by Sharon Wee
So I’m finally back from my holidays and I know this is a little overdue, but I have finally complied a list of tips and ticks based on your requests awhile ago. 
I’ve split it up into 3 parts and part 1 is all about the basics (stuff that is under the fondant) and part 2 and 3 will be all about the decorating. 
Please note these are my suggestions and the way I do things, it is not the be all and end all and if you have tips of your own, feel free to post them in the comments section so everyone can learn from them too!

Preparing the cake:
  1. Don’t bake and decorate your cake on the same day. Ensure your cake rests over night and chill your cake before cutting as it’s less likely to be crumbly and the ganache will also set instantly.
  1. Like the cake, don’t make and use your ganache on the same day. It needs to rest overnight at room temperature and should feel like smooth peanut butter.
 
  1. To ensure a moist cake, each layer should be brushed with syrup before assembling.
  1. Ganache should be made with pouring cream not thickened cream because thickened cream contains geletin. Ganache should also only be made with good quality chocolate (couverture if you have a choice) and the ratios for dark and milk chocolate are 1:2 (cream:chocolate) and for white chocolate 1:3.
  1. DO NOT overheat your ganache. This could be overheating the cream or even microwaving the cream and chocolate mixture for too long. This causes the ganache to split (meaning the oil comes out of the chocolate) or seize (meaning you’ll find lots of little tiny balls when the ganache sets).
  1. If the above happens, it’s fixable! Let the split ganache cool down (or place it in the fridge for awhile) and then remix the ganache until the oil and chocolate recombines. If the chocolate has seized, simply re-microwave in 30 second bursts until the ganache has melted but is not hot, then remix well and let it set.
  1. Make sure your cake and board size match – for example if you have a 8in cake, make sure you have an 8in board even if the cake shrinks don’t be tempted to use a smaller board. This ensures your cake sizes remain consistent and it will also help with the step below.
  1. When ganaching the sides of your cake, you will NEED a 90 degree scraper. Metal is better than plastic. When scraping the side of the cake (to get the excess ganache off), ensure the scraper is always kept at a 90 degree angle.
  1. The turn table is your friend! It’ll help you ganache the sides and top of the cake a lot better. Hold the scraper on the side of the cake with one hand and rotate the turntable with the other hand and use the cake board as a guide. ALWAYS look at the cake at eye level along the way to ensure everything is even.
  1. Use hot water and a metal spatula to smooth out the ganache after it has set (let the ganache set for at least an hour). The ganache should be smooth and even before covering. Look at the cake at eye level, the ganache should be smooth, but the top of the cake should also be flat and even at all angles. Don’t get lazy with this step as this is one of the most important elements in getting a good looking cake!

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31 Comments on Tips and Tricks Pt 1 – The Basics top 10

  1. Angie
    June 12, 2011 at 3:02 pm (6 years ago)

    Thanks for sharing these tips 😀

    Reply
  2. Bimmer
    June 12, 2011 at 3:46 pm (6 years ago)

    Hi Sharon!
    Thank you very much for taking the time to put down these tips in a blog post. Looking forward to the next part of the tips!
    Have a great day! 🙂

    Reply
  3. Chubby's Crafty World
    June 12, 2011 at 9:29 pm (6 years ago)

    Hi Sharon, thank you for the tips. Do we wrap the cake before put it in the fridge? How long it will take to fridge it? Do we need to put it in the room temp afterwards before we cut and ganache it? How do we store the ganache in the summer? Will it go off if we leave in the room temp? Many thanks

    Reply
  4. Anonymous
    June 12, 2011 at 10:51 pm (6 years ago)

    Thankyou Sharon for your insight, I have one question, when filling and covering a cake with buttercream, is it the same technique? as I find covering a cake in buttercream always leaves a ‘softer’ edge.

    Reply
  5. Sharon
    June 13, 2011 at 10:49 pm (6 years ago)

    You are welcome everyone!

    Chubby’s Crafty World – yes, make sure the cake is cool first, then wrap it in cling wrap and pop it in the fridge. Then once it’s cold, take it out and cut and ganache it. This part is done when the cake is cold so it makes cutting and ganaching easier. The cake will come back to room temperature as you ganache anyways. In summer I have my aircon running at 22 degrees 24/7 for my cakes and ganache. But if you don’t have aircon you will need to pop it in the fridge and take it out and reheat it as you need it.

    Anonymous – Yes, for buttercream you can use the same technique but it is extremely hard/ near impossible to get sharp edges because the buttercream does not set hard and so once you cover it, the edges become rounded.

    Reply
  6. Dolly
    June 14, 2011 at 10:28 am (6 years ago)

    thanks for the tipps sharon.

    woot bought one of your jumponit vouchers cant wait to go !!!

    Reply
  7. NuNuZa
    June 14, 2011 at 11:00 am (6 years ago)

    Thanks for the tips Sharon

    I once messed up my ganache by adding everything to the pot – which was TOO hot. It seized. I threw it away 🙁 If I only I had known that it could be saved. Damn

    Its currently winter here in South Africa and its been so cold that my cakes have been affected. Some of my cake recipes call for butter. more cupcakes than cakes really. and the butter is not at room temperature (even if it is left out all day) – any tips for what you do in winter?

    Reg icing and baking on the same day. I have done this a few times because I want the cake to be as fresh as possible when collected BUT it does making icing it that much harder.

    Reply
  8. Sharon
    June 17, 2011 at 12:57 am (6 years ago)

    NuNuZa – In winter, I microwave the butter in short 3 – 4 second bursts to soften it. Or place it in a warm oven for a little bit.

    As for baking and icing on the same day, I know you want it as fresh as possible but it should still be fine if you add an extra day. It’s fine if you have one cake to do it all in a day but once you have 5 orders, you will go crazy 😛

    Reply
  9. Anonymous
    June 21, 2011 at 4:07 pm (6 years ago)

    hi sharon,

    just wondering if you had some tips on white choc ganache. i’ve read about it being problematic and going off very easily. do you have any issues with it given you can’t refrigerate the covered cake whilst its being decorated (which might be more than 1 day if theres alot of decoration)?

    also, how do you work out how much ganache you need for different sized cakes? i tried finding an online quide but not much luck =S

    thanks
    ~judy

    Reply
  10. Sharon
    June 22, 2011 at 4:27 am (6 years ago)

    Hi Judy,

    White chocolate ganache is more sensitive but I have not heard of it going off easily. If it’s a really hot day, I increase the chocolate to cream ratio so there is more chocolate and it sets better. Also my aircon is always running at about 22 degrees so I don’t have any issues with leaving it outside for a day or two when I am decorating it.

    As for how much ganache you need, I just estimate. a 1.2kg mix of dark chocolate ganache will ganache an 8in or 9in cake so I just add or divide from there. Sorry I can’t be more exact on this but it’s just something I’ve picked up as I go along. But I am sure I have seen a table online somewhere??

    Reply
  11. Anonymous
    June 23, 2011 at 7:09 am (6 years ago)

    thanks sharon, just one more question… is there a brand of white choc you recommend for ganache? i’m undecided as to whether i should go for sicao or nestle (i think its called snowcap?).

    Reply
  12. LC
    June 24, 2011 at 9:17 pm (6 years ago)

    Hi Sharon!
    I recently started baking cakes for friends and family and love it. I came across your website/blog and can’t say how much I love your work! You are by far one of my favorites in the cake world when it comes to technique and style. =) I always find myself going straight to your website when I’m online! =)

    Anyways, I’m making a cake for a baby shower and it needs to be done 1 day from now. I baked the cakes already and are cooling as of right now. If I plan on ganaching and decorating it tomorrow, do I just wrap the cooled cakes and stick them in the fridge overnight? Or is it better to leave them at room temperature for the moist factor? Also, once I put the fondant on, can the cake be stored in the fridge until the event? Or will it be alright on the counter (with AC)? Thanks so much! Look forward to hearing from you =)

    Lora

    Reply
  13. Sharon
    June 25, 2011 at 1:37 am (6 years ago)

    Judy – I use the nestle couverture white chocolate. I can’t remember what it is called off the top of my head but as long as it tastes good it should be fine 🙂

    Lora – if you put the wrapped ake in the fridge you will get a better result. And don’t put the fondant covered cake on the fridge it will sweat. If you have the aircon running it should be fine outside in a cool dry area.

    Reply
  14. Lena
    July 9, 2011 at 9:19 am (6 years ago)

    Hi Sharon, thanks so much for taking time to share all of these, i saved my ganache this morning for cake tasting & got the cake order too, many many thanks 🙂

    Reply
  15. LC
    July 18, 2011 at 8:55 am (6 years ago)

    Hi Sharon,
    So, my baby shower cake didn’t turn out how I wanted it at all. I used ganache for the first time to get those clean, straight edges and that turned out alright. But once I put the fondant on, the edges cracked and sagged =( How would you explain this? Was my fondant too dry? Fondant seems to be my biggest challenge so far. Any tips or videos on handling/working with fondant would be great! Thanks in advance for your precious time.

    Lora

    Reply
  16. Sharon
    July 18, 2011 at 10:07 am (6 years ago)

    Hi Lora, Sorry to hear your cake didn’t go well 🙁 Can you send me a photo of it? It’s hard to judge what went wrong without seeing what you describe… feel free to email it to me at: creations[at]sharonwee.com.au

    Reply
  17. Lora
    July 21, 2011 at 9:00 am (6 years ago)

    Hi Sharon! Sure, I’ll definitely send a picture real soon through your email. But, I’ll be honest, you can’t really tell how bad it looked in the picture! Haha. The camera did a good job of hiding the imperfections. I will try to find the shot that showed it the worst though.Thanks for your time! I appreciate your talented expertise!

    LC

    Reply
  18. Anonymous
    July 24, 2011 at 7:31 am (6 years ago)

    Hi Sharon,
    I sent you the pictures….Be as honest as you want to be with me! I need to get better! =) If the pics don’t pull up, please let me know. I’ll send them a different way. Thanks again!

    LC

    Reply
  19. Mrs Mac
    July 22, 2012 at 2:25 am (5 years ago)

    Hi Sharon,
    I have been a long time admirer of your work, so thank you! I make almost exclusively ganaching cakes and I have never had an issue using thickened cream. In Australia it is thickened with vegetable gums which are broken down if you heat the cream to a simmer. I have a little tool (excel spreadsheet) I created and shared with my cakey friends across the globe that allows you to calculate how much ganache you need using the measurements of the cake and it can be downloaded here for free. http://Www.facebook.com/theganacherator

    Reply
  20. Anonymous
    October 26, 2012 at 1:19 am (5 years ago)

    fHi Sharon, thanks god I found ur web :), I have a concern about my dark choc ganache, pls correct me if Im doing it wrong. at wed night I made the ganache n leave it to set overnight at room temperature (no aircon), the next day (thursday) I covered the cake with ganache n leave it to set overnight at room temperature with aircon on, n friday I cover the cake with fondant. on sat we r going to eat the cake. My concern is the ganache will be off ? coz I leave it to set at room temperature for 3 days and eat it at 4rd days..thank you so much for ur help 🙂

    Reply
  21. Anonymous
    August 7, 2013 at 11:52 pm (4 years ago)

    Hi Sharon, I need your expert advice on ganache and fondant. I had frosted a cake with ganache and covered it with fondant right after frosting (I just left te ganache to cool for few hours before that). Left it at the table boxed up. Next morning everything melted to a horrible mess! Could it due to the warm and humid weather in Singapore or there’s problem with my chocolate to cream proportion? I used 125ml cream n 1cup chocolate.

    Reply
  22. Belinda Woolerton
    January 17, 2014 at 7:17 am (4 years ago)

    Hi Sharon,

    Sorry to be a pain, but can I ask do you use Nestle chocolate for both dark and white ganache? Or callebaut chocolate?. Also where do you buy from (if you don’t mind telling) Thanks in advance 🙂

    Reply
  23. Sharon
    January 20, 2014 at 3:18 pm (4 years ago)

    Hi Belinda, I do use nestle couverture (royal and arctic) and I purchase this from Southern Cross Supplies. Hope that helps 🙂

    Reply
  24. Cherrykidz
    April 10, 2014 at 10:19 am (3 years ago)

    Hi Sharon,
    where do you get pouring cream from? from which section is that in the supermarket? i seem only can find thickened cream or double cream in the fridge/dairy area.

    thanks,
    Dina

    Reply
  25. Della Tello
    March 23, 2015 at 2:05 am (2 years ago)

    hello,
    Can you post decorating a white/yellow cake with buttercream and your tips on prepping the cake. Thank You

    Reply
  26. Anshi
    March 28, 2015 at 12:44 pm (2 years ago)

    Hi I need a quick fix. Its winter here and so quite cold.I covered my cake with milk chocolate ganache(followed 3:1 ratio) and the cake is sitting in room temperature but the ganache on the cake has become too firm. I have to deliver the cake in next 15 hrs and you please help me get the ganache on cake become softer ?

    Reply
    • Sharon Wee
      March 29, 2015 at 4:06 pm (2 years ago)

      Hi Anshi, sorry but we can’t always reply quickly to comments on the blog, especially on the weekend when we may be out all day delivering cakes! I hope your cake turned out OK.

      I’m not sure what you mean about it being too firm as the ganache recipe is meant to set very firm so that it can be safely covered in fondant without lumps or slippage. This is OK because a knife can still easily cut it for serving. If you want a softer ganache you will need another recipe.

      Reply
      • Anshi
        March 31, 2015 at 1:02 am (2 years ago)

        Hi, Thanks for your reply and I understand that you can be busy 🙂
        I did not have to cover the cake with fondant and so I was not looking for a very firm layer. I just had to do the decorations with whipped cream (which I missed to mention.) Also I thought it would be difficult to cut the cake with this firm ganache but it was perfectly fine. In fact I got very GOOD reviews for the overall cake. 🙂
        Thanks once again !

        Reply

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