Cracked Butter Cream Frosting

Decorating By Peanuts Updated 7 Jul 2005 , 6:40pm by SquirrellyCakes

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Peanuts Posted 7 Jul 2005 , 1:02am
post #1 of 9

How can I prevent from butter ceam frosting cracking on my cakes after they have been set for a while? Please advise.
Thank you,

8 replies
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MrsMissey Posted 7 Jul 2005 , 1:25am
post #2 of 9

Hi Peanuts...welcome to Cakecentral! You're gonna love it here! About the icing...I've only had that happen one time and the only reason I could figure that it cracked was that the icing was too thick on that part of the cake. Another possible reason.....was the cake board sturdy enough to hold your cake? If it wasn't that may have been the reason.

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debsuewoo Posted 7 Jul 2005 , 1:33am
post #3 of 9

I'd have to go with the cake board not being sturdy enough, OR (my pet peeve) the cake was not held properly when moved.


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SquirrellyCakes Posted 7 Jul 2005 , 1:48am
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Support is usually the issue but here is another. For you folks that use the all shortening recipe or use water instead of milk in your recipe, the water evaporating can cause a lot of cracking. If you are getting cracking all over then it is the water evaporating. If the cracking is around the borders where the cake meets the board or at the middle or corners, it is a support issue.
Most folks just do not use the right base or strong enough bases to support their cakes. And like was stated, folks tend to carry a boarded cake by the edges of the board. Not a good thing to do, you must support the cake underneath.
If you use water in your icing and decorate your cakes well ahead of time, you need to box them and then seal them in plastic bags to trap the maximum amount of moisture into the icing. It is a common problem with folks who use water in the icing.
Hugs Squirrelly

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SweetCreations Posted 7 Jul 2005 , 4:43am
post #5 of 9

Squirrelly, that makes really good sense, espically in humid weather. and yes most of the time the cakes are just carried by the ends instead of underneath. would you reccomend using milk instead of water?
~Sweet~ =0)

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SquirrellyCakes Posted 7 Jul 2005 , 1:29pm
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Haha, nice try Sweet Creations, but you are not going to get me in on that debate, haha!
Seriously though, it actually seems to be more of a problem due to dry air. Like in the winter with a furnace or heat on, but then sometimes with air conditioning and de-humidifiers, that can be as bad.
It is really just a theory of mine, but I know a lot of folks that use the water in the icing that have this issue, especially with wedding cakes that are usually iced a day or two longer before the event. The other situation we have been able to figure out, is with crumbcoats, when a different consistency of icing is used for the crumb coat, say there is more water added to it. Then the final coat, less water added to it. Well frequently this seems to result in cracking issues. Now not for everyone, but then, everyone has different humidity or dryness issues. And again, this isn't so much an issue in a cake that is iced close to the event, it is when the cake will sit iced for more than 24 hours.
The folks that have these issues, well they have been decorating a very long time and are using substantial bases to support their cakes, so that isn't the issue.
So my theory is, when there are different consistencies of icing, the one less moist layer extracts moisture from the more moist layer of icing. It makes sense, if you think about it, because as an iced cake ages, the cake moisture level changes with the act actually absorbing moisture from the icing, as the cake dries out.
Now funny thing, but I have noted that folks that use milk or cream in their icing, as the liquid, don't ever seem to report this problem. I know it has never happened to me with a wedding cake iced in advance.
We know that a cake sitting uncovered will eventually end up with dried icing and cake due to the moisture being evaporated into the air. A cake sitting in a cardboard box for days will also dry out, partly because boxes are made of paper and the paper tends to absorb some of the moisture and partly because the boxes are not air-tight.
Many years ago, I started sealing boxes in plastic bags or plastic sheets and I noticed that the icing itself stayed the same texture for days and the cake was always fine.
A few friends of mine that use the class icing recipe with water, were getting very crunchy or drier icing on their wedding cakes and I suggested bagging the boxes. This worked out well, because the icing stayed the same consistency even when the cakes were made 2-3 days in advance of a wedding date.
Haha, so I am not saying use milk or cream, just take extra precaution when you use water in your icing, make sure your iced cakes are well-sealed. I tend to use green unscented trash bags, haha, but you can use plastic sold by the roll, the kind you use as a drop cloth when you paint or you can use kitchen bags or even clear leaf bags. Haha, we have to dispose of leaves in paper re-cyclable bags here but every year hubby forgets and buys the clear plastic leaf bags. So I have a huge box of them and these are really nice, they are big enough to fit any sized box and don't look so much like you are storing square garbage on your counter.
I also find this a great way of freezing cakes, I tend to wrap up cooled cakes and double bag them to protect against freezer burn and food transfer odour. Also when refrigerating a boxed cake, this will also create a barrier to shield against moisture loss.
Rule of thumb when using butter and milk or cream in your icing, make certain your room temperature is below 75F, otherwise refridgerate. If the temperature is over 83F you will have melting issues with the butter. Otherwise, 2-3 days at room temperature, the cake is fine. I find even longer, 4-5, but I wouldn't do a cake that far in advance.
Hugs Squirrelly Cakes

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SweetCreations Posted 7 Jul 2005 , 5:27pm
post #7 of 9

hehehehe,, Squirrelly Cakes,
I didnt realize it could be turned into a big issue Glad you told me,, lmao,, whewwwww.. coulda gotten sticky around here.
Thanks so much for your help! and what great answers you give. Girl your GOOD! =0)~ Gotta Love it when you can ask and get good HONEST Answers,, Thanks again,
~Sweet~ =0)

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GinaJuarez Posted 7 Jul 2005 , 5:58pm
post #8 of 9

So, would these tips also help prevent the cake icing from crumbling when cut? I did a character cake on Sunday for a party Wednesday. It looked wonderful (oops, forgot to take a picture), but when she went to cut it, at each cut the stars seemed to crust off. I did have it boxed, but I didn't think to bag it.

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SquirrellyCakes Posted 7 Jul 2005 , 6:40pm
post #9 of 9

Haha Sweets, it can cause a lot of disagreement on the Wilton site. There are an awful lot of folks that think you are taking a huge risk in using either butter or cream or milk in icing. Even Wilton says it is fine at room temperature for 2-3 days the same as the all shortening and water recipe. The thing is, in the commercial baking industry there are more rigid rules concerning the use of dairy products and that is because the room temperatures and food safety issues are different in a commercial kitchen which generally does not have air-conditioning and the room temperatures are much higher. If you use salted butter, it preserves the icing even longer, but generally since sugar is a preservative and since our milk and cream is pasteurized, those time guidelines are just fine.
Well Gina, first of all, usually that type of time-frame is reserved for wedding cakes and such where there is a lot of decorating. I wouldn't normally do up a character cake so far in advance, usually 24 hours at most. The stars do have a bit more of a tendency to break off, that is true. Most particularly with the all shortening and water recipe and even more so when the iced cake has been frozen. I have experimented with this a lot.
Bagging the box will help retain the moisture and make the stars less crumbly, that is true. But I think I would also reduce the length of time I was making a cake in advance. Most folks that do wedding cakes bake the cake on the Wednesday or Thursday before a Saturday wedding. The cakes are generally iced on the Thursday or Friday.
In your case, I would have likely iced the cake on the Tuesday or in an emergency the Monday night. I find that the stars are the biggest issue with crumbling. Not as much of an issue when you use the half butter and milk or cream, I find. But yes get the cake into the box as soon as you are done and then seal that boxed cake in a bag.
Also, you may want to consider using more liquid in your icing when you are starring off a character cake. The stars will still hold their shape well with a more thin consistency.
Hugs Squirrelly Cakes

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