Wedding Cake Disaster

Decorating By hogue Updated 21 Jun 2010 , 12:54pm by costumeczar

hogue Posted 20 Jun 2010 , 6:41pm
post #1 of 18

Ok I did my first ever wedding cake yesterday! The groom is a coworker of mine and so I did the groom's cake and wedding cake for him for $150. However I was very disapointed with it. They wanted a all buttercream, no fondant, and silk flowers. The cakes are my grandma's recipe for vanilla cake with buttercream filling. The flowers were to be red roses and yellow sunflowers. They also requested it to be three tier with the space between each layer for the silk flowers. So I got to the site about 3:45 wedding was going to start at 6 and i was not sure how long it was gonna take me to assemble it on site. The site was at a party barn and was hot, hot! I started stacking the layers and my bottom layer started to give out on one side. I continued to assemble and repair as I could. Each layer was doweled with wooden dowels with 6 dowels on bottom layer, 4 on second layer and 3 on top layer. I don't know why this cake started to break down. I was so upset when I left bc it was leaning so much and i was afraid it would not stay standing for the ceremony. Also bc of the heat of the barn the buttercream icing looked as if it was melting off. I was later told my a friend who attended the wedding that it day stay standing! Also that it tasted perfect. I Just question as to why it started to buckel on only one side. What can I do to prevent this in the future and should I give a refund?

17 replies
hogue Posted 20 Jun 2010 , 6:48pm
post #2 of 18
Kellbella Posted 20 Jun 2010 , 6:57pm
post #3 of 18

Sounds like you needed a stronger dam in the cake layers. I didn't see any bulges in your pics...your fire engine cake rocks! I say you did a good will get easier thumbs_up.gif

catlharper Posted 20 Jun 2010 , 6:59pm
post #4 of 18

it looks very pretty and no, don't offer a refund of ANY sort unless they complain and then ask specifically what the problem was. If they ate the cake then they bought the cake. From here on think about using SPS for a steady set up and make sure that you warn your clients that heat equals disaster for a wedding cake, especially a buttercream wedding cake in summer! Chances are you are just fine but even if they do complain I wouldn't give more than 10% back...they knew they ordered a cake, that is was too hot to have a cake out in that room and that they were taking a chance with that.

It never ever ceases to amaze me how people think that their guests will be just fine in the summer in a room or site that has no A/C...seriously! I'd be in and out of a wedding like that if I were the guest and would site the heat.


glow0369 Posted 20 Jun 2010 , 7:00pm
post #5 of 18

So sorry that happened to you, but luckily it stayed standing.. Again using wooden dowels displaces cake matter. It has to go someplace, and usually it is OUT.. not too sure about the icing..

Marianna46 Posted 20 Jun 2010 , 7:10pm
post #6 of 18

Glow0369 is right about wooden dowels: they displace enough cake to weaken the structure. It's better to use drinking straws - especially bubble tea straws, which are stronger than regular ones - to stabilize a cake. Also (and I ask because this has happened to me before), did you give your cakes time to settle? You have to bake the layers at least one day before and wrap them. Some people even weight these layers down with books or something semi-heavy. I always wrap them well while they're still warm (holds in moisture) and freeze them overnight before doing anything with them. But this time, at least, your cake held up and it was very pretty!

hogue Posted 20 Jun 2010 , 7:12pm
post #7 of 18
hogue Posted 20 Jun 2010 , 7:13pm
post #8 of 18
Bakingangel Posted 20 Jun 2010 , 7:13pm
post #9 of 18

Your cake is very pretty and looks fine. I don't see anything wrong with the structure. I think you are truly being too critical of yourself. I'm sure they loved it! Be proud of yourself...good job!

hogue Posted 20 Jun 2010 , 7:15pm
post #10 of 18
hogue Posted 20 Jun 2010 , 7:20pm
post #11 of 18

The cakes were made 3 days in advance and I did wrap them but I didn't freeze them I put them in the refridgerator only! Is that where I went wrong! I was also wondering if using a pound cake reciepe would have been better than grandma's. Suggestions there. I have another wedding cake to do in august and am worried about it doing the same thing.

BlakesCakes Posted 20 Jun 2010 , 7:25pm
post #12 of 18

You did nothing wrong with your "structure".

Wooden dowels, used properly--and you did so by not overdoweling and creating "swiss cheese" in your cake--is a tried and true method. Anything pressed into a cake "displaces" something. You just get to "see" some of it when using hollow cylinders like straws or plastic hollow dowels.

Your problem was simply heat related. You buttercream began to melt, and since that was also the filling of the cake, as the cake warmed, things moved.

Any complaints about the cake should go to the venue owners for being too damn cheap to put the A/C on well in advance of the wedding. icon_mad.gif


costumeczar Posted 20 Jun 2010 , 7:26pm
post #13 of 18

Freezing/cooling etc wouldn't matter if the cake was in the heat. Buttercream melts, so in the future tell people that outdoor reception (or in anywhere un-airconditioned) they have to have fondant. As long as it didn't fall over and they thought it tasted good don't worry about this one, but for your own peace of mind in the future insist on fondant for outdoor weddings.

Ironically (or not, it's that time of the year) I just wrote about this very issue on my blog last week...

BlakesCakes Posted 20 Jun 2010 , 7:28pm
post #14 of 18

I would suggest finding a firmer recipe. Pound cake is certainly one of them.

Refrigeration actually contributes to a cake going stale. Freezing actually keeps a cake fresher and "tightens" the crumb.

If you're using 0 Trans Fat Crisco or all butter in your buttercream, your icing is NOT heat resistant and will begin to melt at temps above 82 degrees. You may want to look into high ratio shortening for the hot months, especially if you do a lot of cakes for warm venues.


cheatize Posted 21 Jun 2010 , 3:49am
post #15 of 18

Why were there dowels in the top layer? Was there a heavy cake topper?

Bunsen Posted 21 Jun 2010 , 4:11am
post #16 of 18

Heat will be your main problem but I think your dowels may be too close to the edge of the cake and are also very long (large gap between tiers) - both will make the cake less stable. Try moving them an inch or so in towards the centre and you will have more cake surrounding them to hold them steady.

Montrealconfections Posted 21 Jun 2010 , 4:28am
post #17 of 18

I would most certainly not offer a refund they knew you were are starting out and you priced the cake accordingly (huge deal imagine paying $150 for 2 cakes) if the cake drooped in the extreme heat that is out of your control.

costumeczar Posted 21 Jun 2010 , 12:54pm
post #18 of 18
Originally Posted by Montrealconfections

I would most certainly not offer a refund they knew you were are starting out and you priced the cake accordingly (huge deal imagine paying $150 for 2 cakes) if the cake drooped in the extreme heat that is out of your control.

I agree that the heat is out of your control, but the fact that someone is starting out and didn't charge enough doesn't mean that the product can be less than expected. Make sure you put something in your contract about the heat. I have a clause that says that regardless of where the cake is located, the bride is responsible for keeping it in a temperature controlled area, so if they choose to put it outside that's on them.

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