Jewels117 Posted 16 Jan 2011 , 4:50am
post #1 of

I'm posting in the hopes of getting advice/suggestions so this doesn't happen again
I made a 4-tiered cake (7,8,9 and 10" rounds) using the Chocolate WASC recipe and it was filled with a chocolate BC. It was stacked and then carved (cake was too look like a volcano) The base tier was 'anchored' down on a 14" cake drum. Each tier had a cardboard round under it and each tier (with the exception of the top tier) had wooden dowels in them for support (anywhere from 5-7 dowels depending on the tier). I also took one long wooden dowel and, once stacked, had that going through all four tiers and into the cake drum. The outside of the cake was covered in chocolate BC and decorated with fondant accents (i.e. 'lava').

I assembled the cake and all was well. (this also included having to move it around several times) Went to bed, got up in the morning to deliver the cake and it still was fine. Customer and I went to move it to the car and the top 3/4 of it shifted from the bottom tier. I removed the top part of it and re-doweled it with pvc pipes to add extra stability. I then delivered it (in the two separate sections) to the location of the b-day party and re-stacked it and began adding BC to cover up the area that had separated.

Within 20 minutes, the top part of the cake began leaning and then the entire bottom 75% of it just caved in on itself. At that point the cake was so far gone that there was nothing to do to salvage the bottom part. As I took the cake apart, I noticed that all of the wooden dowels had also caved inwards and were no longer vertical.
I was (and am) absolutely horrified and disappointed in myself. The customers (whom I had never met in person before) were incredibly kind and gracious and very understanding and insisted on paying me, at least, for the cost of the ingredients even though I refused numerous times, considering I wasnt able to deliver on what I had promised.
Any suggestions on what may have gone wrong? Should I not use the WASC recipe for a cake that is tiered that many times? Should I be using another support system instead of wooden dowels? Should I have used something other than a cake drum to hold the cake? Any and all suggestions are welcome and appreciated I really want to avoid feeling this way again I know how important the cake is to a celebration and it sickens me that they werent able to have that for this party.

20 replies
NanaSandy Posted 16 Jan 2011 , 5:11am
post #2 of

I have started using the SPS system for stacking a cake. Especially one with that many tiers. You don't have to worry about anything shifting inside the cake. Just some help for next time!
I am so sorry this happened to you!! I had a cake not too long ago, that was leaning when I delivered it and was scared to death that it would fall! Thankfully it didn't and it was taken apart and cut before there was an issue!.

Crazboutcakes Posted 16 Jan 2011 , 5:33am
post #3 of

soo sorry that this happened to you...

nannykaren Posted 16 Jan 2011 , 5:40am
post #4 of

Sorry this happened to you.

Perhaps you used TOO MANY dowels. Sometime putting that many in a tier that small will displace the cake and cause the movement.

kakeladi Posted 16 Jan 2011 , 5:46am
post #5 of

........Should I not use the WASC recipe for a cake that is tiered that many times? Should I be using another support system instead of wooden dowels?.............


i must defend my WASC recipe. The type of cake used should have NO bearing on the problem.
It is all in the support system, not the cake.
As IndyDebi has so often said, one could stack a pile of whipped cream with the proper support system.
Personally I think the sizes had a lot to do with the problem, that and wood dowels.
Were the dowels Each cut to the exact same size in each tier? I don't like using woodicon_sad.gif It absorbs moisture and can warp. Plastic drink straws would have been a better choice but then SPS even better.

Lcubed82 Posted 16 Jan 2011 , 5:48am
post #6 of

I think the problem with wooden dowels is once they start to lean, there is no stopping them. I have used SPS on one large tiered cake with success. I have also used the Wilton hollow columns. Both of these are hollow tubes that have a larger "footprint" on the board, therefore they are less likely to lean.

So sorry about your experience.

Loucinda Posted 16 Jan 2011 , 5:48am
post #7 of

That stinks that you had such a problem. It sounds like your dowels were not inserted straight, and there were too many used.
Like the PP says, dowels displace cake. I use bubble tea straws, and foam core. Making sure the straws are completely straight. The straws are hollow, so they do not displace cake - much more stable that way.

For delivery, a center dowel, or use a cake safe. (www.cakesafe.com)

Here is a 11 layer cake that I delivered without the cake safe - and it never budged. All bubble tea straws, with a 1/2" center dowel.

http://cakecentral.com/gallery/1891540

There are some who swear by the SPS system, it is very nice, and works very well too. I just prefer the BT straws and cutting my own boards to my specs.
Edited to add: I use WASC ALL the time, never an issue - the supports were the issue, not the cake recipe!

Jewels117 Posted 16 Jan 2011 , 5:58am
post #8 of

"i must defend my WASC recipe. The type of cake used should have NO bearing on the problem.
It is all in the support system, not the cake."

kakeladi- I hope that you didn't take offense to my comment... I wasn't meaning to imply that it's not a good recipe... I love the recipe and one of the reasons I use it is because it's so good and moist. I just wasn't sure if I shouldn't be using it for carved cakes....I'm still learning and I heard that sometimes people only use certain cakes if they have to carve them. Again, no offense intented at all and I apologize if I inadvertently did so...it's just been a draining/upsetting day and I just want to at least learn something from my disaster icon_smile.gif

CWR41 Posted 16 Jan 2011 , 5:59am
post #9 of

I don't think it was overdoweled... if it was, the cake would have fallen over from the dowel line instead of collapsing in on itself.

I'd guess that the dowels didn't stay upright during the process of inserting the center dowel. Did you sharpen the tip of the dowel to a point before hammering it in?

simplysouthern Posted 16 Jan 2011 , 6:04am

I'm sorry this happened icon_sad.gif it sounds like you lucked out with some amazingly kind clients!
Accidents happen, do not beat yourself up!!!

WASC is not the problem. Yes its moist but its also a sturdy cake and again....it shouldn't matter what the cake is, if its supported properly it won't fall. It really sounds like the issue was the dowels icon_sad.gif try SPS IT WORKS!! I also do bubble straws for smaller cakes.

Good luck and chin up.....its only cake icon_wink.gif

zespri Posted 16 Jan 2011 , 6:12am

I have only made two tiered cakes, and each time I was worried I wouldn't get the dowels in perfectly straight. Is it possible you put them in at an angle?

Did you 'glue' the board to the cake below with a daub of royal icing? If not, then the rocking movement of the cakes above during transit might have caused the dowels to wiggle back and forward, making the holes they were embedded in wider and wider until they were too wide.

Jewels117 Posted 16 Jan 2011 , 6:46am

Thank you all for your kind words and suggestions. I will give the SPS system a try...sounds a bit more trustworthy than normal wooden dowels and I will also look into the Cakesafe.
icon_biggrin.gif

JanH Posted 16 Jan 2011 , 7:25am

How much buttercream did you use for each tier? (Too much b/c or filling can contribute to cake layers slipping/sliding.)

Here's a chart that gives the amount (of sleeved pastry filling) to use by cake sizes:

http://tinyurl.com/4p3mueu

HTH

madgeowens Posted 16 Jan 2011 , 8:57am

I like to use the wilton hollow column dowels with a wooden dowel thru all tiers in center only, and I use one about the thickness of a pencil so I can sharpen it and hammer it thru all to bottom, and knock on wood, have never had a problem.
SOrry this happened to you

Texas_Rose Posted 16 Jan 2011 , 4:03pm

Could it have been the cardboard rounds?

Jewels117 Posted 16 Jan 2011 , 9:26pm

Thank you all, again, for your thoughts and suggestions. I will be taking them all into consideration the next time I make a tiered cake.

I feel better today and am more on the grateful side that, if this had to happen, that God gave me a customer who didn't make me feel any worse than I already did and I just have to trust that God can make good out of anything, so I'm going to learn from this experience (before I have a customer who won't be so forgiving) and possibly invest in some new toys icon_smile.gif

Thanks again ladies... don't know what I'd do without y'all!

nonilm Posted 16 Jan 2011 , 9:48pm

My first thought was the cardboard rounds. I always use Wilton plastic plates with the hollow legs and haven't had any problems.

And if a cake is all buttercream I will keep in the fridge overnight to help keep it "solid" for transport.

Tclanton Posted 17 Jan 2011 , 8:49pm

Oh my - how devastating. Glad to hear you are feeling better!!

I want to use the SPS, but currently I am not doing many two tier cakes. But, eventually I will purchase them and try my hand at them.

Last two tier I did was a 10 & 8 inch square. I kept both tiers in the frig until the am of pick up. Took out - placed 4 sharpened dowels in the 10' - placed the 8 inch, and then drove a sharpened center dowel through both tiers into a foam core board. Removed a shelf in the frig and cake went back in.

All went well with this cake.

I hope that you do not have to experience this again.

CWR41 Posted 18 Jan 2011 , 12:40am
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tclanton

Last two tier I did was a 10 & 8 inch square. I kept both tiers in the frig until the am of pick up. Took out - placed 4 sharpened dowels in the 10' - placed the 8 inch, and then drove a sharpened center dowel through both tiers into a foam core board.




You don't need to sharpen the support dowels in the 10" cake. (SPS legs, straws, push-in pillars, and hollow hidden pillars aren't sharpened to a point, they are flat.) When you sharpen the support dowels, the points can puncture the foamcore board at different depths for each dowel from the weight of the above tiers which can cause the cake to lean.

The exception would be if you hammer each sharpened dowel in as far as they will go (on purpose, to be positive that some don't settle more than others on their own).

If you were using sharpened support dowels on top of plywood, masonite, plastic plates, or anything else that wouldn't be punctured by the dowel, you'll run the risk of those pointy dowels becoming displaced. I hope this makes sense... a table doesn't have legs sharpened to a point.

ktoothgirl Posted 28 Jan 2011 , 5:21am

I am reading these posts, and I am just a beginner but would like to try stacking more than 2 layers, what is SPS?

Evoir Posted 28 Jan 2011 , 6:01am
Quote:
Originally Posted by ktoothgirl

I am reading these posts, and I am just a beginner but would like to try stacking more than 2 layers, what is SPS?




Look under the CC Cake Decorating Forum Index and you will see a permanent (sticky) discussion near the top of the page with everything you need to know about SPS.

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