Why do my colors separate from icing?

Since most if not all shortenings no longer have transfat, the icing hasn't been the same. Colors separate and when icing dries sometimes, it falls off the cake. The solution is a high-ratio shortening. I sell QuickBlend made by Wesson Oil. It costs about 50 cents more per recipe but is worth it. Try it and you will definitely love it. It will make your icing more fluffy and will last a lot longer after being made. If you don't use it very often, store it in a refrigerator. Take it out a couple hours ahead of time before making icing.

When making a tiered cake, how many inches do I put between each cake?

The ideal separation would be 3 or 4 inches. For example, 6", 9", 12" layers or 6", 10", and 14". Sometimes you have to have 2" if you have many tiers. For example, 16", 14", 12", 10", and 8". It will work but it doesn't look as good, in my opinion. When separating with spiked pillars, you need a 3" or 4" difference. No exceptions.

How do I get my buttercream icing smooth?

To make smooth icing on cake, I recommend you put your cake on a very sturdy board. Cardboard may not support it well enough, and when you pick up your cake after smoothing, your icing may crack. This is a very common problem. I sell very sturdy boards covered in silver foil which work very well. Crumb coat your cake first. This is a thin layer of your buttercream that seals crumbs. Next cover your cake with a thick layer of icing. Make sure the icing is not too thin because this will lead to many problems when trying to smooth. If the icing is too thin, add more powdered sugar. Pile icing on top of the cake and spread the icing with a spatula, ALWAYS keeping the spatula on top of the icing and never near the cake. If you get near the cake, you will get crumbs in your icing and that does not look good. Once the cake is covered, smooth the best you can. Once it is dry, take a piece of notebook or computer paper and lay it on top of the icing. Rub your hand with gentle but firm pressure over the paper. If the paper sticks to the icing, wait a few more minutes. Continue moving the paper until the area is smooth. This technique might take you a few times to perfect, but practice makes perfect or close to it. Do not get frustrated. That is no fun.

Why are my cakes dry?

This could be many reasons. I'm not saying don't make cakes from scratch, but sometimes scratch cakes can be more dry than box cake mixes. Try lots of recipes until you find the one that you like. When you do, always make it the same so your cakes will always be consistent. But whatever you do, don't settle for a dry cake. I personally like Betty Crocker cake mixes. For white I use Super Moist White Cake, large eggs (whites only), 1/3 cup vegetable oil, 1-1/4 cup water, and 1 teaspoon almond flavoring (Happy Home brand preferably.) I don't like the grocery store brand. For the best chocolate cake, use Betty Crocker Devil's Food Cake Mix.

I bake at 325 degrees, and this may vary with your oven. My oven runs hotter, so I turn my temp down. Do not bake cakes on top of each other because this adds to the inconsistency. You may bake cakes side by side, and if one cake is smaller than another, just make sure you know to take that one out first. Open the oven towards the end of baking and touch the top to see if it done. It should be firm but not too brown because this probably means you baked it too long. You can also put a cookie sheet underneath the cake pan in the oven to prevent the cake from getting too brown on the bottom.

How full should I fill my cake pans

I fill mine 2/3 to 3/4 full. I like thick layers and that way if they bake uneven, and they probably will, you can cut it level with a knife. If you use pan grease that I sell to coat your pans, you can let your cake completely cool in the pan and then use the top of the pan as a guide to cut the cake more level.

What is the best way to melt chocolate?*

The best and easiest way is in the microwave. Put 1 pound of chocolate in a plastic bowl. Melt on defrost on low power, stirring every minute until melted. Do not do it on high or even medium because you can burn it. It can also be melted in a crock pot on low, stirring every couple of minutes. When melted, turn the heat off.

Double boiler - heat water to boiling. Take the water off the stove and put the chocolate in the top pan, and stir until melted. Do not keep on the stove because you can overheat the chocolate, and if steam gets in the chocolate, it will ruin it. Also chocolate has a 6 month shelf life, so only buy what you need, and use it within the 6 month time frame, or it may not melt properly

I carry Merckens chocolate. I won't carry any other brand. This tastes wonderful and is easy to melt and work with. It is also priced very reasonably.

During holidays I carry a variety of colors. For example, during Christmas I carry red and green. I can also order whatever color you need if you let me know 2 weeks in advance.

I offer free chocolate classes before the holidays. Sign up and learn how to make your own holiday treats.

*The above method of melting chocolate is for use with Merckens candy coating chocolate that I sell at my shop. For all other chocolates, please refer to the melting guidelines they provide.

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