Welcome to the Cake Decorators Q&A
I made Paul's dark chocolate ganache for the first time yesterday. It was beautifully smooth when I put it in the fridge. I took it out today and since my house is pretty chilly I needed to microwave it a far bit to get it back to the right consistency even though it had been out of the fridge for a long while! I did it in short bursts as suggested but even after 30-40 seconds I had lots of tiny lumps. This I assumed was un-melted chocolate, so I again popped it in the microwave for just a few seconds at a time. I now have lump free ganache, but it is too runny to use. Today I was using it as a practice, ready for a wedding cake I am making at the end of the week, so all is not lost, but I am now not sure what to do with it. Would you normally just leave it to set a little outside of the fridge or would you recommend putting it back into the fridge to firm up?
So my questions really are two fold:
1) Why were there tiny lumps initially? Had I not melted it properly before I put it in the fridge? Was it still warm when I put it in (I don't think so but maybe)
2) Did I simply over heat the ganache removing the lumps or did I possibly do something wrong with the recipe to affect the consistency?
3) Now the ganache is too runny what do I do? Wait for it to firm up or get more out of the fridge and put this back in to firm up properly?
Any suggests would be much appreciated.
Having only ever used buttercream under icing before, I am not sure of the process once the cake has ganache on it for then icing it. With buttercream I would put it back in the fridge to firm up and then ice it. What do you normally do with ganache? The same? Can you leave the cake in the fridge overnight and then ganache or would you recommend not leaving it that long? Sorry for the slightly loosely phrased question, if you could tell me the typical process you follow that would be fantastic. I have a three tiered cake to do for the weekend, plus an additional cutting cake so I am just trying to work all of my timings out so the cakes are made, ganached and covered in a suitable time frame.
Thanks once again.
P.S. I have a been a member on this site for ages but I have only really just started to use it and I think it is just brilliant! The information on here is very extensive and this Q&A section is invaluable.
I just wanted to say a huge thank you for all of the help with my cake, it turned out brilliantly! I will never go back to using buttercream under icing, ganache all the way for me now 🙂
You didn't do anything wrong at all. Sometimes little tiny lumps do form in ganache which has been refrigeriated. You'll have noticed in some of the tutorials that even Paul gets a few lump. It's just unmelted chocolate and nothing to worry about.
The soft ganache which you have will thicken up into a smooth emulsion, just leave it on the counter for a while. Cover it up with cling film so it touches the surface of the ganache, expel the air out. If you're in a hurry pop it in the fridge for 15 minutes, bring it out and stir it with a pallate knife to a smooth, thickened consistency.
Please could you say which chocolate you used.
Thank you for this, a huge relief! I happen to use Belcolade chocolate which I believe Paul mentioned is what he normally uses. That is my normal chocolate so not bought for this specifically but I was happy I already had it. As I wrote the email last night I had left the ganache out, and as you said it started to firm up to the smooth thick consistency you mentioned which resulted in my first attempt at ganaching a cake with this recipe working a treat (yet to be covered in icing but looks pretty good).
Thanks again for your advice, it is much appreciated.
That's brilliant, thanks for getting back with your update. Working with ganache is really lovely..... and that gorgeous smell of chocolate! such a treat. x
Yes, just do the same as you would do for a buttercream covered cake. Once the ganache has set remove the cake from the fridge. The difference between fridge temp and the warmth of room temp will cause a little dew to form on the chocolate. The dew will disperse very quickly, leaving the surface of the cake tacky enough for the icing to adhere. Usually if the surface isn't tacky, I brush it or mist it with some cool boiled water or some vodka. Syrup can be used, some people use piping gel but I find these make the icing slide around too much and cause bubbling problems. I've been reading recently that some folk rub a little trex over the surface enough to make a tack. The important thing is to make sure there are no dry parts on the cake as this can cause air bubbles where the icing doesn't stick down to the ganache. However, don't over wet either. Trex will allow the icing to be lifted without causing a sticky mess if you do get a few airbubbles.
I'm just trying to give you as many choices as I am aware of.
I hope all goes well with your timings, and so pleased that the Q & A section has proved invaluable to yourself. Please post again if you need any more information. 🙂
ps. I truly envy your skill of working with buttercream. BC is the bane of my life!
Hi once more,
Your advice seems to have worked a treat, however I am now having problems with my sugar paste! My client wants square cakes and I am finding as I practice on cake dummies that have been ganached that it is stretching on the edges and ripping which is clearly not ideal. Do you have any tips to stop this happening? Is it because it's such a firm surface (the dummy) or is it because I am using ganache rather than buttercream? I have less experience with square cakes but I cannot even get one side smooth without cracking let alone all 4! I was testing the colouring (grey for the cake) so used Tesco icing which is cheaper and I have used for birthday cakes I have found to be fine, good in fact. I was planning on using Renishaw sugarpaste for the cake but Paul mentioned in his tutorial that this too can be too soft. Do you think it is just the brand I am using and if so what would you recommend? I am trying not to panic but am a little worried this could be disastrous if I cannot fix it.
I don't think I know anyone who hasn't had problems with square cakes! Dummy cakes can be really sharp edged so tearing is inevitable if you haven't got the chamfered edged ones. The edge on the styrofoam can be beaten down with a rolling pin to soften it down, or when you are due to buy more, get the chamfered ones for practicing on. On real ganached cakes if you've got razor sharp edges, soften them off with the warmth of your finger. The edges can be sharped back up once you've iced the cake safely.
Sugarpaste brands are a matter of personal taste. For special occasions, particularly a wedding, it's best not to use supermarket brands. These tend to be very sugary and less refined. How a paste behaves depends on ingredients and also on the weather. I used to use Renshaw's brand but found it far too soft for square of tall cake. There are ways to firm up soft sugarpaste by adding either tylose, CMC of gum tragacanth powders. However if you don't want to go to all that bother I would suggest use a good paste such as Carmass Massa Ticino. It's the one Paul uses and so many other professionals. Please have a look at all the links in the following link:
There are many other references to sugarpaste throughout the site. Have a peek at the threads here:
It's worth browsing by clicking on relevant threads. It's good to get other member views so that you can make an informed decision on what's out there. Oh, and don't forget that you do have the choice of panelling the cakes. Paul shows how to panel a square cake here:
There are more threads on this topic but I just don't want to bombard you with too many. I think the above are good examples for the type of information which may be of help to you. Don't panic because you won't get anything done. There are lots of ways to helps, it won't be a disaster Becky. Keep calm and positive, keep posting because you're not alone! x
I did have a bit more of a look on the Q&A section and found that many people recommend the Massa Ticino so I think I will get some of that in, I can't risk the Renshaw because if come Friday it rips, I will have limited options. I had considered using the panel option but I was not sure if the "joins" would be obvious. Have you panelled a cake and if so does it show? My decoration will allow me to hide small cracks but not the ones I have experienced so far. My dummies do have sharp edges so that element will be taken away when I do cover the cake, and thanks for the tip on softening the edges. I have watched all of Paul's tutorials on ganaching, icing etc. and keep referring back to them so hopefully on the day with the better quality sugar paste and cake rather than dummies I will be good to go. I have an 11 inch one to do which is not filling me with joy, all good practice though!
To confirm, is this the correct Massa sugarpaste :
Sadly out of stock here so will need to source elsewhere.
Yes I have panelled large square cakes. I normally run a damp finger along the seams to join them and then buff around with the smoothers. The seams won't be totally invisible but it's only you who will really be aware of it.
Once the decorations are all on, no one notices small flaws. The seams can be further joined up using the flexi/acetate smoothers in a gentle squeezing action to achieve a sharper corner. The Jimmy Choo shoe box tutorial shows how to get sharper corners using regular smoothers.
The Carmas Massa in the link is the correct one if you want bridal white. There is Massa ticino ivory as well. Try Windsor cake craft, Cake craft company or the cake decorating company if Cake Stuff can't get it in in time for you. You should also be able to get it on Amazon.
I never have any problems with Massa and I don't think you'll have any problems with it either. If you find the corners are still tearing, rolling out to about 4 or 5 mm may be better. Good luck with the decorating, hope all goes good for you!
EDIT: Another way to conceal the joins in a panelling is to run a line of royal icing along the join through a small piping nozzle and remove the excess with a small soft damp paint brush.
So would you normally say that you use the all in one method for covering square cakes apart from if you are doing large ones? I am doing 7, 9 and 11 inch cakes so would you recommended the panel method for the 11 inch or do you think the all in one method would work for that size with the Massa sugar paste? I have not tried panelling a cake yet, but am happy to give it a go if you think it would work better for that size. Sorry for all of the questions, I work full time too so trying to be time efficient when it comes to covering the cakes as time will be short. I am definitely wishing I had started to practice earlier!
I have found the Massa paste on the Cake Decorating Company website , so thank you for that suggestion. I have noticed that they do two types, the bridal white style sugarpaste but also the Massa Ticino Tropic. Do you know the difference between these two? I need to add Sugarflair Shadow Grey paste to it so would you say one is better than the other for this. Final question, you mention if it still tears to roll it to 4-5 mm instead. Does this mean with this brand typically you can roll it thinner? Paul mentions 5mm, max 6 mm in his tutorial so just wondered. It may say it on the packet but since I have not purchased it yet I am not sure.
Thank you so much 🙂
If I'm covering a normal 3" - 4" deep cake x 8" - 9" square I do the up and over method. Any bigger I panel. The important thing, first and foremost, is to stick down the edges, so the weight of the paste isn't dragging down causing tears and cracks. If you feel you can't up and over the 9" and the 11", it would be best to panel all of them so they look the same. It's possible you may be able cover the 11" without panelling providing the cake isn't too deep. As you are feeling apprehensive about the 11", I would say roll out to 4 - 5 mm even though the packaging says it can be rolled out to between 2 - 3 mm on the normal Massa ticino/tropic.
The Massa tropic is formulated for use in hot sticky weather conditions. It has different ingredients and handles better. I use the tropic, it's a really good paste, can't comment with any authority on the normal Massa because I haven't used it. However I have read some people don't like it as much. As for colouring either type, I can't see why it wouldn't take the grey providing it is white paste. If you take the ivory paste, I'd colour with a little caution in case it does make a difference to the shade. 🙂
Finally, as you become more confident with handling any paste, you will become more proficient using the up and over method for larger cakes. You will also be able to roll out thinner without tearing too much. Even the very top professionals have tearing, but they don't seem to worry too much.
Thanks for this. Since I need the paste for tomorrow I went ahead and ordered the bridal white since that is the link I had sent initially so fingers crossed it does the job. I will start off covering the largest cake and go from there, if that doesn't work I will panel all of the cakes. Good to know it is the tropic I ideally need. I have just tried locating it locally but it doesn't seem there is a shop I could go and buy it from unfortunately and delivery Friday may be leaving it a little late. Thanks for you of your help, it has been really useful. Best get baking!
Good luck! You'll be fine. I'm off to rest now after surgery on my eyes this morning! 🙂 x
One last question.....I promise 😉 How does the ganache set in the middle of the cake? It looks lovely and gooey when Paul puts it in, but on the outside it obviously sets hard. My ganache is still very hard even after coming out of the fridge some time ago, and I know I can use the microwave to assist with softening this but suddenly I wondered how hard it will set in the middle of the cake. Obviously I want it to be nice and soft. Will this be the case? Assuming I have not done anything wrong with the ganache in the first place.
And my first test run with the bridal white seems good so all well that ends well.....
Hope your eyes are feeling better today x
As long as the cakes are left at room temperature the filling should remain soft but not as soft as buttercream.
Personally, I make a different filling ganache. There is a small recipe in my blog here:
Scroll down from the charts to see it.
That looks more favourable, thank you! I had planned on filling and covering the cakes tonight. With your recipe you suggest leaving it over night but not putting it in the fridge. Since I wanted it tonight could I speed the process up and put it in the fridge or does that adversely affect it?
Do you normally use the white chocolate ganache in the middle of sponge cakes or do you use a buttercream? Again worried that the ganache I have made will set too hard.
Yes you can pop the ganache in the fridge to speed it up but still cover it with the clingfilm touching the surface. This will prevent a crust forming on the top and keep the middle soft. I use white chocolate buttercream in the middle of cakes. I find white ganache a bit too cloying on it's own. For white chocolate buttercream, scroll down here for a small recipe which can be doubled up:
It can be flavoured in the usual way you'd flavour buttercream.
However, white ganache doesn't go really hard inside the middle of cakes.
Yaaaay! I'm so pleased everything turned out well. Ganache is really so much more time saving than buttercream. However we do have to please everyone so keep your hand in with BC. Thanks for letting me know 🙂 xx
I have a bride who would like a lemon cake iced with fondant and ganache. No problem except that she wants a rounded edge to the cakes and not the normal sharp edge you get with ganache. As I’ve never tried this before, any advice as to how I can get a smooth rounded edge to the ganache would be gratefully received. ( I was thinking of using an upturned small palette knife dipped in hot water and held at a downward angle;round the edge of the cake? ) Thanks