First Cake Disaster

Decorating By johnycake Updated 4 Aug 2013 , 3:44am by ReneeFLL

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johnycake Posted 29 Jul 2013 , 4:21am
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Okay down to business; my nephew's first birthday party invloves making a cake. I wanted to make a really good one, decided to do a 6'' and 9'' stacked. I used really big sturdy straws. The stability of the cake was good but the fondant not so much. The bottom was a zebra inspired cake and the top was blue. I made the fondant two days ahead(MMF) and tightly wrapped and left in a cool place.I iced the caked with a boiled frosting. Could that have been a problem? I started rolling out the fondant and noticed it was sticking so I added sifted powered sugar.  I covered the bottom layer added the stripes and then placed in the freezer ( maybe that was the first problem). IT WAS SO HOT AND HUMID THE FRIDGE WAS GETTING OPENED EVERY FIVE SECONDS.


The top tier was fine when I covered it, I pulled out the bottom from the freezer and added the straws and proceeded to stack and it was fine. I then placed the cake in a cooler space with a fan on it. I came back later and noticed a side bubble and the fondant was pulling away from the cake. I popped the bubble  and attempted to smooth but it was soooo sticky I couldn't even smooth it! I added some decoration to camoflouge a rip I seen coming. I left and returned to check the cake and noticed that it began to tear from the top and buttercream started oozing out through the tears. I was so disapointed. I know I didn't do all the proper steps but I was doing so much other things in the kitchen I kind of didn't take the proper precautions. I would like to start baking to sell but I would want to get my decorating in order first. The cakes were delicious, I tasted them myself. I was just disappointed with the way the fondant and frosting turned out. It was humid too. Please let me know where I went wrong and how to go about it the next time.  I have a cake order in a few weeks and I won't accept it if it is not perfect. I am a perfectionist, well at least I try to be :( ... Thanks in advance.

16 replies
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HelloSugarCakes Posted 29 Jul 2013 , 12:20pm
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Hi, I go by the rule that fondant should not be refrigerated or frozen as this causes the fondant to begin to "melt" as it affects the water content in the Fondant itself, that is why you were getting the stickyness. In regards to the fondant tearing, I usually find that tears occur if the fondant is too thin in one spot or alternatively if it isn't rolled evenly and the edges are heavy and pull downwards causing tears to appear. I always use buttercream to crumb coat my cakes but I know many are fans of ganache too, I also know boiled jam can be used to adhere fondant to the cake but the finish may not be as smooth as there is no crumb coat. 


Is there anyway you can decorate the order you have coming up in all buttercream? That way you can refrigerate it if you have concerns about humidity without it affecting the appearance of your cake. 


Hope this helps a little 

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as you wish Posted 29 Jul 2013 , 12:58pm
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AI'm sorry you are having such a hard time with this cake. :( I hope it works out alright. This is just my opinion, but I think there is a lot more to making and decorating cakes, especially if you plan to sell them, than skill alone. Certainly, skills is important and you won't go far without it, but I feel that your decorating environment is equally important. You can decorate a cake beautifully, but if you can't get some level of control over the heat and humidity you are working and storing it in it will nullify all your hard work. I feel that climate control (air conditioning, dehumidifier, or whatever in needed for wherever you live) is quite important. It is right up there with no fur-bearing pets for me!

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johnycake Posted 29 Jul 2013 , 8:26pm
post #4 of 17

[email protected] sugar cakes yes, I realized that buttercream would've been better and will definitely be the option for my next order. I know that the fondant was not rolled evenly so that is what contributed to the cake tearing. Do you know anything about Swiss buttercream under fondant? And I really don't want to refrigerate the cake at all because most customers don't refrigerate cakes when it is dropped off especially if its irregular or a cumbersome cake. THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR YOUR INSIGHT! :)

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johnycake Posted 29 Jul 2013 , 8:30pm
post #5 of 17

[email protected] asyouwish you hit the nail on the head! I think I would store the cake in a air conditioned room just to keep a regulated cool temperature so I will do that. But I agree with you, you can do everything right with a cake that can end up being in vain if it is not stored properly, next time I will make sure I store it correctly like an air conditioned room. Thank you very much for replying. I just wanted to figure out what I was doing wrong for future reference.

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Smckinney07 Posted 29 Jul 2013 , 9:45pm
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AAs you wish is right about your environment and there is a lot more to cake decorating/designing then meets the eye! You must contact your local health department and make sure it's legal to sell cakes from your home kitchen, get certified in food safety, insurance, inspections, some states only let you sell food at farmers markets, etc. I understand the desire to jump in and start taking orders but if you don't have your basic decorating skills mastered yet, you will have major problems-not to mention you could get shut down before you even start. Please don't misunderstand and think I am being mean or rude it's just not as simple as it seems (which you seemed to have found out already).

I have put fondant cakes in the refrigerator but I always place them in a box then a bag. When I pull them out I let them sit and come to room temp before I touch them (if it's shiny then don't touch it). There's a lot of debate about putting fondant in the fridge, some people go for it others don't. You might want to try some rolling pin guides (or dowels on each side) when rolling out your fondant to make sure it's not too thick, at least until you can eyeball it.

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johnycake Posted 30 Jul 2013 , 1:17am
post #7 of 17

[email protected] I appreciate the advice. I AM NOT A PROFESSIONAL BAKER and I've never claimed to be however I have been baking for almost 10 years. And have had many requests, informal of course for my confections. This was just my first time (well not including experiments) making a fondant cake. And it was for a family celebration, I wouldn't have gone about production this way, if it wasn't for an intimate/family setting. Baking and decorating is just a hobby for me. I'm not saying I would just jump into the cake business as I am a full time pastry cook. It is just something I like to do and I am interested in. I am aware of the difficulties of fondant and I am more aware now of how to go about storing and prepping my cakes. I don't think your being rude or anything. I appreciate your insight but I will keep practicing,I will get better and I will eventually step into the business professionally. But I'm not going to stop with any upcoming orders because I had a minor snafoo :). Sometimes you have to challenge yourself to see what you can really do. THANK YOU THOUGH :)

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BatterUpCake Posted 30 Jul 2013 , 2:13am
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But it sounds like you are already taking orders and possibly baking in an unlicensed/uninspected kitchen. That is the impression I got. I apologize if I misread...

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johnycake Posted 30 Jul 2013 , 2:30am
post #9 of 17

AUhhh Ok,

Thank you for all those concerned about my cake disaster. That's why I posted because I wanted help. Not to divert from that, I have a coworker who expressed interest in a cake and I was going to do it as a favor. Other than that I have not been taking orders professionally. I came here for encouragement and enlightenment not for any other questions about licenses or anything in that arena. I personally think veterans in this business should embrace new-bees and focus on helping by taking their experiences into account rather than ask other questions that are irrelevant to the fact that my fondant didn't come out right. Asking unrelated questions can come off a little snooty. Thanks to the two first replies they both answered my questions in detail and quite thoroughly. All words of wisdom were taking into account. I will keep at it! Practice! Practice! Practice! Thank You All Kindly! :)

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DeliciousDesserts Posted 30 Jul 2013 , 11:25am
post #10 of 17
Originally Posted by johnycake 


Okay down to business; my nephew's first birthday party invloves making a cake. I wanted to make a really good one, 


I'll admit that I read a lot of threads.  I had completely forgotten this was for your nephew.  I'm sure others did as well.


SMcKinney really did mean to be helpful.  She also gave you some very useful advice.


Oh wait.....I see you wrote you aren't going to stop with any upcoming orders.  Orders = business.  In that case, SMcKinney's advice was even more valid.


The internet is a wonderful thing.  You can pick & choose the advice you want to hear/use.  I don't think it is at all snooty to caution someone on the perils of doing business illegally.


We've all had a disaster.  It didn't stop us & it shouldn't stop you.  You are correct we all need to challenge ourselves.  Maybe we shouldn't be doing that on a client's cake!  This wasn't a client's cake.  No harm.  No foul.  Lesson learned.

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johnycake Posted 30 Jul 2013 , 3:20pm
post #11 of 17

[email protected] delicious desserts thank you for your input but I think you misunderstood. I thanked everyone as I replied to everyone thanking them for there advice I wasn't directing my previous reply to @smckinney. I have NEVER exchanged any cakes for money therefore I have never done any business illegally so let's clear that up. I do cakes as favors in what I refer to as orders, like I said doing cakes is my hobby and I have a need a lot more practice ( as we can see :) ). All I was trying to say was that in a cake disaster we should all run to each others aid( that is the reason for creating cake disasters I believe) not to misinterpret words or make something more than it is. I knew the cake wouldn't come out perfect bc I have seen and heard the difficulties of working with fondant so I wasn't that much surprised of the outcome, disappointed but not surprised. So I didn't "pick and choose" any advice as all was helpful. And I did appreciate all feedback. I did learn my lesson. Thank you as well! THAT IS ALL ....

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bubs1stbirthday Posted 31 Jul 2013 , 5:36am
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I too see this a lot in the posts I read. I can understand professional bakers being sensitive and quick to jump on people they think are selling illegally because they put a lot of time, training and money into what they do so it is unfair of just anyone off the street to start selling. On the other hand I have seen some really harsh comments directed at people who had in no way made out to be sellers of their cakes.


I think it just needs to be remembered that this site is called 'cake central' not 'professionals only cake central' therefore many people on here (myself included) probably kept having this site turn up in their search engines and joined up to admire and be inspired by others and are total home bakers with no desire to profit from our baking - just to explore, experiment and enjoy it. icon_smile.gif By the way this is in no way directed at anyone in particular - it is just a general observation. 

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DeliciousDesserts Posted 31 Jul 2013 , 11:53am
post #13 of 17

AI hear what you are saying.

I know you weren't directing hue comment to me. I want to make it very clear that my concern honestly is not competition or losing business. There is plenty of need on Charleston.

My concern is the dissapoinnt of these poor clients. I do not mean this thread. Still, in the past week, I have seen a least 3 cake Wrecks which were made for paying customers. It happens often. I bit my tongue & backed out of the thread without saying how truly awful the cakes are.

It happens frequently. And, it's just sad.

I've seen threads go both ways. I've seen lots of concerned & helpful CCers rally to the rescue. I've also seen some jump to the wrong conclusion or misinterpret something. That too will forever be.

Personally, I'm going to continue to offer advice, act as peace maker, & apology for my mistakes.

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Smckinney07 Posted 31 Jul 2013 , 12:30pm
post #14 of 17

AI wasn't trying to be mean or nasty, as I stated in my original post. I certainly didn't mean to treat you as if you were some uneducated, inexperienced chef, decorator, etc. it doesn't matter to me if you are a hobby baker, professional, new, old... I don't care if your selling your cakes tomorrow.

The only reason I mentioned those thing about licensing was to hopefully be of some help. You said you had an order and you didn't want to take it unless it could be perfect (which I understand). I wrongly assumed you meant a paying order (which again doesn't matter to me if you are getting paid/getting practice) my only concern was, as DD said, that you'd be practicing on a paying customers cake-and I'd hate for you to set yourself back.

I offered you some advice about fondant refrigeration as well.

This is a great place to come for advise, we are all still learning-I know I am! You seem very passionate and driven, I'm sure you'll succeed at whatever you do. Please don't be offended by my previous comment, I was simply trying to be helpful.

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johnycake Posted 1 Aug 2013 , 12:48am
post #15 of 17

[email protected] in my response to DD I said I wasn't referring to you. So please do not take that statement any other was as i was not referring to your reply . Your advice was helpful, detailed and considerate. I thanked you after I read your response for the useful information. I do not think you were being rude, mean or nasty at all. No worries :)

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cakestomuch Posted 4 Aug 2013 , 3:22am
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ReneeFLL Posted 4 Aug 2013 , 3:32am
post #17 of 17

AMMF is not the best for very humid climates. If you make figures, flowers or other decorations they will most likely droop/sag due to the humidity. I used to use MMF because I like it, but I learned the hard way. I have been using MFF (Michele Foster fondant) recipe. I am not sure if I really like it, but I am still working with it. Others on here rave about it. There are other good fondant recipes here on CC without marshmallows. Hopefully that will help some. Also, like someone suggested about boxing up the cake and either bagging the box or tape it up and then letting it come to room temp is important. Controlling the temp and humidity in the cake area is important.

As for the food safety, kitchen inspections and other regulations each state is different. Where I live working under the cottage food law my state does not require any of those things as long as you register the business, get a tax id and a few other things. I wished I could get my kitchen inspected by the city or state. They won't do it since it is not required. I only mention this stuff since someone brought it up. Every state has their own rules.

As for the bubble, did you let your cake settle first before putting on the icing and fondant? I let mine settle overnight. Also, if your cake filling is to thick/to much/to runny and you did not use a dam then it can ooze out and cause a bubble. As for the buttercream oozing out thru the tears, it could be that you have to much icing on the outside of the cake. I have put to much on the outside of the cake before and had issues with sagging and oozing out of tears. I have never used boiled icing so I can't help there. I use buttercream or ganache. If you use buttercream with butter and not something like Sweetex or other hi-ratio product the heat will affect it more. Butter has a lower melting point.

Due to 27 years of military life living in places like CA, South Texas, Key West and still in Florida I have learned a few things about humidity. The main thing is that it is a pain in the xxx and that I seriously do not like it.

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