Buttercream Fell Off Of The Cake! Yikes!!!

Decorating By JennyS782 Updated 19 Jun 2014 , 7:57pm by AZCouture

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JennyS782 Posted 14 Jun 2014 , 11:32pm
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Hey everyone!!


I had my very first wedding cake due today and it was an absolute disaster from the very beginning. Yesterday morning I baked the 8" and 6" rounds and when I took the cake out of the pans the cakes all looked like they deflated a bit - a problem I've never had before! They were fully cooked all the way and it's a doctored cake mix recipe I've used tons of times! I just don't know what went wrong! Both sizes were baked in different batches but yet they all came out deflated!


Anyway, that evening after I put my kids to bed I made IndyDebi's buttercream frosting to go on the cakes. Well, I could not get that frosting smooth to save my life! I tried the paper towel method, the parchment method, the hot spatula method, adding a little extra milk to make it fluffier... NOTHING worked! I worked through the night trying to get it right. Well, by 5am this morning I realized I needed to just deal with all the cracks and random marks that wouldn't go away and start piping the scroll design. Well, by 8am more cracks had appeared in the cake and the frosting was bulging over the ribbon. By 10 the top of the 8" layer started sinking and sliding. On my way to deliver the cake at 11:30 the frosting let go of the cake and the back of the cake was totally exposed! By time I parked at the reception hall the top tier started to slide off! I just sat in my car and cried for a moment before bringing it in... I was just heartbroken over it! I brought the cake inside and the waiter looked at my cake and gasped and asked "what happened?" It just looked terrible! I used a spatula to wipe some of the frosting back onto the back of the cake, but the whole thing looked awful! I brought extra gumpaste flowers to try to hide the cracked and bulging spots on the front of the 8" but nothing could save this disaster. These photos are from before leaving to deliver it. I wish I would have taken photos of it completely falling apart, but I was just too upset to even think of it. Does anyone else have trouble with crusting buttercreams looking like a cracked mess? How do you fix this?


14 replies
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JennyS782 Posted 14 Jun 2014 , 11:37pm
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This is what it was before it fell apart :(

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deuceofcakes Posted 15 Jun 2014 , 12:24am
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Sharon Zambito has a video on perfect buttercream that you might want to get.  She talks about how to deal with frosting problems too.   I don't generally use american buttercream, but she does and I've watched the video and thought it was well done.

As for the top tier sliding, did you dowel down from the top tier through to the cake board?  That provides stability during transport.  Have you done many tiered cakes before?  You might have had an issue with improper support of the top tier as well.  And it doesn't sound like you let the cake settle before frosting it. I often put some weight on top of the filled cake for a little while so any compression that might happen from the weight of the frosting, and fondant if I use it, occurs before the cake is frosted.   

Hope that helps.

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JennyS782 Posted 15 Jun 2014 , 12:40am
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Oh wow! Thank you so very much for all of your helpful advice! Yes, I did dowel the cake very well. I think something happened to the cake on the inside. It's like the cake started shifting on the inside and everything on the outside crumbled around it. And I never thought to let the cake settle after filling it! Thanks so very much!! I usually give it a few good firm presses before frosting the outside. I've done several tiered cakes, but this is the first time I've ever had a problem like this! And I will definitely check out the DVD! Thanks again for taking the time to respond! It's greatly appreciated!!

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AZCouture Posted 15 Jun 2014 , 12:42am
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ADang! Nothing even remotely similar happened before? You've baked those cakes and made that icing many times, and nothing was done differently to explain this event? How frustrating for you. I can't offer much help, I don't know much about shortening based stuff or box mix, can't give any qualifying opinions. I can commiserate with you though. Sorry you had so much trouble. Good news is, a full refund to the client and sincere apologies will make it as right as can be, and you can carry on knowing you did what you could.

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AZCouture Posted 15 Jun 2014 , 12:48am
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AAnother recommendation for the video mentioned above. I use meringue buttercream or ganache, but was able to learn a lot from her method. If you ever get the hankering to try something new though, make a batch of SMBC. I haven't had to wait for cakes to settle, push on them, get giant air bubbles, had icing slide...nothing, since making the switch. Might be an option for you to consider.

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jensco1687 Posted 15 Jun 2014 , 4:17pm
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Oh no! What a terrifying situation! Don't let it discourage you from making more cakes though. Baking is scientific and temperamental, so mistakes are often made. With the deflating- did you immediately put the batter into prepared pans? Leavening agents begin to release CO2 as soon as there is moisture and/or acid entered into the environment, which may have caused the deflated cakes. With the frosting- maybe you applied to much? I had a cake that started cracking super bad after it was all iced and realized that the board it was sitting on wasn't sturdy enough and was causing them. Did you apply a crumb coat, let it cool and then apply the finishing coat? If you like the products you are using and are comfortable with them, totally reuse them and just adjust the methods. Don't stress!:)

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-K8memphis Posted 15 Jun 2014 , 5:09pm
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idk--is your oven the right temperature--it could all be the flukey cakes--maybe they kept sinking and this disfigured the icing--so sorry this happened--i woulda cried too--


also two water issues with your icing--one, to smooth out holes like that--you can spray water on it or just use a spatual dipped into water--use the spatula both ways across it and they will disappear--often you can get this result without the water--


and maybe there was too much water/liquid in your icing-- idk i think the cake problems alone could have caused that--


another thing--bake at least two days out from your occassion to allow enough time to redo when weird a$$ sh*t like this happens --


best to you-- onward and upward -- happens to the best of us

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Nadiaa Posted 16 Jun 2014 , 6:07am
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Oh you poor thing :( All of the advice you've been given is great, but I do have to second K8's comment about not leaving your baking till the day before. Bake ahead of time (freeze the cakes if necessary), torte and fill the cakes early the day before so all you have left to do is decorate. Good luck for next time xxx

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-K8memphis Posted 16 Jun 2014 , 12:23pm
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in fact re-reading what i wrote makes me want to add this--when you get stubborn holes run the spatula up down and back forth to smooth--one of those directions will pull those holes out


and what nadiaa says is very good--in fact i freeze my filled cakes so all i have to do is whip them out, ice and go--it seems when i assemble tiers there's a sticky gloppy mess from the trimming and etc.--it's a job unto itself to keep it under control so i like to have that stage well behind me out of mind when i get to the icing and decorating stage-- it wreaks havoc with my brain--i like nice & neat for icing & decor


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TallxLen Posted 19 Jun 2014 , 1:50pm
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The only time I have had a problem like this was when my buttercream frosted cake was kept in a cake saver too long.


It was a cake for a class and I kept it in a sealed cake saver overnight.


In my case, it seemed like the lack of air caused the frosting to pull away from the cake.  I don't think I can find pictures, but it looked very much like what you showed and shared.


How was your cake stored after you iced it?

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Asher12 Posted 19 Jun 2014 , 2:33pm
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ASo sorry to hear... I would have definitely cried. Haven't made too many tiered cakes so I really appreciate all the advice given here. It sure do sound like your frosting wasn't firm enough to hold but some parts held up fine . I had that issue before and I realized that when I made the frosting ., towards the end I added a little milk to get my desired consistency but I didn't mix it in well and in some areas my icing was thinner and it was falling off .... I must say also that you can try your buttercream icing with the merengue powder . Best wishes in the future

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JennyS782 Posted 19 Jun 2014 , 3:23pm
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Thanks for your reply Tallx,


I actually frosted and decorated my cake throughout the night and didn't finish until about 9:30 or 10 am, and this was for a 12:30 delivery. It didn't have much time to sit, but I'm now thinking it had something to do with the humidity level in the air. who knows? ;). I'll try that same recipe once more in a week or so to see what happens. If I get the same result I'll just save that recipe for cooler, less humid weather.

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cakegrandma Posted 19 Jun 2014 , 4:18pm
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Try baking your cakes a few days before they are needed, level and/or torte, then wrap well in plastic wrap.  Stick them into the freezer and take them out a couple days before to fill and ice.  Cakes need to sit so they can settle. You can even put a cookie sheet on the top of the cake (uniced of course) with can to give it some weight and this helps put everything in place.  It isn't wise to bake and ice the same day, and your icing was probably too thin to get it smooth.  Next time try icing and if you can not get it smooth put more powdered sugar to the mix.  Good luck from now on. Oh, 1 more thing...your cake is beautiful, I love the flowers an the piping. ;-D

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AZCouture Posted 19 Jun 2014 , 7:57pm
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AEh, I bake the night before for slower weekends, doesn't adversely affect anything. I haven't waited for a cake to settle before, hasn't adversely affected anything. Weighing them down? Don't do that either. I fill, ice, blast in the freezer for about ten minutes, smooth it down, and chill again for fondant.

There are a million and one "must do this" and "never do this" you'll come across. And for each one, guaranteed that "must do" will be another person's "I never", and vice versa. Gotta find out what yours are and are not by trial and error, for the best results.

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