Layer Cake Split In Half. Why?

Baking By Lilamj Updated 3 Jun 2016 , 11:18pm by bubs1stbirthday

Lilamj Posted 2 Jun 2016 , 3:44pm
post #1 of 29

Hi there,


I'm new here and was wondering if anyone could help me solve a mystery.

I'm a newish baker. I do mostly naked layer cakes for friends and acquaintances, with curd fillings and loads of fresh fruit. That sort of cake.

Yesterday I baked my most popular cake, lemon poppy seed with lemon curd filling and whipped cream. Only two layers of cake. Very simple, very straight forward. Everything went perfectly. I was very pleased (and proud!) with the result. I've done this cake loads of times, always a huge success.

However this time the girl (friend of a friend) told me that when she arrived at the location the cake had broke/split in half (!!!). She said she was very careful on the way, Always had the box on her lap and they drove very slowly, etc.

This is not a fragile dough, quite the contrary, it's compact, like a pound cake. I don't understand. This has NEVER happened before.

There was, however, one thing I did differently. I'm always terrified of what can happen during transportation, especially with naked cakes. Always scared that the top layer will simply slide off. So I researched a little bit and decided to purchase Wilton Bamboo Dowels Rods and I stuck one right down the middle of the two layers of cake thinking that this way, there was no way the top layer would slide off.

Before I would normally use very thin skewers, 2 or 3 on a 7 inches cake, that people would remove when arrived at the location. I thought this dowel would be more effective since with was much studier and because it was inside the cake it wouldn't leave any mark on the frosting (people just had to be aware it was there when cutting).

So for once I tried to really and professionaly secure my cake for transport, preventing it from sliding, it broke... in half... Oh the irony!

So... can anyone tell me what they think happenned? Was it because I only put one dowel? Is it because it's too wide? The other plastic ones wilton sells are so much wider! I need to know what happened.

I'm baking a wedding cake for my best friend in two weeks, first stacked one in sizes I've never made before (up to 12") and now I'm terrified!!!!


Please help me understand and maybe give me some advice and how to prevent this from ever ever happening again. I'm so ashamed.


Thank you in advance



28 replies
SandraAlicante Posted 2 Jun 2016 , 4:24pm
post #2 of 29

That is really odd but I am suspicious of why it broke in two. Was it in a sturdy box? The only thing I can think of, is someone holding it under the centre, leaving the sides unsupported - but then again, if it is on a proper base board, that should support it anyway!

carolinecakes Posted 2 Jun 2016 , 4:47pm
post #3 of 29

There are so many different scenarios as to why the cake cracked that have nothing to do with what you did or did not do. The cake on someone's lap, the driver braking suddenly, the cake holder jerking,  ........don't blame yourself. Nothing to be ashamed of, we have all been there.


As to the next cake, a lot of CCers use SPS here's a link....



BTW I hate all things Wilton !!!!

cuky21 Posted 2 Jun 2016 , 5:17pm
post #4 of 29

I apologize for the dumb question, but, did you use a cake board? 


The only thing I can think of is the carton being to flimsy and it didn's support it evenly.

-K8memphis Posted 2 Jun 2016 , 8:12pm
post #5 of 29

did you level the layers before stacking? cut off the rounded part that bakes up higher in the middle? the dowel down the middle could have exacerbated the crack especially since it is a firm cake anyway -- maybe

kakeladi Posted 3 Jun 2016 , 1:33am
post #6 of 29

You don't mention putting the cake on a cardboard/cake circle as cuky asked.  And k8's ?s might help some also.   Sometimes some people are to embarrassed to admit what they did to cause such a problem.  Using one dowel should not cause it to break.  

bubs1stbirthday Posted 3 Jun 2016 , 2:12am
post #7 of 29

My thoughts initially were with Kate's regarding the cake being higher in the middle so the sides not being properly supported and then with Kakeladi's, being that the cake wasn't on a solid board so not having an even support underneath it.

Trust me I did both before I learnt how to level/fill/support properly so you are not alone there, even if a cake cracks though you can still use it as one of your layers as long as the cake and icing underneath are nicely level (done that too lol).

If your cake was level then maybe the filling was arranged in such a way that again the top layer of the cake wasn't supported evenly and the sides dropped causing it to crack and fall off?

Do you happen to have a photo of the cake prior to you sending it on it's way?


woozy Posted 3 Jun 2016 , 3:09am
post #8 of 29

Lap. Legs aren't level. Movement. 

But one other thing. I've finally learned to not overbake my cakes. I was wrapping one for the freezer the other day. and it cracked. I used cake strips, so it was level. No harm done, anyway. But I think a cake that is perfectly baked will crack more easily than a slightly overbaked cake. The moisture level is higher.  

Mine was also lemon, a WASC with fresh lemon juice, so I had altered the chemistry from the ordinary, anyway, so it could have been more delicate even though it didn't appear so.

Thanks for posting, I'm going to be extra careful from now on to have a completely unbendable base for transport.

Lilamj Posted 3 Jun 2016 , 6:34am
post #9 of 29


Quote by @SandraAlicante on 14 hours ago

That is really odd but I am suspicious of why it broke in two. Was it in a sturdy box? The only thing I can think of, is someone holding it under the centre, leaving the sides unsupported - but then again, if it is on a proper base board, that should support it anyway!


Not super sturdy but good enough. I use these boxes: http://www.webstaurantstore.com/10-x-10-x-5-1-2-kraft-cake-bakery-box-100-bundle/24510105CBK.html

They are soft/bendable put i can stack them and they old up nicely... 


That's what I thought as well, laps are not very reliable.

Thank you for your input!

Lilamj Posted 3 Jun 2016 , 6:36am
post #10 of 29


Quote by @carolinecakes on 13 hours ago

There are so many different scenarios as to why the cake cracked that have nothing to do with what you did or did not do. The cake on someone's lap, the driver braking suddenly, the cake holder jerking,  ........don't blame yourself. Nothing to be ashamed of, we have all been there.


As to the next cake, a lot of CCers use SPS here's a link....



BTW I hate all things Wilton !!!!


Wow, thank you for the video! I'm definetly going to watch it closely.

Why hate all things Wilton? I just buy them because it's what's more easily available around here (I live in Portugal)

Lilamj Posted 3 Jun 2016 , 6:38am
post #11 of 29


Quote by @cuky21 on 13 hours ago

I apologize for the dumb question, but, did you use a cake board? 


The only thing I can think of is the carton being to flimsy and it didn's support it evenly.


It's a valid question as I didn't mention it! I did use a cake board. I don't even know how you can not use one, how would you then put the cake in the box for transportation? Yes, I use a 10" cake board for my 7" cakes. These: http://www.webstaurantstore.com/10-corrugated-grease-proof-white-cake-circle-100-case/24510CCCC.html



Lilamj Posted 3 Jun 2016 , 7:02am
post #12 of 29


Quote by @-K8memphis on 10 hours ago

did you level the layers before stacking? cut off the rounded part that bakes up higher in the middle? the dowel down the middle could have exacerbated the crack especially since it is a firm cake anyway -- maybe+

 

Yes I did. These cakes come out flat but because I want all layers to have exactly the same height I always level them.
Maybe it had a air pocket or something inside... Thank you for your insight

Lilamj Posted 3 Jun 2016 , 7:05am
post #13 of 29


Quote by @kakeladi on 5 hours ago

You don't mention putting the cake on a cardboard/cake circle as cuky asked.  And k8's ?s might help some also.   Sometimes some people are to embarrassed to admit what they did to cause such a problem.  Using one dowel should not cause it to break.  

I did. a 10" cake board for a 7" cake. I'm not embarrassed to admit anything because I really want to understand what went wrong. 

I'm thinking about k8's answer though.. a possible crack or air pocket on the inside? My doubt is if I had used 2 dowels on the sides instead of one in the middle, maybe it would have been better... I don't know.

bubs1stbirthday Posted 3 Jun 2016 , 7:08am
post #14 of 29

I always use a cake circle under the cake (which is similar to what you have pictured) but under the base cake I put a board - I think they are called cake drums in America. They would be about 6mm thick and completely unbendable.

You could put a brick on it and hold it up with one hand and there would be no flex in the board.

I believe they may officially be called Melamine cake boards in Australia. 

Lilamj Posted 3 Jun 2016 , 7:13am
post #15 of 29

Hi,

I did level it. I want my layers to be all the same height everywhere (3.5cm). However the filling was lemon curd and sliced strawberries. maybe the strawberries in the middle were too high?
Everything looked straight before I put the cream on top but who knows. The girl told me the cake cracked and the fruits and cream in the middle sank (this is what the cake looked like https://www.instagram.com/p/BBVdVV1iJo8/?taken-by=martajeronimo (this is not the one though!)).

Yeah... that must have been it. A combination of the strawberries in the center of the cake being a bit too high (on the sides it's just whipped cream), with the dowel passing thru an air pocket, the oscilation of the cake on the girls car....


Bah... 


Quote by @bubs1stbirthday on 4 hours ago

My thoughts initially were with Kate's regarding the cake being higher in the middle so the sides not being properly supported and then with Kakeladi's, being that the cake wasn't on a solid board so not having an even support underneath it.

Trust me I did both before I learnt how to level/fill/support properly so you are not alone there, even if a cake cracks though you can still use it as one of your layers as long as the cake and icing underneath are nicely level (done that too lol).

If your cake was level then maybe the filling was arranged in such a way that again the top layer of the cake wasn't supported evenly and the sides dropped causing it to crack and fall off?

Do you happen to have a photo of the cake prior to you sending it on it's way?



Lilamj Posted 3 Jun 2016 , 7:15am
post #16 of 29

I don't understand, are you saying I should overbake slightly to avoid craking? 

Quote by @woozy on 4 hours ago

Lap. Legs aren't level. Movement. 

But one other thing. I've finally learned to not overbake my cakes. I was wrapping one for the freezer the other day. and it cracked. I used cake strips, so it was level. No harm done, anyway. But I think a cake that is perfectly baked will crack more easily than a slightly overbaked cake. The moisture level is higher.  

Mine was also lemon, a WASC with fresh lemon juice, so I had altered the chemistry from the ordinary, anyway, so it could have been more delicate even though it didn't appear so.

Thanks for posting, I'm going to be extra careful from now on to have a completely unbendable base for transport.


Lilamj Posted 3 Jun 2016 , 7:19am
post #17 of 29


Quote by @bubs1stbirthday on 7 minutes ago

I always use a cake circle under the cake (which is similar to what you have pictured) but under the base cake I put a board - I think they are called cake drums in America. They would be about 6mm thick and completely unbendable.

You could put a brick on it and hold it up with one hand and there would be no flex in the board.

I believe they may officially be called Melamine cake boards in Australia. 


Oh! So 2 cake boards? I never thought of that! Is it bigger than the one you use directly on the cake?I think I know which you mean, they have them here as well, they are usually golden and very hard. Also expensive.

Doesn't the cake circle slide on the other cake board?

bubs1stbirthday Posted 3 Jun 2016 , 7:26am
post #18 of 29

I use a cake circle the same size as the tin I baked in, so 7 inch for a 7inch cake then whatever size board I think is right for the cake board.

Yes they are usually gold or silver when you buy them.

If you look at most decorated cakes you will see that there is a decorated board under the cake - I use fondant to decorate mine and that will stop the cake circle with the cake on it from sliding - just dampen the fondant or put a little ganache etc where the cake will sit before placing the cake board on it and once it sets up it wont go anywhere.

You could also just use a board the same size as your cake circle with some non slip matting cut to fit between the two boards (or glue or whatever you want to use to stick them together) and then place a ribbon around the board using double sided clear tape to adhere the ribbon to the boards so you can't even tell that there are two boards there.

If your boards under the base are bendy and the cake is held only by the middle the upwards pressure in the middle would easily cause the cake to snap in the middle as described.

Lilamj Posted 3 Jun 2016 , 9:10am
post #19 of 29

Silly question but , if they are both the same size, why don't you use only the cake board? Why the cake circle as well?

Quote by @bubs1stbirthday on 1 hour ago

I use a cake circle the same size as the tin I baked in, so 7 inch for a 7inch cake then whatever size board I think is right for the cake board.

Yes they are usually gold or silver when you buy them.

If you look at most decorated cakes you will see that there is a decorated board under the cake - I use fondant to decorate mine and that will stop the cake circle with the cake on it from sliding - just dampen the fondant or put a little ganache etc where the cake will sit before placing the cake board on it and once it sets up it wont go anywhere.

You could also just use a board the same size as your cake circle with some non slip matting cut to fit between the two boards (or glue or whatever you want to use to stick them together) and then place a ribbon around the board using double sided clear tape to adhere the ribbon to the boards so you can't even tell that there are two boards there.

If your boards under the base are bendy and the cake is held only by the middle the upwards pressure in the middle would easily cause the cake to snap in the middle as described.


carolinecakes Posted 3 Jun 2016 , 2:06pm
post #20 of 29

Using the cake boards gives you a surface to build your cake and the ability to move it, like from the turntable to the counter. Cake boards however are not strong enough to support your cake, this is where the cake drums come into play. They are sturdier and come in various sizes. Cake drums/Masonite boards can support your cake so you can travel with, and they add a nice finish to your cake, since you can cover then in fondant.


When I first started I bought Wilton pans and molds etc, their stuff is marketed to the home baker/decorater, which I am. I learned on CC about brands the professionals use, like Magic Line baking pans. Better quality and similar in price to wilton. Mind you I still use my wilton rolling pin and mat,I spent good money might as well use it, but knowing what I do now, I would not purchase Wilton baking products. I replaced all my wilton baking pans and have consistent great results. I get that's its easily accessible for you , just know that there are better quality products out there the cost the same or close to.

cuky21 Posted 3 Jun 2016 , 3:04pm
post #21 of 29

I didn't mean to offend you in any way. I apologize but my english isn't that great, now that I read what carolinecakes wrote, I realize I meant "cake drum" not "cake board".


I always use both on all my cakes, I am always freaking out about the cake being stable on transportation (unfortunately, from a very bad first experience I had baking a birthday cake for my nephew).


Quote by @Lilamj on 8 hours ago


Quote by @cuky21 on 13 hours ago

I apologize for the dumb question, but, did you use a cake board? 


The only thing I can think of is the carton being to flimsy and it didn's support it evenly.


It's a valid question as I didn't mention it! I did use a cake board. I don't even know how you can not use one, how would you then put the cake in the box for transportation? Yes, I use a 10" cake board for my 7" cakes. These: http://www.webstaurantstore.com/10-corrugated-grease-proof-white-cake-circle-100-case/24510CCCC.html




carolinecakes Posted 3 Jun 2016 , 4:59pm
post #22 of 29

Ok so I just re-read this entire thread, so let's rehash:

Cakes must be level - invest in a little inexpensive split level from your local hardware store. I am constantly checking to make sure my layers are level, every step from filling to frosting to covering with fondant.


Support- Use cake boards on individual tiers and a cake drum for the completed cake. For that wedding cake I recommend you use a Masonite Board. 

SPS or dowels - it's a personal preference thing.

Fillings - 1/8"-1/4" thick

               Use a dam of buttercream to keep the filling in

Transport cakes cold. I keep my decorated cakes in the fridge until delivery. Laps are not the best places for cakes, a flat surface with a non skid mat under the boxed cake is best.


Also strawberries can be slippery buggers, add this to all the things mentioned by everyone and it maybe a combination of things that resulted in the cake cracking.

Moving forward how about you do a trial cake to build up your confidence again. Box it up and take it for a drive. Trust me I speak from personal experience. HTH


Others may have more to add, this is what works for me. smile.png

cuky21 Posted 3 Jun 2016 , 5:08pm
post #23 of 29

How do you manage to refrigerate fondant coverded cakes?? I have never done that, because I'm afraid condensation will ruin the fondant.


Is your fridge modified somehow?


Quote by @carolinecakes on 5 minutes ago

Ok so I just re-read this entire thread, so let's rehash:

Cakes must be level - invest in a little inexpensive split level from your local hardware store. I am constantly checking to make sure my layers are level, every step from filling to frosting to covering with fondant.


Support- Use cake boards on individual tiers and a cake drum for the completed cake. For that wedding cake I recommend you use a Masonite Board. 

SPS or dowels - it's a personal preference thing.

Fillings - 1/8"-1/4" thick

               Use a dam of buttercream to keep the filling in

Transport cakes cold. I keep my decorated cakes in the fridge until delivery. Laps are not the best places for cakes, a flat surface with a non skid mat under the boxed cake is best.


Also strawberries can be slippery buggers, add this to all the things mentioned by everyone and it maybe a combination of things that resulted in the cake cracking.

Moving forward how about you do a trial cake to build up your confidence again. Box it up and take it for a drive. Trust me I speak from personal experience. HTH


Others may have more to add, this is what works for me. smile.png


carolinecakes Posted 3 Jun 2016 , 5:38pm
post #24 of 29

If I remember correctly the  residential fridges are low in humidity so the cake is fine. It's the commercial ones that can cause condensation, so the cake must be boxed. When you take it out do not touch it, any condensation remains on the box.

I felt the same as you  until I got other information on CC about this. Some people do it all the time, others never refrigerate their cakes. I am trying to post a link but having trouble. HTH




cuky21 Posted 3 Jun 2016 , 5:41pm
post #25 of 29

Thank you! Great tip.


I'll make a fondant cake and try that with my fridge and see how it turns out =)


Quote by @carolinecakes on 1 minute ago

If I remember correctly the  residential fridges are low in humidity so the cake is fine. It's the commercial ones that can cause condensation, so the cake must be boxed. When you take it out do not touch it, any condensation remains on the box.

I felt the same as you  until I got other information on CC about this. Some people do it all the time, others never refrigerate their cakes. I am trying to post a link but having trouble. HTH





carolinecakes Posted 3 Jun 2016 , 5:44pm
post #26 of 29

http://www.cakecentral.com/forum/t/678793/can-you-refrigerate-fondant-covered-cakes

Here is one of many threads about the subject, as with most things you will find opposing opinions. 

carolinecakes Posted 3 Jun 2016 , 6:04pm
post #27 of 29

http://www.americastestkitchenfeed.com/bake-it-better/2012/01/secrets-to-making-a-wedding-cake

Here's  a link using dowels, you can use bubble straws instead. Not sure if you have access to SPS, so this is another option.

woozy Posted 3 Jun 2016 , 6:10pm
post #28 of 29

>>>I don't understand, are you saying I should overbake slightly to avoid craking? 
Read more at http://www.cakecentral.com/forum/t/831375/layer-cake-split-in-half-why#rwtohYu4edG4RosV.99


OH NO!  I just think a perfectly baked cake might be more delicate. 

bubs1stbirthday Posted 3 Jun 2016 , 11:18pm
post #29 of 29


Quote by @Lilamj on 14 hours ago

Silly question but , if they are both the same size, why don't you use only the cake board? Why the cake circle as well?

Quote by @bubs1stbirthday on 1 hour ago

I use a cake circle the same size as the tin I baked in, so 7 inch for a 7inch cake then whatever size board I think is right for the cake board.

Yes they are usually gold or silver when you buy them.

If you look at most decorated cakes you will see that there is a decorated board under the cake - I use fondant to decorate mine and that will stop the cake circle with the cake on it from sliding - just dampen the fondant or put a little ganache etc where the cake will sit before placing the cake board on it and once it sets up it wont go anywhere.

You could also just use a board the same size as your cake circle with some non slip matting cut to fit between the two boards (or glue or whatever you want to use to stick them together) and then place a ribbon around the board using double sided clear tape to adhere the ribbon to the boards so you can't even tell that there are two boards there.

If your boards under the base are bendy and the cake is held only by the middle the upwards pressure in the middle would easily cause the cake to snap in the middle as described.


It's not a silly question at all  :-) I find the circle tends to get a little grubby underneath from the icing so prefer to keep the cake board clean for presentation. You could always use just the one I guess. 

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