Everything I've Tried Has Failed

Decorating By TheDoughHo Updated 3 Aug 2015 , 12:45pm by TheDoughHo

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TheDoughHo Posted 2 Aug 2015 , 2:52am
post #1 of 14

I have peeled through so many conversations here to try to find a fix and nothing has worked. I hope someone can review my attempts and identify my error.

I have a sour cream based cake that's very moist. A bit too moist in my opinion but it's kind of what I'm known for and I'm not about to change a customer preference! All scratch.

My buttercream involves a pound of butter, 230 grams of shortening, salt, vanilla, 3 lbs powdered sugar and 4 oz of creamer. I switched to creamer a while ago after hearing from baker friends it added more flavor and was more stable, but I'm wondering if it could be a culprit?

I defrost my cakes to room temp. Frosting is room temp.

They get stacked and crumb coated. Then a book is placed on top to squeeze out any excess. OVERNIGHT. Room temp.

Next day they get a quick trip into the fridge or freezer to solidify the crumb coat then decorated. They look perfect until a few hours goes by and cracks start appearing in the top and sides. I have used a paint brush to blur them but they are relentless. The cakes are NOT MOVED off their stand. They've been sitting still minus movement to decorate.

And the worst offender: BUBBLES. Within hours I will have bubbles popping out of my sides. Drives me insane. I thought this was because at one time they were still frozen when I frosted...but I changed that.

Does anyone have any advice? I can't believe I'm still seeing cracks (sometimes DEEP) and bubbles after compressing the cake. I'm at my wits end. What am I doing wrong?

*Last edited by TheDoughHo on 2 Aug 2015 , 2:53am
13 replies
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Jeff_Arnett Posted 2 Aug 2015 , 3:29am
post #2 of 14

Cracks in a cold coat of icing are caused when the cake and icing are expanding at different rates.  I used to have those happen too….and usually on a cake that had little decoration and needed perfect sides.


I eliminated using any liquid in my icing other than maybe two tablespoons of HEAVY WHIPPING CREAM if needed to thin.


My recipe is a variation of the one Marida Binstead shared with many of us years ago.  I adapted it because her version was just a bit too soft for my taste.



3 sticks unsalted butter (she used 4…a whole pound)

1 cup vegetable shortening (she used two cups) [in really hot summer I will use 1 ½ cups sometimes]

2 pounds powdered sugar

2 tablespoons vanilla


Soften butter to room temperature. 


Add butter and shortening to the mixer bowl and whip with the WHIP ATTACHMENT (not paddle yet) to blend.


Stop, scrape down the sides, add the vanilla, then whip at the highest speed for 5 minutes…you’d be impressed how much the color of the butter will lighten.


Add the sugar all at once, switch to the paddle beater, cover with a damp kitchen towel and mix on LOW to combine…it will seem dry at first but will come together quickly.


The longer you mix the softer the texture will be…..also you can add the two tablespoons of cream (heated first in the microwave) or you can wait and add that later when ready to use the icing if needed.


I usually make 10 pounds of sugar at once, but if you only have a  home mixer like a kitchen aid you can at least double if not triple the recipe.


This icing NEVER DEVELOPS CRACKS and you won’t get a bulge either like other do….bulging is usually due to an icing with a lot of liquid…once the sugar is “wet” its really just a very thick liquid…and like and liquid on a vertical surface, it flows downward due to gravity as it sits.


Try this one and see if you get better results.



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remnant3333 Posted 2 Aug 2015 , 3:37am
post #3 of 14

Maybe it is not the cake but the buttercream icing that is cracking. I always add maybe one or two tablespoons of corn syrup to my buttercream. I was told that corn syrup helped the icing to be smoother and if piping lines that they would not break as easily. Have you changed any name brands of butter or powdered sugar brand? 

I only do as a hobby so I am sure someone here who is more qualified will be able to see if there is something else that needs to be done with your buttercream. I am curious to see what others say about using the creamer. 

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TheDoughHo Posted 2 Aug 2015 , 3:38am
post #4 of 14

Jeff it's funny to read that because here I am thinking my frosting does not have ENOUGH liquid! Gracious though, how easy is that to spread without liquid? I would think it would be terribly thick.

Yes, in my "must be perfectly smooth" cakes....THIS is where the cracks and bubbles make their debut. 

If this frosting is your success story....I'm going to give it a shot! Thank you!

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TheDoughHo Posted 2 Aug 2015 , 3:39am
post #5 of 14

Yes! I have heard of the corn syrup and yes, I use that when piping. I tried it once on the rest of the cake and wasn't thrilled. I think it just changes the texture a bit.

But...maybe I can try again. It should add some "flex"

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Jeff_Arnett Posted 2 Aug 2015 , 3:56am
post #6 of 14

Not at all hard to spread.

In fact, as I said in the earlier post, the reason I tweaked the recipe Marida gave us was that it was too soft with the whole pound of butter in it.  Give it a try….

If you visit Minette Rushing's Custom Cakes Youtube channel, she has a video making the original recipe of this icing…watch it and see just how spreadable it is!    Here’s the link to the video…..


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TheDoughHo Posted 2 Aug 2015 , 4:03am
post #7 of 14

*mind blow*....I"ve never seen it done without liquid but that looks divine! You think this will solve my cracking/bubbling woes?

What's the science behind the over the top of the mixer technique? I see people on here reference it. I don't understand how that makes smoother frosting.

Also...she uses the paddle the whole time...you say whisk instead?

Thank you!!

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Jeff_Arnett Posted 2 Aug 2015 , 4:14am
post #8 of 14

The over the top of the beater technique simply helps prevent mixing a lot of air in.


I do it differently!


I make about 10 pounds of sugar up at a time.  Store the icing in buckets for later use. 

When I’m ready to use it, I turn to an old standard….the two beater stand mixer.


I’ve got about 4 of these old timers around.  I simple fill the bowl with icing and remix on LOW speeds, scraping the bowl a few times until the icing is smooth as silk…this is also where I would add the couple tablespoons heavy cream if I thought it needed to be thinner.


Regardless of the mixer, if you can mix enough to come up to the beater’s stem, it will greatly reduce the amount of air that gets beat in…and we all know the more smooth the icing is to start with the more smooth we can get it on the cake!

As to the whisk….matter of preference….I just find that if I mix the butter and shortening together with it on high speed for about 5 minutes I get a much whiter icing than if I just the paddle the whole time.


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TheDoughHo Posted 2 Aug 2015 , 4:17am
post #9 of 14

Jeff this is so great. I'm going to give it a shot. I feel better about my cakes already! Thank you!

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Jedi Knight Posted 2 Aug 2015 , 1:48pm
post #10 of 14

No advice and no comments.

I just wanted to say, out loud:

The dough ho

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TheDoughHo Posted 2 Aug 2015 , 1:54pm
post #11 of 14

Ha ha. What can I say? It was a nickname that stuck. Now the business has "Delivery by The Dough Ho"...  :-)

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-K8memphis Posted 2 Aug 2015 , 11:53pm
post #12 of 14

you beat me to it jedik

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-K8memphis Posted 2 Aug 2015 , 11:54pm
post #13 of 14

great baking name, doughHo

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TheDoughHo Posted 3 Aug 2015 , 12:45pm
post #14 of 14

Thank you :-)

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