I knew it would happen eventually, but you're just never ready to mess up someone's order. I made a square three tier cake for a 50th anniversary. It was SO hard - I hate square cakes. I struggled with filling that wouldn't firm up, working for hours to get square corners and smooth sides, and running out of ribbon and having to piece it together, but I finished it with only 10 minutes to spare before I had to leave to deliver it, and I thought it looked really good. It's the white cake with gold ribbon and red gumpaste roses.
I put the cake into a giant box and drove about 15 miles to the venue. When I went to take it out of the car I didn't want to pick it up in the box because it was too big to handle, so I took the side of the box down and lifted the cake out, and that's when the trouble began. I couldn't close the car door with the box side down and I started struggling with the stupid box while I was holding the cake in my arms. I tilted the cake way too much and the bottom layer started to shift (owing to the slippery bavarian cream and fresh strawberries inside). When I realized it, I tilted it back in the other direction to try to straighten it back out, which helped a bit. I took it in and set it down, and the bottom layer was clearly shifted so I raised the front of the board up about two inches and told them they'd have to leave it that way or it would probably collapse on itself. The icing at the bottom on the front of the cake was squashed down and I had to pull off the ribbon and re-apply it to cover up the squashed icing.
Anyway, it still looked pretty when I left it, and the hostess loved it. But I was absolutely terrified that it was going to collapse.
I had to go pick up my daughter, so I left it, but then I just had to go back and check on it. After about an hour, it didn't look like it had shifted any more, so I felt better that it would stand up. After finally producing such a pretty cake, it was so deflating to have this happen. I just wanted to bawl all the way home, and I lived in terror all afternoon that the caterer would call and tell me it fell (I told her to call me if anything happened).
I'm pretty sure the dowels shifted when I tilted it (stupid, stupid). I know, I know, now I'm for sure a believer in SPS. I think I'll order some tomorrow. I was feeling pretty sassy about being a full-time cake designer and how well I am doing, but this was a VERY sobering moment for me. My stomach still hurts.
Thanks for listening to my rant at myself.
I feel for ya'. It happens to everyone and it is always stressful. I don't think i will ever forget the wedding cake that cracked during delivery. I cried and was so nervous that the whole thing would topple over.
I am glad the hostess was happy and no additional news came about. It is always hard when these things happen just as our confidence starts to rise. The good thing is that you know why it happened and you can avoid the trouble next time.
Have something yummy, try to calm down and be ready to face the next cake armed with new knowledge!
Sending you hugs!
So sorry! Totally feeling your pain , had a similar experience with a rather large cake that I was so sure I could pull off with no problem and it turned out to be a BIG problem. It didn't fall or anything like that, just couldn't manage to get the 2nd of 3 tiers level, no matter what I tried. It was level when the tiers were separate but when they were stacked- forget it! Tomorrow is always brighter
Thanks for your encouragement. I was so discouraged today. I think tomorrow needs to be a cake-free day.
Gee, sorry for all of the excitement.
I'd venture to say that no support system would withstand a drastic tilt to a heavy cake with a notoriously slippery filling combo.
No matter what's been put into a cake vertically, when the whole thing is tipped/tilted significantly, gravity takes over and the cake actually shifts around the supports. The shift is greater when the fillings are very different in density and viscosity from the cake itself.
No doubt that once put level again, the SPS would keep the tiers level, but any layer slippage would still be present.
I box all tiered cakes in an open box that is just a bit larger than the baseboard. I sit the box down and lift straight up, setting the cake in its final position.....and if my DH has to carry the box, I keep repeating, "Keep it level. Keep it level."
Is it the one in your gallery? It is lovely! I'm sorry, I hope tomorrow is better. I wonder if it ever get easier? Hasn't yet for me much.
oh yes! i really feel your pain. there is nothing worse than having your confidence shattered like that. i still have that feeling in my stomach from my worst cake disaster. it was a cake for my sisters fifteenth wedding annivresary. they were renewing their vows and wanted a 3 tier wedding cake for the occasion. i hadn't done much decorating before this and never a wedding cake and i also had spent a lot of time working with filling that kept bulging and making everything level. and finally after being up most of the night i was feeling good about how it all looked. as i was carrying the middle tier out of the house my shirt sleeve caught the door handle and jerked my arm back and the whole tier ended up on my porch floor. i just looked at the mess and cried. my sister ended up with a 2 tiered cake and i did have time to bake a sheet cake so that she would have enough to feed everyone. just goes to show that we never know what could happen and there is no way to plan for some of this. good luck with all your future cake projects.
dont' be so hard on yourself. i had my first HUGE screw up for a wedding last weekend. I had a tier leaning and got worse at their reception. the site never called to tell me. but still my fault, obviously. anyway, i ended up refunding 25% to the bride and groom. It took several days to get rid of the awful feeling in the pit of my stomach. but it felt better doing the 5 wedding cake, 11 double sheet cakes and 80 petit fours for this weekend! Although, my 36 hour no sleep didn't feel good. I looked in the gallery. Your cakes are just superb. And the end result of the anniversary cake was gorgeous! keep up the good work. sugar will help you through this!
Thank you all again for your supportive words and suggestions. After a nice, cold Corona, a small cry, and a good night's rest, I'm feeling better. I'll feel better still after about a week goes by and I don't hear from the hostess wanting a refund!!
Ruth 0209, don't fret. everyone's right. We are human and as cake artist/decorators unlike some occupations, we usually only get one shot at delivering a cake and making it right. We don't have an option of taking a cake apart or changing this and changing that. It's the nature of cake. I mean, honestly, it's bread with sweet cream. Something is bound to happen every now and then. Brush your shoulders off and keep going. Your cakes are lovely in your gallery. And as for waiting for the dreaded phone call. Don't. If she calls just handle it in a professional manner. When we have accidents and mishaps with cakes, i honestly think that's all the customer expects anyway. Good honest professional business.
My heart skipped a beat as I thought something really bad was going to happen when you satrted taking about the and the car, etc. I was so afraid the cake may have slipped from your hands!
Everything turned out good and a very telling sign of a great cake decorator is how they handle the mishaps and I think you did so beautifully. You should be very proud!!
I talked to the caterer tonight, and she told me the cake stood up just fine and that everyone raved about how it looked and tasted. She said it was soft, but cut nicely and everyone thought it was delicious and beautiful. The caterer didn't have the heart to just throw away the gumpaste roses, so she took them home and her kids ate them (which just kills me)!
The VERY best part was that she said that the day before she'd cut and served a cake provided by "the" cake designer in town - the guy who all the rich folks order from. She said she overheard a lot of people commenting that although his cake was pretty, it wasn't at all delicious. I don't necessarily relish in his failings, but it's very fun to hear that my cakes taste better than the premier cake designer's. That's definitely a confidence re-builder.
Thanks again everyone for helping to make me feel better. It's sure nice to have people who really understand what it's about.
Ruth0209, your cake is stunning! Even though you had quite a scare, I am so glad to hear that the cake held up and that everyone loved it!! Bet you'll never wrestle with the cake box/car door while holding another cake again!