My First Wedding Disaster.... (Long)

Decorating By Chef_Rinny Updated 29 Jun 2009 , 8:00pm by nonnyscakes

Chef_Rinny Posted 22 Jun 2009 , 1:13am
post #1 of 21

First let me say that I have finally taken the steps after decorating for 7 years, to open a legal cake decorating business, which officially opens for business July 1st.

I agreed to do this cake for a friend of a family member. It was supposed to be simple, 3 tiers, buttercream icing, fresh gerber daisies cascading down the side, yellow cake with caramel and chocolate filling.

I baked and filled the cakes thursday, crumb coated them friday and put them in the fridge overnight. Saturday I took them out and iced them, stacked, looked great! I walked away from them and came back about 20 minutes later to find TONS of condensation all over the cakes. I have NEVER had this happen to me with buttercream before! I took it all apart, scraped off all the buttercream, made a whole new batch of buttercream, re-iced, re-stacked, re-decorated. We ran out of the house and rushed to the site b/c I was now running late. By the time I got to the reception site the caramel filling was bulging through the sides and had started to ooze out in spots. At this point there wasn't much I could do! I brought it in (trying to hide my tears) patched it the best I could with buttercream, added more flowers.... it looked awful. I told the MOG they couldn't display it. We stuck it in their refrigerator and I told her to keep it there until the cutting ceremony and I just prayed it didn't get worse.

This is not what I needed barely two weeks before I quit my job and throw everything I have into opening a business! I was in tears most of yesterday, had nightmares about it last night, and felt awful all morning. I dreaded having to call the MOB.

This morning I called the MOB (who was the one who ordered the cake). I apologized, explained what happened, offered a refund..... she refused it! She was sooo nice about it all. Said the cake looked fine and it was the best cake she ever tasted. She told me I needed to send her business cards so she could refer people to me! icon_confused.gif Later she sent me the sweetest email thanking me for doing the cake, continuing to gush over how great it tasted, etc... She even sent me pictures to "prove it wasn't as bad as I thought". lol.

I'm going to still send her a gift certificate for a future cake b/c I won't feel completely ok with it until I feel I have made things right....but OMG I couldn't believe how nice she was about it! It just shows that there still are some amazing people out there!

Anyway.... I am still a little upset on how this could have happened. My only thought is that I put the cakes overnight in a new mini fridge that we just got. I did notice when I took the cakes out that there was A LOT of condensation on the back wall of the fridge. Could that have caused the condensation on the buttercream and possibly gotten into the caramel filling to make it softer than normal? I KNOW that batch of caramel filling should have been stiff enough to stay inside b/c I had extra which I kept aside and ate this morning. It was very stiff...not the oozing consistency that came out of the cake. Any thoughts?

20 replies
BeeBoos-8599_ Posted 22 Jun 2009 , 1:22am
post #2 of 21

I am so sorry you had such a bad experience. Please ease up on yourself. Just the law of averages would tell you that eventually you are going to have an issue with a cake at some point. Everyone can tell you a story that is similar to the one you had. I think you did everything you could. I would say that there is a seal issue with the fridge. That can cause condensation to build up and yes I am sure that is what caused the issues with the filling. Take a dollar bill down and try shutting in the door all of the way around. I bet you will find a problem. I would go ahead and send the gift certificate and include some of your cards. They were happy with the cake and you should be happy about that. Keep your chin up.

2txmedics Posted 22 Jun 2009 , 1:25am
post #3 of 21

Im sorry you had a bad experience, but it all turned out well for you, god saw to that. You did your best and the fact that the cake tasted great it all the difference!!

My first wedding cake for a friend about the same thing happen, I had to deliver it 1hr away, and the b/c hadnt crusted on the cake...I had just finished it, when I got to the event...all the b/c had slid off the side of the cake!!! and I didnt have much of my tools, only minor tools. I was greener than

When i got there, everyone came up to me, it was a home wedding, she had like 50 people, the cake is here!!! I was oh god, my hands were shaking..etc...I told them I needed to fix up the cake and set it up on the table, and I needed everyone gone. Well the room they had it set up for the cake cutting was with this HUGE SLIDING door...facing the reception and everyone is looking in.

I got greenery, tulle, flowers added on the cake...all I could do the design on the cake was ruined, she loved the cake, tipped me an extra 80.00 on top of that!!!! its in my album, interlocking red heart 3 cakes and take a deep breath!!!! *hugs*

KawaiiCakeCook Posted 22 Jun 2009 , 1:25am
post #4 of 21

As I have said to other posters, bad cakes are like bad hair days they happen to everyone. Who knows what happened? Maybe the earth rotated a little faster yesterday or a butterfly sneazed? Do a small practice cake and see what happens.

BlakesCakes Posted 22 Jun 2009 , 1:33am
post #5 of 21

I'm sorry that all of this happened.

I have several suggestions. First off, perhaps the refrigerator is actually cold enough to freeze. That could have contributed to all of the condensation and the change in the consistency of the caramel.

That said, I would have just allowed the cake to "defrost" and perhaps set a fan on low on it to remove the condensation. Unlike fondant, condensation on buttercream really isn't a problem as long as it has time to dry.

Lastly, I think every caramel filling needs a really super stiff dam around it to keep it from oozing. It just seems to be a filling that if there's a way to get out, it will find it. I even put a crumb coat of buttercream UNDER caramel in order to stop it from seeping.

Glad the MOB was such a stand-up person. I think giving her a gift cert. for a cake is a nice gesture.

Best of luck with your new business.

step0nmi Posted 22 Jun 2009 , 1:35am
post #6 of 21

I am so sorry this happened to you....the funny thing is I was JUST going to post something about this in a minuet after reading your thread icon_lol.gif

First of all, BeeBoos was right...there could be a seal problem in your fridge. Also, I looked the other day and there is a switch in the back of my fridge when there is too much condensation on the inside of your was called a "power saver switch", you may want to look for that. ( I would check for this first )

You know...I have the same issue...and I always knew that it was a very cold cake coming out into the humid weather. I know that where I live in WI we are FULL of humidity and heat. It's better to have a temperature controlled fridge or a more neutral temped area to decorate in. But, I think no matter what if you bring the cake out from the cold into the heat you are going to get condensation.

Please someone tell me I'm wrong!? and if someone has a solution I would like to know too! (cuz I am about to decorate two cakes all the way across town in some AC this weekend so that my cakes don't melt icon_sad.gif )

Deb_ Posted 22 Jun 2009 , 1:09pm
post #7 of 21

To the OP, I notice you're in Rhode Island. I live in Massachusetts but only 5 minutes from RI so I was interested in your post because I had the same problem this weekend.

I made a 2 tier with a grad cap on top (thankfully for a family member) and it was the first time in years that I had a problem with my bc not adhering to the cake. (if you look in my photos, you can actually see the shiny condensation on the butter cream)

I HAD to refrigerate the tiers to get the butter cream to harden before I put the final icing on.

Well I think the refrigeration was the problem. As soon as I took the tiers out to stack, condensation started forming and I mean a LOT of condensation.

While it wasn't really hot here this weekend, it was humid and I'm kicking myself for refrigerating these tiers, I NEVER refrigerate since we can't sell perishable foods from home.

I really think it was the cold cake being introduced into a warm humid environment that caused the condensation. My butter cream NEVER crusted and it's a crusting butter cream.

All I know is I will NEVER put tiers in the refrigerator again.

BTW, you said you're getting ready to open your new business, where in Rhode Island will it be...........maybe I'll stop in!

EDIT TO ADD: OK, I see you are open by appt only so no store front. Great website by the way! l I wish you the very best of luck! icon_smile.gif

Chef_Rinny Posted 23 Jun 2009 , 8:56pm
post #8 of 21

Thank you all for your support and replies! I am definitely going to take this as a learning experience. I am starting to wonder if it really was a combination of factors. The fridge does have a moisture problem, I won't use that again, but I think it may have been magnified by the humidity. I've got a bunch of orders this weekend, so wish me luck! icon_wink.gif

I am getting set up in West Kingston, it's in southern rhode island. Right now it's by appointment only, but I'm hoping after a year or two to have enough business to move into a place with a store front. Do you know of any local cake clubs, classes, etc.... I have been trying to get involved with something, but can't find anything! I tried to join Rhode Island ICES but it doesn't appear to be active. I'm willing to travel a little for cake talk! icon_wink.gif lol

charliecakes Posted 23 Jun 2009 , 9:22pm
post #9 of 21

As the others said, don't fret and don't be to hard on yourself. I have had cakes do some pretty strange things at times and I have been decorating for years. We are our own worst critics. Things happen. Plain and simple. As decorators and cake artists, we work with a medium that can sometimes be so delicate and hard to work with. It is cake afterall. Most of us have good honest customers who realize that we have to deal with a perishable, soft product and things happen. We are not perfect. I'm happy your customer was so nice about it.

Deb_ Posted 23 Jun 2009 , 11:49pm
post #10 of 21
Originally Posted by Chef_Rinny

I am getting set up in West Kingston, it's in southern rhode island. Right now it's by appointment only, but I'm hoping after a year or two to have enough business to move into a place with a store front. Do you know of any local cake clubs, classes, etc.... I have been trying to get involved with something, but can't find anything! I tried to join Rhode Island ICES but it doesn't appear to be active. I'm willing to travel a little for cake talk! icon_wink.gif lol

Oh sure, I know exactly where you are, my husband went to URI many moons ago.

No, I don't know of any local cake clubs or classes. I wish there were some. If I hear of any I'll PM you.

Best wishes to you with your new business, I hope you make LOTS of money! icon_biggrin.gif

Deb icon_smile.gif

lbrown Posted 24 Jun 2009 , 7:20pm
post #11 of 21

At least they had cake, and it was fine, I'm sure. Last May,hubby and I were delivering a wedding cake, groom's cake, cupcakes, the works when were rear ended while at a stop light. We were knocked across 6 lanes of traffic and miraculously not hit by anyone. We were alright, but the cakes didn't fare as well. My trunk was basically in my backseat, and the cakes were in the trunk. Needless to say, 2 hours before the wedding, 30 miles from home, and an er visit, there was nothing I could do but let them know. They were great--only concerned about our well being. I refunded all the cake money after having to sternly insist. (They wanted me to keep it for my trouble.) And we received e-mails and thank you notes from the bride and her mother. They were exceptional. This year I made the couple an anniversary cake, (since they didn't get to have one to keep) at no charge. Again, it took insistance on my part. I told them when they started having babies I would start charging them for cakes. There are lots of great, understanding people in the world, and I was fortunate to come across a few of them. (Sorry this is so long.)

ninatat Posted 25 Jun 2009 , 1:55pm
post #12 of 21

all your cakes are beautiful

Cakelady232 Posted 25 Jun 2009 , 2:08pm
post #13 of 21

It was the cannot frost cold cake in the summer......Condensation will form if the cake temperature is less than the room condensation on a glass of cold water.......Icing can fall off....cake icing will have moisture on it.......I think it's not a problem as along as the cake has time to warm up before icing....or if condensation forms....wait a will dry off......just like the condensation on the outside of the glass of cool will eventually evaporate.


Glad MOB was a gem...some can be awful!

Mensch Posted 26 Jun 2009 , 4:33am
post #14 of 21

I....frost cold.....cake all the....time. I have never.....had...a.....problem.

What a nice MOB! Make sure you offer the couple a free cake on their anniversary.

Chef_Rinny Posted 28 Jun 2009 , 11:30pm
post #15 of 21

Thanks again for all the replies and support. I did two big cakes this weekend, using the same method I have always, in my original refrigerator, and had NO problems! Yay!!! I'm convinced it must have been the new fridge. Ahhh, live and learn icon_smile.gif

-K8memphis Posted 28 Jun 2009 , 11:36pm
post #16 of 21
Originally Posted by Mensch

I....frost cold.....cake all the....time. I have never.....had...a.....problem.

me too

Originally Posted by Mensch

What a nice MOB! Make sure you offer the couple a free cake on their anniversary.

Yes what a sweetheart!!!

Chef_Rinny Posted 29 Jun 2009 , 12:08am
post #17 of 21

Yeah, in the first bakery I worked at we used to fill the cakes, freeze them, then pull them out and frost them frozen. NEVER had an issue... Considering most of the fillings I use are perishable, I couldn't do it any other way.

I'm just praying it really was the fridge and I won't ever have that problem again! Next time I might not have such a sweet MOB! lol.

notjustcakes Posted 29 Jun 2009 , 6:10pm
post #18 of 21

I live in the Southwest USA and in August it gets super humid here as we have what they call monsoon season. I too use perishable ingredients so I take my cakes out of the fridge cold and frost cold.. No problems with condensation. But when it is realllly humid, this is the time that I add Meringue powder to my Buttercream icing and make my buttercream with half shortening and half butter, and I add a pinch of popcorn salt to the frosting to get rid of graininess that some people complain about with decorator icing. The meringue sort of "drys out" the buttercream on the outside and "seals" the cake. That icing ain't going nowhere with the meringue and I tell customers it is a matter of having the cake hold up for their wedding ceremony. The icing tastes great, the perishable fillings are where the oohs and aahs are...BTW, the buttercream is just crusted on the outside, once a knife goes thru it its not dry.

Chef_Rinny Posted 29 Jun 2009 , 6:25pm
post #19 of 21

Notjustcakes- I've read about putting meringue powder in before...but haven't tried it. How much do you add?

notjustcakes Posted 29 Jun 2009 , 7:32pm
post #20 of 21

2 cups butter (use salted- it cuts the oversweetness), 2 cups shortening high ratio, flavoring (vanilla or whatever you like) 2-6 Tablespoons half and half, 4 pounds powdered sugar, 3 Tablespoons Meringue powder, couple pinches of popcorn salt. Put in in the mixer...I know many purists will complain that this isn't one of the Italian buttercreams or the other buttercreams that are cooked, but the key to getting good results and texture with this buttercream is the popcorn salt and mixing it for a FULL 20 minutes for fluffiness. Add more liquid if using for piping..Less if for roses..I have yet to have this slide off the cake or hold the fillings in..Even in 100+ temps and over 50% humidity....If your cake and filling are great, this frosting will hold it all together and you don't have to stress that it's not going to hold...PM me if you need more info...

nonnyscakes Posted 29 Jun 2009 , 8:00pm
post #21 of 21

I use a similar recipe as notjustcakes but with water instead of Half & Half, 4 Tbsp Meringue Pwdr instead of 3 Tbsp - no extra salt.

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