December 21, 2014

Why does my sugarpaste crack?

Cracks appearing in Sugarpaste: Usually the simple answer to this is that either, the paste hasn’t been kneaded enough or the consistency of the paste isn’t correct i.e. it is too soft and stretchy or it is too hard and dry.

Cracked/Crazed Sugarpaste

Cracked/Crazed Sugarpaste

Kneading

The first thing you must always do when using sugarpaste/rolled fondant is to knead it to warm the paste to allow it to stretch. As you knead, you should see a change in the consistency of the paste, it should become smooth and have some stretch

TIP: If your paste is particularly cold or hard, you can help this process along by popping the sugarpaste into a microwave for 10-20 seconds.

Consistency of the paste too soft and stretchy

This tends to happen when you colour your own sugarpaste and you have added a lot of paste colouring, although I have also found that sometimes when I buy in ready made coloured sugarpaste (I use M&B) this can also be the case.

The solution:

Knead some CMC (also known as Tylo powder and Tylose etc) into the sugarpaste and keep adding small amounts until the icing feels firmer – but of course don’t over do it!

Consistency of the paste too hard and dry

This tends to be true of certain brands of sugarpaste, we have found in our workshops that this can be particularly true of some batches of Regal Ice – don’t despair!

The solution:

Firstly try kneading in some white vegetable fat.

TIP: White vegetable fat (shortening) is often known by a brand name: in the UK, White Flora or Trex; in South Africa, Holsum; in Australia, Copha; and in America, Crisco. These products are more or less interchangeable in cake making.

If the paste is still too dry try add a little water – don’t over do this and only add when all else fails!

Hope this helps…..!

Lindy

P.S.  These tips also apply to Pettin Ice, Regalice, Australian Pasta, Satin Ice, RTR and Ready to Roll.

Comments

  1. Hello to you

    I am a new comer to the sugarpaste world and would like to ask you how to use the silicone molds with regalice. Mine tend to stick in the molds and therefore don’t come out in one piece.

    Any advice ??

    Also where is it best to store your regalice?

    Your site is very helpful and everyones comments are appreciated.
    EC

  2. Hello Roisin,
    The only workshop we have at the moment where we stack cakes is the “Wonky”. An alternative would be to try one of Lindy’s books. “Celebrate with a Cake” or “Cakes to Inspire and Desire” both have stacking instructions.
    Jane

  3. Hello Elena,
    You would need to use modelling paste in the moulds. Add 1tsp of gum trag or CMC to 225g sugarpaste. If using gum trag its best to leave overnight. CMC will work immediately. You may need a little more gum in your paste if you are using an intricate mould.
    It’s best to keep your sugarpaste in an airtight plastic bag.
    Jane

  4. Hi,

    I am having a hard time finding sites that realy address gum paste problems, it’s mostly fondant.

    My big problem is gum paste. I make my fondant from Wiltons mix. I am having a hard time keeping pliable. I add shortening the does,t do it. When I pull on it, it has no bounced. I also added to the gum paste new gum paste, what is wrong. I would like to get in detail how to fix this problem. Also I made a bow after it dried it cracked all over. I am so flustrate I can’t tell you. Please let me know if you can help me or it there is another site I should be going to. Thank You, BJay

  5. Here is a direct link to Lindy’s blog and her frequently asked questions about gum paste.

    http://www.lindyscakes.co.uk/Blog/2009/09/07/what-is-gum-tragacanth/

    You should find the answers to your questions here.

    Marina

  6. Sue Le Marquand says:

    Hi Lindy. I have been sugarpasting cakes for quite a while now and can achieve a smooth side to my sponge cakes unless I add a filling. Once I have split a cake I can never get rid of the tell tale line from the sugarpaste where the filling is? Please help – what am I doing wrong? I have 4 orders for wedding cakes later this year and as they are all sponge I really must find a solution.Many thanks. Sue

  7. Hi Sue,
    We wonder if there is too much filling and this is why it is leaving a tell tale sign on the sugarpaste.
    Also we would keep the jam and cream separate so if you need to add them both do them at seperate levels and very thinly.
    I hope this helps.
    Marina

  8. Hi Lindy! Your’re site is fantastic, definitely one of the most useful I’ve found! I’ve recently got into cake decorating, having got roped into making my brother’s wedding cake. I was wondering if you could tell me how long before the wedding the cake can be iced. I know that fruit cake will last for months, but I want to do at least one tier of sponge cake with a cream or buttercream filling. Once made and iced, will the cake last for a good few days?
    Thank you so much for all the brilliant advice… I might have to book myself onto a course!
    Meg

  9. Hi Meg,
    Lindy has a 2 week rule with her Maderia Cake – http://www.lindyscakes.co.uk/Blog/2009/12/17/baking-the-perfect-madeira-cake/
    1 week to decorate and 1 week to eat but this is with buttercream, and not cream. Cream will not keep.
    Good luck and have fun!
    Marina

  10. Hi, any tips on getting a nice square shape when doing building blocks for christening cakes, my always turn out ’rounded’ instead of a sharp square shape,many thanks.

  11. Hi Cath,

    For straight sides, make sure you line your tin neatly, if you are carving straight sides use a sharp knife and a set square as a guide and when covering with sugarpaste use a smoother with one flat edge, such as the FMM one that we sell.
    Hope this helps.

    Marina

  12. siobhan says:

    hi lindy, how many days can i leave a sugapaste sponge cake the finished product in box? i also have trouble with cracks so this has realy helped me thanks.

  13. Hi Lindy, Any advice on how to get rid of the icing sugar marks on my sugarpaste figures? I have just completed two Pingu characters for my 3 year old grandsons upcoming birthday but they are looking quite “dusty” due to them being rolled out and modelled using icing sugar to prevent them sticking on the board. (Unfortunately I read your advice of using vegetable oil instead too late). I have tried a brush but doesn,t seem to work. Thanks for your help.

  14. Hi Mo,
    The only thing we can suggest to cover up the icing sugar marks on the Pingu figures you have already made is to paint over them!
    Here is the link to various ways of colouring sugarpaste – http://www.lindyscakes.co.uk/OnlineShop-Edibles.htm
    Good luck!
    Marina

  15. Hi Siobhan,
    How long you can leave a cake in a box depends on which cake has been made.
    A madeira will last 2 weeks whereas a carrot cake will only laste 2-3 days.
    Here are some examples from Lindy’s Cupcake booK: Orange and poppy seed will last 2 weeks, the lemon polenta will only last 4 days but the honey cake will last a week.
    Happy creating!
    Marina

  16. Hi, my daughter’s wedding is in 2 weeks time and i am going to ice[with roll out icing] 2 fruit and 1 madeira cakes. i’ve already practiced with a madeira but the icing became sticky within a few days. I covered the cake with jam,then marzipan then 2 days later covered with the roll out icing. I’m getting worried that this will happen to all of them. the madeira cake had been frozen and then defosted before icing. Would this have made the icing sticky.

  17. Hi Julie
    Moisture is the reason sugarpaste goes sticky – some times if you don’t defrost a cake fully before covering it with sugarpaste the moisture inside the cake affects the icing but this is only temporary. My guess is that your problem may be storage. May be you have placed your cake in a fridge, which is full of moisture, or perhaps you have placed it in an airtight plastic container which has caused it to sweat. Once a cake is covered with sugarpaste it should be kept in a cardboard cake box somewhere dry and cool.
    I hope this helps and good luck
    Lindy

  18. Hi Lindy,

    I have made a wedding cake, which consists of two madera sponges which I have thinly iced with buttercream and then used a thin layer of almond paste to cover, ontop of this I am wanting to use fondant. I almond pasted it yesterday (Sunday), what I would like to know is when can I put fondant on and will the cake last until this Sunday when we have the family celebration? Thanks Jen

  19. Jen, it depends when you baked the madeira! Sugarpaste/fondant lasts quite a long time, it’s the cake inside that doesn’t!!! Madeira should last for up to two weeks once baked. I suggest that you cover your cake with sugarpaste as soon as you can it will help to keep your cake moist until Sunday. Once covered store in a cardboard cake box in a cool dry place.

    Note for other readers: When I cover a madeira, I cover it with a thin layer of buttercream and then a 5mm layer of sugarpaste, I do not use marzipan on sponge cakes only on fruit cakes.

  20. Thanks Lindy, I had previously frozen the maderia cakes,and used when they’d thawed out. I had been told by a friend to use marzipan as it made a smoother finish – with my cake and two little ones about,I’ll wait and see!

  21. Hi Jen
    Adding a second layer of paste can help you achieve a smoother finish but I think it is an expensive way, especially if you use almond paste. Next time try using just 5mm thick sugarpaste (roll your paste out using spacers) and smooth the surface of the cake with a cake smoother – with a little practise you’ll be able to achieve a perfectly smooth finish! :-)

  22. hi i was just wondering if you could please tell me how long i can leave a sponge cake before icing it and how to store it thank you

  23. Hi Cheryl,
    If you are baking a sponge cake we would recommend icing it the day after.

    Piece, Love and Cake

    Marina

  24. Hi, I just bought celebrate with mini cakes, I want to make the Madeira cake but I can´t find self-rising flour (in Mexico doesn’t exist self rising flour). What can I use instead?…..Thanks Paty

  25. Hi Paty
    Use all purpose flour and add some baking powder. Hope this helps and good luck with your baking

  26. ola obafisoye says:

    hello, thank you so much for this site! I googled for help as the top tier for a 5 tier wedding cake im doing for my sister for saturday is sticky. All the other cakes r fine. I thought it was becuase the filling was cream cheese???? Then i put it the fridge for the last 2 days in the hope it would dry out- i see now that was a no no. Is there anything i can do to ensure it holds up at least for tye wedding? Im pretty sure its no longer edible but need a 5th tier. Help pls!!!

  27. Ola, I think I would quickly cover a dummy cake and use that instead of a real cake for the top tier. Placing a sugarpasted cake in a fridge will invariably make the icing go tacky as the icing absorbs moisture from inside the fridge.
    Hope your wedding cake is a huge success
    Best wishes
    Lindy

  28. Jeannette says:

    Hi Lindy
    I have an occasional problem with what appears to be large lumps/air pockets on smooth Regal Ice. The iced sponge will look perfect in the evening but the following morning these random lumps appear. Maybe a single lump on a cake but big enough for a hazlenut to be under it. Inserting a pin to release the air doesn’t fix it. I say they are random because it might on happen to one in fifty cakes. On a two tier cake recently it happened to both! All the cakes I make are stored in my kitchen where I make a point of not boiling water in order to keep the humidity down. If I only knew the cause I would work around it. I’d appriciate any thoughts you may have. PS The DVD I bought from you on wonky cakes was a great investment!

  29. Hi Jeanette,

    We think the problems you are getting with the Regal Ice may be down to fermentation.
    We are aware of this happening occasionally and what a problem it can cause!
    Here are ideas that may help:

    Do you roll out the icing on white fat or icing sugar? The cornflour in icing sugar could be fermenting, which is why Lindy always rolls her sugarpaste out on a sterile surface that has a small smearing of white fat on it, nothing else. The surface and tools used when working with icing must be scrupulously clean.

    Once the fermentation has started the only way to solve it is to take the icing off and cover again with new icing.

    Lindy recommends storing the cakes away from the kitchen if possible. Anywhere where it is cooler and dryer, in a cardboard box. Maybe on top of a wardrobe, piano e.t.c.

    Wishing you the best

    Marina

  30. kimberley sweenie says:

    Hello,

    This is my first time using sugarpaste and making moulds. I am making a Teddy bears picnic cake for my son birthday.
    Just wondered if its possible to make the moulds up in advance and if so how should i store them. How long will they last.

    Thanks for the advise
    Kimberley

  31. Hello Kimberley,
    You can make the moulds well in advance. They will keep as long as the sell by date on the sugarpaste. Make sure you make them from modelling paste and store them in a box – not airtight container as they will not be able to dry out.
    Good Luck
    Jane

  32. Hi… great site… I’m looking for some advice after a complete disaster… Fondant iced a 4 tier cake… (3 tiers sponge 1 fruit, individually dowelled). 2 tiers were chocolate sponge with ganache. On one of the ganache tiers, the purple fondant(coloured with sugarflair) went very sticky and ran off the cake causing that tier/cake to collapse but the other covered in white fondant didn’t. The fruit cake also covered with the purple did not go sticky. The sponge was a very moist sponge which I think may have contributed to this and also the very hot days/ cold nights and very hot room. But this has never ever happened to me before and wondered what you might suggest. Sadly this was a wedding cake and ended up a disaster. (The purple fondant had not been refridgerated or stored in a plastic box. The cake was not frozen.) Any suggestions grateful as don’t want this to happen again x

  33. Hi

    everytime i make sugar paste at home its never as stretchy as the shop bought ones. i use silicone moulds to sometimes shape my decoraive pieces, it becomes so messy and disappointing when the sugar paste sticks to the mould and comes out all out of shape. please share a recipe/mehod that will help me attain a good stretchy sugar paste, that will easily come out of silicone moulds and shape well. also some storage tips please.

    Thank you
    Amina

  34. Hi Vivd,
    Sorry to hear about your disaster, it sounds like many factors contributed to this happening i.e. hot day, moist sponge and maybe the ganache was too thin?
    Other than decorating the cake at the last moment and keeping in an air conditioned room we have drawn a blank. Otherwise it sounds like you did everything correctly.
    Hope this was a one off.
    Marina

  35. Hi i live in Spain and now the weather is very wet which is making my fondant cakes a nightmare to dry!! My husband has invented what i call my light box.Its a small voltage light bulb incorporated into a large cardboard box with a vent for air at the top. This is the only way i seem to be able to dry the cakes out!!Thought it may be of use to other cake makers. One more thing-i have been covering cakes successfully for years now but the other day i had what they call a ‘cake fart’. In other words a bulge appeared in my covered cake the next day.I did manage to pop it and it wasnt too bad-what are your thoughts on this matter. Many thanks Elaine

  36. Hello Amina,

    Your paste may be a little dry. Maybe don’t add as much icing sugar to the mix next time. For your moulds, you don’t mention putting any gum into your sugarpaste to make modelling paste. You will need to add 1tsp of gum trag per 225g of sugarpaste. This will make a firm paste and you should be able to make moulds easier. To store your sugarpaste, put it in a plastic bag and seal, then place in an airtight container out of direct sunlight and in a cool place (but not the fridge).

    Hope this helps.
    Jane

  37. Hello Elaine,

    The air bubble could have been when you covered the cake and trapped air in it, or fermentation.

    Jane

  38. Rebecca Vallance says:

    Hi Lindy,
    I’m making a cake for my mum. It is just a plain Victoria sponge cake with sugar paste over the top and some sugar paste roses. Her birthday is 4 days away. My gran says i should rap it in clingfilm and put in a cool cupboard.
    thanks for your help, Rebecca.

  39. Dear Rebecca

    Once a cake has sugarpaste on it it should be stored in a cardboard box and then put somewhere cool.

    Good luck with your mum’s cake!

    Zoe

  40. Hi, I covered a frozen chocolate fudge spherical this morning. It looked ok when I left for the gym, just a little wet. When I got home the paste had cracked, looked worse than crazy paving. Its too dry now to get the cracks out and I’m not sure decorating will cover the cracks as its so bad. How can i prevent this happening again/ What did I do wrong?
    Please help. :/

  41. Hi Candy

    It sounds like the cake had not defrosted enough before you covered it in sugarpaste and the moisture has affected the sugarpaste. Frozen cakes should be allowed to partially defrost before being covered, unfortunately there is no set time for how long the cake should be left before covering.

    If you need any further information, please let us know.
    Fiona

  42. Hi Fiona,

    Your right, I left no time at all. What a mistake that was. I have taken my first paid orders for Christmas and was getting in some practice. Hopefully I’m making all the mistakes early. Practice makes perfect!
    Thanks for your help!

  43. Hi, i am trying to find out how you use dowel to support a multi-tiered cake please.
    i understand that to support one cake on top of another you can press the dowel into the bottom (base) cake and sit the 2nd tier on top…..but when you put a 3rd/4th etc tier on top do you use longer pieces of dowel pressed all the way through to the base cake as well? Or just to the bottom of the cake that it is on top of? Hope that makes sense. Thank you for sharing so much of your expertise!
    Laura

  44. Hi Laura
    The dowels support the cake and board which is being placed on top of another cake. The dowels only go through the top tier of the cake you are stacking, as you wouldn’t be able to get them through the cake boards of each cake. So for 2nd tier, dowels go through base cake, then the cake board and cake sits on top, for the 3rd tier the dowels go through the 2nd tier, then the cake board and cake sit on top, and so on ……
    I hope this helps but if you need any more information, please let us know!
    Good Luck
    Fiona

  45. Hi Lindy

    I have been having some problems recently with my sugarpaste. I have been using Renshaws regalice, and the last few batches I have used seem very dry and have an elephant skin like texture, and no matter how much i knead it, it just doesn’t smooth.
    I have also tried adding Trex and warming it for a few seconds in the microwave. I always roll it out onto a smooth surface lightly smeared with trex. I never used to have this problem before, could it be that they have changed their recipe recently?
    Would satin ice be any better?

  46. Hi Lindy,

    I am making a chocolate cake with coffee mousse covered sugarpaste for my brother’s wedding cake. I am having to cover the cake with sugarpaste the night before the reception the next day in the evening. Because of the mousse, I need to refrigerate the cake, but I have heard that you should never put sugar paste covered cake in the fridge. What is the best thing to do? thanks

  47. Hi Jasmine
    You would need to contact Renshaws to enquire about any potential changes to their recipe. Lindy always uses M&B sugarpaste, so we have not experienced any change in the handling of our sugarpaste. The steps you have taken all sound like the right steps to prepare the sugarpaste for rolling out.
    Fiona

  48. Hi Shali
    You are right you should never put a sugarpaste covered cake in the fridge. we would suggest making the cake as late as possible and store it in a cake box (not an airtight box) in a cool place overnight.
    Good Luck with the cake!
    Fiona

  49. Hi All, what a great site this is.

    Just wanted some advice on making figures. I have made quite a few now and have always just used sugarpaste. A book I have has told me to use sugar dough. Is this the same thing? I know modelling paste is usually used as it hardens and sets better than just Sugarapaste. Can I just add some gum trag to my sugarpaste to turn it not sugar dough/modelling paste? If so, how much should I add.

    Thanks so much xx

  50. Hi Kathy

    You can add Gum Trag to sugarpaste to make it modelling paste. Use 1 teaspoon to 225 grams of sugarpaste.

    I am not sure about the sugar dough as we don’t use it. Try logging into Google for a recipe.

    Hope this helps.

    Susie

  51. Hi,

    I wonder if you can tell me where I went wrong and what to do to avoid the same thing happening again.

    Last Friday, I attempted to make a sugarpaste “Mr Tumble” clown figure for a birthday cake which I shall be making this weekend.

    The figure was “sitting” with legs straight out in front with the body, head etc upright and the arms/hand resting on the legs.

    I used shop bought “ready to roll” icings – Dr Oetekars white and also the ready coloured ones and added a little gum traganth to each in the hope of making them stronger. I kneaded them well until they were smooth and felt they were all the same consistency as each other. (Figure was made ups of yellow legs (yellow ready coloured with a little white to create a paler colour), blue torso, orange arms (white mixed with orange colour paste) and head/hair (white mixed with various coloured pastes to correct shade)

    After moulding the figure it looked quite good and I was quite pleased with my first effort at a figure and left it to dry. I did make a mistake here, I put the figure in an airtight container to let it dry (not actually thinking that there was nowhere for any moisture to go and it would just stay inside the container).

    I looked at it on Saturday and thought the torso looked a little further back than I thought I had made it but assumed it was my imagination but by the Sunday it was almost horizontally lying down.

    I tried to “push” the torso back up into the horizontal position but noticed that although the torso seemed firmer/harder, the legs were still quite soft and I wasn’t sure if this meant the body was overbalancing because it was heavier or what was happening.

    I also tried pushing a couple of cocktail sticks through the bottom of the legs, up through the body in the hope that this would hold it in the upright position. I also managed to find a small plastic box that was exactly the size of the legs, so I lined this with foil, sat the figure inside with the back upright against the side of the box (which would also hopefully support it) and the legs straight out in front again.

    Realising my mistake with the airtight container, I put the figure/box inside a cardboard cake box (with the lid on) and left it to hopefully dry out.

    This morning (Wednesday) I lifted it out of the box to wee what was happening, and although the legs seem to have dried out and hardened a bit (not sure if they are fully dry or not) they seem to have “cracked” across the base, right across the width, where I have put the cocktail stick and feel a little loose or wobbly where they meet the torso. If I sit it on the table, the figure does it “upright” but is a bit wobbly and I am a bit worried if the body does start to lean back again then it will actually break off of the legs.

    Also, when looking this morning, some of the smaller parts also fell off i.e. one of the ears, a bit of his bow tie and one of his bits of “hair” snapped off in my hand (no pressure added – just brushed against my hand).

    I’ve decided I will need to make another one but can you give me any tips so my second attempt will hopefully be more successful than this one.

    (If posting on your website, please feel free to abbreviate as I tend to go on and on and on at times. Sorry)

  52. Hi Anne

    We think your main issue was placing the figure in an airtight box, as this will effect the sugarpaste and although you then left to dry, the damage had already been done.
    When adding gum trag to sugarpaste, you need to use 1tsp of gum trag to 225g of sugarpaste, and then the sugarpaste need to be left overnight before you start modelling with it.If your figure is sitting, you should not need to use cocktail sticks (although I think this was to rectify the airtight issue!)

    Good luck with the second attempt, you sound like you were almost there!
    Fiona

  53. Hi Anne

    Click on the link below (Lindy’s Blog FAQ) for some tips on cracking sugarpaste.

    http://www.lindyscakes.co.uk/2009/02/27/why-does-my-sugarpaste-crack/

    Hope this helps.
    Susie

  54. Hi All at Lindys,
    I’m making my own paste these days, as I’ve not been able to get it here in Munich. Is there an alternative to gelatine, as some of the friends/ clients are vegetarian ?
    Thanks in advance Candy

  55. Hi Candy
    You can now get vegetarian gelatine, we have yet to use it here at Lindys HQ, so let us know how you get on!

    The Lindys Team

  56. Hi all,

    I’m planning to make some figures out of modelling paste for my little girl’s 7 birthday. Does anybody know how far in advance these can be made, and how I need to store them to make sure they don’t crack etc?

    Any advice much appreciated! This is my first attempt!

  57. Hi Becky

    These can be made well in advance. They should be stored in a cardboard box, not an airtight container.

    Good luck!

    Zoe