sgetty Posted 14 Sep 2013 , 4:22pm
post #1 of

So, I got my first REAL order for a cake after taking all 4 Wilton Cake Courses.  Mind you, I have been offering my practice cakes and cupcakes and making treats for my daughter to share at her place of work.  Everyone always raged about them and told me I should be selling this stuff.  So, I decided to start off baking from home, but I'm not really an official licensed company, yet.  I wanted to see if there was even enough interest to put the money in to making the investment.

 

I was so excited to do this first order and glad that, with the exception of the flavors of the cake, the type of frosting and the colors, I had artistic license to decorate the cake how I wanted.  I am making my cakes and frostings from scratch.  I decided to use Wilton recipes for the white and the chocolate cakes, since they have a good reputation for cakes.  Everything came out fine and I was proud that my cake turned out so well and on time.  I delivered the cake and I believe that I exceeded the customer's expectations with the presentation.  In fact, she likes buttercream frosting so well, that she requested that if I had any leftover frosting, I send it along because she loves it.  She said she tried the frosting right away, and said I nailed the frosting (meaning is was perfect) and that I should sell the stuff.  Two days later,  I get a text from her that the top tier, which was chocolate was fine, but the bottom, white layer tasted and smelled like gas and that 9 people could eat no more than 2 bites out of their piece because it tasted so bad.  She said I could call her after she was done at work and I did.  I tried to figure out how it could possibly have such a bad odor and taste, as there was nothing but good smells in the kitchen and the batter tasted yummy.

 

I used Wilton everything: Cake boards and dowels, so I know they were food grade and there should have been no chemicals that leached into the cake.  I thought about the food coloring.  I used Ameri-color purple, except when I got to the darkest purple flowers and then I added a little Wilton black and a little Wilton violet and a little Wilton no taste red and royal blue, trying to get a darker color.  I thought maybe the taste was coming from too much food coloring, but I tasted some of the leftover flowers and it melted in my mouth with no bad taste.  There was no cake for me to have to see what was wrong.  I did,  however, remember that I still have the tops of the cakes in the freezer that was left over from leveling the cake.  I tasted it and it was really good.  (I wanted to eat more than a taste, but told myself "No". )

 

I have no reason to believe that this cake should have tasted and smelled of gasoline, as one guest described.  "It was like I just syphoned gas, got some in my mouth and then took a bite of cake."  I can't believe how this could have happened.  So, from the time I delivered the cake, until they cut it is the only time that this could have happened.  I delivered it to the customer at her work.  She apparently was going to put it in the break room until she left from work.  Then, she was going to go to her grand daughter's birthday party from work at a restaurant.  That's where she cut the cake and when they smelled this gas smell.  She said they were serving the cake on paper plates and thought the taste was coming from them.  So, they asked the restaurant for regular plates, but it still tasted bad.

This is a 2 tiered cake.  The bottom layer is an 8"  classic white cake and the top tier is a 6" chocolate cake, made from scratch recipe.  The icing is a light, creamy buttercream with a rosette boarder.  Edible pearls surround the boarder of the top and bottom layers like jewelry.  The chrysanthemum flowers are piped with royal icing and placed on the cake in an ombre color style.  The cake is displayed on a cake stand crafted by myself from odd glassware and painted white.

 

 

The customer was so nice.  She didn't want her money back.  In fact, she didn't want to tell me and upset me.  She told my daughter and my daughter told her to tell me because I would want to know so it doesn't happen to someone else.  She is right!  Even after offering her money back, and she said she didn't want it, she DID say that I could make her another cake, because she knew what a good cook I was.  So, I will make her another cake and not charge her.  But, I don't understand how 9 people tasted and smelled gas on this cake.  Anyone have any ideas?

20 replies
BatterUpCake Posted 14 Sep 2013 , 4:51pm
post #2 of

do you have a gas can in your car or trunk? Even if you can't smell fumes they are there and food will absorb it.

sgetty Posted 14 Sep 2013 , 5:01pm
post #3 of

No gas can in the car.  I put the cake on my front seat with a blanket under the box to keep level.  Thanks for the tip.

Godot Posted 14 Sep 2013 , 5:24pm
post #4 of

AAre you a smoker?

sgetty Posted 14 Sep 2013 , 5:53pm
post #5 of

Oh, Hi, Godot...

 

No, I'm not a smoker, and no one else uses my car.  However, I have since talked to my daughter who tells me the customer has a truck and wonders if the woman put the cake in the bed of her truck.  And, I wonder if she could be a smoker or had gas in the truck.  But, I don't know why the bottom tier would have absorbed the odors but not the top tier.  Thanks for throwing out ideas.  I may learn more to the story, and find out that there is information that is being left out that has nothing to do with me, which is why she was hesitant to tell me that there was something wrong.

MimiFix Posted 14 Sep 2013 , 6:22pm
post #6 of
Quote:
Originally Posted by sgetty 
 

I don't know why the bottom tier would have absorbed the odors but not the top tier. 

 

IMO, this is the important clue.

Norasmom Posted 14 Sep 2013 , 7:30pm
post #7 of

Sounds like the truck might be the culprit....

sgetty Posted 15 Sep 2013 , 12:00am
post #8 of

Of course, I was shocked to hear there was a problem and felt so bad.  But, the more I think about it, and try to analyze the whole thing, I'm thinking something happened AFTER I delivered it.  And, she could have known about it or not.  I agree with you, Norasmom.  I bet it had to do with the truck and I think she knows it wasn't something I did. But, she said she was being coaxed by her family to tell me, even though she didn't want to upset me.  I don't think I would have worried about the cake decorator's feelings and tell me " it's no biggie" and "don't fret it". I'm happy to make her another cake.  It will actually cost less than giving her money back anyway.  Thanks all.

lindseyjhills Posted 15 Sep 2013 , 12:46am
post #9 of

AI agree with MimiFix. This may be a long shot but was it your usual recipe you used or was there something different in it? Was your balance of ingredients different to normal? Is there any ingredient that could have had chemical reaction with the buttercream for example? A way to test this would be to put some buttercream on an offcut, leave it to stand for a while and then taste it. Did you use wooden dowels in the bottom tier? Could there have been something on the wooden dowels that permeated the cake (given that wood is porous). Sorry just trying to think of things that could've affected the bottom tier, but not the top. I hope you get to the bottom of it :)

MimiFix Posted 15 Sep 2013 , 2:12am
Quote:
Originally Posted by lindseyjhills   ... trying to think of things that could've affected the bottom tier, but not the top. I hope you get to the bottom of it icon_smile.gif

 

I hope you get to the bottom of it.  (Verrrry funny!)

sixinarow Posted 15 Sep 2013 , 2:47am

I'm wondering if it could be something with the bottom cake board -- just a guess, I have no concrete idea. Did you buy the bottom boards in a package? If so, have you smelled them?  If the bottom board was that mirrored finish and the 2nd tier board was regular cardboard cake board, maybe that could be the difference. It's a bummer, hope you figure it out!

sgetty Posted 15 Sep 2013 , 5:09am

Thanks everyone.  I was thinking about all those suggestions as well.  Yes, I was using wooden dowels, but they were the type sold with the cake supplies.  The cake recipe I used was the Wilton Classic White recipe and used my usual buttercream frosting.  I used Wilton cake circles which are pre-cut and have a moisture barrier (wax)so the cardboard does not soak up the moisture from the cake and get flimsy.  I put each cake on a cake circle the same size of the cake to ice them individually.  I then used hot glue between the cardboard layers to secure the bottom cake plate to the silver cake plate.  So, there was no contact of the cake to the silver one.  However, the silver cake plate, also a Wilton product is made to put cakes directly on it.  The things I think I will change will be to use a different white cake recipe and try plastic dowels, just in case this was the problem.  I may never know what happened and if which things I do to fix the cake were the things that fixed the problem.  But, I guess if this replacement cake is good, I'll stick to the method that worked.  You all have had great suggestions.  I appreciate the opportunity to be able to at least talk things out and see that my thinking is on track with others with more experience.  Thanks again.  I'll have to let you know what happens, huh?

CindiM Posted 15 Sep 2013 , 5:30am

We carry gas cans in the back of our truck and I would never put a cake in there.  It was her doing, and she is going to fix it by letting you make her a free cake.  How nice of her!

remnant3333 Posted 15 Sep 2013 , 5:45am

If you had cake scraps and they tasted fine then it must have been something that the customer did!!!  Once the cakes leave you, it is not your fault if the customer does something to ruin the cake!!! Something just does not seem right with this situation!!!

basketpam Posted 15 Sep 2013 , 7:29am

I agree with everyone else here, SOMETHING happened to this cake after it left your control and it is NOT your responsibility to offer a free cake or the money back or any other "fix".  I'm wondering if it is even true. Is there anyway you can check with the restaurant?  If this had happened to me as the customer I would have kept the bad tasting cake. Does she have any of the cake?  She told your daughter knowing FULL WELL the word would be back to you.  I think the key to this entire mess is that SHE suggested you make this right by giving her a free cake. Believe it or not there are people who go through life as sponges always manipulating free services and products from others, that's why retail stores keep track of people when they return merchandise.  I still believe a legitimate customer would have kept the bad cake and discussed it with you.  Don't you DARE bake a free cake for her. If you feel you MUST, then you taste test it at every step and have someone else do so also.  Perhaps you need to develp an order form people sign and on it you state you are not responsible once it leaves your control.  Good luck!

lindseyjhills Posted 15 Sep 2013 , 9:15am

A

Original message sent by MimiFix

[I][SIZE=14px]I hope you get to the bottom of it. [/SIZE][/I][SIZE=14px] (Verrrry funny!)[/SIZE]

Ha ha. Unintentional I swear, it was very late here in the UK when I wrote that :)

sgetty Posted 16 Sep 2013 , 3:28am

Thanks, you guys.  I hate to think bad about people, but I have my suspicions, too.  After all your help listening and offering suggestions and things to check off the list of possibilities, I have come to the conclusion that something happened to the cake after I delivered it OR she knows how to work the system and is using me.  I am going to take the chance to redeem myself by making her another cake, but it will be only one flavor... the flavor that didn't work out and that on her original order she just wanted white cake.  I am going to use plastic disposable dowels. AND, instead of taking the cake to her and having it sit in the break room for half her work day, unattended, I will meet her at her car after work or deliver it directly to her home.  This is for 2 reasons.  I'll know what kind of vehicle she is putting the cake in and where in the vehicle she puts it.  And, it takes the possibility of someone tampering with the cake at her work place.  But, really it isn't my business, since it isn't my responsibility after it leaves my hands.  It's just one of those things to possibly see if any of our theories of what happened to the first cake may be true.  Basketpam, I think you are right.  I am going to somehow set up a work order that explains that I am not responsible for the cake once it leaves my control.  Maybe somewhere on the bottom of my invoice I can add that the customer agrees that the cake was delivered in satisfactory condition and then she signs it.  Good advice.

 

My thinking about redoing her cake.  I know my cake was perfectly fine when I delivered it to her.  So, I am no longer fretting about it.  I'm going to use this opportunity to do some service recovery, but really, it will be all about me.  It will be another opportunity to put another cake picture in my portfolio, more practice time, etc.  She may have a lot of influence on the other prospective customers at her work place who have said they want me to make cakes for them.  If I don't give her the opportunity to be satisfied, she may start blabbing all over and start rumors about what ever story she wants to dream up that isn't true.  Now, if she finds something wrong with this cake, I'm going to give her the money back and tell her I won't be able to help her any more.  I've already put a note in her file of the incident.

 

Thanks for the support, everyone.  I hope I will be able to help you somehow in the future.

sgetty Posted 16 Sep 2013 , 3:29am

:D

Kakeesha Posted 17 Sep 2013 , 12:54am

This has been a real eye opener to read.I would have asked purchaser if indeed she did have it in her truck and where.But that is because I love to solve mysteries.

So hoping you have a good outcome.

sgetty Posted 17 Sep 2013 , 2:51am

Here's what I hope will be the last post on this cake disaster.  I made enough white cake (different recipe) to make a 2 tiered cake (8"/6").  Before I went and made all the icing I would need to make her the replacement cake, I contacted her to make sure I would be able to deliver it today.  She was able to take delivery this afternoon and told me not to stress over it.  She said she hoped that I didn't make her a 2 tiered cake, because only the bottom layer wasn't good on the original cake.  She told me I really didn't need to decorate it, but just put the buttercream frosting on it.  I decided if that's what she wanted, I would comply, but I'm one that if I mess something up or break it, I fix it and better than it was before.  Also, I was counting on practicing some of my buttercream decorating techniques that I haven't done much lately.  But, if I went over the top, I wouldn't be following my customer's instructions.  So, I made her the 8' inch cake.  I did put a little fanciness to it, but no flowers.  I'll share the pic.  So, no fussing with dowels or tiers.  I just made it simple.  The pieces that I cut off from leveling the cake tasted really good to me.  I took pictures before I put it in the box.  I printed off her order and added a note stating that she received the cake in satisfactory condition on delivery with a place for her to sign.  I made sure she could meet me and delivered it at her workplace.  I put it to her this way.  (I try to always have a positive attitude).  You helped me to learn so many things with your order.  I decided that I may get customers that may not be as nice as you, so I decided that I should start having the customer sign a statement that the cake arrived in satisfactory condition.  She apologized, and signed, but I just treated her as though she was being so helpful.  She said she and her co-worker were going to have some cake as soon as she got back to the office, and she would text me to tell me how it was.  I told her that I wanted to know if it was good, because then, I would use the recipe routinely when someone ordered white cake.  Again, putting her into the position where she thought she had a voice.  So, I left and waited to hear from her.  She texted and said that she and her co-worker were "feeding our faces."  For you guys who aren't familiar with that term, it means that it was so good, they couldn't stop eating it.  Then, in a little while, she sent another text and said that she shared some with 2 other people and they said that it was so delicious!  She told me that I should absolutely use that recipe for white cake orders, and that my treats are sooo.... yummy.

 

So, I'm thinking that this should be the end of this saga. I thank all of you for your support and advice.  I hope that those who just happened to read my story and how it progressed and ended up will have learned right along with me.  All things happen for a reason.  I'll probably never really know what happened to the first cake, but there is a reason I will need the things I learned in the future.  Here's the picture of the replacement cake on one of my homemade cake stands.

 

 

By the way, if you would like to follow me along, feel free to "like" me on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/pages/Homemade-by-Sandy/408883139223870.  Thanks to all.

howsweet Posted 17 Sep 2013 , 4:46am

Quote:

Originally Posted by sgetty 
 

 

 

My thinking about redoing her cake.  I know my cake was perfectly fine when I delivered it to her.  So, I am no longer fretting about it.  I'm going to use this opportunity to do some service recovery, but really, it will be all about me.  It will be another opportunity to put another cake picture in my portfolio, more practice time, etc.  She may have a lot of influence on the other prospective customers at her work place who have said they want me to make cakes for them.  If I don't give her the opportunity to be satisfied, she may start blabbing all over and start rumors about what ever story she wants to dream up that isn't true.  Now, if she finds something wrong with this cake, I'm going to give her the money back and tell her I won't be able to help her any more.  I've already put a note in her file of the incident.

 

Thanks for the support, everyone.  I hope I will be able to help you somehow in the future.

Good for you! I have a feeling you're going to be very successful in the cake biz! And glad to read the outcome about how good the cake was, but you already knew that!

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