Ahh, What A Nightmare!! --Long

Decorating By heatherlikesfood Updated 25 Jun 2008 , 1:06pm by aswartzw

heatherlikesfood Posted 23 Jun 2008 , 4:45am
post #1 of 19

Alright, so I just need to vent a little bit to someone besides my husband- poor guy!

I had a wedding yesterday afternoon. It was a topsy turvy cake decorated with sugar paste hawaiian hibiscus flowers lots of vines and it was gorgeous! So much time had been spent on the flowers. I really did like the way that it turned out, and I was soo excited to show the bride and groom. They had helped in the design and were really looking forward to it. So moving on...

As far as construction goes I thought i did everything right. I had a dowel down the middle and into the foam core board with straws holding each layer and placed it on non-slip shelf liner in the trunk. Everything looked good, or so i thought!

About five minutes after leaving we (me and my hubby) were stopping at a light, very carefully and heard a THUD! Oh crap! I jumped out of the car about as fast as I could, I think I was completely oblivious to the fact that we were still in traffic and the light could change at any minute! But the cake was just gone- the top two tiers were thrown to the back and of course smashed all of my flowers into bits. The bottom didn't look as bad, but there was no saving it, especially without the top two.

So, of course, I go into hysterics. My husband, that dear boy just held me and said it was going to be okay. He offered to call the bride and groom since I was obviously not in any state to do so. They were very understanding (thankfully!) and we offered to get them cake elsewhere. Of course they chose the most expensive bakery in town, but that was okay since their wedding cake was splattered in my trunk, and we headed that way! icon_sad.gif

Anyways, long story, semi short, we got a sheet cake and took it to the wedding where everybody was soo understanding and cool about it. They even offered for us to stay and have dinner, but by this time our stomachs were still churning and just kind of felt like curling up in a ball! We went home.

Basically I just wanted to write and vent, but also to see if anybody has tips/tricks for delivery and construction of topsy turvy cakes. I don't want to nix doing these because so many people love them, but I just don't feel confident anymore. Anything will help! Any horror stories you want to share might make me feel better too!

I've attached a picture of the cake before I got all of the vines and flowers on it. This picture doesn't even give the finished cake justice, but I didn't get a picture of it completed. If i can toot my own horn, it was such a coool cake and I am still sooo sad! AHHHHHH icon_cry.gif

Oh well, you live, you learn, you make more cake! icon_biggrin.gif

18 replies
-K8memphis Posted 23 Jun 2008 , 5:08am
post #2 of 19

It's a little hard to diagnose exactly from the information you've given but posibilities include dowel placement, dowel length, was the cake chilled or room temp, was the car cool or hot, was the cake protected from heat in a box, was the trunk closed, was the carving spot on where the tiers joined. Did that middle tier split open from being sculpted, or did the dowel give way? Could have been the dowel down the middle, how big around was it? was it sharpened? Did you put it in quickly or did it take a few whacks to get it through each board down to the bottom board? Describe what you saw when you looked at it.

'Stopping very carefully' and 'thrown to the back' are incongruous statements. Oh maybe it was the construction and when the middle tier split from the sculpting being off a tid tad it flipped the top tier back. I'm guessing not refrigerated huh. But where's the dowel down the middle during all this? What kind of boards did you use between tiers?

I'm achingly sorry this happened. I love your spirit. I know you can do it. It was a grand cake you had there! A little tweaking in the engineering department and you'll have it down pat! Your husband is awesome but you already knew that.

heatherlikesfood Posted 23 Jun 2008 , 5:29am
post #3 of 19

Thanks for all your questions! Here's the deal...

The cake was partially chilled, it had been out for maybe 30 mins before going into the car. It was a warmer day and it was in the trunk without a box. I do think the temp. had something to do with it for sure. Just wasn't thinking about that for some reason... everything looks clearer in hindsight icon_smile.gif

When I opened the trunk, the top two tiers were basically flipped upside down. The dowel I had down the middle had popped out of the base somehow and was still in the top two tiers. My guess is that it wasn't secured to the base well enough.The bottom tier wasn't torn at all though. It looked like the top two just popped out. It was weird! The dowel was sharpened and was a little bit larger than a pencil. It took a good whack as it was going through each board. I used basic cardboard cake circles that I doubled up and wrapped with contact paper.

As far as mu sculpting method, I use the topsy turvy tutorial on CC. The one where you carve out the middle a tad and place the cake down in there. Are there ways to do that to make it more stable, hmmm?

melysa Posted 23 Jun 2008 , 5:54am
post #4 of 19

to me it looks like the cake tiers were leaning too much and gravity just took its toll. the tutorial is great, but you still have to carefully arrange your angles so the cake still stands straight upward. if you look at it front on, it shouldnt be leaning to one side or the other when assembled. i hope that makes sense. each tier has an angle, but the cake itself still goes straight up.

a cake like this also needs wooden dowels in my opinion. as well as being completely chilled, prefereably overnight, so it would take several hours to come to room temperature. you want it to be really solid for transport.

its a shame this happened, but you two handled it well. you should be proud of that.

kansaswolf Posted 23 Jun 2008 , 6:00am
post #5 of 19

The flowers ARE quite lovely... icon_biggrin.gif

SO sorry this happened to you though... icon_sad.gif

-K8memphis Posted 23 Jun 2008 , 6:04am
post #6 of 19

'A good whack as it was going through each board' would have created pressure on the cakes and might have helped shake loose or start a crack in that middle tier and it like burst and just flipped the top tier off with it. See that contact paper on the boards made for a more resistant surface to whack through too. Was it chilled when you whacked it?

Well then on the carving thing. The hole in the top of each tier has to be at least exactly big enough or bigger than necessary, cannot be a smidge too small. I do not squish my cake in there, I carve more out so it's very comfy because I don't want to create any pressure on those already wonky carved cakes. Plus y'know the tallest part of the little ledge of cake that surrounds the hole? The inside angle of that cut has to match (or be greater, looser) than the angle of the cake that's gonna sit there. It can't just be a hole it has to be sculpted out some too. So it will be angled up and out, away from the center--it can't be straight up & down there.

Did you have the dowel (or straws or whatever) placed toward the outside edge of the cardboard circle that rested on them or placed halfway-ish in between the edge and the mid point?

It really sounds like some pressure was involved huh. If cake had just cracked off, the center dowel wouldn't have come loose. Otherwise the center dowel would have stayed stuck in the bottom tier.

I think the teensly little g force of the stop was the straw that broke the topsy turvy camel's back.

And in 30 minutes you probably would be at your destination. The last thing that goes in my car is the cake directly from the frige. The corrugated boxes really help insulate them.

-K8memphis Posted 23 Jun 2008 , 6:10am
post #7 of 19

In fact, if you look at the bottom of the top tier on the left side the icing looks squoshed up a tid tad like it needed a bit more room.

Man, that was a gorgeous cake though, beautiful work, Cake-buddy!

BlakesCakes Posted 23 Jun 2008 , 9:12pm
post #8 of 19

I've used the tutorial here, too, and I've also seen BKeith Ryder do the cake in person (he's the author of the tutorial).

One thing that BKeith stresses is that each inset hole must be completely level before putting in the next cake. He also uses the SPS system where the plate and legs are attached together. I think that makes a huge difference when it comes to stablility. His cake has no dowels driven through it because of the rigid plates used.

Good luck next time.

ccr03 Posted 24 Jun 2008 , 5:01pm
post #9 of 19

awww I have to say is HUGS!!!!

ThatsHowTcakesRolls Posted 24 Jun 2008 , 5:11pm
post #10 of 19

I really think the problem is that you just put a topsy turvy cake in the trunk of a car. That just seems FAR too risky for anyone to do. Trunks are hot and the back part of any car is the worst with shocks - VERY bumpy. I'm so sorry this happened...What a shame on such a beautiful cake.

Good Luck in the future...


mlharvell Posted 24 Jun 2008 , 5:26pm
post #11 of 19

I am so sorry this happened to you! My suggestion would be to assemble it on site. I hardly ever travel with a tiered cake unless I absolutely have to. {{hugs}}

aswartzw Posted 24 Jun 2008 , 5:27pm
post #12 of 19

I don't know if you have the option, but when I put a cake in my trunk I lower the back seats and blast the A/C so I can cool my truck also.

The cake did look gorgeous and I really wish I could've seen the finish product. icon_sad.gif

KateWatson Posted 24 Jun 2008 , 5:29pm
post #13 of 19

You did a great job, it's a beautiful, creative, fun cake!! If you take on another, could you make the layers, put them in boxes, transport and then assemble on site? It seems with these high-maintenance, difficult topsy-turvys you'd have better "control" with assembling it at the reception. They are very tempermental if you ask me and it doesn't take much for one tiny thing to be off and then the whole thing collapses! Kudos again and keep up the great work!!

Maria_Campos Posted 24 Jun 2008 , 5:48pm
post #14 of 19

I will bet anything it was the trunk, I don't know what type of car you drive but in my car the trunk is the most bumpy and my shocks a horrible and when accelarating the gravity is pulling no matter how lightly you press the gas. I know I might sound crazy, but what we do is that my DH drives slower than usual with the blinkers on whlie I balance the cake in my lap. I have delivered topsy turvys and 3 tiered cakes like this and no problems... few annoyed drivers and the middle finger if on a one way lane... but no problem with the cake.

Maria_Campos Posted 24 Jun 2008 , 5:49pm
post #15 of 19

Great job by the way! I'm sure it was gorgeous all together ((hugs))

melodyscakes Posted 24 Jun 2008 , 7:15pm
post #16 of 19

I've learned the hard way, not to travel with more than two tiers stacked. I've had some mishaps and now will never stack a cake before delivery....also I wouldn't put it in the trunk either, too hot. plus put it in a box..everything every one else said.

sorry this happened to you!


RobzC8kz Posted 24 Jun 2008 , 10:48pm
post #17 of 19

I would say, based on my experience, that your problem seems to stem from trying to transport a three tier, fully assembled, wedding cake. I'm not perfect by any means, but to date, I've never had a cake disaster like this because I never transport any cake, higher than two tiers, fully assembled.

My best advice would be for you to plan on arriving at events early enough to finish assembly and decorating in order to avoid disasters during transport.

It sounds like you constructed the cake perfectly! But even the best assembly can be shaken loose while driving.

Better safe than sorry.

mamacc Posted 25 Jun 2008 , 12:14am
post #18 of 19
Originally Posted by tbroskoski

I really think the problem is that you just put a topsy turvy cake in the trunk of a car. That just seems FAR too risky for anyone to do. Trunks are hot and the back part of any car is the worst with shocks - VERY bumpy. I'm so sorry this happened...What a shame on such a beautiful cake.

Good Luck in the future...


This is what I was thinking...trunk is not a good idea for fully assembled cake. I transported a three tiery topsy turvy cake on the passenger seat of my minivan before. I leveled the seat with towels.

aswartzw Posted 25 Jun 2008 , 1:06pm
post #19 of 19
Originally Posted by aswartzw

I don't know if you have the option, but when I put a cake in my trunk I lower the back seats and blast the A/C so I can cool my truck also.

The cake did look gorgeous and I really wish I could've seen the finish product. icon_sad.gif

Okay this was supposed to say cool my trunk!!! icon_redface.gif

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