Newbie That Needs Serious Advising! Help!!!!

Decorating By Jx2MAMA Updated 19 Mar 2013 , 7:36pm by LNW

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Jx2MAMA Posted 9 Mar 2013 , 3:59am
post #1 of 17

Ok I don't know where to start this thread but maybe someone can at least link me to my answers. I've been making cakes personally for about 5 years and after insistence from family and friends, I opened myself up to take orders from anyone and have gotten REALLY busy. Last weekend, me (by myself!), did 6 cakes. Complicated ones as seen in my album. Anyway, the biggest problem I have is that I make these cakes beautiful and then.. put them in the car for delivery. There are way too many problems to list them and expect anyone to try to figure out the specific reason why each one happened so I will just give you guys my general process to completing orders and if anyone would kindly just give me simple tips and tricks that might could help, that would be great. I make my cakes for the weekend Monday-Tuesday and freeze them, Wednesday I do any details that need time to harden and then Thursday, I get the cakes out and let them defrost overnight before starting to decorate on Friday. I'm thinking maybe one thing I don't do is put the cakes completely together and ice them the day before decorating. I thinking I'm having problems also with either fondant or the weight of a top tier. I was rolling it pretty thin but it was starting to rip as I smoothed it out so I started rolling thicker and today for example, it started to crack on the way to deliver. Thanks!!!

16 replies
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reginaherrin Posted 9 Mar 2013 , 4:20am
post #2 of 17

I am a bit confused, besides the problem with the fondant ripping what problems/questions are you having?  More information is needed to help you out.

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Norasmom Posted 9 Mar 2013 , 4:22am
post #3 of 17

Yes, you didn't tell us what problem you were having.

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Jx2MAMA Posted 9 Mar 2013 , 4:26am
post #4 of 17

Regina, I think I am just going about it all wrong and was wondering if there were any basic general tips anyone new should know. But beside the fondant, one cake was on a completely level surface in my car and I don't know if it was the vibrations from car or what but the cake completely slid I guess a millimeter at a time off the cake board and onto the pan (it wasn't in a box because of the height). I also had another cake that was iced in an ombre style with rosettes from top to bottom that just split and crumbled in the middle (I'm assuming maybe the cake was too moist?), another cake that was decorated in that same style, one side of icing completely fell off the cake almost like it never adhered to the crumb coat icing. Just different problems such as these.

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Jx2MAMA Posted 9 Mar 2013 , 4:26am
post #5 of 17

I would particularly like to hear anyone's suggestions and own practices on transportation of their cakes since this seems to be my problem area.

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denetteb Posted 9 Mar 2013 , 4:47am
post #6 of 17

Sounds like more of a construction problem than transportation problem since all the symptoms are different.  Do you put a smear of icing on the cake board before you put your cake on it, to "glue" the cardboard onto the bottom cake board?  The cake that split and crumbled, was it a stacked cake?  If so, give more details on number and type of dowels, etc used.  How do you have the upper tiers supported?  As far as the icing falling off, do you need to hold your tip closer to the cake so it attaches better?  Do you have any picks of the problems that could help us help you?  Have you ever had any of these problems before?  It seems weird to have so many problems, and different problems all of a sudden.

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Jx2MAMA Posted 9 Mar 2013 , 5:27am
post #7 of 17

Thank you for the reply denette! It might seem weird but I believe I am having so many problems because I went from making 1-2 cakes a month for family and friends to doing anywhere from 2-6 cakes a week and got in a little over my head. I've never had any formal training.. just what I have learned from experience and youtube videos. So I am trying to step back and figure out from the beginning what I am doing wrong. I might be ridiculed for this because now that you say it it's like DOH! but no I haven't been doing the smear of icing on the board. The only picture I have of one of my disasters is the one that crumbled, which was a 3 layer single cake. It was a strawberry cake thats recipe uses strawberry jello, and customer requested strawberry shortcake type filling between layers. This is the only cake I have ever made that I got last minute and didnt have time to freeze overnight at least. It went straight from cooling rack to board. So maybe that was the problem? Or maybe the filling I used? But the problem didn't occur until I was on my way to deliver. I don't think it was solely the transportation as the problem but like you said, something I am doing in construction that is making it not compatible with transportation lol. Maybe holding the tip closer WOULD fix that problem, thanks! I have not used dowels thus far because I haven't made anything bigger than 2 tiers which were small themselves (10 inch and 6 inch pans), and my cousin who IS an experienced baker/cake lady told me unless it is more than 2 tiers, it shouldn't need rods. Is this correct? Also, another problem I had was on the zebra striped baby butt/feet cake I made last weekend which is in my gallery. Everything was fine, smoothed the base fondant on with my hand, then smoothed it with the wilton smoother, added zebra strips and details to the sides, then put the baby butt on which was RKT iced with buttercream and fondant covered. Even then everything seemed fine but when I got up the next morning there was what appeared to be a bubble in the side under the fondant that looked like maybe the butt had weighed it down? but I thought the point of using RKT was because it was lighter than a solid piece of fondant or cake? Anyway, beginner tips like the smear of icing on the board and holding the tip closer is what I was looking for, Any other insight is appreciated though!AppleMark

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jason_kraft Posted 9 Mar 2013 , 5:42am
post #8 of 17

AHave you looked into a CakeSafe?

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leah_s Posted 9 Mar 2013 , 6:05am
post #9 of 17

A1) assemble the tiers (torte, fill, wrap and weight) and let settle. Overnight is best. 2) for tiered cakes use SPS for support. 3) always put a smear of Bc on the bottom cake board to glue the cake to the board. 4) the advice above re: rosettes was spot on. The tip piping the rosettes has to at least touch the icing onthe cake. Better yet the tip should be *in* the icing. 5) Transport on nonskid shelf liner.

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reginaherrin Posted 19 Mar 2013 , 4:03am
post #10 of 17

I know this is a late response but I never got any notifications and forgot to check this thread.  Anyways,the one that crumbled that you had the picture of, was each layer completely level or did the cake have a dome on top?  If it did have a dome that may be the reason it fell apart.  Also, was there filling under the layer that crumbled? It just looks like there isn't any filling but the picture just may be deceptive.  You should always use some kind of support system for any tiered cake.  Yes for smaller cakes you may get away with it but I would never risk it.  I use wooden dowels which I have never had problems with and works great.  On transportation, I have a thick piece of foam like you put on top of your mattress but mine is very thick which I use to put my cakes on and works great to keep the cakes from sliding and cushion any bumps.  I also make the car very cold and make sure the cakes don't warm up (of course I am in Texas so that is a big concern).  I also make sure I drive slower then usual and take wider turns and stop very slowly.  I have never had any problems delivering cakes, knock on wood. 

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sweetroses65 Posted 19 Mar 2013 , 5:13am
post #11 of 17

You have probably solved this problem by now but I think I can help.


It would be better to start your decorations and frostings in the beginning of the week and leave the baking til Thursday for a Saturday cake. By freezing and defrosting the cake it creates a moisture on the outer edge that prevents the frosting from sticking .Fill the cake once is has cooled and set for a few hours. Fill the layers and let sit again. For example bake the cake in the morning. After it has cooled and sat for at least 2 hours longer , fill the layers. Let the cake stand again. By drying out the outer edges you will find that the frosting will stick better .Crumb coat the cake and refrigerate.Once the cake is firm frost the cake with the finish frosting. Refrigerate again if you are putting fondant on. Once the frosting is firm again add the fondant. Decorate the cake on Friday.

Refrigerate cakes and have them cold for delivery.


I also, always dowel a two tier cake. Why take a chance? I like to use thick round cardboard Popsicle sticks for lightweight cakes and always connect the tiers with a dowel rod sharpened to go through the cardboards. 

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denetteb Posted 19 Mar 2013 , 2:09pm
post #12 of 17

I didn't get notified either, weird.  You should always use a cake cardboard with dowels/bubble tea straws beneath for every approx 4 inches of cake height.  So if you are doing two tiers or a single three layer tier (like a 6 inch high tier) you should use a support.  Your cousin may be able to do without but it is pretty common advice to support even a two ltier cake.  And if your topper was heavy, which it could be if it was fairly large and/or had a heavy layer of fondant, you should support that also.  Do you have a job or are you a stay at home mom in addition to all of these cake orders?  Since you are having so much trouble with your cakes, and it isn't common for someone to have so many cake disasters, I think you should consider cutting way back on your orders, maybe to 1 or 2 a week so you can really concentrate on them.  Each time you have a problem figure out that solution until you have good recipes, systems and you aren't having so many problems.  Your picture is really odd, it almost looks like the broken tier wasn't even sitting solidly on the filling, the filling looks like it was hardly disturbed.  And just say no to last minute orders.  You are busy enough without them.

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MrsAlthouse Posted 19 Mar 2013 , 3:48pm
post #13 of 17

I'm fairly new at the cake decorating as well. I have a requirement that an order must be placed at least 2 weeks before it's needed for a couple of reasons... 1.) It gives me time to brainstorm and 2.) I don't feel rushed which results in better quality. I don't know how to do the fancier detail work and want to learn how to make modeled figures, just thought I would give you my input. Good luck!

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BeesKnees578 Posted 19 Mar 2013 , 3:54pm
post #14 of 17

Crap...I had a big long post but my son bumped my hand and it disappeared!   AGgggggghhhhhhh!  So I will just be brief.


Anyway, do yourself a favor and take some classes.  While being self-taught gives us all a sense of pride, we all learn so much more by having that hands-on experience and little tips and tricks from the pros.  Especially since this seems to be giving you so much can save yourself hours upon hours of aggravation so you can take orders that you CAN COMPLETE with confidence and pride.  It's amazing how one little tip in this business can change your WHOLE perspective.  Thank you, B Keith Ryder, for that amazing fondant class......


I've been doing this for 10 years and still steer away from doing piping!  But I got tired of my fear/frustration with my piping skills and knew I can't use it as an excuse anymore.  I downloaded Joshua John Russell's Modern Piping class on craftsy, which they were offering 1/2 off.  Now I have a COMPLETELY new attitude.  And I understand wanting to save money by learning on your own.  But as the saying goes, you gotta spend money to make money.  If you are serious about perfecting your skills and you can't seem to do it on your own, by all means, take a class.  I know youTube is helpful, but often can't take the place of a physical class.


Also, when doing tiered cakes, I use a 1/4" sharpened dowel that goes all the way though the top tier, through the cake circle and down through the bottom tier and all the way through the 1/2" cake drum.  A three tier would have


Hope this helps and I so very much hope you can work out your problems.

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BeesKnees578 Posted 19 Mar 2013 , 3:57pm
post #15 of 17

Sent prematurely...


A three tier would have a dowel through the bottom two AND one from the top tier down.

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denetteb Posted 19 Mar 2013 , 6:33pm
post #16 of 17

I finally figured out how to see pics in your gallery.  I think I noticed something that could be contributing to some of your problems.  It looks like the cakes are all set on a single cake cardboard.  That is not solid enough.  You need several cardboards connected and covered, or a cake drum or covered masonite or a glass or metal plate or something strong.  Just one layer of cardboard will flex and bend, not matter how careful you are and this could be contributing to  a bunch of your problems.  It also doesn't look really finished to just see the bare cardboard.

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LNW Posted 19 Mar 2013 , 7:36pm
post #17 of 17

ITA with Denetteb.  I noticed the same thing in your pictures, even the one that you have posted looks like the cake is on a single cakeboard.  You've got to have something thicker than that to hold up those heavy cakes.  I use drums myself but in a pinch when I don't have drums I'll hot glue 4 or 5 boards together then line with fancy foil and put some kind of ribbon on the outside to add a little more decoration and hide the ugly board edges.

Back in the day I used single boards too and my cakes were always full of cracks and I had issues too.  I did take all the Wilton classes and that wasn't something that I was taught.  I figured it out from reading here.  Good luck to you, your cakes are beautiful! 

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