Help!!! My Disasterous Attempt At A Purse Cake.

Decorating By sharonben Updated 11 Jun 2009 , 4:54pm by cupcakeco

sharonben Cake Central Cake Decorator Profile
sharonben Posted 5 Jun 2009 , 2:15am
post #1 of 22

I am so frustrated because I spent the entire day in the kitchen. I made the fondant yesterday and all the cake decorations in advance. This was supposed to be the fun part. This morning I made two 12 inch round cakes. I cut off 1 end of each round, to be the bottom of the purse. Well, one cake crumbled on me and the other broke apart. I made yet another 12' round (1-1/2 cake mixes per batch, so now I've made 4 boxes of cake mixes).

Everything broke. I patched the broken one and went ahead and decorated it, but it sagged and looks terrible (pictures attached). The piping kept falling and I used buttercream to adhere it, but now that shows and looks terrible.

I have a single 12 inch that I also patched that I put in the freezer to harden up. It's not very smooth so I think it's not a good idea to use it.

I'm out of cake, buttercream and fondant so now need to start ALL over. I will chalk this one up to experience but I think I've gotten the cake stuff out of my systyem for a while. The cake is for a friend of mine's daughter's bat mitzvah party on Saturday, so I have plenty of time to redo it. I'm just so frustrated, and tired of making cake and frosting and kneading fondant. Eating raw cake batter and broken pieces of cake as breakfast and lunch probably hasn't helped my mood either.

A few questions for anyone out there:
1) what kind of cake should I use that will be sturdy when I stand it on its side?

2) how do I get the fondant piping to stick to the fondant without the buttercream showing through?

3) How do I attach the handles so that they will stay erect?

3) any other helpful tips?

Thanks!!! icon_mad.gificon_mad.gif

21 replies
rsquared02 Cake Central Cake Decorator Profile
rsquared02 Posted 5 Jun 2009 , 5:01pm
post #2 of 22

Well, it looks like it will be really pretty, if that makes you feel any better!!

I'm a total newbie, but I did make a pirate cake using a similar method. I just used a mix cake (which I know, I know, is making some cringe, lol), and iced the layers leaving the cakes flat first and put a crumb coat on the exposed sides. I put wooden skewers through it, similar to putting dowels through a tiered cake. Then I put it in the freezer. Then the next day I took it out and finished the icing. It worked out really well.

Good luck!

Kimmers971 Cake Central Cake Decorator Profile
Kimmers971 Posted 5 Jun 2009 , 5:12pm
post #3 of 22

I have noticed that sometimes boxed cakes can be too moist for this type of application. Maybe search out a denser cake recipe on CC or someone can send you their recommendations. I think something like a pound cake would hold up structurally better.

Good Luck!

pouchet82 Cake Central Cake Decorator Profile
pouchet82 Posted 5 Jun 2009 , 5:20pm
post #4 of 22

WASC is a good cake for carving, since it is sturdy. Search in the recipes, there is a scratch version and a box version. Also your cake doesn't look that bad!
When I am attaching fondant to fondant sometimes just a little bit of water does the trick! You can also make glue by mixing gumpaste and water, you can then avoid the whole buttercream thing
For the handle I would do 50/50 gumpaste/fondant to make it a bit stronger

Hope that helps!

Stephi1 Cake Central Cake Decorator Profile
Stephi1 Posted 5 Jun 2009 , 5:22pm
post #5 of 22

Make the Dream Cake recipe on the back of the Dream Whip box ( it is a doctored box recipe) It is very sturdy. Take a deep breath, a walk away for a little while. Come back to it when you feel a little better. Best of luck. HTH

nannie Cake Central Cake Decorator Profile
nannie Posted 5 Jun 2009 , 5:23pm
post #6 of 22


I've spend all day in the kitchen with just a mess to show for it so I do sympathize. icon_cry.gif

I did a cake like this once. I used WASA (look under recipes) it is a little firmer for carving.

I also had problems with the handle and ended up using swizzles but have since learned to mix fondant and gumpaste and let dry over night.

keep your decorating spirit up. thumbs_up.gif

erin_e Cake Central Cake Decorator Profile
erin_e Posted 5 Jun 2009 , 5:31pm
post #7 of 22

Before we go any further I really like the cake! Its going to look super cute once you get everything done!

Okay, so I'm a total cake newbie too (I have never ever made a scratch cake myself and I just started decorating in February) BUT I'm getting ready to make my 1st cake purse for a friend's birthday next weekend. icon_surprised.gif The things that I've planned out are a lot like yours but hopefully I can give some ideas at least!

1) most of the ppl I've read on the forums say they freeze the cake before they try to do the carving (this makes sense to me as when I bake there seem to be crumbs in the entire house; not just the kitchen!) Also, one tip i've seen is if you're trying to do 2 halves together on the side that will be down make a bit of an angle so the cakes support each other. This (in my head at least) will also make the bottom a bit larger than the top and you could hide it pretty easy!

2) I have only used buttercream to attach fondant to fondant once and it was a disaster! (lol) I've since then either used vanilla extract, gumpaste adhesive (gumpaste disolved in water,) or water. More experienced cakers here say they use alcohol (vodka, everclear) that evaporates easily and attaches the fondant to fondant well.

3) This one I'm a bit stumped on myself and have been playing a bit with the idea. I would think that one important part would be for the handles to be really dry...or perhaps use something through the bottom to stablize as you put it in the cake (toothpick, pretzel stick, etc.) Other than that I'm at a loss.

Also take a breath and fight the urge to throw the cake against the wall! That darn "patience is a virtue" is a pain in the rear but sadly it helps with caking too (at least in my experience) icon_biggrin.gif HTH!

Tita9499 Cake Central Cake Decorator Profile
Tita9499 Posted 5 Jun 2009 , 5:43pm
post #8 of 22

I would suggest not trying to decorate a cake the same day it's baked unless you absolutely have no other choice. The cake needs a chance to settle and sometimes just cooling it for a few hours doesn't do the trick.

Not decorating the same day as baking also gives you a chance to fill it and let the icing settle and get "stuck in there" so you have a sturdy base to decorate with.

I used to bake, fill and decorate all on the same day, and always ended up with a very "unstable" cake. I know some people have done it with great success, but I've always found baking and decorating over a period of days gives you a clean cake in the end.

Tylose kneaded into you gumpaste for your handle should do the trick. I use either egg whites or gumpaste glue to adhere anything and everything (as well as piping gel that's been nuked for 3 second in the microwave). Again, I do all this over a period of three days so everything has a chance to set up and settle down.

Best wishes for a beautiful cake! Don't get frustrated!

Eisskween Cake Central Cake Decorator Profile
Eisskween Posted 5 Jun 2009 , 5:50pm
post #9 of 22

1) what kind of cake should I use that will be sturdy when I stand it on its side? Frozen.

2) how do I get the fondant piping to stick to the fondant without the buttercream showing through? Take a bit of gumpaste and a bit of water, put in microwave at 10 second intervals till it's melted, let cool, ready to use. No need for buttercream to attach the decorations.

3) How do I attach the handles so that they will stay erect? Too late, they should have been formed and dried in advance. I hope someone has a better idea on this one, because other than making and drying in advance, I'm stumped.

Good luck to you.

OfficerMorgan Cake Central Cake Decorator Profile
OfficerMorgan Posted 5 Jun 2009 , 11:21pm
post #10 of 22
Originally Posted by Tita9499

I would suggest not trying to decorate a cake the same day it's baked unless you absolutely have no other choice. The cake needs a chance to settle and sometimes just cooling it for a few hours doesn't do the trick.

Totally agree! Cakes need time to cool and settle.

That being said, I'm sorry for your disaster. It does happen to all of us, and you learn quick. thumbs_up.gif

bebea Cake Central Cake Decorator Profile
bebea Posted 5 Jun 2009 , 11:29pm
post #11 of 22

i haven't attempted a purse cake, yet, but just wanted to tell you that the pattern you used is just adorable! i have had disasters, too. just make cake balls and try again! the great thing about cakes is you can still eat the disasters, too!

SugarLover2 Cake Central Cake Decorator Profile
SugarLover2 Posted 5 Jun 2009 , 11:30pm
post #12 of 22

I did a purse cake in a class and the trick was to use more of a pound cake for the type of cake. We also froze them the night before we were carving. Then we gave it a thin layer of icing-froze again for a bit. Pulled them out and iced a little more. Let that set a bit and then cover with fondant and decorate.

Good luck, it looks like it'll be really cute!

sharonben Cake Central Cake Decorator Profile
sharonben Posted 6 Jun 2009 , 8:10pm
post #13 of 22

Thanks everybody for your responses and support. icon_smile.gif

I'll start with the bad news first. Friday morning I awoke to the purse cake having fallen over. See attached picture. I was going to start from scratch anyways, but still... icon_sad.gif

I decided to make pound cake and pulled a recipe from online. It said to bake for 1 hr and 20 minutes. 40 minutes into it I saw smoke coming from the oven. Well, I had mistakenly set the oven to preheat and not bake (mind you, I never use preheat). I realized this cake thing was not meant to happen. icon_evil.gif

In the meantime I decided to salvage some of the pieces of the original moist devil's food cake and I stacked them up into a pyramid and frosted them. I made a new batch of fondant. Realizing that I needed fondant both for this pyramid purse and the round one that I was determined to make work, I decided to make more than usual. I usually follow the MMF recipe of 16 oz marshmallows and about 3/4 bag confect. sugar, but I threw in 2 bags of marshmallows and figured I'd adjust the sugar accordingly. WRONG. icon_redface.gif The consistency was terrible (my MMF usually comes out great which is why I think fondant is mush easier than buttercream). I made due with it and covered the pyramid. See attached photo. Came out ok. icon_smile.gif

Now for the round cake. I cut off the burnt part, and frosted it. What difference in firmness with the pound cake! I made yet another batch of fondant and decorated the cake accordingly. It came out great! See attached! thumbs_up.gif

Now that I had 2 decent looking purses, whatever challenges came up I knew I could face them!

I had planned on putting the purse on top of a full sheet cake from Sam's (this is my new thing with friends. I'll make the nice 3d cake but they have to buy the sheet cake from Sam's to put it on.) I had ordered it with hot pink trim, and would do all the writing/decorations myself. Well, I opened the box and the hot pink was neon and clashed with my pink in the purse and cake decorations. icon_sad.gif I could deal with this. I colored some of the fondant and replaced some of the decorations with the new color to tie the purse and flowers in with the trim.

Voila. Came out great, if I may say so myself! thumbs_up.gif

I havent delivered them yet, so keep your fingers crossed that no disaster happens at that point!

The only lasting bad thing is the pain in my arms and hands. icon_redface.gif Now I'm really going to whine! I started feeling it a few weeks ago when I made a 3D dog cake and had been kneading a lot of fondant. I also had done a lot of gardening. The pain was bad enough to wake me up during the night, but with ibuprofen, was definitely manageable.

Well, these last 2 days KILLED me. Friday morning I woke up with a lot of pain, but once up and moving around, I was a lot better. I have a little carpel tunnel anyways, but as long as I was able to put down what I was grasping every few minutes I was ok. Well, last night and this morning have been HELL. I woke up in middle of the night with EXCRUCIATING icon_cry.gif pain. My arm (from elbow down) and hand felt like they were on fire. Ibuprofen didn't help. Finally by about 6:30am I took 1/2 of a Tylenol with codeine, and would you believe it didn't do the trick? I took the other half and got a couple of hours of sleep. Still hurts, but not as excruciating (good thing I can type with 2 fingers, and even with that I have to give my hand a rest every couple of minutes).

I made my husband promise not to tell anybody b/c I don't want anybody to know how CRAZY and OBSESSED I am with getting these cakes done. My left hand hurts but my right hand is swollen and kills. I am DONE with cakes until mid-Aug when I promised 2 friends I would do them for their kids' bar mitzvahs.

I'll write again tomorrow and let you know how it went tonight! Thanks again for all the support! BTW, the melted gum paste as glue worked GREAT! icon_smile.gifthumbs_up.gif

KoryAK Cake Central Cake Decorator Profile
KoryAK Posted 6 Jun 2009 , 8:47pm
post #14 of 22

Final results look great!

The reason your fist cake fell over was because it was too skinny compared to the other dimensions. I would go a little thicker next time and/or build it horizontal like a tiered cake instead of trying to set a trimmed round on its side.

candynumber1 Cake Central Cake Decorator Profile
candynumber1 Posted 6 Jun 2009 , 9:09pm
post #15 of 22

You poor thing! looks like you got it with the final cake though, it's really cute! Don't fret we all have had that "disaster moment"

imanah Cake Central Cake Decorator Profile
imanah Posted 7 Jun 2009 , 12:26am
post #16 of 22

Well the good thing is it took some serious skills to get that soft cake to stand.Like others reccomended limit your complex 3D cakes with flavors that can hold up well.

Whenever I do 3D cakes either I put the cake in the fridge tro cool it or put it in the freezer for about 15min-30min to supercools it. It definatly makes a difference.

Also if your cake is tall generally more than 4 inches tall you want to support it with a layer of foam board or somthing similar. If a cake is tall without support the fondant will just crush everything .

Great job on your modifications to salvage the cake.

maudabom Cake Central Cake Decorator Profile
maudabom Posted 7 Jun 2009 , 7:20am
post #17 of 22

I realize I'm a little late on the uptake, but whenever I've mixed a pound cake and regular cake mix together. I don't really like the texture of pound cake on it's own, but mixed with a "regular" cake mix you get the sturdiness of pound cake with the fluffiness of regular. If that makes sense.

Your finished product came out adorable!

jimandmollie Cake Central Cake Decorator Profile
jimandmollie Posted 7 Jun 2009 , 3:12pm
post #18 of 22

I am also a little late to help but thought I might give you some tricks I have learned for next time. When I am carving a cake I use a P*llsb*ry mix and mix it up according to directions. Right before I pour it in the pan I add a half a box of instant pudding mix for each box mix. It makes the batter really thick and the cake really dense. I have never had a problem with carving since I did this and I never let my cakes rest except to cool. The cakes taste yummy and I can carve to my heart's content! icon_smile.gif

I just use a little water to attached fondant to fondant. I just brush it on and it works fine for me.

I also wanted to suggest that you try Aleve for your pain. I have degenerate disc disease in my back and frequently take Aleve because it has better anti-inflammatory properties than anything else on the market. In my opinion, of course! Of course I have all the prescription stuff but try not to take it on a regular basis. Give it a try, it might help you better.

Hope you feel better and your cakes turned out great!

sharonben Cake Central Cake Decorator Profile
sharonben Posted 8 Jun 2009 , 1:01am
post #19 of 22

Thanks to everybody who wrote in!

All's well that ends well. The bat mitzvah girl loved it. Here's a picture of her with it.

I've decided cakes are like giving birth because I forget the degree of pain , mess and chaos once I have a cake that comes out great. I guess that's why I keep making more cakes. Until the next one...

Sharon icon_wink.gif

cheatize Cake Central Cake Decorator Profile
cheatize Posted 10 Jun 2009 , 8:32pm
post #20 of 22

Did I see that correctly? It doesn't look like you put any buttercream on the bottom of the cake to make it stick to the board. Perhaps the thinness of the cake, and softness of the mix combined to make it so bad?

cutthecake Cake Central Cake Decorator Profile
cutthecake Posted 10 Jun 2009 , 8:51pm
post #21 of 22

Have you considered surgery for the carpal tunnel syndrome? It changed my life. I can sleep through the night now, pain-free!

cupcakeco Cake Central Cake Decorator Profile
cupcakeco Posted 11 Jun 2009 , 4:54pm
post #22 of 22

Glad to see it worked out-- and did it! So cute! For future reference though, I'd like to interject--

Originally Posted by KoryAK

The reason your fist cake fell over was because it was too skinny compared to the other dimensions. I would go a little thicker next time and/or build it horizontal like a tiered cake instead of trying to set a trimmed round on its side.

Agreed! The very first thing I noticed from your disaster photos is that you had baked one layer, halved it, and tried to stand it on it's skinny side. That's a no-no! A tall and skinny cake should be constructed with layers of cake-- think about what a torted/filled cake would look like if you cut a wide strip out of the middle-- and carved from there. A cake with those dimensions (taller than wider) would still risk falling from this method, but it would have been 100 times more sturdy from the get-go.

Congrats though, glad to see it turned out for the best in the end!

Quote by @%username% on %date%