I was asked to make a baby shower cake by one of my friends, whose daughter was throwing a baby shower. Previously, I had only used cake mix cakes when baking. This time, I used the large quantity cake mix recipe, which is a doctored cake mix, adding pudding, butter, sugar and flour to the recipe. Also for the first time, I used a pudding-based banana strawberry filling.
The cake was 2 tiers, but each tier was 3 layers. I think the cake was too heavy. I also think the filling was too "wet"? I assembled and refrigerated the cake. It looked great for a little while. Then, it started bulging. I am not sure why, as I had created a buttercream dam so the filling did not go to the edge of the cake. I was using straws for support and a cardboard cake circle under the top layer. I guess the straws could have been the problem too, but I used them on my 3 layer cake (my avator photo), and had no problems.
My friend's son picked up the cake and drove it to his house. He later called to say the cake collapsed. He brought back the broken cake and I tried to fix it, but all I could save was the top layer. I am not totally surprised that the cake collapsed, only because I saw the slight bulge. However, I had also given them a sheet cake, and when he came back to my house the sheet cake had slid off of the aluminum foil. Later that evening, when I delivered my "fixed" cake, the sheet cake never moved. So I think part of it was his driving. But, I am wondering what else contributed to this mess.
I am just trying to isolate the problem, because of course this friend just graduated college and her party is this weekend, and she wanted a 3 layer cake. I am terrified now, as the cake is for 100 people and I am tempted to pay someone else to make it! This was a fun hobby for me, but this is too much pressure now. Should I have used a different filling? What else did I do wrong? Any help would be greatly appreciated.
First of all...breathe. We all are allowed I collapse...actually I had a few, lol. I would first think that it was alot of weight for the straws. You should try the SPS system. The driving may have added to it a little bit though. But overall I'd think the straws. The filling itself sounds heavy, along with the 3 layers, you'd really need more stable support.
This is what I've learned from this site...
Make sure the buttercream you use as the dam is very very stiff, almost like a dough. Fill and stack your cakes and crumb coat (be careful not to overfill). Let them sit for a couple hours or overnight. Even press down on them a bit to help with any settling that may occur. Then, after they have sat, remove any excess from the outside that may have bulged out. Finish icing the cake.
I also agree with the above poster about the straws for stacking. I don't think they were sturdy enough for your cake. They probably shifted or something. Try the SPS. Good luck!
Two weeks ago a friend of mine and I tackled a wedding cake. We assembled the cakes, iced and fondanted. All three went in the fridge, but the 6" and 8" started to bulge before they went in. The next morning the 6" looked like a storm troopers helmet! So we peeled off the fondant on the 8 and 6, and carved a little off the side, re-iced and re-fondanted, and they looked fine no issues with bulging. I also rolled the fondant a little thicker the second time around.
Did you wrap the boards under the layers to make them moistureproof. If your filling was wet as you called it and the boards weren't moistureproof they would absorb the moisture and thus collapse. I use straws all the time with heavy cakes and never have had a problem.
Exactly what Tweedie said....
The only method I have found that prevents bulging is to make my bc dam very, very thick. If you made your layer of filling thick, it could of contributed to the problem, since it was three layers, but I've used heavy fillings such as pastry cream and whipped ganache without problems.
My thought on the collapsing is the straws. I've never used the SPS system; I know it gets rave reviews on here, but I have always used wooden dowels. I usually use 6-7 per cake, depending on size. If it's a larger layer, I might even add a few more, or a small layer, a few less.
As far as the sheet sliding off the board, I always put a "smear" of icing on the board before I put the cake on. I've never had a problem with sliding when I've done this.
My solution to never have cake bulge again, is this...
When you level your bottom layer and prepare it for your filling, I actually take a spoon and scrape out some of the cake to form an indention in the cake, but leave the outside edges. Then you just add your filling in the indention and make it level w/ the outside edge of the cake. This way you do not need a dam and you don't risk the bulge. I actually got this idea when I made the Giant Ding Dong Cake recipe from this site. So maybe you can check that out if I wasn't exactly clear in my explaination. I never use a dam anymore! It just doesn't make sense to me really....how can it NOT bulge, especially when creating a stacked cake.
So this is what I do everytime now, and I have never had a bulge.
Hope this helps.
You can also put lollipop sticks in the straws to give them more support.
Did you have the shelf liner under the cake box so it wouldn't slide during delivery? I also put shelf liner under the cake in the box so it doesn't slide in the box.
I've had a cake collapse before too, and what I learned is that it is usually an issue with the support system.
I know lots of people on here use straws, but I just don't understand that! You should purchase a SPS system for your cakes-it will take most of the weight off the cake and transfer it into the legs. It is a huge help-it helps with bulging and I feel like my cakes are totally secure.
I had this happen to me when I cut my straws slightly too short and the weight of the cake on top pushed down on the one below and caused bulging. I also have had this happen when the cake itself was 1. not strong/dense enough and 2. when too much of a "wet" filling was used without a strong dam and 3. I didn't use enough straws for support.
I really don't think that the straws themselves were the problem, I use them all the time - they don't collapse they are really strong!
Also, you didn't mention whether you used a center dowel. This is really important to keep cakes from shifting during transport. You essentially sharpen a wooden dowel with a pencil sharpener and drive it down from the top through the center of your cake, through all the tiers.
Wow...thank you all for your help. I am learning so much. I had wrapped the cake board, so I am thinking that was probably OK. However, I did not put anything under the sheet cake to prevent it from slipping. Although it did not slide in my car, the surface material could have been different in the son's car (although I was truly hoping it was his driving!). I have read other posts about the SPS system. On one hand, I don't want to invest the money since this is just my hobby, but on the other hand, since I only bake for friends and family I know I'll always get my stuff back.
I always avoided the wooden dowels because I have a hard time cutting them even. I can get them to be the same length, but sometimes my cuts have a slight angle to them. I guess I can ask my husband to help...he can use some sort of power tool and get a straighter cut, I think.
I don't know how I am going to do my friend's cake this upcoming weekend. Since I am going to the party, I'll have to sit there and stare at the cake all night. If it tilts, bulges or shows any signs of not being perfect I am going to go crazy. Can you tell I do not handle stress well?