When Things Dont Go To Plan, What Do You Do?

Decorating By lthiele Updated 30 Aug 2009 , 4:24am by lthiele

lthiele Posted 28 Aug 2009 , 11:36pm
post #1 of 27

Another long thread about a wedding cake disaster got me to thinking, what would I have done to SAVE that cake. When things go wrong on a cake, what to you do? Do you have fool proof tricks that save the day?

26 replies
Texas_Rose Posted 28 Aug 2009 , 11:44pm
post #2 of 27

There are different tricks for different cakes. Usually it's just about figuring out how you can disguise a problem spot or something like that.

There's one cake I made where my air conditioner was out, and my fondant was practically dissolving when I picked it up and it was impossible to smooth. I had made tropical flowers to go around the tiers, and I stuck them over the cake randomly instead to disguise the trouble areas.

I had another one where it ended up with an ugly spot. It was a corset cake, so it got a heart-shaped tattoo over the ugly spot, and a string of pearls to disguise a rough edge.

Most of the things that I do though are either for family, or they're for friends who are very flexible about the design. It might be a lot harder to disguise a problem on a cake that was supposed to be an exact copy of one from a website.

__Jamie__ Posted 28 Aug 2009 , 11:53pm
post #3 of 27

One of the most important things is not biting off more than you chew. Not telling someone you can do something for them because you are excited to "try something new", or because you're hard up for money. Not skimping on proper materials trying to save a buck, use the proper materials and charge accordingly. Not telling a bride her dream design (in fondant) is totallllly doable in BC (refer to cakewrecks for plenty of examples like that!) Not experimenting with a technique you've never done before on someone's dream day. Not making GP pieces last minute assuming they'll dry in time. I could go and on.

See a lot of this in here. Things that a person doing wedding cakes ought to know. icon_biggrin.gif

And of course, when something truly disastrous happens, truly unavoidable things, "manning up", putting on the big girl panties and doing whatever you can to make things right. I had a cake due real soon, prepaid, everything. Something unexpected came along. I knew I would not be able to put 100% into this cake. No way. They'd get something not 100% "me and my ability". I didn't think twice. I returned the money, briefly explained the situation, and made an offer for a discounted cake in the future. Totally saved that client. What I didn't do was hem and haw and wring my hands trying to figure out how I was going to squeeze it in, what shortcuts I could take, what excuse I could make for this detail not being exactly as promised.....nope. I took care of biz. Which meant not doing biz. If that makes sense. icon_smile.gif

lthiele Posted 29 Aug 2009 , 12:38am
post #4 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by Texas_Rose


I had another one where it ended up with an ugly spot. It was a corset cake, so it got a heart-shaped tattoo over the ugly spot, and a string of pearls to disguise a rough edge.




ooooh I like the sound of the tattoo - I bet it looked even better than planned!

Quote:
Quote:

I took care of biz. Which meant not doing biz. If that makes sense.




Yep Jamie I totally get it - experiment for fun, get paid for what you know you can deliver! Am interested (only if you would like to share of course) what your planning process is like, having done so many cakes. If the client gives you free reign on a design, do you draw a pic, have it all in your head, do you ever change tack half way through?

__Jamie__ Posted 29 Aug 2009 , 12:43am
post #5 of 27

I always draw up a design, unless it is a complete rip off of another design (hee hee). It goes with the contract. Let me see.....anything changed. I dunno. I don't think I've ever had to change anything. Brides have changed things, for sure. But I haven't gotten into something I had to back out of or abandon. I guess I've just paid enough attention to this website, watched enough videos and practiced a LOT where I've either worked out things that could go wrong, or avoided them all together from reading other people's bad experiences.

2SchnauzerLady Posted 29 Aug 2009 , 12:46am
post #6 of 27

I had my fondant tear on a leg on a baby rump cake - it was very hot and humid that day, so I made a teddy bear out of fondant to cover it up.

Darthburn Posted 29 Aug 2009 , 12:54am
post #7 of 27

I usually just curl up in a little ball and cry.

Then when I get frustrated enough I go back in the kitchen and just try again.

I once heard on a cake challenge... I think from Bronwen Weber, the Pro's are no different from the amatuers, they just know how to fix their mistakes when they happen.

Something like that. I'll never be a pro then. haha!

-K8memphis Posted 29 Aug 2009 , 12:55am
post #8 of 27

I test and test. I make several items if I'm modeling--I have lots of backup there. I make more flowers than I need.

I have local cake buddies I know I could call if I needed to in an emergency and I have my family to back me up also.

I start my cakes well in advance of the expected finish time so I have tons of extra time built into my game plan.

I don't work past 9PM. My all nighter days are over.

This is my favorite thing to do--I do the last things first--for example I make the delivery boxes, I make the cake stand and all the boards and the modeled pieces, flowers etc.

So at a certain point I meet myself, I meet up with my advanced planning, mise en place, and I can just float through the 'end' of the cake on the bread crumbs I sprinkled out in advance. That's great fun to me.

Edited to say--I've truly done most everything wrong at some point or other so I can usually avoid the cluster catastrophes with planning.

bobwonderbuns Posted 29 Aug 2009 , 1:01am
post #9 of 27

I work with what I've got. In my pix I have a picture of some cupcakes with pink flowers. The original idea was based on an old bakery sign with pink frosted cupcakes and pink flowers. But the flowers didn't match the frosting and it looked like crap. So instead I used the pink flowers against neutral (white and chocolate) frosted cupcakes and I think it looks smashing. So did the gal I made them for.

Also in my pix the Gilda's 10th anniversary cake -- I wanted it to be all facing one way with the hibiscus cascading down the side. But the gal who was helping me on it cut and iced her part of the cake the wrong way! icon_eek.gif So instead of pitching a fit we just went with it and low and behold it turned out great! Gilda was unique and the cake certainly reflected that as we wanted it to.

When life hands you lemons baby, make lemonade!! icon_biggrin.gif

Lazysuze Posted 29 Aug 2009 , 1:19am
post #10 of 27

That is what I do. As soon as I get the deposit for an order, I get the box and in it I put the boards, ribbons, pillars if needed etc., label it and store it till needed. On the label I write what flowers or models need doing and then make them along the way. This is really helpful if you take orders months in advance, because it is still fresh in your mind and if a bride has chosen a particular colour ribbon, I don't have to panic buying it months later, when it might not be available.
Then a week or two before the event I know I only have to bake and assemble and finish with my ready made decorations.
I usually have a stack of boxes like this, makes life much easier.
I hate rushing things at the last minute.

The other alternative is to retire with a bottle! thumbs_up.gif

__Jamie__ Posted 29 Aug 2009 , 1:19am
post #11 of 27

Me too K8! Everything kinda backwards, yep. And I too have committed nearly every oops out there too!

diane Posted 29 Aug 2009 , 4:53am
post #12 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by __Jamie__

One of the most important things is not biting off more than you chew. Not telling someone you can do something for them because you are excited to "try something new", or because you're hard up for money.
icon_smile.gif




sooo true. when i first started out...this is exactly what i did...just because i was excited to "try something new." BIG MISTAKE!

stay within your comfort zone so when things go wrong, you'll be able to handle them! thumbs_up.gif

LaBellaFlor Posted 29 Aug 2009 , 5:30am
post #13 of 27

Tell it like it is Jaime and handle your biz! Know your craft & know your limits. That will save you from a lot of emergencies and "Oh no!". To many times I see on here someone excited about a wedding cake order...and then asking for complete instructions on here how to make it. "What kind of cake do you use? What kind of buttercream do you use? How do you stack the cake, is their a support system thats needed?" icon_confused.gif I just don't get why anyone would do that to themselves...or the client! I never thought of doing the flowers and such as backwards when you do them first, but yeah, I guess I'm backwards too! icon_wink.gif

madgeowens Posted 29 Aug 2009 , 5:33am
post #14 of 27

I um punch my fist through it just like Ma taught me and then put it down the disposal hehehe........except for that terrible rockon hand I just tried....it was rkt...that went to trash can icon_smile.gif and then Rockon

all4cake Posted 29 Aug 2009 , 5:53am
post #15 of 27

When things don't go according to plan...first...I freak which clears the vacinity of anyone (seriously, everyone disappears like roaches when the lights come on!)...I go outside and think for a bit...most times, I can figure something out. If I ever goofed on a wedding cake, I would call the contact person and let them know that I've had to alter the design and for the bride not to worry, things can be taken care of after they return from the honeymoon. I'd never NOT deliver a cake even if the design had to be altered. Letting someone know that something is amok and you have every intention of making it right as soon as possible would lessen the ordeal...or lessen the drama derived from the ordeal. B-T-Bs are in an emotional state the day of with last minute things to do and the sheer excitement of the upcoming event, that I would rather not discuss issues with a cake with her on that day....I want a contact person. I tell B-T-Bs up front, shikaka happens to everyone and I'm not immune that I'll do everything I can to insure they have the cake they've chosen but should something happen, I'll inform the contact person and we can deal with the situation after the wedding. I've not had one yet to become agitated when I made that statement. They seem somewhat relieved.

all4cake Posted 29 Aug 2009 , 11:00pm
post #16 of 27

http://media.cakecentral.com/modules/coppermine/albums/userpics/52155/normal_20090829_0021.JPG


I think I jinxed myself with my previous post to this thread....going to the cake into the car to deliver it...I reckon, it being off centered on the base had something (not all..but something) to do with it...I reached, while holding the cake, to pick up the order form and lost balance of the cake...trying not to drop it, I clobbered it, full palm on the top tier...reactionary, I suppose(when my hand sunk into the icing and hit cake is when I realized it wasn't the best thing to have done).

I think my saving grace on this one was...first of all...scheduling delivery 6 hours before event started (I know shikaka happens!) and while making decorations, made extra 'just in case' (most times, those items get boxed up 'just in case' someone wants a last minute cake...)...oh, yeah, and there was no set in stone design for it.

When I delivered the cake (I had already contacted her to let her know that there were issues and not to worry) I offered her part of her money back for inconveniencing her and possibly causing her stress. She flat out refused to accept the money back.

The construction may have been compromised...so, I'll keep her payment to the side for the time being. This is the first order I've ever had to deconstruct to repair (oodles of Hapy Birtdays...and happy birthday ham when it should've been kelly or jacob or...(I do not like people to talk to me while I'm writing on a cake! (...would you like a ham sandwich?)))

ETA: Going to the car with the cake

-K8memphis Posted 29 Aug 2009 , 11:28pm
post #17 of 27

Two things:

1.) Sooo sorry that happened. Oh that's gotta hurt.

2.) Where was your delivery box young lady???

all4cake Posted 29 Aug 2009 , 11:35pm
post #18 of 27

I don't use boxes for large cake deliveries in town....pick-ups-yes...out-of-town-yes...single tier, in town or out-yes.

young? oooooooooh, you are my new best friend!

-K8memphis Posted 29 Aug 2009 , 11:40pm
post #19 of 27

Well gazing into my crystal ball I see another smashed cake in your future.

Put it in a box--it's easier you can hug a box, I mean you can hug a cake too but it's just not the same.

icon_lol.gif

signed, your bff icon_biggrin.gif

all4cake Posted 29 Aug 2009 , 11:53pm
post #20 of 27

This fiasco happened right after I removed it from the turntable and reached for the order form...even if I were going to box it, it would've been the same motion..take cake and order form to packaging area...I hadn't made it 2 steps (so, I hadn't even gotten to the area for boxing....maybe had I picked up the order form BEFORE picking up the cake....) Been doing pretty much the same way for the last 30+ years...this being my first accident I ain't doin' too bad. maybe getting some boxes wouldn't be such a bad idea...outfit 'em with brackets and braces for my walker...

Texas_Rose Posted 29 Aug 2009 , 11:55pm
post #21 of 27

You can get moving boxes really cheap at Home Depot. Tape up the end of it, put a piece of drawer liner in the bottom, and you're good to go. Then you can cut the side of the box open to get the cake out.

-K8memphis Posted 30 Aug 2009 , 12:08am
post #22 of 27

I thought you were putting it into the car--anyhow...

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I've ranted before about not liking to be called Hon excessively (like once icon_lol.gif ) but it really killeth me when someone calls me young lady--now I was doing it upthread to pretend getting onto All4cake 'cause she squished her cake--but it irketh me mightily when some dumb delivery guy calls me young lady like a) he can't see the fricken grey hair that I have earned every strand and that b) he thinks my ego needs to be stroked thusly and c) that he's the guy appointed to do it???


ok I feel better now

all4cake Posted 30 Aug 2009 , 12:34am
post #23 of 27

Not actually into the car at the time it happened...to the car was where I was headed when I picked it up.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

ah! were you tryin' to get my gourd with that young lady comment????????? Are you in a bad mood again?????????

I just wanted to share my things not going to plan details....I didn't want to be the piss on anyone's cornflakes.....

I'm right with you with the "Hon" term! My daughters, especially like that one and use it all the time knowing it unnerves me so...and darlin'....just the way it's delivered sometimes...oof!

Normita Posted 30 Aug 2009 , 12:36am
post #24 of 27

[quote="K8memphis-"]

This is my favorite thing to do--I do the last things first--for example I make the delivery boxes, I make the cake stand and all the boards and the modeled pieces, flowers etc.

I do this too!! I always do extra you just never know. Just one question...dont mean to hijack the thread but....how do you make your delivery boxes.

lthiele Posted 30 Aug 2009 , 1:25am
post #25 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by all4cake



I reached, while holding the cake, to pick up the order form and lost balance of the cake...trying not to drop it, I clobbered it, full palm on the top tier...reactionary, I suppose(when my hand sunk into the icing and hit cake is when I realized it wasn't the best thing to have done).




Oh shit, shit, shit! (Sorry shikaka, shikaka, shikaka just doesn't sound the same icon_lol.gif ) But if you hadn't put your hand on the top, wouldn't all three tiers have gone? Such a gorgeous cake! You sound so cool about it all though and goes to show what a pro you are that you would even hold a 3 tier cake with one hand whilst grabbing something else with the other! icon_eek.gif

So for teaching purposes, would you be willing to share the "Fix" process? Did you trim any of the cake to make it level again or were you able to patch it with icing. What about supports, did you have to remove anything and reposition them in case they were loose? I know you said construction may have been compromised. icon_smile.gif

all4cake Posted 30 Aug 2009 , 2:00am
post #26 of 27

"F*** me! Oh, F*** me!...." was actually what I was saying....after I calmed down, I peeped out to see if the neighbors heard me 'cause I had to go out shut the car off...the whole time, I was seriously freaking out!

another thing that saved it was that it had been center doweled.

I removed the balls (the ones that hadn't been flung off when I b-slapped it), took a deep breath and with a small angled spatula, removed the marred tier...set it on the turntable and began removing the outer icing. put it in the freezer...removed center dowel and cleaned up the second tier, checked the positioning of the dowels in it(all looked a-ok there...it was the bottom tier I wasn't sure about because I didn't remove the second tier to inspect the bottom tier's doweling). Went outside to think(smoke/think...multi-tasking there). removed tier from freezer...trimmed and re-iced...placed back in freezer for about 10 minutes...smoothed icing and placed decorations on(made larger than original ones)...placed back in freezer for about 10 minutes...replaced onto cake...staked it with 2 sharpened dowels...filled in the gap around base of top tier...added more balls and replaced the ostrich feathers(can hardly see them, but they're behind the 30 on top tier)

the 30 topper was like an unbelievable pull from the cobweb ridden crevices of this brain of mine. I shared how I did it in less than an hour(which is dang good time for a topper to harden enough for placement!) with the photo.

Thank you for the compliment!

lthiele Posted 30 Aug 2009 , 4:24am
post #27 of 27

hehehehehehe - everyone always sounds so polite when they post, if we had a thread about what we REALLY say when things go wrong we might have to call it Truckie Central! icon_surprised.gif

Thanks for taking the time the share, sounds like you didn't lose too much cake. icon_razz.gif

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