Wedding Cake Bottom Tier Collapsed!

Decorating By petmic5 Updated 16 Sep 2014 , 5:40pm by AZCouture

petmic5 Posted 26 May 2013 , 2:07pm
post #1 of 21

I made a wedding cake for a family member yesterday and the bottom tier (12 inch round) buckled and collapsed after the cake was set up. Luckily I was still in the room and the brides mother (who started freaking out!) was able to help me save it. We removed the bottom tier and I proceeded to fix do damage control on the other 3. Thankfully, the other 3 tiers looked fine and the wedding coordinator, bridal party, etc who came in to see all said you couldn't even tell....but I felt awful! Omg I feel like I want to give up on doing wedding cakes ever again, or large staked cakes. 

 

I'm really not sure what happened. The cakes were all torted and filled with strawberry jam and fresh strawberries. The wedding was an hour and a half drive, so I transported all tiers separately and stacked them at the reception. I used dowels and cake boards to support the cake. I think maybe I was messing with it too much. I moved the 10 inch cake after it was on the 12 inch to center it more and the cake seemed fine for about 20 minutes and then started to buckle. We were able to lift the tiers off of the 12 inch and take it to the back to be served. I'm just thankful that it wasn't one of the center tiers that buckled- that would have been even worse!

 

Anyone know what could have gone wrong? I want to prevent making that mistake again. 

 

Here are some before and after photos. 

 

Before

 

AppleMark

 

 

After

 

AppleMark

20 replies
manddi Posted 26 May 2013 , 2:13pm
post #2 of 21

AWhat kind of dowels did you use? I use straws on a regular basis but I wouldn't use them in the bottom of a 4 tiered cake. What did you use for cake boards? Is it possible that the board under the 10 inch got soggy and didn't support it?

Godot Posted 26 May 2013 , 2:17pm
post #3 of 21

AGood save!

One tip is to use a cake drum larger than the cake. It makes it so much easier to handle the cake and to move it.

matthewkyrankelly Posted 26 May 2013 , 2:21pm
post #4 of 21

Dowels, while good are unpredictable.  When doing a wedding cake,  the cake is so much more than cake.  It is a centerpiece, a photo op, a symbol.

 

That is why a true support system is so important for a wedding cake.  Nothing is infallible.  However, a structural support system that locks into place, would have completely prevented this.  And, I'm sure in retrospect, you are thinking it would have been a good idea.

 

Many people will post about dowels.  They do work.  They could have worked here.  However, if one dowel shifts position, slightly, or is inserted off vertical, the structural integrity completely fails.  In a wedding, the reliability of the structural system is beyond compare.  At its best, dowels work just as well, but only when perfectly placed.

petmic5 Posted 26 May 2013 , 2:22pm
post #5 of 21

I used wooden dowels and cardboard cake boards.

petmic5 Posted 26 May 2013 , 2:29pm
post #6 of 21

I thought about doing the wilton plates and hidden pillars, and I even bought them, but at the last minute I decided on wooden dowels and cake boards because that it what I am familiar with...and I was worried that the plate would pop off the pillars! Guess I should have taken the gamble with that! I've never used any lock in place support system before. I was researching about support systems a few days ago and saw some posts about SPS, which sounds like a great system! but I wouldn't have had time to order those.

leah_s Posted 26 May 2013 , 2:51pm
post #7 of 21

AI know what happened. When you recentered the 10" on the 12", a dowel in the 12" was moved off perfectly vertical. That's all it takes. Really, buy SPS and keep a few sets on hand. Your cakes will be centered right from the beginning. It's sturdy, easy and cheap. And provides tremendous peace of mind. And yes a bigger drum is called for. I continue the sizes established by the tiers. If I have a 6/8/10/12 cake, it would sit on a 14" drum.

yortma Posted 26 May 2013 , 3:00pm
post #8 of 21

I have a five tier hex cake (18" bottom) up to 6" top.  Does the sps system work for hexagonal cakes?  Thanks so much!  I was planning to use dowels and custom cut cardboard separators with a central dowel for transport.  But I would appreciate anything sturdier.  Thanks!

petmic5 Posted 26 May 2013 , 3:01pm
post #9 of 21

After the disaster yesterday I will definitely invest in a SPS set! I don't ever want to go through that again! I felt just awful! And I agree with the 14 inch cake board. Ahhhh....well, lesson learned. I won't be making those mistakes again! icon_redface.gif

Apti Posted 26 May 2013 , 3:19pm
post #10 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by leah_s 

I know what happened. When you recentered the 10" on the 12", a dowel in the 12" was moved off perfectly vertical. That's all it takes. Really, buy SPS and keep a few sets on hand. Your cakes will be centered right from the beginning. It's sturdy, easy and cheap. And provides tremendous peace of mind. And yes a bigger drum is called for. I continue the sizes established by the tiers. If I have a 6/8/10/12 cake, it would sit on a 14" drum.


Although not nearly the expert that leah_s is, I was going to say exactly the same thing.  It happened when you re-positioned the cakes:  "I think maybe I was messing with it too much. I moved the 10 inch cake after it was on the 12 inch to center it more and the cake seemed fine for about 20 minutes and then started to buckle."

 

You probably shifted one or more of the dowels and then gravity took over.  Excellent save, by the way!   Don't beat yourself up, you were able to save the day, display a beautiful 3 tier cake, and you'll never make this mistake again.

 

Leah_s has very graciously provided a wonderful photo tutorial of the sps system:

http://media.cakecentral.com/files/sps_104.pdf

 

I have photos of my first practice cake (3 tier) using the SPS system that shows them stacked.  If you want to see them, just post here, and I'll reply with the photos.

leah_s Posted 26 May 2013 , 5:10pm
post #11 of 21

AYes, you just use a round SPS player and a hex cardboard. I've done it many times.

ysa Posted 27 May 2013 , 5:00am
post #12 of 21

Ms. Leah is right.. the cake board must sit in a larger size in diameter because it's really risky.. specially if the cake is torted with jam and in one move .. it will cost you sweat ;) i use wooden dowels too and sturdy board to support the second layer... i never put less than 4 dowels ;)

cakefat Posted 27 May 2013 , 6:36am
post #13 of 21

This may be a silly question..but with the SPS do you try to get back the plates from the client after the party/event? 

 

Do  you have the client hold a deposit on them or do you factor in the full cost of the SPS in the bill, in case they don't return them to you?

dukeswalker Posted 27 May 2013 , 2:49pm
post #14 of 21

I don't ask for the SPS to be returned to me.  The cost is minimal and I factor it into the quotes I provide.  On a side note - I am sorry that happened to you!

leah_s Posted 27 May 2013 , 4:15pm
post #15 of 21

SPS is designed to be disposable.  Factor the cost into the cake cost.  My standard line was, "You'll need to purchase this support system for your cake.  It's $x.  Without it your cake will fall down."

 

And every customer has always responded with some variation of, "Oh YES!  I WANT THAT!!"

 

I used a standard "equipment" charge of $10 per tier that had support in it.  Therefore the equipment charge for a 4 tier cake was $30.  That also paid the cost of the cake drum on the bottom.

sixinarow Posted 27 May 2013 , 4:51pm
post #16 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by leah_s 

SPS is designed to be disposable.  Factor the cost into the cake cost.  My standard line was, "You'll need to purchase this support system for your cake.  It's $x.  Without it your cake will fall down."

 

And every customer has always responded with some variation of, "Oh YES!  I WANT THAT!!"

 

I used a standard "equipment" charge of $10 per tier that had support in it.  Therefore the equipment charge for a 4 tier cake was $30.  That also paid the cost of the cake drum on the bottom.

leah_s, do you use sps on all your tiered cakes? If you were making a smaller 2 tiered cake(like 10" and 8") would you still use the sps? Or just for larger cakes? Just wondering!!

leah_s Posted 28 May 2013 , 5:09pm
post #17 of 21

ASPS for every cake. Even a 6/8. Because every cake is important to my customer, and therefore to me.

costumeczar Posted 28 May 2013 , 6:48pm
post #18 of 21

I use wooden dowels and have never had a problem, and I shift tiers slightly to line them up all the time. I do agree that shifting the tier probably knocked something out of place and that's what CONTRIBUTED to the collapse, but my guess is that it was strawberry more than dowels.

 

The other tiers seem to be kind of bulging too...Did you transport the tiers cold, or were they room temperature? If they're cold you can shift them on top of each other and it won't affect the tilt of the dowels.

 

How thick was the strawberry filling? were the strawberries themselves placed directly on the cake or was there a thin layer of a butercream between them and the cake? The only time I've ever had a cake do a slider was when it had strawberry filling, and I've heard other bakers say the same thing. When I do strawberry fillings I'm very careful to use a minimal amount of ams/preserves., and for fresh fruit it's encased in a layer of buttercream top and bottom to keep it from soaking into the cake and sliding around.

Chloezee Posted 16 Sep 2014 , 1:49pm
post #19 of 21

I'm starting to think that it's best to get a guy (a GOOD guy) to make some really sturdy board and pvc pipes and joints so that the cakes will sit on that joint and NOTHING will be able to move it. And if it's PVC bits, you leave the whole lot for the bride to disperse of and your cake was like the rock of Gibraltar (oops, but didn't that thing also fall? that Gibraltian rock?)

costumeczar Posted 16 Sep 2014 , 2:40pm
post #20 of 21

Quote:

Originally Posted by Chloezee 
 

I'm starting to think that it's best to get a guy (a GOOD guy) to make some really sturdy board and pvc pipes and joints so that the cakes will sit on that joint and NOTHING will be able to move it. And if it's PVC bits, you leave the whole lot for the bride to disperse of and your cake was like the rock of Gibraltar (oops, but didn't that thing also fall? that Gibraltian rock?)

Gibraltar hasn't fallen yet, but even if you do an immovable structure, cake will move if someone slams the brakes on at 75 miles an hour. You'd just end up with a sturdy structure surrounded by crumbs.

AZCouture Posted 16 Sep 2014 , 5:40pm
post #21 of 21

AThe before pictures show signs of impending doom. SPS is wonderful. It is not necessary. I can't stand it myself. I regularly stack and transport five, siz, seven tiers on something that isnt SPS, and for the amount of money I'd owe in refunds, you can bet your butt I'm not being casual or lazy. So, dowels, straws, SPS, whatever, it truly comes down to the person assembling and what they're supporting with whatever they're using for support.

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