It was bound to happen, especially since I don't have much experience, and NONE when it comes to delivery. I had a three tiered round birthday cake to do for a co-worker's daughter's 16th b-day, to be delivered by me this afternoon. It was a 5 minute drive that felt like 5 hours, especially since I drove 15 miles an hour at the most and still watched the thing wiggle and shimmy like jello.
The tiers were 4", 6" and 8". Buttercream with fondant flames going up the lenght of the cake, fondant butterflies and tropical looking lillies. I used bubble tea straws for support...clearly a mistake on my part. While they seemed great for stacking, the transportation and all the wiggling and jiggling and the stop and go of the vehicle is no match for them.
I would have preferred to assemble it on site but this gal was taking it down to the lake, an hour away with STEEP hills. She thought it was beautiful but we all know she was being kind because it was terrible...the tiers all slid over like the leaning tower of Piza and the only reason they didn't completely slide off was because I literally had my hand cupped around the top tier..so my paw prints are all over it, mushing the icing, half the flowers fell off or broke off. She tried to pay me (I was only charging 40 bucks) but I wouldn't take it, I just couldn't.
I took it inside the building and tried to right it and reapply the flowers and such...it was just horrible. There is no way she will be able to get out of town with it in one piece, much less to the lake. I feel so terrible and embarrassed, sick to my stomach and want to cry.
How do people get tiered cakes delivered if you can't assemble them on site? I don't have the SPS system yet...obviously I need it.
Has this happened to anyone else?
SPS is CHEAP!!
and you just add it to the cost of the cake.
Did you have a center dowel all the way thru? I generally don't advocate a center dowel, but it might have helped a little bit.
BUT with SPS you don't need a center dowel. Just go with SPS next time -- this is exactly the sort of heartache it avoids.....
Thanks for the reply Leah! You are right, they are not expensive and I really wish I had ordered some before I started this cake..it was a pre-determined disaster.
I did not have a dowl all the way through... I literally had 5 straws in the bottom tier, cardboard under the middle tier was resting on those, then the top tier was resting on 3 straws in the middle...why did I think that would NOT move all over???!!! Such ignorance on my part. I still have a lump in my throat over it.
Sorry that you had a problem delivering such a small tiered cake. I don't think you mentioned anything about fillings, but I don't know why it would wiggle and shimmy like jello unless it had too much filling or if the BC was melting from no a/c. Did you use filling? Did you have a/c?
I thought I'd be safe with those small tiers, I mean 4 inches isn't big at all. I just had buttercream filling in between the layers and I do have AC, plus I had it going full blast to the floorboards in the car. It is 100 degrees here but it was cool in the house and car.
I think it was moving like that because the layers are heavy and were too much for the inertia in the car and really, when I think about it, there was no stability, nothing keeping the tiers attatched to each other, so when they started moving, the cardboard simply slid off the straws.
I really don't know why I thought it would be safe..except that I did a three tier cake, (the tiers were larger)...and delivered it to the same office a few months ago with no shifting or anything. Used the straws in that one too. It was an over the top wedding cake for a coworker that ran off and got married..so they wanted to have an office celebration for him...no problems on that one. Maybe I was just lucky that time.
Sorry to hear about your disaster. Did you not put icing between the top of one tier and the cardboard base of the upper tier, to glue them together a bit? If you just lay one tier on top of another, then they are more likely to slide around on top of each other.
no, I didn't add icing to glue them together and I don't know why I completely omitted that. I am kicking myself because I can not understand why I didn't think about the shifting issue beforehand...I must be losing my mind. Lesson definately learned for next time. Thank you for taking the time to reply to my plight!
My least favorite part of making a cake is delivery-- no matter what size the cake is..... but tiered cakes make me want to cry. And in the summer (which is easily 9 months here in S. FL) gahhhhhhhhhh--- I am breaking out in hives thinking about it!
I totally feel your pain. I did a 4 tier cake for a friend's daughter and while I was going to stack the cakes on site, I had 3 tiers in the back of my car and my DH was helping and picked up a tier that was still sitting on the turntable. I didn't notice him do that and while I drove to the reception site, I was supposed to be a guest too, the one tier slid into the others and I had a terrible mess on my hands. I missed the ceremony and was sick sitting there having to look at my repaired mess the whole time Just learn from it and I promise you, you'll do a better job next time.
This happened to me one time and it was with wooden dowells, so I've never used them again. I only use bubble tea straws, 8 in every layer (but I only do 6-inch as my smallest tier).
But I also learned to refrigerate my cakes the night before transport so they will be nice and 'set'. I live in a very humid climate and our streets are the bumpiest roads in America, so I feel your pain!!
Oh my...I am glad (in a way) that I'm not the only one with this problem. I also have discovered that 100 degree days won't do many favors for a cake hat has to be transported in the trunk of my car...as big and roomy as it is. I shouldn't have sold my minivan and bought the stupid Maxima. LOl I can't imagine the humidity in Florida and Louisianna...you ladies have it much more rough than me. I have a wedding cake to deliver this weekend, it's an outside wedding, it's supposed to be in the high 80's...and I'm a guest because it's a very good friend's sister in law that is getting married. I'm going early and stacking those tiers ON SITE. LOL
Thanks for listening to my tales of woe everybody!!
Sorry to hear what happened!
I always use bubble tea straws and so far, have not had any problems. The five-tier wedding cake in my av was transported an hour away, already stacked, and didn't move as far as I could tell. When using dowels or straws, it's important (I've found) that they are not cut taller than the layer of cake they are going into - that will definitely cause shimmying of cake layers. I cut mine an 1/8"th or so shorter, so the layer on top will easily rest on them.
Do you have a picture of the cake?
Leah_s....why do you not like the center dowel. Before I started using SPS, I always did a center dowel, did you heve a bad experience with it?
I agree: ALWAYS glue everything together with a layer of buttercream or royal icing. If using dowels cut them shorter than the cake, or, invest in the SPS system. If you always make sure to get your parts back, you almost never have to replace them!
Oh those SPS parts won't last long. They're intended to be disposable. The plates may last thru several cakes, but the legs will crack.
The center dowel I always call false security. If your cake really starts going sideways the center dowel will stay stuck in the bottom board and tear right thru the cake.
I only use wood dowels and no center dowel either, I'm with Leah on this point, it's false security IMO.
Was the cake cold when you delivered it? That will do more to prevent sliding than anything else. A warm cake is a soft cake, and soft cake moves. If it's chilled in the fridge so that the icing is set, chances are pretty good that it won't shift at all.
I have always used the dowel rods for stacking cakes and inserting in the middle and haven't had problems. What is the bubble straws or the SPS system?
Ruth, read my siggy.