I have a fairly new home bakery and am still learning how to use fondant properly. I made a 3 tier cake this weekend for my sister's baby shower and had some technical issues. Can anyone give me some advice on how to prevent these from happening again?
The bottom tier is a two layer 12" strawberry cake with Bunnywoman's buttercream. The middle is a 3 layer 9" dark chocolate cake filled with BW bc and whole Oreos. The top is a Red Velvet with BW bc using the Wilton ball pan. All are covered with Satin Ice fondant. I attached the stripes, flags, stars etc (also made from Satin Ice Fondant) with piping gel.
The top two cakes were stacked and covered in fondant on Thursday. The bottom tier was stacked and covered on Friday. All the decor was added on Friday. I stacked the cakes at the party on Saturday.
Most of the issues were with the middle tier. The bottom was still flat and only has a small amount of sagging/bulging.
This cake sunk after the first night when I covered it. I added the stars to cover some of the sagging/cracking. By the time I got to the party, I actually had to removed the dowels and cut half an inch off because they were sticking out that far.
This is the cake before I iced it and covered it with fondant. It seemed sturdy and level.
Besides all of that. The stripes dried out and started cracking. How is this prevented? I can't always decorate cakes the day of. I can't imagine big bakeries do either.
(blurry but you can see the cracking stripes.)
Any and all advice would be appreciated! :)
Stephani ~Sweet Nini's Bakery
AThe only thing I can think is that you didn't add weight and let the cakes settle overnight before covering with fondant? As far as the cracked fondant I've found that you have to knead satin ice a lot before rolling it out to use! I also add a bit of Crisco to mine. Good luck !
I also wondered if you covered your cake with buttercream and let it settle before covering in fondant.
The tiers don't look level to me, but it could be the picture. If they aren't level then each tier you stack on top will just make the unevenness look worse and worse, unfortunately. For the dowels, did you just place 3 straight through the middle? That kind of support isn't sturdy enough for all of that weight and probably added to the issues.
I would look up the sps system. I use it and love it for cake stacking. If you can't find it, let me know and I can send you a link.
The ball cake would be hard to cover in fondant and it looks like it's slipping down. Maybe some of the fondant issues are just due to a lack of being comfortable working with fondant. Satin Ice isn't the easiest fondant to use at times. It seems they've changed their formula. I've started using FondX lately and have had good luck with it. Keep practicing your fondant work and it'll get better. It takes a lot of kneading to get the fondant pliable and workable.
Also, how sturdy is your base? A three tier cake is a lot of weight. If you base is too weak, your tiers will crack and shift.
I hope this helped some.
It looks like part of the problem is definitely the lack of settling before adding the fondant.
Did it rain or was it a humid day? Or did the cake go in a humid frig? Looking at the green tier, do you see how the stars kept the fondant from sagging further? Sometimes the fondant can stretch because of humidity and it will cause buckling. The way around this is to leave off the bottom trim for a while (stars in this case) and cut off the fondant if it continues to sag down to where it touches the base. Don't let it touch the base and that gap will be covered by the trim, but wait until the fondant has set.
And you can see on the bottom tier how the fondant extends past the bottom of the cake. There are techniques to have the white go all the way to the bottom, but it's not aways as simple as just cutting it off. There are lots of tutorials on this. But while you're starting out, leave about a quarter of an inch to allow the fondant to stretch.
The only other thing I can think of is if you used an icing high in liquid. But if your icing was primarily butter and sugar, it wouldn't cause this. That's not whipped cream is it?
Do you have access to any hands on instruction in your area? Any classes offered anywhere? I'd suggest signing up for some basics, get you some all around general instruction. I think that may help with future projects. :)
One major thing is that you have three internal supports directly in the center. Use more supports and spread them out a lot further. Level your cakes and make sure your icing is glass smooth before applying the fondant.
Get yourself a foot long level. Wash it well and only use it for cakes. Use the search box at the top right to search for the posts about weighting cakes with tile to help settle. Use the level to make sure the weights are perfectly level, and for making sure your cakes are level before you crumb coat. The three supports in the middle act like a fulcrom under a see saw. If the cakes aren't exactly balanced, they will tip to one side or the other. The tiers should not be supporting each other at all. That is what the dowels/straws/SPS system is for. Think corners of a triangle or square when placing your supports. You want the tiers to have even support. I don't use satin ice, but it looks like you may have not kneaded it enough, or it may need a bit of crisco like others have said. Once you have a very smooth crumb coat on your settled and level cake, pop it in the fridge or freezer until the crumb coat is firm. Then mist or brush with water and put the fondant on the cold cake. You can use the search box to check out posts about this, too.
I'm not sure exactly what went wrong here, but I'll try to explain the steps that I take when making a tiered cake and maybe you can pin point where you goofed.
I cut (torte) my cake and squirt it with some simple syrup (basically sugar-water) to make sure they stay moist. The bottom most layer goes onto a corrugated cake circle the same size as the cake. I pipe a circle of Italian Meringue Buttercream around the outer edges of each layer so that even if the filling isn't stiff, it doesn't bulge or leak out the sides. Then I stack them all up to make the one cake tier. Once I'm sure they're level enough, I crumb coat (put a thin coat of icing on it all to hold in the crumbs). Then I put that in the fridge for a bit to set (when you touch it lightly, no BC will come off on your finger). I take it out of the fridge and give it a finish coat, making sure everything is very smooth and level. I put it back in the fridge over night. It doesn't have to be over night, but make sure if you're covering it in fondant the same day, that it's very cold as that makes the entire fondant covering process much easier. I then pull it out of the fridge and cover it in fondant. I won't go into that, but there are plenty of tutorials and it looks like you have the jist of it. I put some double-sided sticky tape on a foiled cake drum that is at least 2" larger than the size of your bottom tier and set the bottom tier on that. To support the next tier, I stick one bubble tea straw in the center of the cake, pull it up a bit, and cut very straight where the line of BC stops on the straw. From there, take the little extra piece of straw from your first cut and use it as a guide to cut all of your other straws the same height. Place those about 1.5" apart until you get near the edge of where your next tier will end. You can take the cake circle of the next size up, place it in the center of your bottom tier and lightly mark where the edges are or press down lightly to get an indent if that helps in knowing where to stop placing straws. I then take bamboo skewers (some people use dowels but skewers are easier to cut) and do the same thing, measuring and cutting, then place one inside each straw for extra support. If I plan to set up on site, i'll temporarily attach the other tiers to slightly larger gold cake boards with scotch tape and box them. When you're ready to stack, just spread a dollop of BC in the center of each tier going up and stack. If you're transporting stacked tiers all together, look into securing all of them together with a dowel.
The major components are keeping everything cold and firm, and also keeping it level.
I'm sure you know a lot of this, but hopefully if you left out any steps you can use this to see where it went wrong. Hope this helps!
you need to put supports in a circular pattern to support that ball which should be on it's own cake circle. I would also do ganache on that ball, it holds it's shape better. some put a cake board between the two halves of the ball with dowels to support the weight of the top of the ball which sometimes gets "too" heavy for the bottom half and distorts the round shape. You need a thick dam of icing around before you fill and put a weight on top of the cake and let it settle for an hour or two. I'm not sure why your stripes are cracking , unless they were being distorted by the "slipping" of the fondant or bulges from the filling.