I lost the entire cake :(

Decorating By deliciousdesign Updated 4 Nov 2013 , 3:08pm by Stitches

deliciousdesign Posted 3 Nov 2013 , 5:18am
post #1 of 26

I had my first major cake disaster today during delivery. I have delivered hundreds of cakes in all temperatures and never had a problem, but today when I opened the back of my van the entire cake had fallen over and was destroyed :( It was a three tier cake supported by a center dowel. It was all still attached, just laying on it's side. The strange thing was that the bottom cake had separated from the cardboard cake plate. The cake was structurally sound. It just came off the cardboard cake plate. It was 'glued' on to the board with frosting. The only difference with this cake and others was that it sat on a thin grease proof cardboard cake plate and that was 'glued' with frosting to a 14inch silver cake drum. I normally attach the bottom cake to the drum. The cake plate was stuck quiet well to the cake drum, but obviously something was very wrong because the cake came off of the plate very easily, except where I had glued the bottom of it with frosting. There was a clump of cake that had separated there.


I'm just trying to figure out what went wrong so that this never happens again. Like I said, I've never, ever had anything like this happen before and it was absolutely awful. Any thoughts would be appreciated. I should have taken a picture, but was too horrified that it even happened.

25 replies
IAmPamCakes Posted 3 Nov 2013 , 6:02am
post #2 of 26

ADo you have pictures so we can maybe see what happened? Sometimes it helps.

deliciousdesign Posted 3 Nov 2013 , 6:09am
post #3 of 26

I think it would have helped, but I was too much in despair to take a picture. In hind site it would have been best learning tool to have the images. Every cake tier has a thin cardboard board. These were the white grease proof wilton ones. The bottom cake came off of that. It acted like it had no frosting between cake and board, but there was a large plop of frosting in the middle. I'm wondering if the board soaked up the moisture from the bottom of the cake and dried it out enough to make it slip off of the cardboard easy? I frosted these on Wednesday and stacked it today so it had been on that thin cardboard plate for a few days. Then I put the whole cake on a large cake drum. The flaw was somewhere with the cake drum or the bottom cardboard plate.

deliciousdesign Posted 3 Nov 2013 , 6:28am
post #4 of 26

I don't have the cake anymore, but here's what it was sitting on. The cake plate is glued with frosting to the silver drum. The cake literally popped off of the smaller plate. It was laying all stacked perfectly on it's side right next to the plate. So sad :( The dowel really does help stabilize a cake! Amazing how it was all holding together so well on it's side! Lol! you can still see where the frosting held the bottom of the cake on. Again, this is how I've always stuck my cakes to the board and have never had a problem even with 4 tier cakes. I normally do not have the smaller plate on top of the silver drum. The bottom cake is usually glued with frosting directly to the silver cake drum. So, I'm trying to figure out if the problem occurred because of the double plates? Or was it because I should have put more frosting around the edges of the cake plat? or was it something to do with that cake? I've transported so many cakes and never had anything like this happen!! 



remnant3333 Posted 3 Nov 2013 , 10:59am
post #5 of 26

I am so sorry that you had to go through this. It must have been very frustrating to work so hard on your cake and have something like this happen!!! Don't be too hard on yourself because just about everyone who makes cakes has had disasters happen to them also. 


If this is the first time that you have attached a grease proof plate on top of the drum then maybe it had something to do with that. I am only guessing since I am a hobby baker.


I am sure some of the experts will be able to tell you what they think could have caused this. I will be watching to see what the others say.  Hang in there, you are not alone!!!

punkin90 Posted 3 Nov 2013 , 12:00pm
post #6 of 26

I am wondering if you had the center dowel nailed all the way into the silver drum? If the center dowel isn't nailed through the bottom cake board/drum it can slip. So when you say the entire cake was intact and toppled over it sounds to me like the center dowel wasn't nailed into the bottom cake drum..I can't tell from looking at the picture if there is a hole in the bottom board. Do you remember?

dynee Posted 3 Nov 2013 , 1:32pm
post #7 of 26

I can't make a guess on your cake, but I watched the free tutorial on Craftsy from Joshua John Russell and He attached his cakes to the board with melted white chocolate.  I think I'll try that on my next cake.

-K8memphis Posted 3 Nov 2013 , 2:12pm
post #8 of 26

random guess--it looks like the waxed board did it's job of not letting the cake juices seep into it except around the outside edge--what do you do inside your cake pans? how do you grease them or do you use parchment or waxed paper?


i'm thinking maybe you hit a bump or two and the cake just became airborn and popped off because it was not attached--that's my best guess--and there could have been one of those air bubbles down there too--hovering under the cake--even though it was attached in the middle--just not enough to hold it right--


your method of greasing the pans could have exacerbated that by keeping the protective barrier on the bottom of the cake--you placed it bottom side down?


what flavor cake was it?


it really broke my ♥ when you said 



 when I opened the back of my van the entire cake had fallen over and was destroyed :( 


 ouch ouch ouch-- i feel yah

deliciousdesign Posted 3 Nov 2013 , 3:53pm
post #9 of 26

The center dowel did not go though either of the bottom boards. I asked my business partner if she'd gotten it all the way though the drum and she believed she had, but after the fact it was obviously not. I think this may have been a contributing factor, but I cannot guarantee that all of our cakes have not been doweled through the bottom board in the past and we've never had this happen. Makes me think that there were other contributing factors, but I also agree that the dowel needed to go through all boards. 

deliciousdesign Posted 3 Nov 2013 , 3:59pm
post #10 of 26

Oh, and the waxed board is completely filled with grease on the underside. Like it sucked out the moisture of the cake. We use crisco in our pans and dust with flour. The cake was chocolate and was placed bottom side down. It seemed almost dry on the bottom after inspecting it sideways in the van, but the inside of the cake was wonderful and moist as normal. I know that those silver drums don't suck the oil from the cake because they are sealed and that cake had been on that board since Wednesday. It actually fell about 2 minutes into the drive. I gently turned off my road onto the main road and it just plopped itself over. 

-K8memphis Posted 3 Nov 2013 , 4:06pm
post #11 of 26

think there was an air bubble between the board and the cake or something? sounds like some kind of perfect storm--very strange--so sorry that happened--

jenmat Posted 3 Nov 2013 , 5:32pm
post #12 of 26

I am not a disaster sleuth, but what you are describing on setup- I do the exact same thing on every tiered cake I make. Each cake has same size boards and then those boards are attached to a silver drum base. I have never ever ever ever had this happen and this is my norm. This to say that I'm not sure you actually "did" anything wrong here. It really may be a complete fluke where an air bubble got underneath, the icing separated when it sat, a cake imp decided to give it a push.....

deliciousdesign Posted 3 Nov 2013 , 6:07pm
post #13 of 26

I'm going to go with a cake imp pushed it over! Lol! I think that it was a perfect storm with strange factors that created a disaster. I'm glad to hear I did nothing obviously wrong. I will slightly modify the way we attach cakes in the future and will be giving it a sturdy test in the future before putting it in the van. Otherwise, I'll keep baking and hope for the best in the future! I knew one of these days something like this was bound to happen.

ddaigle Posted 3 Nov 2013 , 7:26pm
post #15 of 26

Not sure what happened...but may I ask why you put your bottom cake on a board...then also on the drum?    To me, this is an unnecessary use of that bottom board.   I would think that..and the fact that the center dowel did not go through all the way to the drum...and a bad bump?  I don't know...was your cake cold?   I don't think you mentioned that, but I only travel with a cake that has been in the frig overnight.   A room temperature cake is a dangerous cake ..my opinion. 

-K8memphis Posted 3 Nov 2013 , 7:35pm
post #16 of 26






sarge, i was conjecturing about a bump--op says she made a gentle turn that she's obviously made with every cake she delivered from there--just wanted to point out that i said bump--not op -- op says gentle turn


and i agree that a room temperature cake is a cake waiting to implode during delivery

Minh Cakes Posted 3 Nov 2013 , 8:30pm
post #17 of 26

Hi there, so sorry this has happened to you. I haven't delivered many cakes yet, but have recently switched to gluing with ganache instead of frosting.  In the past I have found that some cakes tend to slip around when I use frosting, which contains a lot of butter. I spread the ganache over the entire surface of the cake board with an angled spatula. So maybe chocolate could be the answer to your problem? Wishing you good luck! 

mfeagan Posted 4 Nov 2013 , 1:09am
post #18 of 26

What I want to know is how the heck did you rectify the caketastrophe? Did you have to bake it again and redeliver or just give them their money back?


So sorry you had this happen! My very first cake delivery was a disaster! As a rookie baker, I put the cake on my front seat. A driver cut me off coming out of a side road. I had to slam my breaks on and that was the end of the story. I cried! Thankfully the girl didn't actually need the cake that night, so I was able to make another the next day. The baking gods smiled on me that day! haha!

deliciousdesign Posted 4 Nov 2013 , 1:22am
post #19 of 26

no bump, but yes! the cake was not cold! We had just finished decorating it so it had been out for about an hour and a half. I bet that was what did it! And it wasn't doweled as far into the bottom board so that probably helped it fall over easily. We never use two boards, but with this cake we did because we didn't have the base board on Wednesday when we filled and frosted it. We started decorating it a day early because we were busy on Halloween. However, we had not yet received payment from our customer and with many unanswered phone calls and emails we believed she had canceled the order! So, we put out an emergency fb message asking our customers if they wanted the cake tiers. We had them all sold and ready to be picked up on Saturday and early that morning the girl called asking where her cake was!!!! We were SO angry! We decided to go ahead and decorate her cake that morning so her baby would have his cake for his 1st birthday. We were only compassionate because of the little guy. We wanted him to have his cake. It would have been much easier for us to just sell each separate tier. So, we decorated it and had to bring it to our studio for her pick-up and that's when this all happened. So, it was our worst horror after an already very frustrating, stressful ordeal. It truly was not meant to be. We learned a ton from this and will remember in the future to have all cakes as cold as possible before transport and to make sure that bottom cake is glued on securely and that the whole thing is doweled to the bottom board! And to make sure our customer has paid on time so we're not in such a rush ;)

deliciousdesign Posted 4 Nov 2013 , 1:29am
post #20 of 26

You know, this woman was so difficult that my business partner simply had her husband give her a call and he gently told her that the cake didn't survive the drive and that we weren't able to supply her another cake since her party was in 2 hours. She hadn't even paid yet! Our policy is payment is due a week before the event and we were unable to get a hold of her the entire week. We were going off of good faith that she would contact us and when we hadn't heard from her by Friday night we were angry and sold each tier of her cake! We offered all of the customers who bought her cake the same deal for another day and they are all happy with that. Had we had time, and had she paid and picked up when she was supposed to, we would have made her another cake overnight or refunded her $$ for sure. We were just so frustrated with the whole thing that we didn't think to offer her any future compensation.

Stitches Posted 4 Nov 2013 , 2:31am
post #21 of 26

If I'm understanding correctly and not stating the obvious, I think I know why it fell. Your cake didn't attach to the grease free board because it wasn't super moist (you said). From the photograph of your board the cake wasn't completely adhered to the board. If it was, when the cake fell over you'd have a layer of cake still attached to the board, but there isn't any on your photo.

You need that full bond to suction the cake down to the board....or with the slightest amount of tipping it go over due to the top heavy nature of a stacked cake.


Even if your dowel went through the base completely you would have had some sort of issue because of the lack of adhering.

howsweet Posted 4 Nov 2013 , 2:33am
post #22 of 26

ANot sure what happened, but I never deliver cold cakes. Mine are alway room temp and they're fine. In the one catastrophe I've had, my driver slammed on her brakes (fender bender) and the cake came off the same way yours did. It wasn't staked... It was years ago before I knew about staking.

deliciousdesign Posted 4 Nov 2013 , 3:54am
post #23 of 26

I completely agree that the cake wasn't secured on the bottom plate correctly. What is the best way to do this and with what material (buttercream, ganache, chocolate, candy melts)? Will the bottom cake be difficult to cut and serve if it's 'glued' too well to the plate? Thanks!

deliciousdesign Posted 4 Nov 2013 , 4:57am
post #24 of 26


-K8memphis Posted 4 Nov 2013 , 12:51pm
post #25 of 26

i affix all my cakes almost the exact same way you affixed yours--i use the extra board on the bottom like you did--the only thing i do different is i don't usually use the center dowel except for topsy turvey cakes



Stitches Posted 4 Nov 2013 , 3:08pm
post #26 of 26

It comes down to how you prepare your cake pans. If you use flour for easy release as the OP did, it always makes the outside of your cake a little dry....that's why it releases so well. But it makes that surface slippery dry (you can slide the cake across your table and it won't stick). The only way to change that is to get some moisture back into that surface. Usually freezing a cake will do that or if it was refrigerated for a day or so. But a fresh cake as the OP had is going to stay dry on that surface for a minimum of a day. Even if she had frosted the entire cake board it was sitting on she'd run the risk of it not working for many hours....until the moisture from the frosting penetrated that surface.


Instead of coating your cake pans with flour use a parchment cake liner. It works better than flour...........because flouring a pan isn't fool proof. You'll still occasionally have a cake stuck in on the bottom of the pan. When you use parchment, the bottom surface of your cake is always super moist.........it prevents the cake from getting a crisp edge...... even on an over baked cake.


If you were to ganache the cake to the board, yes that would make it too glued down to serve with-out making a mess. It's just easier if the bottom surface of the cake is moist because it's a moist type of cake.                        There are cakes that aren't supposed to be moist through-out like we think of with decorated cakes, like sponge cakes and genoise,...they don't stick to a cake board on their own.

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