Have you ever made a cake and then had the issue of bulges around it? The type that actually looks ugly and embarrassing? What is worst, is often, you finish decorating the cake, waiting for it to be picked up by the client, then suddenly, you see a pregnant belly emerging on one side of the cake.
Issues with bulge
- You can just take a pin and prick it to release the air trapped inside. But often, if this bulge sits for a while you will notice it also stretches the fondant. So, when you release the air, it will become a flat but wrinkled fondant.
- Another issue with this, is some times you have a smooth fondant cake with no decorations to hide the pinprick. On fresh fondant, a pinprick can be smoothed over. But, on a dried fondant that little prick looks like a large hole.
So what are the causes of these bulges around cakes?
Bulges around cakes are usually the result of the pressure built up inside the cake from the time it's baked to the time it's decorated. The best way to take care of the pressure, is to first let your cake settle. Let it cool completely before you even start to level, crumb coat, or decorate.
There are a few possible reasons for pressure build-up causing these bulges:
- If you don't level your cake properly (see have a dome on the cake).
- Not giving your cake enough time to rest.
- Your cake is warm - which is why places with warm climate have more issues with bulges around the cake.
- Sudden change in temperature - getting the cake out from the fridge and into a hot and humid room (especially here in the Middle East).
- Overfilling your cake - too much filling in between the layers.
- Not doweling the cake properly - few dowels.
How to avoid bulges around your cakes?
- Use baking strips to bake level cakes. That way you won't need to cut too much of the dome.
- If you want taller cakes, bake more layers, but always level your cakes. Putting two domes together causes a gap, which then creates a pressure build-up due to gravity.
See figure 1 in the 'Tip Thursday" below.
- The cakes need enough resting time between baking and decorating, as well as between crumbing, coating, and decorating. Plan your cake leaving enough time in between steps - read timeline for decorating cakes.
- Use a ganache or buttercream dam for softer fillings, and make sure the filling is not above the dam to prevent overflowing (see how to level, torte, fill and frost cakes).
- If you live in a place with high humidity, make more layers for your cake with the same filling rather than one big filling in between two layers.
- For single tier cakes, you can go bottoms up instead of two tops facing each other (figure 3 in the "Tip Thursday" below).
- Don't roll the fondant too thick. The weight of the fondant will push the cake layers down causing pressure in the between the layers.
- Prick any air pockets when draping the cake with fondant. Otherwise, these will stay and expand as the pressure builds up.
- Using fewer dowels or uneven dowels can cause pressure build-up inside the cakes.
This video shows how to level, torte, fill, and frost the cake correctly. Take note of how I cut the domes of the cake and how I stack the layers with the fillings.
How do you hide bulges around your cake?
Cake decorating can be tricky sometimes with bulges and other issues. But, knowing how to fix these or mask these can save the day. You can see in this cake below:
- I have used a black lace to cover the bulge and placed the cameo to cover the pinprick.
- You can also use other things like place flowers or fondant cutouts to cover the bulged area.
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