I Feel Terrible...first Real Customer And It Was A Disaster

Decorating By aboud18 Updated 18 Feb 2009 , 1:26am by Wendl

aboud18 Posted 13 Feb 2009 , 10:02pm
post #1 of 37

So I just got a call from my first real customer telling me that her cake is falling apart!

I was recommended by a friend to this lady I just made this cake for. She sent me a picture of what she wanted it to look like, I baked it and it turned out so cute.

Fast forward to this morning, I go to meet her and drop off the cake and when I open my trunk, it is slightly crooked/sliding. The weather is terrible here today in Louisiana, rainy and humid. I gently push the cakes back to the upright position and they seem to look okay. When i transfer the cake from my car to hers, one of my mmf ropes fall off! EEK! I tell her its no biggie, just get a dab of water and stick it back on when you get back to your house. As I drive away, Im praying that the cake doesn't fall apart on her.

I just got a call from the lady telling me that her cake has fallen apart and she had to take the top 2 layers ( there were 3 all together) off and put it on another platter. She then tells me that the second layer is starting to get crooked and droop. I didnt even know what to tell this lady! I feel so terrible. I am planning on sending all her money back right now!

Now I remember why I dont like doing cakes for people I don't know. I'm going back to cupcakes and cookies icon_cry.gif

36 replies
mcdonald Posted 13 Feb 2009 , 10:09pm
post #2 of 37

STOP!! Don't loose faith!! I think we all have horror stories of this happening.

I was delivering a bride and groom cake(s) to a beautiful venue at country club. I had been up all night, seriously, with problems with the cake.... layers separating (had to rebake 2), filling oozing out, getting the icing smooth... YUCK!! Two hours sleep that night and got them all set and kept them in the coolest place in my house and all was okay. UNTIL... the venue was an hour away and all was fine. It was close to 100 outside and the humidity was about the same. I remember turning to look at the back of the car to see how they were doing about half way there and OMG!!! The icing was falling off the sides of both cakes. It was a disaster!! I ran inside the venue yelling "where's the kitchen". WEnt there and proceeded to freeze the cake up some and the redo the whole friggin thing. I ended up not taking any money that day either. Just couldn't do it... it was a friggin disaster.. and this was also a friend referral.

Sometimes things just happen...... no matter what you do. Have faith and don't give up!!! I had to get back up on that horse and try again and so far so good!!! Back on track!!

summernoelle Posted 13 Feb 2009 , 10:25pm
post #3 of 37

That's a very stressful thing to go through!

First-what support system did you use? Dowels? Straws?
Did each cake have it's own plate-cardboard, etc?

Let us know, and we can help you figure out why this happened to you. You can do this, it just takes time and practice. And a lot of times, you may have missed a step you didn't realize you needed to complete.

CakeWhizz Posted 13 Feb 2009 , 10:29pm
post #4 of 37

Hi Aboud,
Please don't be too hard on yourself. I've also had a number of disasters, some which I fixed and some I couldn't. The most important thing is to pick yourself right back up and learn from what went wrong. As a result of a cake falling apart, I now use SPS system. In addition, I bought a number of instructional DVDs and I also assemble cakes on site. You must be very good to get recommendations, so please do carry on.

scrapperjade Posted 13 Feb 2009 , 10:33pm
post #5 of 37

Okay, I know you said that it had started to lean over BEFORE you handed the cake off to her, BUT you also don't know how the cake was treated after you handed it off. Maybe she hit a few bumps, turned a corner a little too fast and it just couldn't take the abuse?

summernoelle Posted 13 Feb 2009 , 10:35pm
post #6 of 37

scrapper-the cake was falling apart when the OP opened her trunk to get the cake out. It was already starting to collapse, which makes me wonder how it was constructed. Hopefully we can help her solve the mystery. icon_smile.gif I don't think it was the client's fault since there were already structural issues.

scrapperjade Posted 13 Feb 2009 , 10:43pm
post #7 of 37
Quote:
Originally Posted by summernoelle

scrapper-the cake was falling apart when the OP opened her trunk to get the cake out. It was already starting to collapse, which makes me wonder how it was constructed. Hopefully we can help her solve the mystery. icon_smile.gif I don't think it was the client's fault since there were already structural issues.




Very true! Maybe a case of the dreaded wooden dowels, lol! When I make my first tiered cake, I'm getting SPS! Too many horrors of dowels!

indydebi Posted 13 Feb 2009 , 10:45pm
post #8 of 37

For future deliveries, the trunk is the worst place to put a cake as this is the bumpiest, roughest-ride part of a car.

korensmommy Posted 13 Feb 2009 , 10:49pm
post #9 of 37

She's right about the weather down here! I never have trouble with my icing, except on very humid days--like today!

What kind of support system did you use?

Next time you do a cake, e-mail me and I will come over. I'm not an expert, but I can share what I know.

ginger6361 Posted 13 Feb 2009 , 10:51pm
post #10 of 37

Can you tell me wat SPS is?? icon_smile.gif

rockysmommy Posted 13 Feb 2009 , 10:53pm
post #11 of 37
Quote:
Originally Posted by scrapperjade

Quote:
Originally Posted by summernoelle

scrapper-the cake was falling apart when the OP opened her trunk to get the cake out. It was already starting to collapse, which makes me wonder how it was constructed. Hopefully we can help her solve the mystery. icon_smile.gif I don't think it was the client's fault since there were already structural issues.



Very true! Maybe a case of the dreaded wooden dowels, lol! When I make my first tiered cake, I'm getting SPS! Too many horrors of dowels!




I have read about so many problems with people who are using wooden dowels...yet in all of my DVD's...they use them when stacking cakes. I haven't stacked a cake yet...but from what I have read so far, I am going to purchase SPS.

mcdonald Posted 13 Feb 2009 , 10:55pm
post #12 of 37

I use bubble straws for my supports.. .wider and sturdier than those darn dowel "sticks".. yuck!!!!

I agree with the trunk too.

jammjenks Posted 13 Feb 2009 , 10:56pm
post #13 of 37
Quote:
Originally Posted by korensmommy

She's right about the weather down here! I never have trouble with my icing, except on very humid days--like today!

What kind of support system did you use?

Next time you do a cake, e-mail me and I will come over. I'm not an expert, but I can share what I know.




How nice of you to offer that to her. thumbs_up.gif

scrapperjade Posted 13 Feb 2009 , 10:58pm
post #14 of 37
Quote:
Originally Posted by ginger6361

Can you tell me wat SPS is?? icon_smile.gif




SPS is a really good support system. I can't give you much info because I've never used them before, but if you use the Search feature, and type in SPS, you'll get a wealth of knowledge!

summernoelle Posted 13 Feb 2009 , 11:00pm
post #15 of 37

rockysmom-DON'T USE WOODEN DOWELS! I had a disaster with a wedding cake because of them. The bottom tier of my cake just crumbled, but I didn't know why. About a month later, I made another cake, looked over, and it was severely leaning forward. I took the cake apart, looked at the bottom tier from the top, and could see where the dowel had shifted forward and ripped apart my cake.
I used them because I saw them in a book. But I will NEVER AGAIN use them.

leah_s Posted 13 Feb 2009 , 11:01pm
post #16 of 37

Definitely use SPS. It was developed so that customers could pick up and deliver their own cakes. And as I always say, "Easy. Cheap. Sturdy." What more could you want?

costumeczar Posted 13 Feb 2009 , 11:06pm
post #17 of 37

I always use wooden dowels, they're not so evil...It sounds like the weather was partly to blame. I used to live in New Orleans, and my parents lived in Mobile, and that kind of humidity will kill a cake.

Getus Posted 13 Feb 2009 , 11:09pm
post #18 of 37

SPS...please tell me where I can order. Please tell me exactly what I need to order if I want to do a 12, 9, 6 cake.
TIA! thumbs_up.gif

indydebi Posted 13 Feb 2009 , 11:13pm
post #19 of 37

I've used wooden dowels for 30 years. ONly had one issue and it was a slider ... due to too much filling and the guy in front of me slamming on his brakes.

But the SPS system is on my shopping list!

JodieF Posted 13 Feb 2009 , 11:17pm
post #20 of 37

I order SPS from Oasis......for a 6, 9, 12 you'll need a 6 inch plate, a 9 inch plate and the pillars. Very inexpensive and easy!

cathyscakes Posted 13 Feb 2009 , 11:34pm
post #21 of 37

I have used wooden dowels for 30 years too. Never had a problem, so i'm not so sure. Maybe you didn't put enough dowels in, or uneven, there could be all kinds of variables.

scrapperjade Posted 13 Feb 2009 , 11:34pm
post #22 of 37
Quote:
Originally Posted by Getus

SPS...please tell me where I can order. Please tell me exactly what I need to order if I want to do a 12, 9, 6 cake.
TIA! thumbs_up.gif




You can get them from Global Sugar Art... I was looking at Leah's SPS tutorial found HERE and she has more info about them. From what I can tell (correct me someone if I'm misunderstanding), you will need a 9" and a 6" plate to support the top 2 layers, as well as the pillars and just a normal cake board for the bottom layer.

phoufer Posted 13 Feb 2009 , 11:50pm
post #23 of 37

Listen to Leahs! I used SPS for the first time last weekend for a 3 tier baby shower cake. It is awesome, no more dowels for me.

icer101 Posted 13 Feb 2009 , 11:55pm
post #24 of 37

i have used both systems.. use wooden dowels more.. never in 13 yrs. have i had a disaster , using the wooden dowels... my cakes are sturdy, though... when i stack cakes... a friend, took a stacked cake , with dowels.. to virginia from north carolina... she had no problem... most of the time, it is our fault.... not the clients fault.. just some little something.. that we should have done or not done.. hth

aboud18 Posted 17 Feb 2009 , 3:25pm
post #25 of 37

Thanks for all of ya'll support. Friday was just a terrible day for me and I'm glad its over!

I had actually used the dreaded wooded dowels!! I have used wooden dowels in every one of my other cakes but I guess I've learned my lesson here. I didn't know there was another way to support cakes. I'll have to do some reading on this SPS method ya'll are talking about.

The bottom tier was 12'' filled with a pudding type filling which might have attributed to the sliding around. I put at least 6 wooden dowels in that layer. The second layer was 9'' filled with another pudding type filling (I'm starting to see a trend here) that was also doweled with 6 dowels. The top was a 6'' with no dowels. All three layers were covered with mmf.

Maybe I need to work on the buttercream dam used to keep all the pudding from seeping out. I thought I had done a decent enough job but I guess not. Maybe I needed to do the dam thicker. EEKkk!

After this cake disaster, I've learned to just let things go. It is not the end of the world if a cake falls apart. All I can do is apologize and move on. Can't cry over a broken cake... But I can have a few margaritas and laugh about it icon_biggrin.gif

Deb_ Posted 17 Feb 2009 , 4:08pm
post #26 of 37

Everything seems a little brighter after a Margarita, doesn't it? icon_biggrin.gif

I think we can all relate to how you're feeling, we've all had at LEAST 1 cake disaster of some kind, it does stink though that this was your first paying customer. Hopefully, she's been nice about it?


Some of my best lessons came from a disaster!

For the record I don't use dowels anymore, not because of the stability, I never had a problem with that, but because of the splintering that COULD occur. Some people slide the wooden dowel through a drinking straw, that's a good way to avoid splinters.

I use the plastic dowels or hidden pillars that fit into the plastic plates. Very similar to SPS, except the SPS has a notch that you can clip the cakeboard onto. (I just like the convenience of being able to buy the plates and pillars at my bakery supply store, without worrying about ordering on-line.) I've been talking to the manager about carrying SPS, but she doesn't seem interested or there isn't enough customer interest I guess. Oh well!

I do however for my larger tiered cakes, pre-drill a large center hole in my plastic plates and cake boards and use a center dowel, but only for my taller than 3 tier cakes or heavy designs.

What happened with the customer, was she decent about the whole thing?

Sneezie Posted 17 Feb 2009 , 4:28pm
post #27 of 37

When doing tiered cakes do you recommend using the plates instead of the cardboard cake circles?

butterfly831915 Posted 17 Feb 2009 , 4:55pm
post #28 of 37

with sps you use the cake circles with the plates and then there is a little prick on the plate that you have to place in a hole you've punched in you circles in the middle, a little extra stability.

aboud18 Posted 17 Feb 2009 , 5:08pm
post #29 of 37
Quote:
Originally Posted by dkelly

Everything seems a little brighter after a Margarita, doesn't it? icon_biggrin.gif

I think we can all relate to how you're feeling, we've all had at LEAST 1 cake disaster of some kind, it does stink though that this was your first paying customer. Hopefully, she's been nice about it?


Some of my best lessons came from a disaster!

For the record I don't use dowels anymore, not because of the stability, I never had a problem with that, but because of the splintering that COULD occur. Some people slide the wooden dowel through a drinking straw, that's a good way to avoid splinters.

I use the plastic dowels or hidden pillars that fit into the plastic plates. Very similar to SPS, except the SPS has a notch that you can clip the cakeboard onto. (I just like the convenience of being able to buy the plates and pillars at my bakery supply store, without worrying about ordering on-line.) I've been talking to the manager about carrying SPS, but she doesn't seem interested or there isn't enough customer interest I guess. Oh well!

I do however for my larger tiered cakes, pre-drill a large center hole in my plastic plates and cake boards and use a center dowel, but only for my taller than 3 tier cakes or heavy designs.

What happened with the customer, was she decent about the whole thing?




When she called me later in the afternoon to tell me it was falling apart she didn't sound too happy. But I guess I would be aggravated too if I just paid for a cake and it was a mess. I wish I would have been able to tell her what to do, but the cake was way beyond help!

I tried to call her the next day to apologize but she didn't answer. I did leave a message but she didn't call me back either. I actually just dropped an apology note in the mail with her full refund. That was a lot of work for nothing! Maybe she'll send me the check back icon_confused.gif I can only hope huh? Haha

deb12g Posted 17 Feb 2009 , 5:24pm
post #30 of 37

I've used dowels for years, no problems. I'm in Louisiana, too - about 30 miles north of Lafayette. I think putting it in the trunk was a BIG part of the problem. Trunk is super hot, super rough. It doesn't take long in this heat & humidity for icing, filling, EVERYTHING to completely soften and droop. ALways transport in an air conditioned, very cold vehicle. Most of the time, my air is running in the cold weather, too. Cakes are very sensitive to heat & humidity. But, don't give up! Let this be a learning experience.

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