I'm an amateur baker (very amateur) and right now just make cakes for the parties and gatherings of my family and friends. I attempted to make a flower pot cake for my niece's one-year birthday today. Everything was going well, in fact, after I had the cake covered in fondant I was thinking it would be my best yet. And then...it collapsed. It started t0 bulge. We put something on the side to help prop it up but on the car ride to my sister's house, one whole side completely fell apart. The poor cake had to be put into a bowl.
The cake was a chocolate buttermilk cake (the kind with oil and coffee in it) and consisted of one 8" stacked on top of two 6" cakes, with cardboard in between the 8" and the 6" inch layers. However, there were no dowels in the 6" layers. I carved the cake into a pot shape with crusting buttercream in between the layers, but I didn't torte them. Then the whole thing was iced with buttercream and covered in MF fondant with a fondant lip around the top edge of the pot. I had rolled fondant roses on plastic skewers and fondant leaves that went into the top of the cake. I realized I didn't really have enough roses so I re-arranged them quite a bit trying to get the best coverage, which did a lot of damage to the top of the cake.
I think the following things caused problems but I'd like opinions on whether any one thing I did was the culprit, or if it was just a culmination of many little things:
1. Buttermilk cake not dense enough to stack and carve (I love the taste of this cake but it is oil-based)
2. No dowels
3. Messing up the cake with the long skewers and re-arranging the flowers so many times
If anyone has suggestions for the best way to insert fondant flowers into cakes I'd appreciate them. I know this is super basic to a lot of you so please bear with me! I also just wanted to vent...even this cake, which is probably really simple for a lot of you, took me more than half the day to complete and that wasn't even counting the baking of the cakes, making the fondant, making the fondant roses and leaves, and making the buttercream!
So sorry this happened to you. I applaud you for even attempting to make such a cake! We live and we learn so don't be to hard on yourself. Even though it didn't turn out like you planned, I bet it tasted delicious to your niece.
I always dowel any cake that is tiered even if it's just two. For fondant flowers, I use little coffee stirrers to put them into the cake.
I wanted to ask if you chilled the cake before you carved it, I've been told that it helps. I'm sure you will get more suggestions as others pipe in.
Don't let this incident detour you and anyway, you just get right back up on that horse and try it again!
AThe lack of dowels is your problem - or at least the biggest one!
I just made a bucket cake with a 7" topped with an 8" cake, whole thing was 8" tall. It was a buttermilk choc cake, torted and filled with choc SMBC and coated in choc ganache and fondant. There was a 16mm dowel down the centre (it was a cake with a ladle "pouring" water into the bucket, hence the tall central dowel) but the 7" cake had dowels to support the 8" cake above. I drove that about 20 minutes and then it stood overnight in the school hall before the charity event. Then the winners of the cake drove it home without a problem.
Cake can't support anything, you need the dowels to do that.
We all start somewhere and have all had to vent :o)))
Next time you definitely need to add dowels. If the cake isn't very dense then I'd be stacking one 6" adding dowels (3 spaced to look like the points on a triangle - if that makes sense), divider (cardboard) stack next 6" again add dowels and divider and then add your 8" once its stacked then carve to required shape, add buttercream and then your fondant and you should be right to go.
Good luck next time
Thank you both! I am definitely going to buy some dowels. In fact, the failure of the cake is bugging me so much I am planning to make it again even though there's no reason (but my own ego) to do so. Plus the fact that I made double the amount of fondant I needed and now I have over two pounds of dark brown fondant that I might as well put to use.
AI'm also an ameteur, but I have made a stacked cake with a chocolate buttermilk/oil cake as the bottom tier without problems. I used bubble tea straws for support (with a center dowel through the two tiers) and transported the cake 20 minutes to a baby shower.
In my experience as a 4 year hobby baker, the density of the cake actually has far less to do with stability than the use of cake circles (cardboard or plastic), and dowels. The cake circles and dowels are supposed to bear the weight of the cake.
With that said, you also have to be careful about fillings that are slippery, fondant that is too heavy for the cake tier, etc. There are a lot of things that can go wrong.
I applaud your decision to make it again! That's the way I have learned the hard lessons nearly every time---by doing it twice. (sigh..........)
AYou seem to have realized most of your problems, it's part of the learning process so don't be too hard on yourself. You just learn from it and move on.
I doubt you needed much carving for this cake, perhaps a more dense cake would be a good idea for a more intricate design. Regardless, I find it's easier to do my carving on a cold cake.
You probably should have let your cake settle after your crumb coat, this helps avoid buldging, either overnight or place a tile or something to evenly distribute the weight without crushing it. Especially if you are using American BC.
A quicker way to carve this shape (for me anyway) is upside down. I'd place a board on top and bottom to help guide the shape you want (these rounds also help me smooth my BC or ganache). For added protection you can always try ganache, it forms a shell of sorts. I find it much easier to cover a ganache covered cake with fondant-or maybe I am just biased being a big chocolate fan.
Anyway, the above advice is great, your main problem is the missing dowels. You need some sort of internal structure.
Good luck with the next one! Be sure to post some pics.
AI wanted to add, you mentioned that you didn't torte your cakes, that's not a big deal I think it's a personal preference of your cake-icing ratio. Although many layers can cause sliding if your cake isn't setup properly but as long as your cakes are level you'll be fine. After I stack my cake I place a cake board on top and use a level to make sure each tier is level before proceeding (this is important for stacked cakes).
AYou can make a cake from jello if you have the right supports. The issue is the lack of support, not the type of cake.
I use bubble tea straws in all my cakes and 2 offset wooden dowels hammered through the entire cake.
Next time try icing you cake in white chocolate ganache instead of buttercream when covering a cake with fondant. The white chocolate ganache holds up to the weight of fondant much better than buttercream.