Cracks In your Icing

If you are like me you have had those times when you have iced your cake and you feel the stress start ot leave your shoulders because you got that part completed only to find that your buttercream has dried with small cracks, and no matter how smooth you made the surface this seems to keep happening. After a little research over the past year I have begun to put together a list that may help you figure just exactly is causing the cracks in your Buttercream Icing.

I remember watching my Mom Decorating Cakes and she never measured things out, I would think she must be crazy, but she always told me you learn the correct consistency for your icing as you go along and gain more experience. After Decorating many cakes I began to notice regardless of what each different icing recipe called for there are times that I needed a little more of this or that. Usually the this or that is the liquid or shortening. Below is a list I have put together to hopefully help you figure out what is causing the cracks in your Buttercream. 

Cracks in your Buttercream can be caused by one or a combination of the following things:

The Icing was made with too little shortening or butter in relation to the powdered sugar. 1 cup shortening to 1 pound powdered sugar is a a very good ratio to go by for a creamy icing. Make sure to use a good brand of shortening. I know we have had many issues in the cake Decorating World since Crisco brand Shortening changed took out the trans fats. I have found that the store brand -does pretty good for me and still has***** 2 grams of trans fats so check the cans at your local grocery store. If not you can always purchase the hi-ratio shortening called sweetex. It can be found here 
If your Icing is made with too little of whatever liquid you are using  this could be causing your icing to be too dry and alot of times this is one of the most common problems with icing . 
Icing made with water or 1%, 2%  milk, could be another culprit that is causing your Icing to Crack. I have found that using whole milk whenever possible creates a less crusty (dry) icing.  In addition it gives the Icing such a great flavor in my opinion. You will notice a difference the first time you go to smooth your icing as well if you use whole milk. You will have more time to do the smoothing with out the icing crusting on you way too quickly.
Now I will admit right up front this has always been an issue for me!  Using the wrong  measuring device for my liquids. Who knew that there were different measuring devices for differnt things, I am one of those people who still uses a childs medicine measuring cup for different things I have made. After reading some articles I found out that you must use the correct measuring device for whatever your measuring such as liquids, and for that you use a measuring cup made for measuring liquids. Then for smaller amounts of liquids such as your flavorings, you should use measuring spoons not a cereal spoon, which I have done in the past also. If not this can cause major issues with your entire recipe.
Living in a dry climate area can also have an affect on your icing and will produce a slightly dryer icing and a humid climate may produce a soft, sweaty type of icing. So depending on the climate where you live add your liquids accordingly (more liquids in dryer climates and less in humidity prone areas).
I have had this situation happen one too many times and thats using a cakeboard under cake that is too thin for the size of cake you are supporting and this causes the cakeboard which is just cardboard to flex when you move the cake and we all know what happens, we end up with a cake that has been invloved in an earthquake so to speak, with cracks appearing all over the surface of our icing. So make sure to double up on your cake boards when you are supporting large cakes. 
Another thing that can cause cracking in your icing is the way you pickup your cake, if you pickup a cake by the edges instead of under the middle this can also cause cracking in your icing too, so make sure to remeber this when picking up your cakes.
Not putting enough icing on your cake can be the cause of cracking in your icing. If the icing is too thin then its going crack, so make sure that your putting enough icing on your cakes.
Last but not least its important to keep your cakes away from fans, heater vents or open windows which could cause your icing to dry out and then cracking can occur. 

Hopefully some of these tips were able to help you with any problems you may be having with your icing cracking.

3 Responses to “Cracks In your Icing”

  1. Riordan April 19, 2012 at 7:07 am #

    Awsome :D

  2. Ann G February 17, 2012 at 8:19 am #

    Hi! I’ve been working with sugar art for a couple of years now and am pretty happy with how my skills are coming along. However, there is one big issue that still plagues my cakes. Do you have tips for avoiding those hair-line “stretching” cracks that form at the top edge of a cake covered in fondant? I try so hard to smooth down my sides gently and gradually, but to no avail :( Any help would be greatly appreciated!!

  3. Susan Pahnke March 10, 2009 at 10:47 pm #

    I just made my first fondant sculpture, for my great-nephew’s 1st birthday. (No stress) Anyway , it took all day, I don’t think it looks too bad but I have bad issues. Colors are fading as the fondant dries and the fondant is cracking, and I can not get the cracks from around the mouth to go away. This was my first try and I wish I had seen your page before starting you have sooo many great hints I could have avoided the stress I feel now. I have added you to my favorites! However, is it too late to fix my little guy? Any ideas are appreciated.

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