Disaster After Disaster... Ten Lbs Later...

Decorating By lbsmeck Updated 11 Oct 2006 , 6:12am by JanH

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lbsmeck Posted 10 Oct 2006 , 12:06pm
post #1 of 27

ok, i am having such problems with cake decorating. i am such a newbie it isn't funny... everytime i try to start a project it looks terrible. i need help with the following:

1. crumbs in icing. icon_mad.gif
2. level looking cakes. icon_cry.gif
3. fillings. icon_confused.gif
and not eating the whole "practice" cake myself!

I have been using duncan hines mixes with a stick of butter, 3 eggs & xtra egg yolk, milk & when my cakes are baked sometimes i swear i can see pieces of butter in there, but i really whip it well before i even add the other ingredients.

then i level, tort & wrap in plastic wrap to save for the next day to decorate.

i finally got the large icing tip to use to "help" ice my cakes. i MUST be doign something wrong, b/c my cakes still get crumbs & look so crappy that even eating them doesn't make me feel better... even the whole thing... icon_wink.gif

HELP !!!!!

26 replies
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jen1977 Posted 10 Oct 2006 , 12:17pm
post #2 of 27

hmm...let me see how many of these I can answer for you. First, if you make sure that all of your layers are level, the cake should look level. Wilton makes a leveler, I have the small one and haven't heard good things about the large one. I love my small one. It has a piece of wire that you adjust the height on, and it slides right thru the cake. I can't for the life of my use a knife and eyeball the layers. Also, make sure your top is level. I put a pan on top of my cake pan for about 5 minutes while it's still cooling in the pan. Put something heavy on it, and it mooshe the hum on top. Also, if you use the Wilton Bake Even strips while baking, the hump isn't nearly as bad. After putting the pan on it, there shouldn't be much hump to shave off. You can also just level it while it's in the pan using a knife or dental floss and skip the heavy pan.

Is your butter softened before you put it in the mix?

Crumbs...are you putting a crumb coat on before you ice your cake? Put a thin layer on the cake...should be able to see the cake thru it. Let it sit for about 15 minutes until the crumb coat crusts. This seals in the crumbs before your final icing. Hope this helps!

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lbsmeck Posted 10 Oct 2006 , 12:20pm
post #3 of 27

crumb coat?? i wondered about that... how thick of a layer of icing.. and do you chill it after crumb coat??

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RisqueBusiness Posted 10 Oct 2006 , 12:20pm
post #4 of 27

the first thing I can help you with is to tell you that you need to thin your icing so it doesn't pull the crumbs into your icing.

also, make sure you don't scrape the cake with your spatula. Keep the icing always between the the cake and spatula.

also, make sure that your butter is soft when you put it into the mix.

you didn't explain what is wrong with your filling..

and as far as eating the cake, just decorated with someone else in mind..and take it to your closest neighbor, friend...mechanic...anyone as long as you take it out of the house!!


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lbsmeck Posted 10 Oct 2006 , 12:22pm
post #5 of 27

i did just get the sm leveler, will def have to use that !

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lbsmeck Posted 10 Oct 2006 , 12:24pm
post #6 of 27

i let my butter sit out until it is very soft so it whips easily.

i think that thining the icing would make sense... i didnt think of that..

i am using the buttercrm dream

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lbsmeck Posted 10 Oct 2006 , 12:25pm
post #7 of 27

as far as fillings i need ideas, i think .. dare i say it.. there was too much icing in the cake & i may need to use a filling instread.

what are your favs??

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vickymacd Posted 10 Oct 2006 , 12:25pm
post #8 of 27

I agree with loving the smaller leveler.
Also, if your cake is chocolate, it's always harder than a white cake with crumb problem.
Next, why do you add all that stuff into your DH cake? Just make it regular next time like on box and see if that works for you.
Also as far as crumbs....make sure your cake is cooled off before frosting! Then I brush it all over with my hands to get any loose stuff off. I found that one time I didn't have time to frost it, so I put it in my Wilton cake carrier till the next day, and my cake was so moist that it was impossible to frost right! Make sure no crumbs are on it and most importantly, don't EVER touch the cake when frosting! Only spread frosting with your knife. Never touch the knife to the cake. If that makes sense.

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vickymacd Posted 10 Oct 2006 , 12:28pm
post #9 of 27

Wasn't sure what you said about your fillings but you also need to run an icing edge around your cake before you add your filling otherwise your filling will leak out of the sides of your cake.

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lbsmeck Posted 10 Oct 2006 , 12:30pm
post #10 of 27

i have been using chocolate cake mix.. due to a severe addiction... mm choc cake for breakfast.. may be i should try yellow.. for the sake of my icing & my waist..

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aliekitn99 Posted 10 Oct 2006 , 12:31pm
post #11 of 27

Try putting a large mound of icing in the center of the cake and push and try not to move your knife back and forth...just one way and that will also help by not picking up crumbs. On the sides, just push the icing in one direction after using the icing tip.

I also recommend using the baking strips. But it takes longer for your cake to cook. I had several cakes stick by not letting them cook long enough even though the toothpick came out clean. I now also use my eyes...I see when the cake start pulling away from the pan along the edges, it's done. At least that method seems to work for me.



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KHalstead Posted 10 Oct 2006 , 12:38pm
post #12 of 27

ok, how are you guys having success with the small leveler.......I thought the big one was supposed to be better because the blade actually has teeth on it like a saw blade. I have the small one and can't get it through a cake once it has cooled, and if I do it while it's still warm it rips through it gouging out huge chunks!!!! I get a much more level cake just going at it with a big chefs knife than that little leveler.......am I doing something wrong???/ It's probably because my cakes get a crust around the edges......they're not burnt they just get an edge......when I use springform pans I kinda expect it, but I get it with regular pans too icon_cry.gif icon_cry.gif

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vickymacd Posted 10 Oct 2006 , 12:45pm
post #13 of 27

I used to use a cake knife but now I love the small leveler! I just use slow back and forth motions. Only time I had a problem was when my cake was not completely cooled. I love it. Just hate adjusting the height all the time!

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RisqueBusiness Posted 10 Oct 2006 , 12:47pm
post #14 of 27

you may also need to level your oven! to get level cakes..lol.

My oven leans toward one side, and I had to put in a sliver of wood in the bottom to get my cakes to bake even

also you can bake 25 degrees lower and bake a little longer.

You certainly can eyeball your cake to see if it's done, when it starts to pull away from the edges...and if you "SMELL" cake....its usually in the last...10-15 minutes of baking.

That's the time I usually check it...but never before! lol

Try the "SMELL" test...you will see what I mean!

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jtb94 Posted 10 Oct 2006 , 12:59pm
post #15 of 27

to help get my cakes level, while they are baking I rotate them 1/4 turn every 10 minutes. I use the large Wilton leveler. I have never had a problem with it.

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Steady2Hands Posted 10 Oct 2006 , 1:28pm
post #16 of 27

Everyone has shared lots of great tips!

I can't cut cakes level with a knife. I invested in the Wilton Large Leveler and I love it. The jagged edges on the blade sail right through the cake. I have the small one too but I haven't had any success with it. I just always use the large one even on small cakes.

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doleta Posted 10 Oct 2006 , 1:35pm
post #17 of 27

You rotate them 1/4 every 10 min while baking? icon_eek.gif Don't they fall?

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loves2bake Posted 10 Oct 2006 , 2:05pm
post #18 of 27

I read on here once that if you lay a clean dish towel over your cake (while its still warm in the pan) and press it down with either another pan or something sturdy and flat, it will level your cake.

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Tkeys Posted 10 Oct 2006 , 2:46pm
post #19 of 27

As for the 10 lbs . . . i might be able to help you with that. I, too, am a chocolate addict. Here is the best tip i can give you - DON'T, under any circumstances, bake chocolate cake "just for practice." You will eat it. All of it. Proabably in close to one sitting. Or over the course of a few hours. Yes, for those of you who are appalled by that statement, it is possible to do. It's the chocolate - for those of us who are addicts, it isn't our fault. The chocolate does something chemical to our brain.

My suggestion is make a yellow cake. Or some other weird flavor that some people (or kids) like. Or dye it blue. I won't eat anything not chocolate - I absolutely won't waste the calories. Some people will anyway, but they can't eat a blue cake. So figure out if there is something you can do that will make the cake edible to others, but will keep you out of it. Are you allergic to something? Maybe you can put that in. I'm allergic to cocounut, and coconut oil - i've been known to buy/bake chocolate cake mixes (which I also hate) that contain coconut oil in them so I know I won't go anywhere near them, just in case i find the temptation of chocolate greater than my dislike of cake mixes.

That way, you can practice without eating, and still give the cakes away to others who can enjoy.

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lbsmeck Posted 10 Oct 2006 , 8:12pm
post #20 of 27

i think i am allergic to chocolate.. b/c i am all swollen in the middle & backside area... icon_lol.gif

ok that wasnt funny.. but a good idea... what about a dummy cake. do i carve some styrafoam & put plastic wrap around it to practice vs doing a cake. it's possible that i may not eat the styrafoam... i guess it depends on how much buttercream is on it... hmmm icon_rolleyes.gif

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auntsushi Posted 10 Oct 2006 , 8:30pm
post #21 of 27

I make sure I let my cakes chill in the fridge, or freezer before icing them. Makes them nice and firm and less likely to break apart or crumb. And, yes, when you do your crumb coat, make sure your icing is nice and thin. When you get to a point with your icing tip that you are good with it (and you will be), you won't even need a crumb coat !!

Hang in there! It just takes some practice! I think we've all been there.

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imartsy Posted 10 Oct 2006 , 8:49pm
post #22 of 27

LOL I eat a lot of my practice cakes too - just keep exercising and balance your calories - don't eat as much for dinner - or lunch - or make cake your snack instead of something else! icon_smile.gif icon_smile.gif I'm craving cake - I haven't had one in awhile... hmmm maybe i"ll just whip up some icing and take a cake out of the freezer tonight (yep got some frozen in there - had one in there for about 2 months and it still was just as moist as the day it went in!!). Hmmm I might have to do that - we're having pie tonight w/a guest from out of town - but I may have to have cake instead! icon_smile.gif icon_smile.gif

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elvis Posted 10 Oct 2006 , 9:02pm
post #23 of 27

Hey- I agree with auntsushi- I do all of my leveling and crumb coating when the cake is frozen (to level, I just eyeball and saw with a long serrated knife..). The crumb issue is so much easier to handle when the cake is frozen--at least in my opinion. Good luck!

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sami21 Posted 11 Oct 2006 , 12:52am
post #24 of 27
Originally Posted by lbsmeck

i think i am allergic to chocolate.. b/c i am all swollen in the middle & backside area.

OMG! I've gotta use that one! thumbs_up.gif
Too funny! icon_lol.gif

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tammiemarie Posted 11 Oct 2006 , 1:15am
post #25 of 27

I have the big leveler, and I have found that I can't cut a frozen cake with it. But since I like to freeze my chocolate cakes before frosting (less crumbs) I sometimes forget and have to butcher it with a knife - not pretty...

I have been known to eat the whole cake, pie, cookies, whatever - My husband might have a small piece but that's it. And my babies are too little to help out. So me and my butt feel your pain! hahaha!

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KrisD13 Posted 11 Oct 2006 , 5:45am
post #26 of 27

One of the things we were told in the Wilton course was to wait at least one hour before crumb coating our cakes, once they came out of the oven.

Another tip is, yes, thin the icing. It goes on much easier, with less crumbs. It should be a thin enough layer that you can see the cake through it. Let that dry for maybe 15 minutes to 1/2 hr and do the final icing layer.

Personally, I've found that I don't have to crumb coat anymore. I never have trouble with crumbs, and I don't believe in icing that's 1/2 an inch thick, but it always comes out beautifully smooth.


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JanH Posted 11 Oct 2006 , 6:12am
post #27 of 27

For help with your #3 - fillings:


But be sure to check out the recipes on CC, also icon_smile.gif

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