What Could I Have Done Differently?

Business By Kitagrl Updated 14 Sep 2009 , 9:39pm by msbask

Kitagrl Posted 13 Sep 2009 , 4:12am
post #1 of 29

Ok so I got a referral from a big time wedding planner at a very expensive and well known venue in Philly. I got referred solely on the basis that the planner knew my chocolate cake rocks.

The client wanted a 5 tier "smores" cake with ganaches and then toasted graham cracker crumbs over each tier, and then toasted meringue/marshmallow icing.

Ok I did it, and my photos are up, but I'm miserable with it. Its been raining all week and I didn't realize humidity does a terrible number on meringue. My bottom tier especially...the meringue kept drooping. I had tons of trouble stacking because of how unstable the icing was. I could not get them centered to save my life. And the bottom tier would not hold enough meringue/marshmallow icing to make it the right size (she specified thick icing).

The swirls were no problem, and the torch was no problem...but the stacking was so hard and the meringue so unstable...what should I have done differently? Found a more stable marshmallow icing I guess? Or denied the graham cracker crumb idea?

You think the front is bad with the uneven stacking...the back bottom tier insisted on drooping down onto the board. *sigh*

Oh and she was stubborn on her serving sizes too, thus I was not able to get an even "graduation" of tiers...and had to skip a size to get her servings in. So I don't like that either, and I think it accentuates the way the cake looks "off".


The bad thing is, they figured it was a cake "any" pastry chef could do...they thought the design was so "easy" and so I could do it no problem, even though I"m a home baker and not a big reputable bakery. As it turns out, working with the meringue was more stressful than most other wedding cake designs I could have been asked to do!

Please help me for the future...? I haven't heard feedback yet...I know the taste is great but I don't know how picky they are going to be about the crooked tiers, or even the drooping bottom tier in the back...*sigh* I just KNEW something was going to screw up on an order I was NOT supposed to screw up. thumbsdown.gif

28 replies
playingwithsugar Posted 13 Sep 2009 , 4:23am
post #2 of 29

Meringue is a bitch anyway, because if it sits too long, it weakens starts to separate, with or without the humidity factor. When did you apply yours? This is a cake I would not have finished until time to leave for delivery.

Theresa icon_smile.gif

Kitagrl Posted 13 Sep 2009 , 4:34am
post #3 of 29

Well I did most of it today before delivery...it took me longer than I expected to make all the icing (I made pretty much a batch at a time) and then apply it to the cake. I did refrigerate which may have been bad...on the other hand I did the top tier the night before just to mess around with it and it was my most stable cake. Also the couple tiers I did in the morning and refrigerated were very stable. My worst tiers were the ones I did in the afternoon, when my meringue for some reason started not whipping up stiff enough.

I guess its a good thing I didn't realize what I was in for! The graham cracker crumbs under the meringue probably was a terrible idea too.

playingwithsugar Posted 13 Sep 2009 , 4:43am
post #4 of 29

Did you put the crumbs on all the cakes, or just the bottom ones? It sounds to me like the meringue got too heavy. A big cake takes a lot of meringue to cover it, and she wanted it thick, too. I'm wondering if it just could not support it's own weight.

Theresa icon_smile.gif

CakeDiva73 Posted 13 Sep 2009 , 4:50am
post #5 of 29

I don't mean to be rude but I think you've lost your mind. icon_lol.gif

That cake looks great, very professional and quite yummy! I know what's it's like to be your own worst critic but this cake looks great.

playingwithsugar Posted 13 Sep 2009 , 5:13am
post #6 of 29

I agree with the cakediva. That cake is a total yum.

I'm just wondering what caused her difficulties with it.

Theresa icon_smile.gif

traceyjade Posted 13 Sep 2009 , 5:43am
post #7 of 29

Ditto here, it looks great and sounds to die for. I know how nerve racking it can be when all you can see is your mistakes. Believe me nobody sees what you see icon_wink.gif By the way I looked at all your cakes and they are nothing short of amazing. I hope it all works out for you.

mcaulir Posted 13 Sep 2009 , 9:07am
post #8 of 29

Annoying that they made you skip a size. I think it's probably that, that makes you think it looks uneven. I think it looks great, and any drooping of the meringue just looks like you've made it thicker on the bottom. No problems!

margaretb Posted 13 Sep 2009 , 9:37am
post #9 of 29

I see what you mean by it being off, but only barely so, and I had to look for it -- I wasn't even sure I had the right cake except for there wasn't any other one that looked like toasted swirled meringue. It looks SO COOL with the swirls and toasting!!! That's what draws the eye anyway. When you described it, I thought it was going to look like a blob, but it actually looks like some kind of textured, golden, luxurious creation. Impressive!

-K8memphis Posted 13 Sep 2009 , 11:18am
post #10 of 29

Suck it up--it's just the mental minutiae of making a cake-it's beautiful.

I think I can smell the burny marshmellows through the computer mmmmm

It's so pretty.

An idea for future, test it out big time in advance--it's the only thing I've ever found that really gives the confidence a solid and bouyant basis that can take the peaks and valleys and still maintain itself.

But your cake totally rocks.

grammynan Posted 13 Sep 2009 , 12:20pm
post #11 of 29

I agree that your cake is absolutely gorgeous!! I, too, see every little thing that is wrong with my cakes, but the lay person doesn't see anything. I envy you that you could produce something so beautiful!! Oh, and, if you haven't heard any feedback, that means they LOVED it!!! If they were upset about it you would have heard from them the next day!!

-K8memphis Posted 13 Sep 2009 , 12:39pm
post #12 of 29

Oh yeah and about the graduation of the tier sizes--that's why they invented the odd sized pan. I would have gone berserk without the odd sized pan. Makes the world a better place.

Odd thoughts for you. what?

Kitagrl Posted 13 Sep 2009 , 12:49pm
post #13 of 29

Thanks so much guys! I really REALLY wasn't fishing for compliments...to me the cake really does look very much off (and that's the good side!). I wanted this to be perfect since it was a very important wedding and very important I make a good impression.

I think I did figure out what went wrong actually with my last two batches of meringue....I know I was trying to hurry and I accidentally dropped a yolk in each batch...I carefully fished out every bit of yolk but I know a trace remained....looking online I found out that can totally ruin a batch! Oh man. Wish I'd have known that before, I"d have thrown it out and made a new batch, because the batches on the three middle cakes turned out nice and stable...its the base tier that the icing kept sliding, and that was my last two batches of icing.

As far as the crooked tiers...I don't know if I could have fixed that without just more practice stacking perfectly without mistake the first time...whenever I stack a normal cake I have to scoot the tier around a bit until I get it right. Couldn't do that here. And then I really thought the "off" sizes would look ok as she would not go under her servings but would not go over them either, and this arrangement gave her almost exactly what she needed. *sigh*

Thanks for all your comments...I will let you know if I hear anything. I may write the wedding planner this week just to find out but we'll see.

-K8memphis Posted 13 Sep 2009 , 1:02pm
post #14 of 29

1) You mighta already done this-but I crack my eggs a few at a time in one container and pour them in the big bowl in case a yolk breaks I can catch it better --but to fish all yolk out if some gets in your whites--use a piece of egg shell--egg yolk will cling to egg shell--'course eggshell is what carries the salmonella--whatever.

2) Trying to make "a perfect cake" is an exercise in futility. I mean sure it's our goal but it's rarely the destination huh

Egg yolk thoughts.

leah_s Posted 13 Sep 2009 , 1:25pm
post #15 of 29

1. You will stack centered every time if you switch to SPS.
2. Odd size cake pans also make my cake life easier!

LaBellaFlor Posted 13 Sep 2009 , 2:20pm
post #16 of 29

Love odd size pans! It is off, but not as bad as you think. I think it looks pretty and delicious.

Loucinda Posted 13 Sep 2009 , 3:06pm
post #17 of 29

THAT CAKE ROCKS!! NO way will you get bad feedback from that - it looks amazing!!! I KNOW it tastes awesome too - now stop worrying, I am sure they loved it!!

ZAKIA6 Posted 13 Sep 2009 , 3:09pm
post #18 of 29

How does using sps eliminate cakes being off-centered.
I've had a few cakes that I've used sps and once stacked I could tell they were off-not a lot but def not centered.

leah_s Posted 13 Sep 2009 , 3:24pm
post #19 of 29

Well . . . you do have to get the plates in centered in the first place. But if you place the plate and measure it with a ruler as I demonstrate in my tutorial, it will work every time.

karateka Posted 13 Sep 2009 , 4:05pm
post #20 of 29
Originally Posted by CakeDiva73

I don't mean to be rude but I think you've lost your mind. icon_lol.gif

That cake looks great, very professional and quite yummy! I know what's it's like to be your own worst critic but this cake looks great.

What she said!

Kitagrl Posted 13 Sep 2009 , 4:23pm
post #21 of 29

I don't use SPS because I don't like worrying about equipment deposits and returns....

My structure was sturdy...its just some of the meringue was wilting and I had a hard time stacking perfectly centered esp as the cakes were puffy and thickly iced, I may have even iced the individual rounds unevenly to where it looked centered on one side and off center on another.

LaBellaFlor Posted 13 Sep 2009 , 4:25pm
post #22 of 29

SPS is actually not that expensive. I wouldn't recycle it. I would just charge my client a fee for it.

Loucinda Posted 13 Sep 2009 , 4:30pm
post #23 of 29

I have placed the cakes off center on the plate before too, and it is very aggravating. We learn something more with each cake we do!

I prefer to get the supplies back (such as an SPS system) - that is such a waste to toss! (No matter who is paying for it IMO)

AND the cake still rocks! thumbs_up.gif

Kitagrl Posted 13 Sep 2009 , 4:33pm
post #24 of 29

I did have wax paper circles centered on each tier to place the next tier on but still with the poofy icing it was just so hard to get it on there perfectly right, and almost impossible to scoot around after it was placed. Fondant rocks haha.

Kitagrl Posted 14 Sep 2009 , 3:25am
post #25 of 29

Just wanted to update that my customer (which was actually the brides mom) did like the cake and especially the taste so I am relieved...still am not happy with my performance, but happy in the fact she was satisfied! She asked how the delivery went and I did admit the meringue gave me a few fits but said otherwise it was just fine and congratulated her.

Thanks for all your input! Now I actually want to make this cake again, but on a smaller scale next time. haha.

Loucinda Posted 14 Sep 2009 , 11:59am
post #26 of 29

Told you so!! icon_biggrin.gifthumbs_up.gif

-Tubbs Posted 14 Sep 2009 , 7:49pm
post #27 of 29

Glad the client was happy!! icon_biggrin.gif

I love this cake. At first glance it looks like it's covered in roses and airbrushed. thumbs_up.gif

Kitagrl Posted 14 Sep 2009 , 8:20pm
post #28 of 29

Thanks all!

The planner seemed happy too.... he snapped a pic with his phone and I still want to scream "Arghhhh! Its crooked!!!!" but oh well!

I am sure somebody would have pointed it out if it was a big deal, and they all raved about the taste, so I guess its all good. I just hope I get another chance to work with this planner again, and show a STRAIGHT cake. haha.

msbask Posted 14 Sep 2009 , 9:39pm
post #29 of 29

I think this cake was beautiful, and truly unique, too!

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