Warm Weather Bakers - Advice Needed

Baking By evbunt Updated 21 Jul 2015 , 6:58am by Siep

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evbunt Posted 14 Jul 2015 , 4:29am
post #1 of 38

Looking for some quick "emergency" advice.  I am a bridesmaid at a wedding this upcoming weekend and due to an emergency, the bride's bakery cannot fulfill the wedding cake order.  I have done several wedding cakes before for family members/close friends, so I dried her tears and opened my mouth and said I'd figure out a way to do it.   The design is simple, but there is a problem.

It's July.  We are in the midwest.  And it is outside under a tent - which means NO AC.  And no kitchen to keep it cool (really, no kitchen, no fridge, no nothing!).  (The fact that this is an outdoor wedding for 150 people is another subject!)

Because of my "other" wedding duties, I will have to bake the cake this week, which isn't that big of a deal, again, the design is very simple (if this were an indoor wedding, or even if there was a cool spot to keep the cake I would not be concerned).  I will be taking the cake to a home that is very nearby the night before and "someone" yet to be determined will be leaving between the ceremony and reception (both outdoors) to get the cake (I suggested that I skip wedding party photos and do this myself in my strapless satin dress, but she didn't go for it) to minimize it's time outside.  The forecast says 95 (in the midwest, and did I mention this was OUTSIDE??).  It will be cut and served first (before dinner, ha ha) so the time it will need to be outside will probably be around 90 minutes (I HOPE!!!).

Obvious Problems:

1. Buttercream - the buttercream I usually use (that everyone loves) is Buttercream Dream with Crisco and Butter.  I've tried to do some quick research tonight (I am usually a planner, researching and making LOTS of practice batches if I use new recipes) and I'm seeing that I probably shouldn't use butter.  Everything I am reading is saying "do not do an outdoor cake if it's warmer than 85).  Well...we don't have a choice and I feel like I'm getting nowhere searching online for a tried and true buttercream that can handle the situation.  I'm not sure what the baker was planning on doing, but I know you all are usually really good at advice (even though I am assuming I will get the "You are NUTS" comments).  I've seen to use corn startch (but no one says how much to use), Meringue Powder, no butter, High Ratio Shortening, not to do buttercream at all, and to flat out refuse to do it.  

2.  Cream Cheese Filling - there was supposed to be a red velvet tier with cream cheese filling/frosting, I am assuming I just need to scratch this?

3. Transport - I usually use wooden sticks / straws and a center wooden dowel through the entire thing and have been fine transporting an hour away.  But, my googling is suggesting that I really should use SPS since it will be so hot (and likely about 80% humidity to accompany the 90+ temps).  Is this true?  I've never used SPS NOR do I have any (and too late to order).  I know there are pillars and plates at Michaels and Hobby Lobby, but I don't think these are the same.  I don't know who is transporting this cake, so I want it to be as stable as possible for them (and my sanity).  If you use this type of plate system, do you not use a center dowel??  

Am I doomed?  She tried to call a few other bakeries and no one could (would) take the order this last minute.  Again, I would usually spend weeks combing through old threads to find the best advice and the best recipes for this situation, but I am sort of short on time (I need to bake on Thursday) and trust the advice from the bakers on this site completely.

Aside from you all telling me that I am cRaZy, anyone out there have experience with heat/humidity recipes?  

Do I need to buy the plates/pillars instead of my usual stacking methods?

Would it help if I put a block of ice under the cake?   (I'm serious, the cake "base" is a wooden crate, so I was thinking maybe I could put a block of ice in a pan inside the crate since it would be hidden.)

I'm a little nervous posting this, as I am assuming I will get some "you shouldn't do this" comments, but at this point, there's not much turning back.  And, I've warned her 100 times tonight that the cake may melt!  TIA

37 replies
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thecakewitch Posted 14 Jul 2015 , 5:02am
post #2 of 38

I can't help with the recipe because I use all butter bc. If it was up to me, I would put the cake in a box with dry ice. I did this before but only for about an hour drive in a 90+F. 

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Siep Posted 14 Jul 2015 , 7:17am
post #3 of 38

Ok, so if I were in your position....

1. I would not use buttercream. It doesn't matter in what proportion you use it, it will still melt in high temperatures. Instead I would use ganache, it's simple to make and it will be rock hard for at least two hours. Last week I did three weddingcakes and dit not have a problem at all!

2. Loose the cream cheese filling!!!

3. In this kind of heat I would definitely use pillars and plates, because if you stack the cake 1 inch the wrong way the whole thing could callopse!

To keep the cake cool during the wedding, you can place a couple of frozen bottles of water in front of a fan, and you have yourself an AC!

I'm not going to say OMG, what were you thinking...No, YOU helped out a friend. If it wasn't for you there would be no cake. So keep up the good spirit and go for it!!!!

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Snowflakebunny23 Posted 14 Jul 2015 , 7:41am
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Maybe a little crazy, but you're helping a friend so all craziness feelings removed (and you HAVE done wedding cakes before unlike many people who do this!).

So, like Siep said, loose the cream cheese definitley and I would second the use of ganache instead of buttercream.  It tastes amazing and is much easier to deal with at higher temperatures.  I've never tried the DIY aircon unit but seems a great idea.

Sidetrack idea...is the Bride set on a stacked cake?  All things considered, is there any chance you could do a satellite cake or something like that?  They can look really funky and it removes the need for stacking and makes it easier for other people to set up/transport the cake.  I know it's not to everyones' taste but maybe an option to consider.  As for the supports, I would go for an interlocking plate system definitely.

You seem to have already answered many of your own questions so I would say draw on your caking experiences so far.  And DO NOT FORGET a big apron to protect up your beautiful dress when you go near the cake on the big day.  Good luck! xx

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evbunt Posted 14 Jul 2015 , 1:36pm
post #5 of 38

Thanks, ladies!  I didn't even consider ganache as I assumed the chocolate would melt worse than anything with butter in it. 

And, OMG, an Apron!!!  I had not even thought of that, THANK you! Just out that on my to bring list.  

I didn't sleep well, kept thinking about my own nerves during some cake transports.  I am kind of thinking that if I use the cake separators, and have them already in place and have each tier protected in a box, it may be smarter. (Well, at least would allow transport to be easier!)

So, if I get the pillars/plates from Michaels, I could actually insert them and box them up the day before, right? 

Thanks again for the tips - time to find a good white ganache recipe!

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DJFIT9999 Posted 14 Jul 2015 , 2:07pm
post #6 of 38

RE: White chocolate ganache. I did my daughter's cake in TN last month. Temps hit 100 and the reception was in an unairconditioned barn. Like you, I had the cake stored indoors and someone moved it in between the ceremony/reception.

I did a white chocolate ganache and used the 4:1 ratio of white chocolate to cream. It held up fine for the hour and a half it was displayed in the barn. I'm just an amateur and everything I read said use a higher ratio of white chocolate/cream when making the ganache for high temps. I just used Nestle white chocolate chips. I don't know if that was bad or good but the ganache was delicious and sturdy. The cake was 4 tiers stacked. 

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Siep Posted 14 Jul 2015 , 3:10pm
post #7 of 38

Sounds like a good idea! But...instead of white chocolate I would use dark chocolate. I have used white chocolate in the past, but then I switched to dark chocolate because it's firmer to work with. Because...well...white chocolate isn't actual chocolate:)), it contains too much butter. With dark chocolate it's as firm as it can be.

Just the other day (I hope one of my customers doesn't read this), I dropped a cake, yessssss I dropped the cake and it landed on its side and on the way to the floor it hit the side of the refrigerator. I feared a big dent in the cake, but guess what....nothing, not even a scratch!!!!!That's the power of ganache hahaha. A good thing that this cake was for private use;)

The ratio I use is 1:2, so 1 part of cream and two parts of dark chocolate. The cream has to contain at least 35% fat, so you can heat the cream, otherwise the ganache will be too thin. The chocolate has to contain at least 75% cacoa. I can recommend to watch this video on youtube 

 I personally skip the part where she moists the cake with cooled boiled water. 

Oh and another tip...don't roll the fondant too thin. Especially with weddingcakes I usually roll the fondant about 1/15 of an inch ( I have done some calculating since I live in Europe:) ) The dark chocolate doesn't show underneath the layer of fondant, I guarantee it!

Your idea concerning the transport is great! 

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Snowflakebunny23 Posted 14 Jul 2015 , 3:23pm
post #8 of 38

You can certainly transport each tier separately and stack on site but you need to think about how you transport the tiers if you are using separator plates with a locating 'lug' underneath. I use the wilton ones sometimes if I want a super sturdy structure (we aren't fortunate enough to have SPS in the UK yet).  The lug means that when un-stacked, the main body of the cake board is not resting on the table (counter/car boot etc) and the only point of contact is the 4 little lugs which slot into the dowels into the tier below.  It makes it much easier to pick up each cake BUT there is no friction between the cake board and the surface below so the tiers will slide all over the shop.  I had to transport tiers this way the other week so got some old cake dumies which were big enough, dug 4 dents into them at the same spot as the lugs in the plates and put the cakes on top of them.  The lugs locate into the dummy and that cake ain't going anywhere.  You can then put them in a box without worrying about them sliding about.   :-)

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carolinecakes Posted 14 Jul 2015 , 3:48pm
post #9 of 38

You can get SPS at  amazon and with prime membership it is delivered next day or day after.

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carolinecakes Posted 14 Jul 2015 , 3:56pm
post #10 of 38

Some use dry ice to keep the cake cool on site. Also no need for a center dowel when using the SPS. It's the best support for cakes, it was made for cake muggles to transport cakes.

good luck, what a great friend you are!!

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-K8memphis Posted 14 Jul 2015 , 7:32pm
post #11 of 38

i didn't read the other responses -- just gonna dive in -- I have used 1/4 cup flour per recipe (2# confectioner's sugar) -- I used a flour called wondra which is specially made to not clump making gravy -- available in my local grocery store -- comes in a tall can like a small oat container -- 

without cake the icing scratches your throat a bit but on the

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-K8memphis Posted 14 Jul 2015 , 7:44pm
post #12 of 38

i didn't read the other responses -- just gonna dive in -- I have used 1/4 cup flour per recipe (2# confectioner's sugar) -- I used a flour called wondra which is specially made to not clump making gravy -- is a very fine flour -- available in my local grocery store -- comes in a tall can like a miniature oat container -- 

without cake the icing scratches your throat a bit -- feels fuller -- but eaten with the cake it's not noticeable and it really helps the icing stay stable -- 

yes ditch the cream cheese thing --

sps would be great -- 

i would suggest you get the cake stacked and nice and cold in a dedicated fridge where no cut onions or old salmon is being kept --

for delivery i use corrugated cardboard boxes with an ice pack inside -- in extreme memphis heat already cold cakes will last perfectly fine for hours in a sealed box -- i would suggest that you have help moving it -- gonna be heavy  -- 

if it's extra hot or sunny you can wait a few to take it out or if it starts to melt you can hurry up the serving a bit -- you can do this -- you're gonna be fine

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-K8memphis Posted 14 Jul 2015 , 7:52pm
post #13 of 38

oh, the ice pack -- i wrap it in a paper towel and slide it into a plastic bag so no condensation can spill off and i wire it into the corner of the box or place it underneath --

the boxes -- you can a variety of sizes at your local movers or storage place -- probably a 16"x16" would do it for you -- and put it in your car empty to see how it fits -- make sure all is well there --

please, we/i am at your disposal -- ask any question that may come up -- would be delighted to help

and thank you for stepping up -- so sweet of you -- yes a big headache tons of work -- dirty dishes -- sticky gooey messes but it's all for love! great job -- you're a bridesmaid amongst bridesmaids

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evbunt Posted 14 Jul 2015 , 9:55pm
post #14 of 38

You people are wonderful and could put Google out of biz, ha ha!  

This cake isn't going to have any fondant and she wants white - so the dark ganache won't work.  I spoke with her today and we looked at some ganache only covered cakes and she got a little teary - just not the effect she wanted.  She knows she has her back against the wall and may need to sacrifice, but I think I am going to stick to the buttercream and try some of these stabilizing suggestions. 

K8, does it matter what type of buttercream icing you add this flour to? Does it still need to be no butter? (Or less butter) 

I have been trying to figure out all day what type of fridge space I will have at the nearby home that I will be taking the cake to - so far this is still a question.  I've had to empty a fridge a time or two in my own home to make room for a cake - but I don't even know these people  (have I mentioned that I dislike giving up control?!?).  

The cake is a "rustic" look, and I was literally just going to take the small spatula around all 3 tiers to get the look she wants, I've done that before and she is good with that, so my thought was of I have three small(er) boxes I may have a chance of them fitting in the fridge.  Flowers from the florist I'll find out Sat AM what I'm getting from them and will have about 30 min to get them cake ready before we start the wedding day "stuff".  Seriously, do I really need to have my face airbrushed?  I believe the now predicted 96 degrees is going to take care of my face all by itself!!  

I think I'm trying to come up with solutions to all the "what if" situations - I like the ice pack ideas - but the transport itself will only be about 5 min from the random home (with no clue yet about fridge space) to the barn. Maybe I should create a pretty ice backdrop!!  Lol!  I did tell her that I get to position one of the fans near the cake (not directly on it though).  

I also usually freeze my wedding cakes (start several days ahead) but this whole thing is gonna be done Thursday - after I make a trip to the liquor store!!

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carolinecakes Posted 15 Jul 2015 , 12:49am
post #15 of 38

Since the ganache is no go, might I suggest you use sweetex ( hi ratio shortening). It stands up to the heat and is yummy, I use Sugarshacks recipe. Lmk if you need the recipe.

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carolinecakes Posted 15 Jul 2015 , 12:59am
post #16 of 38

The folks whose fridge you will be using may need a heads up about how much space you need. So they don't go food shopping tonight or something. Later down the road you can make them a special cake as a thank you. Sounds like you have everything under control. I don't know about you , but if I start drinking before I finish the cake things might go wonky. But that's me......lol

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carolinecakes Posted 15 Jul 2015 , 1:06am
post #17 of 38

You probably know all this ......... But make sure the flowers are food safe and have those flower picks ready to place on the cake. 

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tesso Posted 15 Jul 2015 , 6:38am
post #18 of 38

no you are not nuts. i have used a crusting butter cream for cakes in 105 degrees. if you are using crisco its melting temp is 117-123 degrees. i looked it up a few weeks ago for my nieces cake just incase i was able to do it. 

i would skip the cream cheese filling. 

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tesso Posted 15 Jul 2015 , 6:41am
post #19 of 38

ohh forgot.. six hours in the heat, but under a tent  NOT direct sunlight. thats the longest i have left a cake in 100 degree heat and had no problem.

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jchuck Posted 15 Jul 2015 , 1:00pm
post #20 of 38

evbunt:  Your not CArazy......but a wonderful friend to step up to the plate.  You've already been given wonderful advice. A all bc rustic covered cake is your best bet. Relatively easy, and looks pretty. I use cooked flour frosting/icing. Will post recipe below. Super easy to make. It calls for all butter, but for hot weather and also family intolerance, I use all high ratio shortening and almond milk. For personal preference, I add butter flavouring, cuts the shortening, plus your flavour of choice, tablespoon or so of meringue powder and 1-2 cups of icing sugar. This helps icing develop a nice crust. Using fresh flowers will help hide any "mistakes" on the cake. I would use straws to put flowers into the cake. Your not going to have time to wrap stems in floral tape, that's for sure. Cut the straw to length, squirt some icing into the straw, pop in your flower and stem, push into cake. Best of luck. 

I always pack a small kit in a large Tupperware container. Extra icing, palette knife, ribbon, surgical gloves, apron, scissors, straws, piping bags and tips. 

Even Better (!) Cooked Flour Frosting (with flavor variations & Vegan ...

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carolinecakes Posted 15 Jul 2015 , 2:27pm
post #21 of 38
Here is the recipe, it does not have that greasy taste like Crisco.

Sugarshack’s icing 
Ingredients ( yields 15 cups)
You can freeze it

    5 1/2 cups hi ratio shortening ( sweetex)
    5 pounds powdered sugar

    liquid which consists of:
   2) a liquid I make by mixing powdered coffee creamer, one cup to one cup hot water. I make this liquid up a few cups at a time and keep it in the fridge till I need it. Use the liquid hot. 
Approx 14-16 tbs liquid

*Wedding Bouquet Flavoring @ Global Sugar Art

    I make a big batch in my 5 qt mixer. It gets the level of icing well above the paddle while mixing, and you get very little to no air bubbles in your icing this way. It is important to start with an icing with as little air as possible; so i fill my KA to the rim with this recipe:

   Mix shortening and liquid first till smooth and creamy, then slowly add a steady stream of PS until it is all incorporated on speed one or 2.
    Then I let it go for 5-7-minutes till creamy and smooth on about speed 6.

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remnant3333 Posted 15 Jul 2015 , 3:07pm
post #22 of 38

It sounds like you have everything figured out!! I would probably worry more about the person transporting the cake because I have heard some horror stories. Hopefully, they will drive carefully and nothing will happen!! Other than that, it sounds like you have it together!!! You are a true friend to step in there and help with the cake!! Be sure and post a picture!!!

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-K8memphis Posted 15 Jul 2015 , 4:07pm
post #23 of 38

evbunt -- i've only added the wondra flour to American buttercream -- y'know confectioner's sugar, fat, liquid & flavoring of course --

and even though the delivery is 5 minutes away you can retain control by going/being climate controlled in the corrugated boxes -- the cake can sit out for hours in the box no worries --

when is it going to be delivered to the refrigerator?

96 degrees? save the airbrush for the cake -- haha

and I think it was carolinecake upthread who said to touch base with the fridge people -- yes indeed good thinking, c

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-K8memphis Posted 15 Jul 2015 , 4:09pm
post #24 of 38

i would recommend a butter/shortening combo -- 

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-K8memphis Posted 15 Jul 2015 , 4:14pm
post #25 of 38

also the less air movement the better -- air moving across hot skin is refreshing won't do anything for the cake -- use it for you setting up though --

you are going to be a drippy mess take some of those lovely wipes they have now to cool yourself off --

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cakechemist Posted 15 Jul 2015 , 11:18pm
post #26 of 38

LoriAnn makes a cream cheese bakery emulsion that is a good in a shortening based frosting for red velvet cake.  Michaels carries it here, not sure about everywhere.  Don't get me wrong, it's not as good as the real deal, but it's stable and goes well with red velvet.  Think Cheesecake factory frosting on their red velvet cheesecake... Mmm... Red velvet cheesecake...

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denetteb Posted 15 Jul 2015 , 11:44pm
post #27 of 38

What size tiers are you making?  Would your friend consider having them not stacked?  Get a couple more rustic crates or some wood slices or something to place them on? 

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efatrie Posted 16 Jul 2015 , 12:13am
post #28 of 38

Hi! I live in a super hot and humid country. I find SMBC works best - use the egg white to sugar ratio of 1:1.

Place the cake in the fridge well overnight to firm up the buttercream. Take it out only when transporting to the venue and assemble on site. I've used centre dowel through the whole cake, with support on the lower tier as well.

Otherwise I would think dark chocolate ganache is pretty neat. Use a higher chocolate to ganache ratio, 4:1. Hope this helps!

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efatrie Posted 16 Jul 2015 , 12:18am
post #29 of 38

Hi! I live in a super hot and humid country, on some crazy days, yes it does get to that temperature as well. 

I've found SMBC to work best, just use a 1:1 ratio (egg white: sugar), together with high shortening ratio, perhaps a 50-50 or 60-40. 

After frosting the cake, do firm up the cake in the fridge overnight, and then assemble on site :) 

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evbunt Posted 16 Jul 2015 , 3:48pm
post #30 of 38

Thanks all!  Let's hope that I don't need to be on here later with an SOS plea!  LOL I will post pics and an update soon!!

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