Let’s face it. No one likes bulges, whether it’s on us or our cakes. Just as a muffin top spoils your svelte look in an evening gown, a bump looks awkward and clumsy on a cake.
With that said we’ve got to admit, that bulges are pretty common for any baker, especially those who are just getting started. Sometimes the fillings aren’t as stable as you expect them to be and seep out onto the crumb coat, or the tiers settle dangerously or you may have overloaded the filling.
Whatever be the reason, bulges never look good on any cake, especially hand sculpted ones.
So, here’s a Fix it Post from us. We help you decode the reason why your cakes bulge and give the solutions to overcome the issue.
Let’s get started!
Reason #1: Air has got trapped between the Cake Layers
This is one of the most common reasons why cakes bulge. Sadly, most bakers fail to rectify this error. This depends on how you add the filling between the layers. Whether you’re adding buttercream or a fresh fruit filling, you have to push it all the way towards the edges. When you just add fillings, without spreading them, air pockets get trapped between fillings.
As you get the cake ready to be displayed, the fillings get softer. At the same time, mother gravity begins her work. The air pockets are pushed out, and the cake bulges.
Fix: Always ensure that you spread the filling thoroughly. Start by plopping a huge scoop of filling in the centre and work your way outward.
Reason #2: Too Soft Fillings
A soft filling is more prone to get squished. As you add more layers on top, the filling is bound to get squished due to pressure and seep out of the edges.
The trick here is to check how soft the mixture is. Take a spoon of the filling and spread it on a plate. If it spreads quite quickly, then you have to make the texture firmer.
Apart from the texture of the filling, several other factors impact if a filling will seep out or not. Stacked cakes with plenty of tiers, tall cakes, and dense, thick cakes are likely to exert more pressure on the layers below, pushing the filling outward.
Fix: Use a thicker filling. If you’re using buttercream to ice the cake, then make two versions. Make a light version to pipe on the outer edges and a thicker version to serve as the filling.
Alternate Fix: If you have a soft filling (like fruit compote) that you’re particularly attached to, then create a dam of buttercream icing around the edges and then add the soft filling inside. The barrier prevents the soft filling from seeping outside.
Reason #3: Too Thick Fillings
This is another issue that most bakers struggle with. Don’t pile too thick a layer of filling between two cake layers. Instead of a sandwich formed by a thick layer of cake followed by a thick pile of frosting, opt for thin layers of cake alternating with thin frosting layers.
This not only adds stability to your cake but also makes the final cake more delicious.
Fix: Try slicing the cake thinly with a cake leveller. This way you can increase the number of layers of filling without piling filing on a particular tier.
Reason #4: Unstable Infrastructure
Any layer cake with two or more layers requires some support structure to hold it up. However, the dowels or SPS you add into the cake exert pressure on the fillings and are likely to push them out. This increases the risk of the cake cracking. Additionally, the fillings are likely to bulge out from the sides.
The wider the dowels are, the higher are the chances of swelling. Apart from the width of the dowels, the number also plays a vital role in the final structure of the cake. This is why you shouldn’t go overboard with the dowels you use.
Fix: Instead of using solid wood dowels, you can opt for lighter dowels with empty cores. You can also try using bubble tea straws, kebab sticks as dowels. These aren’t likely to displace the filling as much as solid wood dowels.
Additionally, make it a point to insert dowels as and when you’re working on it. This is because the frosting is at room temperature and is more forgiving. Don’t insert dowels into a cake that you have just pulled out of the freezer.
Reason #5: Blame it on the Surrounding Temperature
Working with frosting, especially in the hot summer months and in a humid country like ours, requires plenty of timeouts in the fridge. The higher the temperature of the room, the softer the filling gets. And soft fillings are a recipe for disaster.
Even if a cake looks sleek and is devoid of bulges in an air-conditioned studio doesn’t mean it’s going to remain the same at the place, where you serve it.
Fix: Check out the consistency of your filling at room temperature. It should hold good at normal temperatures.
Here’s a Guideline to Filling Frosting to Avoid Bulges
- 1. Fill the batter to 2/3rd of the pan. This prevents the batter from overflowing.
- 2. Try using a cake strip on the outside of the pan. This is an easy way to avoid domes in the centre.
- 3. If the cake has a dome, then use a cake leveller to cut away the muffin tops.
- 4. When filling, start by adding a thick layer of filling all around the edge, about ¼” away from the edge of the cake.
- 5. Spoon in the filling. Push the filling with the backside of the spoon to the edge of the frosting.
- 6. Avoid overfilling. Just a couple of spoons to cover the cake will do.
- 7. Repeat for all layers.
- 8. Once you have finished adding all the layers, use a piping bag with frosting to fill in any tiny gaps left between the layers.
- 9. You can now proceed with your crumb coat.
Follow these nine steps to building smart looking cakes without any unsightly bulges. That’s it, you’re done. For more expert tips on making and stacking cakes, stay tuned for upcoming posts. If you like to get started in the world of baking, from the hands of expert bakers, then give us a call at +91-124-4379-633 or +91-989-9988-185 to check out our exclusive baking classes. Also, make sure to check out our gallery for some of the best birthday cakes in Gurgaon.