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Not a complete disaster, but...

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 

I recently made my first two tier cake.  It was not a complete disaster, but it definitely gave me fits through several steps of the process.  I'm hoping you lovely ladies can help me with where I went wrong and troubleshoot some of these issues.

 

This was a gift for a retirement party of someone who was a mentor to my husband.  It was going to need to travel over an hour to it's final destination, so I decided to use SPS supports.  I've been having trouble getting height to my cakes, so I was extra careful with baking, measuring, leveling, etc.  Once the final layer of icing was on it was exactly 4".  However, when I stuck the pillars in, there was a good 1/8" clearance between the plastic plate and the bottom tier of the cake.  I was able to hide it with a fondant boarder, but I was really frustrated because I know I measured everything.  I even used a level to make sure it was truly flat across the top.

 

I tend to make my cakes over the course of about two days, I have young children and it's hard to get anything done with them running around.  So once the cakes were covered in fondant, I put them in my cake cabinet over night.  The next day, the bottom tier, which was white cake filled with vanilla butter cream, had a small bulge at the filling line.  I've been tweaking my butter cream recipe, so I'm guessing I just need a firmer icing.  But the top tier, which was chocolate cake with raspberry filling, had a huge bubble on one side. I popped it with a sterile pin and smoothed it out.  A few minutes later, it was back in the exact same place.  So I used a knife to make a slit in the fondant, and smoothed it out again.  A few minutes later it was back in the same place, huge and ugly as ever.  I investigated further and discovered that the bubble seemed to be originating from below the butter cream layer, not between the butter cream and fondant.  So I used the knife and slit through to the cake and tried to push the air out.  I was placing fondant cut-outs on this tier, so I wasn't too concerned about the knife marks.   But no matter what I did, the bubble would not go away.  I finally ended up putting a flower over that spot, but it still looked awful.

 

The last part that was giving me fits were the fondant cut-outs.  My fondant just seemed way too sticky.  Even after kneading in a significant amount of extra powdered sugar, when I would roll and cut the flowers, they would stretch when I picked them up off the mat giving me wonky shapes.  I use a home made marshmallow fondant, which I love for covering cakes.  I have no tearing/cracking/or elephant skin issues with this recipe, but getting those cut outs off the mat and onto the cake was crazy making.  I peeled them off and started over several times before it was passable.  Especially the peace sign on the top, would stretch completely out of shape when I picked it up.  I ended up rolling it really thick, and leaving it on the mat for a few hours before trying to place it on the cake.  That helped a lot, but I still had to nudge it back into a circle shape once on there.

 

Ok, I lied. The really last thing that gave me fits was that I over blended the tie-dye colors for the lettering on the bottom tier and the boarders.  I fixed my mistake when I re-rolled the top peace sign, but it was too late for the other parts.  They look muted and gray in comparison to the bright flowers on the top tier.  Thanks for reading my novel.  Any insight into the mystery bubble from hell would be great, I have no idea what happened there.

 

post #2 of 9

i'll just mention one thing--to help hold the shape of your cut outs--chill them a bit --and to stiffen fondant i use cornstarch--

 

oh ok--one more-the bubbles--and you poked holes and cut slits--if i leave the small hole open through the fondant to each cake layer then i can avoid the big bubbles--it sounded like you maybe closed them back up--those bubbles just happen--there are lots of theories as to how they form--leah has a thing she does where she places a weight like a book or a tile on top of her cakes to expel the trapped air--if you don't do that --(which would have lost you a bit more height) --then you run the risk of 'cake farts'

 

i poke discreet holes through the icing and that works for me

the only way to see the rainbow is to look through the rain

 

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the only way to see the rainbow is to look through the rain

 

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post #3 of 9
I think if you are going to put the cake in your cake cabinet overnight, you should do that before you put the fondant on. Fill and dam the unfrosted cake and then stack the layers, cover well with plastic wrap, and weigh down with cake pan and maybe a coffee cup ( or something of equivelent weight) . Forget about the cake 'til the morning and spend time with your munchkin(s). The next day the cake will be settled. You may have to trim the bulges to make the sides straight- this only takes 3 or 4 minutes. Then ice the cake and throw in fridge to set up before applying fondant.
I think your cake is adorable and that you did a great job camoflauging all the imperfections. Also, I think it's great that you are going thru each step with a fine toothed comb and troubleshooting them so you don't keep repeating the same problems. Hope this helps
post #4 of 9
Thread Starter 

Shebysuz, thanks for the step-by-step on settling the cake.  I've read it in every other thread here, but was unsure after which step to do the "settling".  And K8, lol @ cake farts.  You would have my boys in stitches.  They're 6 and 8, and anything related to the rear end is absolutely hilarious.  I will try chilling the cut outs, and corn starch instead of powdered sugar.

post #5 of 9
First of all you are going to be your worst critic, remember that! It's cute and good for what your second cake?

In order to fill my orders I have always made my cakes in stages, cuts down on the stress and your cakes really need to settle!

This is just an example
Day 1: I'd bake and make my frostings-wrap my cakes in Saran and foil then freeze/fridge rate on boards.

Day 2: I just want my cakes cold or partially frozen, it's much easier for me to carve and torte with cold layers (this might help you avoid losing that extra height without baking extra batter).
Make sure your bottom board is heavy enough to support your cake layers so your icing doesn't crack. Stack and fill cakes, put a cake board on top and use your level. Crumb coat/cover let cakes settle overnight or use Leah's tile method to speed up the process, (this will help avoid buldging).

Day 3: Carve off extra icing/bulges, ice cake. You can cover in fondant now if you want, I wait until the next day or several hours later to finish with fondant and add my decorations. Mainly because I use ganache mostly and it's easier to cover once the shell has hardened a bit.

Something like this should help make things less stressful and I always try to work ahead. Also, a batter-pan chart might be helpful for a while. Wilton probably has one on their website, it's a chart with ratios of batter to cake pans with baking times and temps.

Since your filling didn't ooze out I think your main issue is with letting your cakes settle. Some people make their icing dam thicker, I start with my icing about 1/4" inward rather then at the very edge-not sure these are proven to help its just what I do.

Good luck! Have fun with it
post #6 of 9

I find a trick that works for me for the fondant cut outs (as I've had the exact same 'stretching' issues) is to cut the fondant out on baking paper (you might call it "wax paper"??) then apply a small amount of water to the cut out, then pick up the whole piece of paper, cut out attached, apply it to the cake, then peel off the baking paper.  Obviously you need to keep in mind that the back of the cut out becomes the front, if that makes sense.

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post #7 of 9

I just wanted to pop in to say that your cake is adorable!  You did a great job masking any imperfections!  As for the bubble problem I have no other advise that hasn't already been said.  :)

post #8 of 9
Quote:
Originally Posted by Smckinney07 View Post

First of all you are going to be your worst critic, remember that! It's cute and good for what your second cake?

In order to fill my orders I have always made my cakes in stages, cuts down on the stress and your cakes really need to settle!

This is just an example
Day 1: I'd bake and make my frostings-wrap my cakes in Saran and foil then freeze/fridge rate on boards.

Day 2: I just want my cakes cold or partially frozen, it's much easier for me to carve and torte with cold layers (this might help you avoid losing that extra height without baking extra batter).
Make sure your bottom board is heavy enough to support your cake layers so your icing doesn't crack. Stack and fill cakes, put a cake board on top and use your level. Crumb coat/cover let cakes settle overnight or use Leah's tile method to speed up the process, (this will help avoid buldging).

Day 3: Carve off extra icing/bulges, ice cake. You can cover in fondant now if you want, I wait until the next day or several hours later to finish with fondant and add my decorations. Mainly because I use ganache mostly and it's easier to cover once the shell has hardened a bit.

Something like this should help make things less stressful and I always try to work ahead. Also, a batter-pan chart might be helpful for a while. Wilton probably has one on their website, it's a chart with ratios of batter to cake pans with baking times and temps.

Since your filling didn't ooze out I think your main issue is with letting your cakes settle. Some people make their icing dam thicker, I start with my icing about 1/4" inward rather then at the very edge-not sure these are proven to help its just what I do.

Good luck! Have fun with it

 

Wow! Awesome help even for someone who has been doing this for years! With a newly turned 1 year old, I have had to switch around my cake baking schedule so I can make them without losing my mind. I love your day-by-day scheduling!! 

 

Would you mind sharing your ganache recipe for covering your cakes? I either make it too runny or too hard.

 

@mandolinkitchen - the cake is adorable. All I can say for your wonky shapes, let them sit out for a while if your fondant is that stretchy. They will hold their shapes when you place them on the cake. Great job for your second tiered cake!! 

 

OH! and about the SPS system - I don't worry with it when traveling with a 2 tiered cake. I just use bubble tea straws or dowels and my regular cardboard cake circles. Your cake isn't too high or anything to where it really would need the SPS, but if you need it for your assurance, that's fine too! In order to fix your gap problem between the system and the cake, buy the pillars you can cut to size instead of the pre-measured ones. You may need to buy a pvc pipe cutter to cut them yourself or have your hubby use his power tools....just make sure you wash and dry thoroughly if going that route. :)

Jeremiah 33:3 "Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know."
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Jeremiah 33:3 "Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know."
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post #9 of 9
Smckinney07, I like your timeline for your cakes... I have a question though. You said you crumb coat and then let sit , then next day trim bulges and later fondant. Does that mean you don't apply a final coat of frosting or ganache before applying fondant? Does this work better? Also, do you mist or wet your cakes before applying fondant so ot will stick better? Thanks!
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