Creating large or intricate cakes always carries the danger of breakage. Cakes most often break when you turn them out of the pan. The best ways to prevent breakage are to line the pan with parchment paper before you bake and to let the cake cool in the pan until it is firm enough to turn out without breaking. However, sometimes, despite all your precautions, cakes break. Luckily, with some creativity you can fix almost any broken cake.
Large 10- or 12-inch-tall cakes break more frequently than smaller cakes. Slice the broken cake into layers just as you would an intact cake. Place the pieces of the bottom layer on your cake board with a small gap between them. Pipe a thick bead of icing into the gap. Press the broken pieces of cake together, making sure the edges line up. Pipe a dam of icing around the top of the layer, then fill it with your desired filling. Top the layer with the pieces of the second layer and use icing to glue them together, just as you did with the bottom layer. Apply a crumb coat of icing. You may need to apply a second crumb coat to help glue the cake together. Decorate the cake as planned.
If a piece of a shaped cake breaks off during decorating, you need something stronger than icing to reattach it. Put a handful of meltable candy coating chips in a microwave-safe bowl and heat on medium heat for 10 seconds. Stir and continue to heat in 5-second increments until the candy coating is fully melted. Use an offset spatula to apply a generous layer of candy coating to the broken area of the cake, then press the pieces together until the candy coating hardens to the consistency of soft milk chocolate. Continue to decorate the cake.
If your cake has broken it will not be as structurally sound as an unbroken cake. Use dowels to support a broken layer cake, especially if it is going to be a multi-tiered cake. Cut 1/4-inch dowels to the finished height of the broken cake tier. Press the dowels into the cake until they touch the cake board. This will help hold the layers together and give it extra stability.
Sometimes a cake is simply unsalvageable. If the entire layer crumbles coming out of the pan, you may have no other choice but to bake another cake. Don't throw out the broken pieces, though. Instead, crumble them even more, mix the crumbs with icing, and form them into balls. Coat the balls with melted candy coating and serve them as a bite-sized snack.
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