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First caketastrophy!!

post #1 of 15
Thread Starter 
I'm not a professional by any means. I do cakes for friends and family, and occasionally if a friend or an acquaintance that has tried my cakes, requests one, I'll charge them a small fee to cover the costs and a bit of my time. Last year, I made a pink ruffle cake for my daughter's teachers small baby shower luncheon at school. http://cakecentral.com/gallery/2333078/pink-ruffle-baby-shower-cake I made a rum-cake (my specialty) and the teacher loved it! I got so many compliments from the other teachers and parents as well. The guest of honor couldn't stop raving about it and said that her family was fighting over the leftovers she took home.

Two weeks ago, she contacted me to ask if I would make a cake for her daughter's baptism. After a few emails back and forth, we decided on the design. I've done a similar look, with the simple flowers but this would be my first tiered cake. I started working on the topper a week ahead and spent the entire week reading CC forums and watching how to video's. I even did a test run of MFF, since I hadn't really done homemade fondant before. I definitely wanted to try the upside down icing technique to get a clean, sharp edge to the fondant as well.

I baked my aunt's rum cake. It's a dense cake soaked in rum syrup; very popular cake in Puerto Rico (where I'm from) as well as for many other Hispanic and Caribbean cultures. It's usually covered in buttercream or meringue. I've preferred to use an all high-ratio-shortening icing. Heres where I started getting in trouble Since I planned to do the upside down icing technique, I altered the recipe to include 1/3 of butter so the icing would harden in the fridge. After soaking the cakes overnight, I added a bit more syrup thinking that the cakes would dry out in the time that theyd be hardening in the fridge.

I spent almost the entire day icing the cakes. It was my first time using a bench scraper, so I basically kept on going until I got it completely smooth. By the second cake, I had gotten the hang of it, but still spent much more time than I should have. I layed a pretty thick layer of icing all around the cakes since thats what Id seen on the tutorial and videos. My first lesson learned, was that the upside-down-icing technique is not suitable for a tall, heavy cake. The icing got all squished when I tried to turn it. Even when I got extra hands, we werent able to successfully turn it. So all the time that I had spent smoothing the cake and putting it back in the fridge, was wasted. I ended up icing it the good olfashion way.

After a good chunk of time spent in the fridge, I started covering the cakes. They looked very good. I didnt really get a crisp edge in the corners but I was happy with the outcome. But soon, I started noticing a bulge in the bottom of the cake. I pressed down on the sides of the cake and took out what I though had icing that I had pushed down when I smoothed the fondant. The bulge kept on getting bigger. I pulled up the fondant that was folding and cropped it, cleaning out the excess icing that was accumulating. It had cracked in some places, so I decided to cut the bottom fondant out and cover it with a tall strip of fondant since I would be adding flowers all around it. I ended up cutting two strips of fondant and left the seams on the side. I started placing the flowers and was happy with the fix since it didnt really show. I stacked the cakes, and was pleasantly surprised that i didn't have any problems with this stage. Unfortunately the bulge at the bottom kept on getting bigger and the top of the fondant was now cracking as well as one of the side seams.

At this point I wanted to cry, scream and call it quits! But I patiently took out all the flowers and pulled the fondant off the cake. I tossed most of the icing and left the cakes with basically just a crumb coat. It was 10 pm! I had started at nine oclock in the morning and had to deliver the cake by 10 am the next day. I calmly went to bed knowing that I was exhausted and would make it worse if I kept at it all night.

The next morning at the crack of dawn, I started coloring some Satin Ice that I luckily had in hand, and kneading it with the 2lbs of MFF I had left. I covered the cakes in fondant, placed the flowers, stacked the cakes, added a ribbon to the bottom of the tiers and placed the topper. I was done with over an hour to spare! Here's the cake; http://cakecentral.com/gallery/2340512/yellow-baptism-cake

I was happy with how the cake turned out. But boy was I exhausted! I spent the rest of my day in bed resting. I love making cakes, but I dont make them enough to be a pro and cant really afford to be baking all the time (nor do I have the time w a 3yo, a full-time job and a party styling biz on the side). Ive been soaking up everyone elses tips, feedback, suggestions, etc. but know that the best way to improve and learn is practice, practice, practice. Ive come to realize that a rum cake is not suitable for a crisp round edge look. I now know that the icing softens and cant be laid on really thick, because not only was it melting, but it was too heavy. I cant way to try different cake recipes and icings, and see the differences with each.

Im sorry Ive written a novel here, but I wanted to share my experience, lessons learned and hope to get some constructive feedback on my leaning curve. If you can suggest any recipes for icing that could work for a rum cake, please do so. I cant wait to try new ways to improve my cakes.

Cheers!
Elizabeth
post #2 of 15
The upside down method should really only be used with ganache or meringue buttercreams (I would assume ALL butter ABC would be okay but I've never tried). I would suggest trying it with ganache and you will be amazed what a difference it makes to your cakes. I use ganache exclusively under fondant.

Also with double height tiers I ganache 2 normal height tiers using the upside down method and then "stick" them together to create the double height. Patch up the seam and you still have the perfect sharp edge and a perfectly level double height tier.

Well done on pulling it together in the end, it looks great for a first attempt on new techniques.
post #3 of 15
I feel your pain. The bulging thing has happened to me a quite few times. Even when I'm patient and let the cakes settle. Or when I place something on top of the tier as suggested to force the air out. BUT I learned a trick here on CC awhile back...I wish I could remember who said it. But if you poke a wooden dowel down the center of the tier and pull it out, leaving a hole in the top of the cake, it leaves a place for the air to escape instead of bulging out through the sides of the cake.

I've done this several times now and it really works! I actually just did a wedding cake over the weekend and I noticed the top tier starting to get a bulge after I had it completely decorated. I poked a hole in the top and smoothed the bulge with a fondant paddle and you could just feel the air going out the hole in the top. Bulge went away and you couldn't even tell it was ever there. Then I just stuck a flower on top of the hole to cover it. Crazy, but it works.
post #4 of 15
I make fondant using a recipe from the older Wilton books using powdered sugar, gelatin, water, corn syrup but NO glycerine. It takes 5 minutes to throw together. That seems to work every time...I have never tried MMF or commercial.

I have never tried a tall cake but all the useful sources say to use dowels if you are stacking more than 4" of any kind of cake. I have to say I agree.

If you want to make a specialty of rumcake, then you should get those pans for rolled-top cakes. They bake 3" deep, which gets a little thicker when you slice into 3 layers. The fondant goes on very smoothly They have a distinctive look and with your cake recipe would give you as much cake business as you want. They come in different sizes.

I don't think the rum cake was a big problem but maybe the overnight soaking and extra syrup was, for more than 4" total height. That moisture might also have caused your icing to soften. I have seen recipes for Dominican cake and they all look like they would need extra dowels for a stable tiered result.
post #5 of 15
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by LisaPeps

The upside down method should really only be used with ganache or meringue buttercreams (I would assume ALL butter ABC would be okay but I've never tried). I would suggest trying it with ganache and you will be amazed what a difference it makes to your cakes. I use ganache exclusively under fondant.

Also with double height tiers I ganache 2 normal height tiers using the upside down method and then "stick" them together to create the double height. Patch up the seam and you still have the perfect sharp edge and a perfectly level double height tier.

Well done on pulling it together in the end, it looks great for a first attempt on new techniques.



Lisa,

I'm hoping to try ganache pretty soon. I don't have a specific event or an excuse yet, but hopefully I'll get to try it soon. Do you think the ganache will work over a moist cake? I've tried SMB in the past, but the weather in SoFla is not very good for it. Maybe I'll try it again in a few months when it's not too hot and extremely humid. I'll have to test out different buttercreams and see what will work. The cake is definitely a winner.

I'll definitely try the double stacking next time I use a tall cake. I'm sure it wasn't easy to cut.

Thanks for your feedback!
Elizabeth
post #6 of 15
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by debbief

I feel your pain. The bulging thing has happened to me a quite few times. Even when I'm patient and let the cakes settle. Or when I place something on top of the tier as suggested to force the air out. BUT I learned a trick here on CC awhile back...I wish I could remember who said it. But if you poke a wooden dowel down the center of the tier and pull it out, leaving a hole in the top of the cake, it leaves a place for the air to escape instead of bulging out through the sides of the cake.

I've done this several times now and it really works! I actually just did a wedding cake over the weekend and I noticed the top tier starting to get a bulge after I had it completely decorated. I poked a hole in the top and smoothed the bulge with a fondant paddle and you could just feel the air going out the hole in the top. Bulge went away and you couldn't even tell it was ever there. Then I just stuck a flower on top of the hole to cover it. Crazy, but it works.



Hi Debbie,

Thanks for your feedback! The bulge was caused when the icing got to room temperature and dripped down the sides. I did see the other post about icing bulge. Now I know what to do if that happens.

Thanks for sharing!
Elizabeth
post #7 of 15
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by BakingIrene

I make fondant using a recipe from the older Wilton books using powdered sugar, gelatin, water, corn syrup but NO glycerine. It takes 5 minutes to throw together. That seems to work every time...I have never tried MMF or commercial.

I have never tried a tall cake but all the useful sources say to use dowels if you are stacking more than 4" of any kind of cake. I have to say I agree.

If you want to make a specialty of rumcake, then you should get those pans for rolled-top cakes. They bake 3" deep, which gets a little thicker when you slice into 3 layers. The fondant goes on very smoothly They have a distinctive look and with your cake recipe would give you as much cake business as you want. They come in different sizes.

I don't think the rum cake was a big problem but maybe the overnight soaking and extra syrup was, for more than 4" total height. That moisture might also have caused your icing to soften. I have seen recipes for Dominican cake and they all look like they would need extra dowels for a stable tiered result.



Hi Irene!

I used Michele Foster's fondant recipe and loved it! It's the second batch I make and there's some room for me to improve on it, but I don't think it was the cause for my mess. It was definitely the extra syrup and the icing. I've always left the cake soak the syrup overnight since it's suggested in most rum-cake recipes (Puerto Rican, Cuban, Dominican). I think it really helps flavor the cake and probably helps the solidity of the cake. Luckily, I didn't have any problems stacking the cakes. I used 3 bubble straws to hold the weight of the top layer, two dowels for the top layer and the cross that I used as a topper had a dowel that reached almost to the bottom right in the middle. I had done a tall cake in the past and it did shift on me because I didn't place any internal support. Hopefully it won't take me too many more trials and errors to figure this out.

Thanks for your feedback!
Elizabeth
post #8 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by ellePartyInStyle

Quote:
Originally Posted by LisaPeps

The upside down method should really only be used with ganache or meringue buttercreams (I would assume ALL butter ABC would be okay but I've never tried). I would suggest trying it with ganache and you will be amazed what a difference it makes to your cakes. I use ganache exclusively under fondant.

Also with double height tiers I ganache 2 normal height tiers using the upside down method and then "stick" them together to create the double height. Patch up the seam and you still have the perfect sharp edge and a perfectly level double height tier.

Well done on pulling it together in the end, it looks great for a first attempt on new techniques.



Lisa,

I'm hoping to try ganache pretty soon. I don't have a specific event or an excuse yet, but hopefully I'll get to try it soon. Do you think the ganache will work over a moist cake? I've tried SMB in the past, but the weather in SoFla is not very good for it. Maybe I'll try it again in a few months when it's not too hot and extremely humid. I'll have to test out different buttercreams and see what will work. The cake is definitely a winner.

I'll definitely try the double stacking next time I use a tall cake. I'm sure it wasn't easy to cut.

Thanks for your feedback!
Elizabeth



What I do is bake the cake, put on the syrup, let it cool and then freeze it. I then ganache it while it's still frozen because it retains the moisture and the moisture doesn't interfere with the ganache when you're smoothing it.
post #9 of 15
I don't have any advice to offer because right now I'm terrible at working with fondant...but I just wanted to say that the cake turned out beautifully! I love it.
post #10 of 15
Must you use fondant? Why not just use smoothed buttercream? Particularly on your rum cake. I don't use fondant to cover...only to decorate. Many cakes here on CC are buttercream but they look like they're fondant cakes. Something to consider!

If I am ever on life support, unplug me...

Then plug me back in.  See if that works!

Reply

If I am ever on life support, unplug me...

Then plug me back in.  See if that works!

Reply
post #11 of 15
Like PinkLotus, I have no advice to offer but would like to say that your hard struggle was certainly worth it.
The cake is truly beautiful and you should be very proud of it.
Well done! icon_smile.gif
post #12 of 15
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by LisaPeps


What I do is bake the cake, put on the syrup, let it cool and then freeze it. I then ganache it while it's still frozen because it retains the moisture and the moisture doesn't interfere with the ganache when you're smoothing it.



I'll be trying that soon! Thanks for the advice. I'll let you know how it works out.
post #13 of 15
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by PinkLotus

I don't have any advice to offer because right now I'm terrible at working with fondant...but I just wanted to say that the cake turned out beautifully! I love it.



Thanks PinkLotus!
post #14 of 15
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by carmijok

Must you use fondant? Why not just use smoothed buttercream? Particularly on your rum cake. I don't use fondant to cover...only to decorate. Many cakes here on CC are buttercream but they look like they're fondant cakes. Something to consider!



I will definitely be trying smoothed buttercream in the near future, but my smoothing skills aren't there yet. I'll definitely practice, practice, practice. And if my Friends don't ask otherwise, it'll definitely be something to consider, but they usually prefer the fondant look. I've definitely seen some beautiful work here in CC as well in other social platforms that looks as clean and sharp as fondant. I just hope I can get to that level!

Thanks for your tip Carmijok!
post #15 of 15
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by escaliba1234

Like PinkLotus, I have no advice to offer but would like to say that your hard struggle was certainly worth it.
The cake is truly beautiful and you should be very proud of it.
Well done! icon_smile.gif



Thanks Ingrid!
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