This happens when fondant of one color starts running onto/into another. Kind of like girls with thick mascara crying and leaving a stream of colored tears.
WHAT IS THE CAUSE?
Simply put, it is caused when fondant starts dissolving. Specifically it is usually caused by condensation and/or humidity. For example if you take a fondant cake out from the freezer (if you happened to have kept it there) into room temperature…. that rapid increase in temperature will cause a lot of condensation to form… the water droplets will not be able to evaporate fast enough. When it starts dissolving the fondant, gravity takes over and the fondant weeps. So, it is not about the fondant melting - melting is when the temperature is very high, like if you steam the fondant so much it melts - weeping/bleeding occurs when the fondant, which is another state of sugar, starts dissolving with water turning into solution.
Humidity is the BIGGEST culprit. After it rains, there is a lot of humidity about. Fondant is just a huge sugar sponge… and it absorbs moisture from the air until it turns into a sugary liquid and starts flowing….
WHAT TO DO?
You cannot reverse any damage done except by wiping the "tears" away, which might smudge the cake anyway. Use a well wrung wet cloth.
You can stop the damage by moving the cake to a cool, DRY, enclosed place. So sitting it very near to the air-con blower or placing it in the refrigerator will STOP the damage. Good to do these once you notice any hint of weeping or bleeding.
WHAT NOT TO DO?
1. DO NOT blow a fan at the cake because that will actually hasten the "weeping" as that will be introducing more moisture to the cake from the humid atmosphere!
2. DO NOT wipe with a very wet cloth or dry tissue. The wet cloth will introduce more moisture and the dry tissue will just cling and mess up the fondant. Wipe with a very well wrung cloth.
That said, it is always in my selfish interest that my cakes look its best till it is time for the cake cutting. But being in Singapore which can be sunny one moment and next moment Orchard Road floods….. we can never eliminate the risk of a weeping/bleeding fondant cake. Just like eliminating car accidents.
I ALWAYS feel AWFUL if any of my cake bleeds/weeps after I deliver, but it is only as good as being angry with the heavens for raining when it should be sunny…. Fortunately that has not happened often, but the photo that I attached was the worst case and it had to happen to the birthday cake of one of my favorite clients. I felt like weeping when I saw the photo.
A LITTLE BIT MORE ON HUMIDITY.
In Singapore, humidity ranges from 90% in the early morning to 60% in the late afternoon (no rain situation for the day) with average daily humidity at 84%. After a heavy rain, humidity can reach 100%. At 100% there is so much moisture in the air, any small drop in temperature is enough to form dew, and if the droplets are large enough, will dissolve the fondant. Butter cakes being so dense, keeps its core temperature very well, acting against itself as it will just mean continual condensation.
So if you have a fondant cake and you see it raining, move it to an enclosed air conditioned place pronto!
1. Avoid delivery in the early mornings.
2. If it is raining heavily, we will actually stall delivery. If the cake is already delivered, make sure it is in an ENCLOSED air conditioned place. If the cake can only be in the open, place it where there is no draft. Keep a look out. The first sign will be an extremely shiny cake.
3. Don't fret if it bleeds/weeps it is just physics doing its thing. Make it a conversational topic to the guests. It really is just sugar dissolved in water.
But I know… it is easier said than done….