Sunday, September 26, 2010

Sometimes The Fondant Almost Beats You

I had a bad fondant day yesterday...Sometimes it just tries to beat you no matter what you do. This was a little three-tiered cake that had fondant cutouts of flowers on it. I put it together, but I noticed that the fondant seemed a little strange when I was covering the cake. I decided to let it sit by itself for a while to see what it was doing, but it seemed okay, so I went ahead and stacked the cake.

After a couple of hours it was still okay, so I decorated it. I still didn't trust it, though, so I left it out at room temperature and waited to see if it was going to do anything funky. Sure enough, at about 8pm I noticed that the top tier was turning on me.

The fondant had pulled away from the sides of the cake, not making a bubble, which sometimes happens when gas escapes from between the layers, but kind of lifting an entire section of fondant away from the icing. It looked okay, but when I touched it there was an obvious gap between the fondant and the cake that was about 3" x 4". I tried to cut it down a little at the base of the cake, but of course it was right at the front, so I couldn't really do anything without ruining the design.

So I made the executive decision to redo the top tier. I had to cut through the fondant flowers and lift the top tier off, then unwrapped the fondant. Booooooo.

The second time I covered it the fondant ripped, so I started on it for a third time. Boooooo.

I finally got it together and covered the tier, re-stacked the cake, then let it sit overnight to make sure it wasn't going to freak out on me again. I redecorated the tier the next morning, so the cake didn't win in the end. It was frustrating, to say the least, but when I posted about it online I was definitely not the only person this kind of thing had happened to.

I even told the mother of the bride about it, and she told me a couple of stories about things that had happened to her when she was doing flowers for people's weddings. Both anecdotes involved refrigerator problems and ended up with her at the store buying new flowers half an hour before the weddings.

So what's the most annoying thing that's happened to you when you were doing a cake? I'm sure that we all have a story or two to tell...
 Kara Buntin owns A Cake To Remember LLC in Richmond VA, and cake supplies online at and


Jamie said...

A few months ago was mine! The top tier of a wedding cake, which was a 4 incher--would NOT smooth out! It had such a lip on it. I recovered it in fondant three times until I finally decided I had too much BC on it. So I cut the board down a bit, reiced it and finally got the sharp edge and smooth sides. But that cake almost got thrown on the wall several times.

Kim said...

I think the worst problem that I've had with cakes is the gas escaping and making the bumpy ridges. PAIN IN THE REAR!! I did a Betty Boop cake recently and that happened to the bottom tier.. only I didn't discover it until the next morning when it was time to deliver... Betty was made out of gum paste and popping out of the top of the cake and she seemed to enjoy allowing her wrists to snap also.. In the end, everything turned out fine, but that was the worst cake experience I've ever had..

Jenniffer said...

I have been using Fondarific now for a while and my freaky fondant days are over. It does cost more, but it's very stretchy, not prone to tearing or wrinkling, and it tastes good too!

BTW, I have had some horror stories too, but it's been too rough a week to relive any of them!

Kara said...

Uh oh, that doesn't sound good! =:0

Grandma Tillie's Bakery said...

I got the brilliant idea one time to make a dirt bike rider going uphill out of gumpaste. He was supposed to be climbing on a pile of dirt (crushed oreos) on top of the cake and was about 5 inches tall. The mom was SO excited to surprise her son with it. The sides of the cake had symbols all around that read Got Dirt and the boy's age was the number on the dirtbike just like a real rider would have? I mean, in my mind the cake worked, ya know?

Right away I had problems because I didn't stop to think about the thin pieces like the handlebars. They broke immediately, as did the spokes on the wheels. I patched and glued with tylose glue the best I could and held my breath while he dried (flat--I didn't think ahead about how I was going to keep him standing on the cake if I couldn't safely touch him without breaking him) Moving him I broke him about 4 more times and just kept patching until I could balance him against something and he didn't break.

Well the day of delivery they had a small accident at home with one of the kids and had to go the hospital. They were so stressed they forgot to tell me and I showed up with the cake. Nobody home, so I took the cake back with me.

Well I was having trouble with Mr. Dirtbike to begin with, but the back and forth in the car did him in. Here I am in my kitchen holding the 3 broken pieces of my pathetic dirtbike rider, wondering how to fix him and of course they call. Everything's O.K., we are ready for the cake now!

I was so panicked--how do you make something stand up on a cake that doesn't want to stand up!? I ended up getting another brilliant idea to coat him in chocolate--yeah, that hardens up really well and really fast, that will straighten him right up! It's a silhouette, so dark chocolate will look great.

Um I forgot that brushing chocolate on in a big, panicked hurry makes for some lumpy, ugly brushmarks everywhere. The clock is ticking and he is UGLY and barely standing up. So I coated him with piping gel and covered him in black glitter. Gah--it's all I could come up with to cover all the lumps from the chocolate. If I didn't breathe too hard and walked softly he stayed on the cake. Crap, I am already late and I still have to get this into the car and drive over some really rough roads to their house. Did I mention that loose bits of black glitter fluttering down on the cake looked like little bits of fly poop?

So I balanced him up there, pushed as deep as I could safely get him into the buttercream, drove as fast as I could as slow as I could (I think you all know what I mean) and they were thrilled. Of course they were--customers always love the ones that you wish you could throw in the toilet. In fact, she was so thrilled she emailed me that she had plastered several closeup pictures all over her Facebook page giving me full credit and all of my contact information. Yay for me! Free advertising showing how badly my cakes suck! Thank you!

Kara said...

Aaaghhh! Why is it always the cakes that you hate that people put up on facebook? That's too funny, thanks for sharing that experience!

SweetThingsTO said...

Recently I was feeling lazy, so I decided to buy Ivory fondant instead of dyeing it. However, I accidentally picked up the overpriced "white-chocolate" ivory fondant vs. the colored regular ivory fondant.

It was kinda greasy, but i tried to work with it. Covered 2 tiers - but it just didn't look right, greasy yet somewhat cracked texture. I waited, of course, hoping the cake gods would magically smooth it out. :-) Why do we cakers do that?

Of course, removed the fondant after a few hours. Dyed a batch of white fondant to ivory and re-covered the cakes.... and all was good.

Now I'm left with a big bucket of white chocolate ivory fondant which I will never use. sigh.