ddog Posted 21 Jul 2007 , 8:50am
post #1 of

Well, this has been a bad bad day. icon_cry.gificon_cry.gificon_cry.gif

I made a 3 tiered beach themed cake for a wedding reception. 12in, 10in, and 8in. I used duncan hines devils food cake mix with crusting cream cheese icing. I had issues with the icing, but no biggie the cake still looked great. She came and picked it up the drive was 45 minutes. during transport she said the 12 in cake collapsed! icon_redface.gificon_redface.gif She traveled with it assembled in the very back of her van, I had six dowels in bottom two layers, plus one dowel all the way through. I am refunding her money and just want to cry, cry, cry! What went wrong??? Please help me!

My little sis is getting married in 3 weeks and I am supposed to make her 4 tiered cake. How can I do that now that I feel like a complete failure? Should I just quit now? I could not go through this again. Maybe I am just not cut out to do tiered cakes.

Please give me advice, and cake support tips.

34 replies
steph95 Posted 21 Jul 2007 , 9:04am
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I'm so sorry you feel that way. I am by far not an expert, especially in dowling and tiered cakes. I'm having a hard time understanding that your cake could have collapsed if you doweled it as many times as you did. would it be someone that would be trying to get a cake for free? do they have proof that it collapsed?

SugarFrosted Posted 21 Jul 2007 , 9:07am
post #3 of

Did she just call you or did she come back and SHOW you the collapsed cake? I have trouble believing a cake that has a center dowel "collapsed"... icon_confused.gif

teenteen Posted 21 Jul 2007 , 9:22am
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icon_sad.gif Sorry to hear that ddog! Sounds like you had plenty of support in the cake. However. if she broke fast, hung a corner to sharp, or hit a bump it could have shifted the center of gravity of the cake. Even, the best constructed cake can only take so much.

Take care

sun33082 Posted 21 Jul 2007 , 9:26am
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I've always heard you put as many dowels in the cake as the cake above has inches in diameter. So in the 12 in cake, you should have had 10 dowels. and in the 10 inch cake, you should have had 8. I don't know how true this is, but that could be one reason why it fell (if it did).

I don't know how many stacked cakes you've done, but are you sure you cut the dowels all the same size? That could have caused it to collapse as well.

I'm so sorry this happened to you, but don't fret. Live and Learn icon_smile.gif

ddog Posted 21 Jul 2007 , 9:37am
post #6 of

Thanks for the responses it is so nice to have someone to talk to about this in the middle of the night when I can't sleep!!! Ya'll are just great!

she only called to tell me about the cake, did not come to the house. and the lady that reccomended me also called, and her friend also got on the phone and talked to me. grrrrr.

They said they could see the dowels, but they were pushed down a little like maybe they were too short? could that be it? I really do not have much experience with tiered cakes, so now I am freaking out about my sister's upcoming cake.

heavenscent Posted 21 Jul 2007 , 5:23pm
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if they were pushed in to far that could have caused the cake to not have enough support. They all need to be the exact same length I have mine just even with the cake or slightly above it so that way the other weight of the cakes dont crush the bottom cake. Hope that helps I had a 3 tiered cake do that once a long time ago for a friends baby shower it was awful I cried the whole way to the party. At least it was not a paying customers cake but I still know how you feel hugs

heavenscent Posted 21 Jul 2007 , 5:23pm
post #8 of

if they were pushed in to far that could have caused the cake to not have enough support. They all need to be the exact same length I have mine just even with the cake or slightly above it so that way the other weight of the cakes dont crush the bottom cake. Hope that helps I had a 3 tiered cake do that once a long time ago for a friends baby shower it was awful I cried the whole way to the party. At least it was not a paying customers cake but I still know how you feel hugs

heavenscent Posted 21 Jul 2007 , 5:24pm
post #9 of

if they were pushed in to far that could have caused the cake to not have enough support. They all need to be the exact same length I have mine just even with the cake or slightly above it so that way the other weight of the cakes dont crush the bottom cake. Hope that helps I had a 3 tiered cake do that once a long time ago for a friends baby shower it was awful I cried the whole way to the party. At least it was not a paying customers cake but I still know how you feel hugs

beccakelly Posted 21 Jul 2007 , 5:35pm

i know this doesn't help much now, but for future cakes you should look into the bakery crafts single plate system. its designed for cakes that consumers would be driving, and its really sturdy. its also really cheap, prolly woulda cost you $15 for that cake, and then you just add that to the price of the cake. im so sorry that happened to you!! its hard to know what went wrong, dowels, bad driving, too hot in the car.....

dodibug Posted 21 Jul 2007 , 5:52pm

Having lived in Louisiana for a while I don't think I'd ever transport a cake assembled on those roads! icon_lol.gif So sorry this happened.

But it could have been a number of things. Dowels not all the same height, dowels too short (cut to the height of the cake-not the height of the icing), like others said could have been her driving, the cake may have been too soft for tiered construction, the tiers may not have been completely centered. Also a chilled cake will travel better for the future!

I prefer to set-up my cakes myself, travel unassembled and if someone insists on taking an assembled cake once it leaves my hands I have no more responsibility and they understand that!

ddog Posted 21 Jul 2007 , 8:26pm

thanks to all you wonderful decoraters for your replies. I really admire and look up to you all. I never wanted to do this for money, but my husband is laid off from a GM plant, and the extra $ has been so nice- it is a shame to stop over one bad cake, but it sure makes me want too!
I really think my dowels could have been too short, and Louisiana is not known for their great roads....

Is a Duncan Hines box mix to soft for a stacked cake? is that why people add an extra egg and box of pudding, to firm it up some? i always thought it was for taste, so i've never tried it. any feedback would be great...

step0nmi Posted 21 Jul 2007 , 8:39pm

I just used a DH box mix the other day and my cake broke on me too! I have never had a problem with any other box but, this one tasted good! As soon as I went to cut it the edge started falling off and I could tell it was light and fluffy like it was a scratch cake. (not good for carving) Good thing this cake is only for my sister. I will only use the extender recipe with these boxes now!

So sorry this has happened to you! Don't stop decorating just because of one incident. Get the information you need for the next cake and move on! Everything is a learning experience when it comes to cake decorating!
Good luck!
StephyG

mekaclayton Posted 21 Jul 2007 , 8:52pm

I use Duncan Hines...always. Never had a problem with my stacked cakes. My last wedding was a 3 hour drive and it was constructed in the back...4 tiers. Got there just fine. And some of the road was bumpy. I've several times with cakes already constructed up to 3 tiers. Sorry this happened to you. I do dowel the h*ll out of my cakes 'cause I'm scary like that. The only thing I can think of, is maybe the dowels slipped if you didn't drive them straight in. If they were crooked going in, it will definitely happen and they will shift especially if the driver isn't good at driving LOL. Also, was the cake sliding in the back...that could do it too...moving the dowels 'causing them to shift.
I did a groom's cake once and during the drive, ALL the icing came off the sides...too hot. Imagine not being anywhere near your kitchen and repairing the cake in the back of your truck while your hubby finds every bump in the road to ride over. Hope visions of this makes you smile...the cake made it and no one ever knew. I lived to bake again icon_lol.gif Keep your head up thumbs_up.gif

ljberry Posted 21 Jul 2007 , 8:52pm

For future reference...I also never travel with my cakes stacked, (unless it is a four-tier, I'll stack the first two and the second two, then put together when I get there)...also, three-tier I'll stack the first two and put the final on at the reception...I charge a $25 delivery fee....non-negotiable, you can't pick up your own cake...(I won't even let anyone help me bring it in unless it's someone that has helped me before)...If it's over 25 miles, then the charge becomes a $1 a mile after that...but it's worth it to carry your cake from start to finish!

mekaclayton Posted 21 Jul 2007 , 8:56pm

The cake was stacked (4 tiers) and riding in the back...I didn't put it together in the back. LOL

shelbur10 Posted 21 Jul 2007 , 9:03pm

I had one collapse on me recently...luckily it was for family. Same situation, I had about 8 dowels in the bottom and a center dowel and it collapsed on my counter before I even finished frosting. I think it was just that my bottom cake was too moist and not sturdy enough for stacking. It's hard to believe anything could collapse with that much support, but it happens. So sorry this happened to you on an important cake!!
For your sister's cake, maybe try a sturdier recipe. I've found the WASC is great for carving and stacking and you adapt it to any flavor you like.

wysmommy Posted 21 Jul 2007 , 9:04pm

I'm so sorry this happened to you! Is is possible that the top layers actually slid? If they got jolted to one side it would certainly make a cake collapse!

Quote:
Originally Posted by step0nmi

I just used a DH box mix the other day and my cake broke on me too! I have never had a problem with any other box but, this one tasted good! As soon as I went to cut it the edge started falling off and I could tell it was light and fluffy like it was a scratch cake. (not good for carving) Good thing this cake is only for my sister. I will only use the extender recipe with these boxes now!

So sorry this has happened to you! Don't stop decorating just because of one incident. Get the information you need for the next cake and move on! Everything is a learning experience when it comes to cake decorating!
Good luck!
StephyG




Stephy, I just wanted to pipe in and say you can use fluffy scratch cakes to carve! I usually use a very light yellow cake that works fine!

Happy caking all!
-Michelle

KandKsMadre Posted 21 Jul 2007 , 9:08pm

I'm not a professional by any means - i'm just starting out, but I wanted to answer one of your questions..My cake "teacher" uses Duncan Hines cake mixes and she said to add pudding to make the cake more moist. I have yet to try this as well so I'm not sure if that's really what they use it for, it's just what she said! icon_smile.gif

heavensgaits Posted 21 Jul 2007 , 9:26pm

I've read on here before about decorators warning customers who pick their cakes up, that once the cake leaves the decorators possession, it's no longer their responsibility. I would have to agree with the person that posted about the customers driving especially on these Louisiana roads; driving a cake is difficult but on the roads down here it's even more difficult. In the future I would suggest that you deliver the cakes or give the customer the disclaimer that once the cake leaves you, it's no longer your responsibility.

dodibug Posted 21 Jul 2007 , 9:40pm

I use the pudding and usually 2 whole eggs and 2 egg whites (just depends on the recipe) along with the other ingredients added to DH cake mix because it does make the cake a little more dense. I would say a medium density.

I'm like ljberry-I don't let anyone touch my cakes either! icon_lol.gif

sarahnichole975 Posted 21 Jul 2007 , 10:05pm
Quote:
Originally Posted by heavensgaits

I've read on here before about decorators warning customers who pick their cakes up, that once the cake leaves the decorators possession, it's no longer their responsibility. I would have to agree with the person that posted about the customers driving especially on these Louisiana roads; driving a cake is difficult but on the roads down here it's even more difficult. In the future I would suggest that you deliver the cakes or give the customer the disclaimer that once the cake leaves you, it's no longer your responsibility.




I'm a Louisiana girl too and I'll agree that the roads here make for a nightmarish adventure with any cake in the car, much less a tiered cake. I also have the policy that once it leaves me, it's outta my hands. You cannot control someone else's driving, especially on bad roads. I'm am forever getting POed people honking at me and gesturing obscenities. But, I spend far to much time to let a bad car ride destroy what I've created. I have people who just don't want to pay that extra $$ to get a cake there safe. So I tell them, "You have NO accelerator or brake pedal. Leave way too much distance between you and the car in front of you. And anticipate red lights and those idiots who pull out in front of you."

This is a tough situation. A wedding cake is sensitive because it's probably the most special cake you can do for someone. It looks good for you to be willing to refund, though I'm not sure I'd do the same. I'll agree with the person who said they dowel the h*** outta cakes. I feel like I'd have a couple extra than too few. So sorry this happened to you. But DON'T GIVE UP!!! Hugs to you and hope today is better for you!

dodibug Posted 21 Jul 2007 , 11:39pm

I also wanted to add that when I had a major disaster I felt exactly the same way. It shook my confidence something terrible. But you just have to look at what errors you may have had control of and go from there. Atleast that's what I did and felt better about it!

icon_smile.gif d

shoup_family Posted 22 Jul 2007 , 12:13am

I would have to say that if the damage happened in their possession, it's their problem. If you weren't even there and all it's definitely their own problem.

kansaslaura Posted 22 Jul 2007 , 12:33am

I've done A LOT of wedding cakes when I had my catering business. I never ever took them stacked. I allowed myself time on site to stack and finish any touch up borders, etc. I've used DH with great sucess, but I do add the extra pudding, and a 4th egg.

I've never waved a tiered cake good-bye in the back of a customer's van. If I ever do they'll be signing a release that they rec'd it in good condition and from that moment on it is their responsiblity. I agree, who is to say they didn't brake hard, swerve or take a corner too sharp. Goodness!! Way too many variables to even begin to list. The back of a van can also be a really hot spot with the sun coming through all that glass, and some vans don't have good AC coverage that far back.

I also used a big sheet of egg crate foam on the floor of my delivery van to stabilize and absorb shock. If she placed that directly on the floor of the van, that bottom layer was the shock absorber for the whole cake and is probably why it broke.

Take this as a hard lesson learned.

FromScratch Posted 22 Jul 2007 , 12:44am

My first thoughts.. if your dowels were not sitting right at the top of the icing.. they were too short and this put undue downward stress on your cake. Also you need to make sure that all your dowels are the same height.. rather than making them different heights to accomodate uneven icing (if you have that).

I am a scratch baker and never have I had a "fluffy scratch cake".. usually it's the opposite.. they are usually pretty dense. I have had mix cakes (back in the day) fall apart on me. Doctoring your mix will give you a denser cake that will be more structurally sound for stacking. I am also investing in the single plate system to support my stacked cakes.. seems like a great thing and much more fool proof than cutting dowels.

So sorry this happened to you.. keep your head high.. and make sure you make up a release form so that your customers sign off on a cake and know once it leaves your hands it's up to them. I also deliver all my stacked cakes.. better luck next time!! Don't take it too hard. icon_biggrin.gif

Kitagrl Posted 22 Jul 2007 , 12:52am

I wanted to add that refrigeration has GREATLY improved my odds of transporting cakes! It makes the cake and icing very firm and so there is less chance of the vibration of the car weakening the cake over transport.

I kept one stacked cake at room temp a few mos ago because I was concerned that the burgandy fondant accents would bleed on the white fondant...turns out I should have just refrigerated it because sure enough the bottom tier started cracking during transport, because the constant vibration of the car jiggled the soft cake until the outer fondant started to crack some. I'm sure that had I refrigerated it, it would have stayed firm through transport.

Just an idea.

SweetDolly Posted 22 Jul 2007 , 1:19am

I second Kitagrl's suggestion regarding refrigeration. I've had 2 well-doweled cakes collapse on me during transport and both had the same variables - very freshly baked (I normally freeze and thaw to alter the texture) and not refrigerated prior to transport. Very hard lessons learned...never again! icon_smile.gif

I was just about to sell all my cake supplies on eBay after the first collapse. The best advice I can give is learn from it and move on. Hugs to you!!

rachpizano Posted 22 Jul 2007 , 1:34am

Were your pillars completely even? This is really really important. I used to have alot of problems in the past with my cakes slideing until I took one apart and saw that the some of the pillars were pushed side ways. When I took out the pillars I saw that two were slighlty higher. If the pillars are not even there isn't even support. If there isn't even support one side will have more pressure make it weak. Now with that said, normal people who don;t decorate cakes don't understand how easily a cake can fall. They think they can treat it like a sheet cake. I deliver and set up all wedding cakes reguardless how far. I don;t give them an opition. I do charge a deliverey fee for delivery outside of my surronding area.

Here are some tricks to try.

Use a larger dowl rod, in width, like twice the size as the wooden dowles from Wilton.. i buy them from the Lowes and wash them in really hot water
Larger surface area is always better. I use larger dowle for cakes larger then three tier.

Use sharp gardening sheers to cut dowel. You want to use a pair which will let you cut the dowl in one easy motion. This will help keep the cut even.

Insert the dowel into the cake and cut it to the correct size, I like to put it just slighlty below the surface. Use that first dowle to measure the rest the same hieght, even if your cake is a little uneven. If you use different dowels to measure unless you cake is perfectly even your dowels will be uneven.

Try that and see how it goes.
Sincerely,
Rachel M Pizano

springlakecake Posted 22 Jul 2007 , 1:26pm

I just delivered my first wedding cake yesterday, also a 3 tiered (assembled). I do not think I would have been comfortable having someone else deliver it. When i did arrive the layers had shifted a bit, even with the center dowel, but I was able to move them back into place without a problem. So I could see that shifting could happen even with a dowelled cake.

So sorry this happened to you!

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