Cake Decorating Mishaps & Quick Fixes

Renshaw’s Emma Chamberlain explains how to fix some common cake decorating mishaps

Part of the joy of cake decorating is creating a beautiful cake to celebrate the occasions in the lives of friends and family.

This rewarding hobby brings people together and is something that everyone can enjoy, regardless of whether they are baking or decorating.

Sometimes, things go wrong during the baking process. This can lead to confusion and stress. We want you to have fun with your hobby so we’ve compiled a list of common mistakes and mishaps that cake decorators make.

Air bubbles

Equipment required: Scriber, smoother.

If the paste is not pinned properly, air can become trapped and cause problems. This can lead to a problem when the icing is pinned out.

This is where small amounts of air can be trapped when the icing has been kneaded. You may notice an air bubble beneath the surface of the frosting when it is pinched out. You will need to take a while to find them and then use a scriber or a knife to puncture them. After the bubble’s top is punctured, expel any air from the bubble and then smoothen the icing using a smoother. Continue to pin with a rolling board.

The sooner you can identify and remove the air bubble, the better.

Unevenly finished cake

Equipment required: palette knife, knife, scraper turntable.

The icing will adhere to the surface it is placed on and mirror that surface. Therefore if the cake base is incorrectly prepared you won’t have a nice smooth finish.

When preparing the cake base, make sure the layers are even. Don’t put too much filling in the layers as the sponge can slide and become unlevelled.

Make sure your cake is level before adding the last layer of sponge. If you have not achieved this, please see advice in the next ‘mishap’ below; badly layered cakes.

Crumb coat the cake with butter if necessary and place in the refrigerator until it’s just chilled.

Spread the coating on top of the cake, then cover the sides with the coating.

Last, smooth it all with a spoon.

Badly layered cake

Equipment required: Correctly sized cake board, knife.

A wobbly cake can be caused by a slight distraction or lapse in attention. But luckily this can be fixed once you add your last layer of sponge, if you notice at this point that the cake doesn’t look quite right.

First, level up the top of your cake to fix any wobbles.

Next, place the appropriate-sized board on top of your cake. Next, trim the sides to align with the board at top.

After cooling, place in the refrigerator and coat with the icing as directed above.

Cracks, marks and crazing on the icing surface

If the icing has not been kneaded correctly the gums inside will not have warmed up and become pliable. If the icing is not properly kneaded, it will be difficult to pin and crack when placed on cakes. If you are kneading icing, make it pliable before rolling.

This could indicate a problem that we should be aware of. If you are unhappy with your product, please retain the batch number, use by date, and the product name. It is best to take a clear photo of the label on its back. These details should be passed on to the supplier from whom the icing was purchased to ensure that they are investigated.

You can fix small cracks or marks by using some of the icing that you used to cover the cake with water. This will make it a paste. Put the icing in a bag using a no2 tube.

Apply a bit of the icing into the crack. Then, smoothen it over with a damp flatbrush and let dry. This is a temporary fix. Mixing paste with darker colours can cause it to dry darker than its original colour.

Icing torn on the top corner

There are a few possible issues here. This could be caused by an air bubble, stretched icing, or icing that was too thin to cover the cake.

Covering a cake is easiest if it’s on the work surface. This is so any excess icing is supported by the worktop and doesn’t pull the icing down. The cake can then be taken out and the excess can be removed.

Filling can be seen through the icing

This tends to happen when the icing has been rolled out too thinly. To avoid this, roll your icing out to 3-4mm thickness which is best for covering standard sized cakes (6-10″).

I’ll be featuring some more tips like these in a future blog. If you have any questions you’d like answered then please comment below, leave us a note on our social pages, or email

Until next time, Emma x

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