Wedding Cake Sadness

Decorating By dydemus Updated 23 Jun 2008 , 1:09pm by cakedesigner59

dydemus Posted 19 Jun 2008 , 7:33pm
post #1 of 35

Okay, it's been three weeks now since it happened, and I think I'm finally read to talk about it.
I am a hobby baker and my preference is birthday and groom's cakes. I don't like big, I don't like fancy. I like whimsical and original. And I am baking out of a tiny home kitchen. So I was asked to do a wedding cake for 175 people. Way more than I usually do. And it was for a very wonderful couple. I prepared for this. I got supplies way ahead (even an extra refrigerator just for cake), and made sure the entire week was clear for this. I took my time, made sure each step was perfect, and the night before the wedding, it was done - and it was perfect!!! I was so happy. I would post a picture, but for some reason I can't upload photos anymore. It was a four tier Mehndi cake.
I put it, and the groom's cake, and the supplemental cake in the back of my Jeep, drove carefully there, and when I opened the Jeep, it had slumped!!! The top two tiers were still perfect, the third one had slumped on one side badly, and the bottom tier had cracked. I was devastated ! icon_cry.gif
I had been SO careful in putting enough dowels in to support all the layers and made sure the recipe was firm enough not to fall apart. I have transported many multi-tier cakes before, so this wasn't new to me. But perhaps that fourth tier was just too much. (6", 8", 10", 12").
We set it up and put the bad side to the wall. It was presentable but looked more like a topsy turvy cake than it should have. The groom's cake (2 tiers) was great, as was the sheet cake. I moaned about it to my husband and the only thing we could figure was that when I turned corners, the cake shifted, and the dowels inside did too, allowing the topsy turvy to emerge.

The couple didn't even complain - but I am still so heartbroken over this. This was their special day, and the cake should have been totally perfect! I hate to even talk about it. I will never, ever, ever transport the stupid things assembled again!!!!!!!! argh!!!

Thanks to anyone who sat through the entire rant. You are my therapy icon_wink.gif

34 replies
Muse Posted 19 Jun 2008 , 8:07pm
post #2 of 35

These things will happen. We've all had cake-tastrophies. Just chock it up to a learning experience and start planning your next cake!

Darci

cakedesigner59 Posted 19 Jun 2008 , 8:26pm
post #3 of 35

There could be a lot of variables involved, but I've delivered many 4 tiered cakes already stacked, and not one mishap. I'm not suggesting you do continue to do it that way, I'm just thinking that the fact you only had 2" difference in your tier sizes could have contributed to it. Your cake was tall and narrow.

I always referigerate my cakes prior to delivery. I use real butter in my buttercream and the icing firms up nicely when refrigerated. So it's safer for me that way.

Don't let this experience scare you off. I could see how it might. Learn from it; I don't think it will happen to you again, if you figure out what went wrong. You can always stack the cake in two parts (6-8 and 10-12) and assemble it that way. Save you a little time, anyway.

dydemus Posted 20 Jun 2008 , 3:59pm
post #4 of 35

Yep, have to get back on the horse that threw me, right?

The super nice lady who planned this wedding actually asked me to do another cake - much smaller this time, thank goodness. But she still believes in me! Wow.
I do refrigerate my cakes - but it did sit out the night before because it was assembled, so I think I will keep them in the fridge til I transport, and set them up there. I have transported 3 tier cakes a number of times without any problem - I guess a number of things added up, and it wasn't my cake day!

On to the next one - thanks for your comments. It's good to commiserate.

becky27 Posted 20 Jun 2008 , 4:09pm
post #5 of 35

sorry to hear this happened...i know how sad this could make a decorator!!!! Good luck for next time!!!! you seem like you totally have it together...you just had a bad cake day!!!

leah_s Posted 20 Jun 2008 , 4:11pm
post #6 of 35

Check into using SPS to support your cakes. it makes for easy assembly and safe transport. There are plenty of threads on here about it And if you want instructions for use, PM me with your email and I'll send you the instructions. Please remember the email in your PM.

summernoelle Posted 20 Jun 2008 , 4:16pm
post #7 of 35

This really does happen to everyone. And sometimes, there isn't a reason for it. My only suggestion is that if the cake is very very big (and 175 is huge) then you should assemble at the venue. I usually try everything I can to not do that, but a cake that weighs as much as yours did is more likely to collapse under that weight.

What did you use for dowels? For something like that, I would go with the large plastic pipe looking things. Also, a center wooden dowel helps.

Better yet, use a SPS system.

dydemus Posted 20 Jun 2008 , 6:07pm
post #8 of 35

summernoelle,
I used the wood dowels, and was very careful to get just the right heights on each and make sure there were enough to hold the weight. And there was the dowel all the way through the middle too. I tried so hard to do everything right and not cut any corners, even a tiny bit, maybe that was one of the reasons it was so frustrating! I know I still have a lot to learn.

leahs,
I just saw a thread (similar to mine) about the SFS or SPS systems. I would love to get one, but it's a little costly - not at all in the scheme of things - but I am a home baker, (I usually do them for free or cost, and have people donate to a fund at our church -so I don't really make anything from this). And I'd worry about losing pieces - BUT I think it would be worth it - simply for piece of mind - I'll just have to save some pennies and plan ahead. Thanks for the recommendation - the more I see this, the more I want the system. Where did you get yours?

-K8memphis Posted 20 Jun 2008 , 8:31pm
post #9 of 35

I'm so sorry that happened, Cake-Buddy.
You described it so perfectly I'm totally crushed with yah.
You didn't ask but I'm just running my mouth here...

How many dowel did you use? Inside that 12" were the dowel in a circle about 6-7 inches in diameter? I backup the dowels in the big poppa bear cake so if one does shift there's another one close enough to keep things happy. Like in a 4-tier I would maybe even use two circles of dowel--maybe a trio closer to the middle and then more like probably 8 around the outside circle. Or I might use twelve, three in each triangle shaped group of four dowels placed at North, South, East & West.

Something I've seen myself do is put the dowel in at a teensly bit of an angle instead of striaght up & down. So far so good after 30+ years but that's another biggee, the angle. But use a ton of those buggers.

I do use those 3/4 inch wilton plastic tubey things. If I use straws I stick a bamboo skewer into each one too. I'm rambling...

leah_s Posted 20 Jun 2008 , 9:03pm
post #10 of 35

Please don't confuse SFS and SPS.

SFS = crazy expensive.

SPS = crazy cheap.

dydemus Posted 20 Jun 2008 , 9:25pm
post #11 of 35

k8memphis-
I put two circles of dowels in the bottom tier - one to fit the edges of the cake above (tiny bit smaller so it would be directly under the edge) each a few " from the next, and a triangle of dowels in the middle too. I really tried to make sure there would be plenty of support.


Leahs - does the SPS work as well? where do you get them?

-K8memphis Posted 20 Jun 2008 , 10:41pm
post #12 of 35
Quote:
Originally Posted by dydemus

k8memphis-
I put two circles of dowels in the bottom tier - one to fit the edges of the cake above (tiny bit smaller so it would be directly under the edge) each a few " from the next, and a triangle of dowels in the middle too. I really tried to make sure there would be plenty of support.


Leahs - does the SPS work as well? where do you get them?




Ok. If you'll allow me, this is your problem area, Cake-Buddy. Umm, you have them placed around the perimeter of the cake above it and in this position they can easily slide. You need to move them in toward the center so they can bear the weight of that cake above it.

So under the 10" cake your circle of dowel were making about a 9" circle and it shoulda been at about a 6-7 inch circle of support inside that 12" cake. And if one of them fail, there's nothing to keep it from sliding--they'll all slide over cause nothing is holding the weight. The weight of the cake above is essential to actually hold the dowel in place. Next time move them inward.

leah_s Posted 21 Jun 2008 , 4:35am
post #13 of 35

Goodness, you guys are making swiss cheese out of your cakes with all those dowels. With SPS there are 4 legs per tier, and they're locked onto the plate, so there's no chance of sliding.

-K8memphis Posted 21 Jun 2008 , 4:49am
post #14 of 35
Quote:
Originally Posted by leahs

Goodness, you guys are making swiss cheese out of your cakes with all those dowels. With SPS there are 4 legs per tier, and they're locked onto the plate, so there's no chance of sliding.




I mean the point is that if you are using skinyy little wooden dowel you can't use four or five to hold up a cake like that. Toss in a bunch in those lower tiers.

The other issue with wooden dowel is that they can impart a woodsy musty flavor to the immediate area if they are not covered somehow or dipped in wax. Therefore I haven't used a wooden dowel in forever. I use the 3/4" wilton plastic tube ones. I'd use four or five in that cake. I use the sps at work. The issue ihere is the placement of the dowel not the quantity.

sassycleo Posted 21 Jun 2008 , 5:16am
post #15 of 35

I have to chime in on this one, totally get into the SPS system. Leah is a life saver for introducing it to so many of us - Thanks Leah!!!

It's pretty inexpensive and especially with no cake mishaps worth a million. Pretty simple just make sure your lined up and centered correctly you'll only have four legs to worry about that are so sturdy, no moving sliding shaking or collapsing. Great piece of equipment especially with the warm weather arriving!

cocobean Posted 21 Jun 2008 , 5:58am
post #16 of 35

Leahs, can you pm me with instructions also, about how to use the sps. I had problems with my own sons wedding cake. icon_redface.gif It really is hard on your selfesteem. Thanks so much!!! dydemus I know how you feel. icon_cry.gif

cakedesigner59 Posted 21 Jun 2008 , 11:51am
post #17 of 35

I have to agree; given a choice, I would use SPS every time. But is there a way to buy that without having a Fed TAx ID, etc.? I remember when I had my business I set up an account with CK and bought them that way. But home bakers can't buy them, can they?

Since I am just a hobby-est now (no formal business), I use the wilton plastic dowels, or the bubble tea straws.

sassycleo Posted 21 Jun 2008 , 12:00pm
post #18 of 35

If you don't have the fed id number then you can purchase the SPS from Oasis Supply. Again Leah is the one who originally gave me all the information - and a true life saver as I have already stated.

Leah you are the best for bringing this information to those of us who were or are clueless....lol

dydemus Posted 21 Jun 2008 , 1:13pm
post #19 of 35

This is a bit overwhelming - i was looking at these online - do you use these once? Are they adjustable? My orders are all for stacked cakes.
I would love to order something like this, and would appreciate any help figuring out what to get.

Leah, could you pm me with the instructions? Where do you recommend ordering from?

wgoat5 Posted 21 Jun 2008 , 1:49pm
post #20 of 35

You know I totally never thought out the process of dowelling... but it never made sense to me...when you push wood dowells into your cake .. the cake has NO where to go but out and down...causing havoc on the inside structure of your cake GRRR... sps doesn't do that... it's sturdy... it's cheap... it's reliable and I would assemble a 4 tier cake and deliver ASSEMBLED with this system icon_smile.gif

-K8memphis Posted 21 Jun 2008 , 2:03pm
post #21 of 35
Quote:
Originally Posted by wgoat5

You know I totally never thought out the process of dowelling... but it never made sense to me...when you push wood dowells into your cake .. the cake has NO where to go but out and down...causing havoc on the inside structure of your cake GRRR... sps doesn't do that... it's sturdy... it's cheap... it's reliable and I would assemble a 4 tier cake and deliver ASSEMBLED with this system icon_smile.gif




I think sps is fabulous. However you can do the same thing with wooden dowel because they held up everyone's cakes for eons. So it's a very good system with a deeper learning curve is all, not near as user friendly as sps. Back in the day, I would use a larger size dowel for the big mamma bear and poppa bear cakes. They do not budge when placed properly. Sps removes the guess work. Great product.

cakedesigner59 Posted 21 Jun 2008 , 2:43pm
post #22 of 35

I did like SPS when I used them, but I always had to have hubby cut the legs on his table saw. I couldn't figure out how to snap them (too thick) or cut them myself. They never lined up well with my tiers unless they were adjusted somehow.

That's why I love the bubble tea straws. You can cut them with scissors. I notice a lot of the decorators on Food Network use them.

-K8memphis Posted 21 Jun 2008 , 2:49pm
post #23 of 35

Robin for another great type of dowel I use regular drinking straws with a bamboo skewer inserted--they both snap off easy too with a pliers.

See if you want to do any kind of sculpture you need to know how to dowel. So sps is a great product for tier cakes expecially if you're overcoming a recent issue, automatic confidence builder. But otherwise if you're branching out, you'll need skinny dowel for small things. Larger dowel for this & that. How to dowel is a real important decorator tool.

milissasmom Posted 21 Jun 2008 , 3:25pm
post #24 of 35

SPS-Never Transport a Cake Without it!!!!!!!!!!

Seriously, think about it!! If you bake a cake, transport it, it falls, you feel horrible or have to refund money, it's totally worth the price!! I got a semi-last minute (two weeks in advance) cake order for a 6,8,10 wedding cake, the FIRST thing I did was jump online and order my SPS! The total for the entire order with shipping was 22.00. Well worth it to me...well worth it!!IMHO

PS...I ALWAYS add 20.00 or 30.00 (depending on the size of the cake) to my cake price in advance for the system so I never have to worry about the extra money. I tell them it's for the SUPPORT SYSTEM and they don't blink. Maybe you can simply ask these folk for 30 bucks (since you are doing it for free)...30.00 for a wedding cake is NOTHING and I have a feeling they would not have a problem with that out of pocket cost.

Good luck with your next one!! It's always a learning experience...

cakedesigner59 Posted 21 Jun 2008 , 3:29pm
post #25 of 35
Quote:
Originally Posted by k8memphis

Robin for another great type of dowel I use regular drinking straws with a bamboo skewer inserted--they both snap off easy too with a pliers.

See if you want to do any kind of sculpture you need to know how to dowel. So sps is a great product for tier cakes expecially if you're overcoming a recent issue, automatic confidence builder. But otherwise if you're branching out, you'll need skinny dowel for small things. Larger dowel for this & that. How to dowel is a real important decorator tool.




So true. I am not confident enough to do all those fancy sculptures. Not without some classes (if someone would give classes on that, I'd be first in line). One of the best decorators I ever knew (still know) uses nothing but straws as her dowels, always has, always will. Never a mishap, either. She's been in the wedding cake biz for 25 years.

maude Posted 22 Jun 2008 , 12:18am
post #26 of 35

Can someone tell me what the SPS system is and where to get it? Thanks

milissasmom Posted 22 Jun 2008 , 4:18pm
post #27 of 35
Quote:
Originally Posted by maude

Can someone tell me what the SPS system is and where to get it? Thanks




http://www.bakingshop.com/weddingcakes/index.html Here is an example. I order mine from Globalsugarart so CC can get the donation/credit but their are other sites you can purchase it from like www.oasisupply.com. If you PM me with your email addy I will forward you the info I got from Leahs (the CC'r who convinced me there was no other way to properly secure a cake)!!! or you can PM her with your email addy and she will forward the info to you!

cocobean Posted 23 Jun 2008 , 4:51am
post #28 of 35

Does anyone know of a video to watch of an sps system being used? I'm a need to see it being done (visual) kind of learner! icon_rolleyes.gif

iramirez94 Posted 23 Jun 2008 , 5:24am
post #29 of 35

Maybe Leah can make one for us?? She also got me to on the SPS wagon. Thanks Leah. thumbs_up.gif

(I'm also a hobby baker)

AZCakeGirl Posted 23 Jun 2008 , 5:37am
post #30 of 35

Forgive me for not knowing the difference, because I have never used either one (due to lack of knowledge on how they work), but the SPS system seems very similar to the "push in" style pillars that fit into the Wilton cake plates. What's the difference?

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