I made a beautiful cake. At least it was beautiful before the customer picked it up. See attached photo. I asked the customer several days later how the party turned out. She didn't want to tell me that the buttercream icing melted and the colors ran all over. Even the "80" made of royal icing crumbled and melted. I believed her, and asked if the cake was kept indoors in air conditioning. "Yes." I know she was disappointed more than she let on. I'm sure I will get no future business from her or her guests. What did I do wrong? It was my first time making red icing and noticed it took a half bottle of Wilton gel color to get red for a miniscule amount of icing. Could the amount of gel be the culprit? How do I counteract this, other than say I won't make anthing red again?
You can use an all-shortening buttercream to make it more heat resistant.
It sounds like the humidity was an issue. It just shouldn't have behaved like that, assuming it was holding up well after you decorated it and before she picked it up, unless you or she stored it in the fridge, that might have had something to do with it. Royal won't melt in the heat.
I don't see your photo... it must not have attached. Did your buttercream have butter in it? That can cause softening in the heat and humidity. Some of what you say does not seem consistent with humidity though... for the royal icing number to crumble and "melt..." That seems odd. Is there any chance that the customer froze the cake and brought it back out to serve? It sounds like there was almost a condensation issue.
Sorry that it turned out to be a bad experience for you. Try to remain positive and just put it down on the books as a "life lesson."
...and, Welcome to Cake Central, DeenieFish. Chin up!
I had a similiar experience on a sheet cake I made for my sister's baby shower. It was on one of the hottest days this summer and i begged her to let me do it in fondant. But she would not hear of it because, she doesn't like the taste of the store bought stuff. Well, to make a long story short I spent most of the day trying to get the icing to cooperate with the heat until she told me to hurry up and get to the shower (yes i was late). By the time I got there,I had to scrape frosting out of my car and it had run off of the sides of the cake. Couldn't bear to take a picture. I learned later (from all my great friends on CC that it was probably the recipe that i used and the change in Crisco's trans fat. Everyone loved the taste of the cake and thought the decorations that were left (made of MMF) were cute. I felt horrible though
How long was the drive?
How long was the drive?
It wasn't that far from my home about 7 blocks. But between Saturday afternoon traffic (which included a detour for a local fair) and my three year old falling asleep (which made it hard to get in the car in the first place), i think it was just a crazy day. I was driving with one hand and the other holding the box upright (wanted to keep it cool in the car). As sooon as i parked i discovered the shifting of the top layer.
Here is a tip that might help: I read that if you live somewhere with high humidity royal icing will soften. You can cure this by using pure cane confectioners sugar (not beet sugar or dextrose) add less liquid and 1 teaspoon Meringue Powder. Also for your buttercream and the heat: Try to keep the cake as cool as possible (obviously) and add 2 teaspoons of meringue powder to help stabilize frosting. Hope that helps.
Deenie - how long did the customer have to drive? Is it possible they let the cake sit in a hot car? Because if it was properly chilled/ set when it left your house and went into an air conditioned car, then into an air conditioned house, I don't understand how the whole thing could have melted? I am sorry for you though....cake disasters happen to us all and they suck.
I've never seen royal icing melt EVER unless it came in to contact with moisture/condensation. I think your client may not be telling you everything on how the cake was stored. I'm not saying she is lieing, but if it left your house intact, it had to be left in some type of heat & then came in to contact with moisture.
Thank you all for your comments. The cake was not refrigerated at my location. The client loaded the cake into the back of her SUV, probably had no air conditioning in that far back space. The Royal icing was a stand-up "80" and was removed from the cake so it would go into the box. I handed her the "80" in a plastic bag and gave her instructions on keeping it flat and very gently reinserting it in the cake once unboxed. Since she claims it broke and that she attempted to fix it, I have to assume she used moisture, thus having the whole thing melt. I did use 1/2 cup butter and 1/2 cup Crisco in the icing, so next time I'll know to use only Crisco.
What a lovely cake!! And I bet you're right. She prob tried to use water to glue the numbers back together and made a mushy mistake. To put blame on you is so misplaced. And don't let this discourage you from anything red. Yes, it takes a lot, which is why I use the tip I got years ago and use the gel with dry red powder. It does not change the consistency and gives rich color.
Don't feel bad that a customer did not take care with your art. Your pic shows it was awesome when picked up.
Out of your hands = out of your control.
Putting it in a plastic bag and having it in the sun will make condensation in that bag......royal icing needs to breathe, if it is sealed up, it will not hold. Next time I would place it in a small cake box or something that doesn't get air tight.