TIPS TO KEEP YOUR CAKE FROM SETTLING/BULGING
There is nothing worse than waking up after a late night of cake decorating only to see that your cake has changed shape. Like an old house, a cake will settle, leaving you with a less than glamorous effect.
This happens. In fact, if you don’t do something to prevent it, its going to happen. Here are a few of the main culprits and some tips on how to prevent it from happening.
1. Don’t forget to pipe a good dam between layers. The filling used in cakes generally has a thinner consistency, so as the top layers settle the filling spills out between the cake and the fondant creating a bulge. On top of your first layer of cake, pipe a thick dam around the edge. Then fill it, topping it with the next layer (shaved side down).
2. Refrigeration is a very easy remedy. The cake doesn’t reach its final texture until it has completely cooled, and even if it feels cool to the touch, there may still be residual heat waiting to escape. Refrigerating the layers before you fill and stack them can help reduce bulging.
3. Whenever possible, refrigerate after laying the fondant as well. If you are working with a fondant that does not respond well to this, then you may not have the option. This will harden the fondant and it will set, fighting any sagging inclination your cake decides to have.
4. Don’t let pockets of air get in while fondanting (yes, I believe you can turn that into a verb) the cake. Be careful to smooth the top then go from the top down while working on the sides. If air gets under, you may not notice it initially, but you certainly will as the fondant sets. And its not like a balloon you can puncture and push down to normal size (if you tried that, it would just crack and warp).
5. If you are working on a stacked cake, the problem could be the way you put your dowels in (the thin rods you put in the cake to support the weight of the next tier, see support structure video under fundamentals tab). If your dowels are uneven, it could cause the upper tier to put pressure on one of the lower tiers. Similarly, if you make your dowels too short then your upper tiers are actually resting on the lower ones instead of distributing their weight among the dowels. This kind of makes dowels pointless because it will still push down on all the lower tiers causing them to bow out.
Go forth and conquer. You can win this battle!