Tiered Cake Deconstruction/issue

Decorating By mccantsbakes Updated 21 Jul 2015 , 4:23pm by SquirrellyCakes

mccantsbakes Posted 20 Jul 2015 , 7:02am
post #1 of 15

Hi group!

i have been doing cakes for a few years, so I am not a total novice when it comes to cake stacking.   I am a dowel/fat straw stacker and I tend to work more with fondant covered cakes than buttercream.  (Although I can see my issue pertaining to both mediums)

Today I delivered a three tiered cake for a family birthday.  Nothing out of the ordinary.  Cakes were cold when stacked, travelled with 2 stacked and added the top tier at the location.    Everything was FINE.   The cake was indoors, however it was blazing hot outside and the house was above room temp (I would venture around 80 indoors, above 100 outside, cake was in kitchen which was close enough to the constantly opening door to catch a smidge of the heat that came in with each open)  the cake sat for about 3 hrs at this temp.  It held up like a dream.

But, when I went to deconstruct the tiers for cutting, I had a hell of a time removing my middle tier from the bottom tier.  My fondant had basically glued itself to my cake board from my middle tier.   Once I was able to get the middle tier off, it pulled all the fondant and icing with it....leaving in it's wake a perfectly ugly circle of naked cake.    Crap.   Never had THAT happen before.   Ooops. My bad.

so I am wondering, what should I do to avoid something like this from happening again? Is there a magical secret that I missed in stacking 101 where there is a nifty barrier that prevents the fondant from a lower tier from adhering to the above board?  I have NEVER had this happen before so it threw me for a loop big time.   This time I was lucky, I was there to cut the cake......I would be mortified if I wasn't there to salvage the aesthetics of the cake for service......god bless family and their low standards for cake aesthetics.   

Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated and taken with the utmost respect to your collective expertise.  I was actually trying to figure this out on my own and the only thing I could think of (while maintaining my current stacking preference of using dowels/straws) is to perhaps cut parchment circles to the sizes of my stacking tiers to create a barrier between board and lower surface.   Would this be an effective preventative measure?

Anywho.....thanks in advance for any help in this matter, it's going to bug me until I have a solution.

PS:despite ugly cake cuts, the cake tasted fabulous and actually didn't need the icing on top as it was incredibly moist (I hate the word moist, but don't have a better description)  

Xoxo happy baking!


14 replies
SquirrellyCakes Posted 20 Jul 2015 , 1:26pm
post #2 of 15

I have always used parchment under each boarded tier. Additionally if the cake is buttercream I put some powdered sugar on top of the buttercream and parchment on top of that. 

It must have been so hot and humid that your fondant just became fondant glue.

mccantsbakes Posted 20 Jul 2015 , 5:19pm
post #3 of 15

Thanks  squirrellycakes, I will definitely try your suggestion.

ya, the fondant was super tacky and chewy....gluey....lol 

it was a real shame too since I nailed my fondant covering job.....it was my first 12"  I have ever covered in fondant and I was SO nervous about screwing it up.

SquirrellyCakes Posted 20 Jul 2015 , 5:51pm
post #4 of 15

Awwh, good for you covering that 12 inch though.  The weather is the one thing over which we have no control. Meant to ask, was there butter in the buttercream that was under the fondant?

leehee Posted 20 Jul 2015 , 6:25pm
post #5 of 15

I use parchment paper also and it works like a charm.

mccantsbakes Posted 20 Jul 2015 , 6:50pm
post #6 of 15

I used a shortening based icing for under the fondant.   My reasoning for this was because it was a kids party and in my experience with my family, the kids prefer the sweeter icing vs SMB (which is my personal fave)  I have been playing with indydebi's icing and I love how it performs. 

I have also been having a heck of a time with my MMF not being the right consistency. It's been too pliable despite addition of extra powdered sugar and any other "fix" I can find.  After a few cakes and a few different recipes  I am really just beginning to think it is allllllll summer related as I live in the armpit of California...this is technically my first summer doing fondant covered cakes.  I took 18 mos off of baking for personal reasons and before that, I was just beginning to cover in fondant and it was in the fall.....all of my cakes previous were BC with fondant accents.   

There is always something to learn with cakes.....which is why I love doing this so much since I am a nerd and love learning everything I can about alllll of this stuff ;)

mccantsbakes Posted 20 Jul 2015 , 6:50pm
post #7 of 15


thank you for your input!  I am going to start using parchment STAT!   It seems to be the answer to this debacle for sure!

SquirrellyCakes Posted 20 Jul 2015 , 7:49pm
post #8 of 15

Well your buttercream is fine, I was asking in case you used butter which will melt at a much lower temperature.

I have never used Indydebi's icing recipe but am going to try it this week for a birthday cake at an outdoor park. It should handle the heat better than my usual all butter buttercream or Italian Meringue Buttercream.

Marshmallow fondant is harder to work with.  I make it with Marshmallow Fluff and powdered sugar but I use it for small decorations and figures with a hardening agent added. I find it stretches out a lot which is why I don't use it to cover cakes.

-k8memphis was recommending on another thread - to add some cornstarch to it. There is already up to about 5% cornstarch mixed into our powdered sugar in Canada and the U.S., so additional corn starch may help you.

I am in Ottawa Canada. We have high humidity year round but we seem to either be freezing or sweating with seldom a happy medium. The humidity is hard on icing and sugar generally. And on the person using them. I think I would be spending time on Death Row for murder were it not for central air. 

mccantsbakes Posted 21 Jul 2015 , 5:16am
post #9 of 15

Definitely try indydebi's icing.   It's addictively good.     And in my opinion, it doesn't feel greasy like other shortening based recipes.   I read a thread recently that I think we were both commenting on and a poster felt that it was too greasy.  I didn't find it as such at all.  I also best the living day lights out of my shortening (I used a store brand shortening for the trans fat, I have never had access to hi ratio...one day I will just order some!)  After I beat the dream whip and shortening together for a while it alone looked like a beautiful icing......then I added the sugar.   

It crusts super fast too.   I wanted to master the viva method....and I realized that letting the cake sit in the fridge after final coat isn't the best idea if it isn't totally smooth.....the viva method worked best for me like 10ish minutes after applying final coat, before refrigeration.

the icing holds up like a dream....even under gooey MMF ;)

i will  have to try the cornstarch in the MMF...the stuff is giving me gray hair with the way it isn't cooperating.    

I really like the artisan cake company's MMF recipe which incorporates store bought fondant  in it....clever.   And I also used Edna de la Cruz's MMF which was a lot different and so tasty.  But both were a bit soft in my hot kitchen :/

mccantsbakes Posted 21 Jul 2015 , 5:17am
post #10 of 15

*that should have said "beat the living day lights out of the shortening"

MKC Posted 21 Jul 2015 , 12:16pm
post #11 of 15

I'm not sure what kind of "glue" you used between your two tiers.

I use royal icing but I only put some around the straws so if I remove the middle tier from the bottom tier, only a little fondant around the straws will pull away. I saw Ron Ben Israel do this on his cakes and I thought it was genius.

SquirrellyCakes Posted 21 Jul 2015 , 12:36pm
post #12 of 15

MKC , interesting. I have never used anything to "glue" the tiers. Do you also use a centre dowel? And do you only use the "glue" if transporting the cake stacked but not when it is set up on site? Or both?

mccantsbakes Posted 21 Jul 2015 , 2:37pm
post #13 of 15

Confession....I didn't use anything to glue the middle tier to the bottom.  But Apparently Mother Nature  helped me out by turning my fondant to superglue.  :/

MKC Posted 21 Jul 2015 , 2:53pm
post #14 of 15

I'm from Ottawa too. I understand what you mean by the weather!

I use royal icing on all occasions (stacking before or at the venue). I don't use a center dowel unless it's a 4 tier cake and the dowel is screwed to a wooden base. 

I usually transport tiered cakes with my husband. And if it's more than 2 tiers, the last tiers are stacked at the venue.

SquirrellyCakes Posted 21 Jul 2015 , 4:23pm
post #15 of 15

I haven't been on the sites in about 8 years but I was around when people started using fondant in Canada and the U. S. around 2000 or so. Of course the Europeans had been at it a long time.  Back then nobody was "gluing" them here. I have never heard of it before. 

Interesting and a good idea for security. I wonder when this practice began?

Nice to see a fellow Ottawan on this site. Hot enough for you today? I have the central air on full blast and I am taking a break from baking because there is severe thunderstorm watch on and all I need is a hydro blackout in the middle of baking a cake.

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