Decorating Nightmares - Sweaty Fondant, Melting Cakes And More!

Decorating By christinartnd Updated 29 Mar 2019 , 3:43pm by SandraSmiley

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christinartnd Posted 28 Mar 2019 , 9:53am
post #1 of 6

Hi! I need some serious help...

Firstly i'm UK based so this might help a lot of questions in regards to "are you using butter in both buttercream and the cake" - YES. We don't really use lard or 'shortening' ? here, and buttercream is made up of a butter + icing sugar recipe. Also, I'm so sorry If I can't reply to anyone but I made another post and it won't let me respond.. I've contacted support for some help! 

I love making cakes, but I need some help for any future creations. I'm not sure what is going wrong but i'm running into multiple issues with cake decorating and i'm looking for some guidance? I'm going to try and write this out very clearly so anyone can offer any type of advice, and I'll try and include everything I (thought) I was doing right!

What went wrong:

Firstly, my - cooled - cake started to fall apart on top of my firm buttercream and the buttercream layers are now probably very thin because of it. 

One of the layers seemed to break apart after placing it on top slightly - which could have been due to the cake being too dry. The sponge was also made using soft brown sugar as it was a caramel-flavour cake, so I'm wondering if the sponge I use is too dense for what I'm trying to achieve?

  • The kitchen wasn't hot
  • cakes were completely cool
  • buttercream was at a firm but workable texture
  • The cake started to tilt due to the broken layer
  • I had to constantly freeze it in batches of 10 minutes which probably has now made the sponge incredibly dry in order to salvage the cake
  • could this be an issue with my butter quality? I bought the butter from Aldi which Is a cheap supermarket  

I ended up having to physically take the layers off with my hands and then pull out this half broken, sloppy and now lopsided cake from the middle tier covered in buttercream. It was like something from a cake horror movie.

Then I did cupcakes surrounding the edges - each with buttercream on top and a fondant display (this was a disney cake.)

But I found that even though the cupcakes had been stored in an airtight container, they were a little sweaty/sticky which I thought the airtight container (plastic cupcake box) would eliminate. 

After decorating with the fondant and icing the next day, I stored them in a plastic cake container overnight. The cake itself, was on the table, wrapped in clingfilm as it was too tall to go into the cake holder. Now.. the cake itself is fine. However, the cupcakes, in the cake holder, started to sweat and some of the fondant has fallen off or bent.. I'm now trying to air out the broken pieces


  • The kitchen hasn't been hot overnight
  • I dried out the fondant for about 3-5 days so it would be hard for decorations
  • Why was the cake fine but the cupcakes not?

I am definitely doing something wrong but I feel like I am coming to the same hurdles over and over again and I really don't know how to improve so i'm feeling a little deflated. It makes my icing and decorating 10 x more stressful and last 5 times as long, so I'd really appreciate some advice so I can improve. Sorry for it being so long!

Here is the final cake and cupcakes - taken last night which probably look a bit better than the texture!

Decorating Nightmares - Sweaty Fondant, Melting Cakes And More!Decorating Nightmares - Sweaty Fondant, Melting Cakes And More!

5 replies
cakefan92 Cake Central Cake Decorator Profile
cakefan92 Posted 28 Mar 2019 , 4:05pm
post #2 of 6

Well, first of all, these are amazing! You did a fabulous job.  However, Disney subjects are copyrighted and you can get in serious trouble with them unless you have their written permission to make the items.  They are notorious for going after bakers.  According to what I have found, a copyright holder can go after the baker and the customer as well.  If a customer wants a copyrighted decoration, tell them they must get permission from the copyright holder.

Now for the issues.  It sounds like your layers are not completely level since they shouldn't break when they are stacked. However, freezing is much better than putting them in the fridge - - freezing won't dry them out as long as they are wrapped or sealed with frosting/fondant. As long as you deal with the condensation (not touching them before they're dry) they should be fine.

Even though you dried your fondant decorations, when you put them on top of the buttercream they will absorb the moisture from it and become pliable again.  Put fondant pieces on buttercream at the last possible moment before handing off to the customer.

Hopefully this will help a little.  Practice and experience will take care of most of your problems.  Good luck and don't worry about these - they look fantastic and probably taste great too.

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louglou Posted 28 Mar 2019 , 6:12pm
post #3 of 6

What recipe are you using for the cakes? Is it just a Victoria sponge with brown sugar instead of caster sugar? I use soft brown sugar in my chocolate cake and it’s fine. With Victoria sponge I add a bit of extra flour to make it closer to Madeira and therefore a bit stronger.

What quantities for buttercream? I use double weight of icing sugar to butter plus a little liquid to make it more workable. Was the buttercream pulling the cake apart? If so add a little more liquid so it’s not so firm.

Are your cakes layers flat? If you are putting a soft cake on a slightly domed layer it will start to break. 

Maybe chill your layers (well wrapped in the fridge or freezer) before stacking as they are quite soft. 

Fondanr toppers will soften on buttercream. Add tylose to your toppers if you want them rock hard or just place them on at the last minute. 

I use Aldi’s cheapest everything in my cakes without any problems. 

Your cake and cupcakes look great despite all your problems. 

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kakeladi Posted 28 Mar 2019 , 9:11pm
post #4 of 6

Ust moving this up ahead of the spam

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Laetia Posted 29 Mar 2019 , 12:26am
post #5 of 6

Wow, your cake and cupcakes look amazing! Even though you had so much trouble with them, the result is fantastic.

I'm by no mean an expert, just a home hobby baker, but I think the plastic container might be the reason your cupcakes had sweat so much. I never use my airtight plastic cupcakes carrier anymore 'cause every time I did, the fondant decoration became so wet they almost melted. Cupcake box surrounded by saran wrap gives me much more satisfying result. Sure the deco may be a little softer because of the moisture of the buttercream, but it is no where as catastrophic than having them in the plastic carrier.

Hope it help!

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SandraSmiley Posted 29 Mar 2019 , 3:43pm
post #6 of 6

I agree that you pulled off a miracle because your cake and cupcakes are beautiful!  I does sound as though the fondant toppers absorbed moisture from the buttercream. 

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