeczar Posted 19 Mar 2014 , 8:51pm
post #7 of 38

Quote:

Originally Posted by Valscake 
 

Would that cause the cake sides to blow out....costumeczar?

I have no idea, but I don't see how spraying water on a cake is a good thing, since cake absorbs water and softens up. Then you put that buttercream on it, which is denser than the meringues, and you're just looking at a problem.

-K8memphis Posted 19 Mar 2014 , 8:55pm
post #8 of 38

no she sprays the icing to smooth it-- not spray the cake--it's not my favorite way but it's done--it works--

AZCouture Posted 19 Mar 2014 , 9:03pm
post #9 of 38

AHuh. Every other person I've talked to that uses meringues loves that they've never had a blow out. Sure it wasn't a construction mishap? First time I've ever heard of that. The very makeup of that type of icing pretty much makes it impossible to just peel away from the cake. I'm talking those weird cases where the icing literally peels off in a solid sheet/chunk from the surface of the cake, like it was never attached in the first place. It's just not possible with a straight meringue icing, it's creamy properties don't allow for it to "peel" or come away from the cake. It can melt off, but it won't do what an abc can.

AZCouture Posted 19 Mar 2014 , 9:07pm
post #10 of 38

APan grease is a great possibility. But the fact that it happens at all isn't a surprise to me. If you can take abc that is nice and creamy, and very liquidy, and turn it into something that you can hold in your hand as a nearly solid piece of "whatever", that you can roll into shapes, and set down, and pick back up (think Sugarshack and the stiff dams she recommends to make with buttercream), it stands to reason that it will and can come loose from the side of a cake.

-K8memphis Posted 19 Mar 2014 , 9:07pm
post #11 of 38

what am i supposed to say--'oh, you're right it didn't happen after all?'  srsly

 

how does one construct an icing blow out?

 

i mean i thought it couldn't happen w/smbc... until mine did--

 

?

AZCouture Posted 19 Mar 2014 , 9:13pm
post #12 of 38

AWhatever K8, I'm not gonna argue with you, if you say it happened, then so be it. First time I've ever heard that, and it just doesn't make sense, but I'm not interested in discussing it further with you either.

AZCouture Posted 19 Mar 2014 , 9:16pm
post #13 of 38

A

Original message sent by -K8memphis

what am i supposed to say--[I]

how does one construct an icing blow our

?

What I meant was, did that happen to a bottom tier, or a tier with something on top, that may have been poorly supported, thereby blowing out the tier below it?

Valscake Posted 19 Mar 2014 , 9:24pm
post #14 of 38

AZCouture, this buttercream is super creamy and light. It isn't built up and thickened with powdered sugar like you would use to create a "dam". So, I really don't think the buttercream is the culprit.  Anyhoo.....I think she's going to have to change methods or she's going to have to find a new job.

-K8memphis Posted 19 Mar 2014 , 9:32pm
post #15 of 38

i don't remember all the details--it fully engaged that side of the icing--the construction wasn't faulty--i think it's happened 2-3 times when the cake was still  here--in fact before that i remember my daughter telling me it happened to a cake i did for her for some event--i told her that that was impossible--hahaha--that did not go over well--so i started poking the smbc ones too--i think it happened on a sculpture before i got the fondant on--

 

in my experience i cannot find a common denominator to determine why it will happen it or how to 100% eliminate it from happening--other than it's full of air 

AZCouture Posted 19 Mar 2014 , 9:36pm
post #16 of 38

ATrust me, it is exactly that. The dam example I was using, although extreme, was to clarify why that doesn't happen with an icing like meringues. It remains creamy, it doesn't change. It cannot separate from the cake cleanly like the abcs can. Once a bubble gets momentum under that type of icing, it literally repels it clean off the surface of the cake. I know there's even videos of it out there, pn Youtube or somewhere showing how to repair it when it happens. The person demonstrating it peels it clean off, like it was a piece of fondant.

-K8memphis Posted 19 Mar 2014 , 9:40pm
post #17 of 38

val, so if the bakery uses the same recipes and procedures it will continue to happen even if they change decorators--

AZCouture Posted 19 Mar 2014 , 9:48pm
post #18 of 38

AAnd if you're not exaggerating about continuously spraying with water, that could very well be a problem too. And by the way, I'm in the SW low desert, so I'm in an even hotter area, and use smbc all year with no problems. Just saying, it can be done. And you won't have any of those problems. ;-)

costumeczar Posted 19 Mar 2014 , 9:55pm
post #19 of 38

Quote:

Originally Posted by Valscake 
 

AZCouture, this buttercream is super creamy and light. It isn't built up and thickened with powdered sugar like you would use to create a "dam". So, I really don't think the buttercream is the culprit.  Anyhoo.....I think she's going to have to change methods or she's going to have to find a new job.

Tell her that and maybe she'll learn the way that you do it!

 

I've seen cake tumors with confectioner's sugar buttercream, meringue buttercreams, fondant, you name it. It has nothing to do with the icing and everything to do with gas escaping from the inside of the cake, and you can't argue with physics. If you do cakes long enough you'll see it happen eventually. One thing I do think happens that we don't know about is the tumor developing after we drop the cakes off and leave, especially if it was cold when decorated, cold when delivered, then warms up at the party. That's when the air is going to do it's evil work.

costumeczar Posted 19 Mar 2014 , 9:57pm
post #20 of 38

But yeah, the peeling off the side of the cake thing isn't a blowout, that's a different issue of the icing not sticking to the cake. The meringues will stick no matter what, but if a confectioner's sugar buttercream is too stiff it can look like it's attached but not really be. Then it will just peel off when gravity takes it's toll.

AZCouture Posted 19 Mar 2014 , 9:58pm
post #21 of 38

AYeah, it does have to do with the ingredients. Air can get trapped in any cake, but how the icing reacts after that is completely dependent on how it's made. I specifically remember the tumors and farts and the freaky way the powdered sugar types would peel and come off the cake, three different recipes, but all powdered sugar based, and how smbc doesn't behave like that at all.

AZCouture Posted 19 Mar 2014 , 10:00pm
post #22 of 38

AAnyways....sounds like she just needs to try something different or take a class.

-K8memphis Posted 19 Mar 2014 , 10:21pm
post #23 of 38

here's a link:

 

http://forums.egullet.org/topic/123732-bubbles-under-buttercream-on-iced-cake/

 

to one thread from 2009 that leads to a thread from 2006--regarding this subject--there's even a picture of an italian meringue iced cake that has had some blowouts--then if you follow through to the 2006 thread i said at that point i had never had a blow out with french nor swiss buttercream but since then i have had them--

AZCouture Posted 19 Mar 2014 , 10:44pm
post #24 of 38

I'll take your word for it, that site gave my computer a virus last time I clicked a link from you. 

morganchampagne Posted 19 Mar 2014 , 11:15pm
post #25 of 38

AOk not too fan a fire. But I've never had a blow out and I'm always trying to find ways to keep it from happening. Here's my question;

Does settling absolutely prevent bubbles from happening? What do I do to keep this from happening? Is there a way to 100% keep blow outs away?

Valscake Posted 19 Mar 2014 , 11:24pm
post #26 of 38

Quote:

Originally Posted by morganchampagne 

Ok not too fan a fire. But I've never had a blow out and I'm always trying to find ways to keep it from happening. Here's my question;

Does settling absolutely prevent bubbles from happening? What do I do to keep this from happening? Is there a way to 100% keep blow outs 

Good question. I've had air bubbles that I popped with a corsage pin, etc.   but never the had the whole side of the cake fall off??? scary...

costumeczar Posted 19 Mar 2014 , 11:52pm
post #27 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by Valscake 
 

Good question. I've had air bubbles that I popped with a corsage pin, etc.   but never the had the whole side of the cake fall off??? scary...

It's two totally different issues. Having the side of the cake fall off has more to do with the outer "crust" of the cake coming off because too much moisture softens it up, or it just isn't brushed off. I have an almond cake recipe that I have to kind of brush with my hand to get rid of the crumbs, or the icing won't stick to it well. That's the only recipe that I have that I have to treat that way, though, so not all cakes are going to do that. If you're spraying a lot of water into a confectioner's sugar icing the sugar is going to soften up, which is why it's smoothing out, but that can also make the surface of the cake softer when the moisture migrates into the icing, and it might be softening up the surface of the cake. I don't know how much water she's spraying onto the cake, but the water is going to go into the icing and I'd guess that's why it happens.

 

The cake tumors (blowouts) are from air that's trapped inside the cake, or between the layers, expanding and trying to exit the cake. When it comes out it has to try to go somewhere, and it can make the icing expand and make the tumor on the cake. It happens more often if the cake is iced when it's cold, then as it warms up the trapped air is going to expand and try to get out. if you ice everything at room temp and make sure that you really fill in the crack between the layers, you'll minimize the chance of it happening. When meringue buttercreams get cold they're basically a sheet of hard icing, and it could theoretically separate from the cake if there's enough moisture on the surface of the cake, so they can have a tumor develop too if the air moves out fast enough. If you're doing the cake right you'll make it far less likely to happen, but it's a combination of the air escaping and how wet the surface of the cake is under the icing, I'd guess. I hardly ever get a cake tumor anymore, but sometimes the air just wins. http://acaketorememberva.blogspot.com/2011/06/dreaded-cake-tumor.html

cakefat Posted 19 Mar 2014 , 11:53pm
post #28 of 38

high end bakery and shortening based frosting (I can't call it buttercream)- isn't that an oxymoron? 

costumeczar Posted 19 Mar 2014 , 11:53pm
post #29 of 38

Quote:

Originally Posted by cakefat 
 

high end bakery and shortening based frosting (I can't call it buttercream)- isn't that an oxymoron?

yessssss....

maybenot Posted 19 Mar 2014 , 11:58pm
post #30 of 38

AIt's her constant spraying. It's destabilizing. She can only spray the final, outside icing for smoothing--if necessary. A hot knife or bench scraper would be better.

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