What Went Wrong Here?

Decorating By DGbcs Updated 12 Jun 2014 , 2:52pm by DGbcs

DGbcs Posted 11 Jun 2014 , 1:10am
post #1 of 21

I've been baking for quite a while and have never had anything so disastrous happen. I want to make sure this doesn't happen again, and would love input from other experienced bakers. I have some speculations but wanna see if they line up with others.


I made these two cakes for a customer.  They sat in my home a while before pickup.  One I decorated the night before, so it sat 18 hours and one I decorated early the morning of, it sat 8 hours...both at room temperature like always.  Cool, air conditioned home. A little of the beading on the white cake pulled off that morning and I was able to fix it and it sat hours and hours with no issues. The pics of the cakes in tact were taken JUST before pickup. The chocolate one has raspberry filling, the other is red velvet, no filling.  The customer said the cakes fell apart by the time they arrived home and sent me the pictures.  They said they drove carefully and they were not left in the warm car.  He visited with me about 10-15 minutes when he picked up the cake and it was a warm Texas afternoon last week so his car could have been warm but not for long.


These sat on his floorboard. One in the front, one in the back.  Thoughts? I'm so terribly sad this happened.



20 replies
Singerssoul Posted 11 Jun 2014 , 1:39am
post #2 of 21

Frankly, they both look like something happened to them.  The chocolate one has a bit of smooshed look to it, like it hit the side of the cake box. The white cake looks like it was near a heat source.  He transported them on the floorboards, where your feet normally go?  I would hope that was not the case...I know my car even when running air sometimes puts a little heat out along the floorboards. Both buttercream?

DGbcs Posted 11 Jun 2014 , 1:49am
post #3 of 21

Thank you so much for your input.  It is very helpful and I appreciate it so much! Yep, they are both buttercream with fondant decorations.  I actually recommend my customers putting them on the floorboard if they don't have an SUV (with a back to place them in)  bc seats are uneven and a trunk is hot plus they are completely boxed.  After this situation though I have been over emphasizing (if there is such a thing in this case) to have a completely cooled car when picking up.  :)

alexius007 Posted 11 Jun 2014 , 2:26am
post #4 of 21

I agree that it looks like a transportation incident happened.  I have a hard time believing that two completely different cakes just fell apart like that for no reason.  I've actually had a buttercream frosted cake be affected by heat during transport and it looked nothing like that.  Basically the frosting just sort of "melted" and kind of pooled towards the bottom so it looked like the frosting was thicker at the bottom than at the top.  Your buttercream doesn't look like heat played a factor.  It looks like someone hit the brakes hard and the filled cake had the top layer slide, and the non-filled cake hit the side of the box.

jemchina Posted 11 Jun 2014 , 2:28am
post #5 of 21

A]It looks like the top layer slid off on the chocolate cake. Possible due to sudden breaking. If the car was too warm, it's possible that with a fruit filling this might happen. As for the white cake, it seems it was bumped. I have had icing slide off a cake, and it did not look like the cake crumbled. Basically the cake was intact underneath. IMHO I think these cakes may have slid around on the floor board, and not necessarily anything you did wrong.

I personally do not like using the floor board. When I have had to I cushion it very well with a beach towel to raise it a bit, and switch the vents to the feet. Now I opt to use layer of towels rolled up towards the seat back to make the seat level. I use a large baking pan (like a jelly roll type) and place my boxed cake on top of the sheet pan, which lays on top of the towels.

I know you didn't transport these cake, but I think there was a bit of customer error here.

Norasmom Posted 11 Jun 2014 , 2:59am
post #6 of 21

With cake transport, floor boards freak me out.  It does appear that the cakes slid around on an uneven surface, but you have no control over other people's transport.

I always refrigerate my bc cakes so that the icing will be super firm for transport.  The one time I did not I was repairing the cake because it had slid around a bit.

So don't feel too badly, it's not the structure of the cake that failed, it's the transport.

AZCouture Posted 11 Jun 2014 , 3:04am
post #7 of 21

AI can't see how room temperature cake travels well at all, quite frankly. Just the vibration of the road would freak me out. I deliver fully chilled, and in the rare instances that a customer opts for pick up, they're chilled as well.

sha1col Posted 11 Jun 2014 , 3:21am
post #8 of 21

AI agree with the above posts, I did a basketweave and left it in my car because I had an engagement to attend right after my class and something sorta similar happened due to heat. Hopefully I uploaded the pics correctly.

[IMG ALT=""]http://cakecentral.com/content/type/61/id/3248758/width/350/height/700[/IMG]

[IMG ALT=""]http://cakecentral.com/content/type/61/id/3248759/width/350/height/700[/IMG]

maybenot Posted 11 Jun 2014 , 3:37am
post #9 of 21

If he sat for any length of time in traffic, with the heat from the road surface radiating up to the underside of the car, that caused the cakes to soften--a lot.  If he, then, hit the brakes or made a sharp turn, that fully explains the damage that you see.  


I deliver all of my cakes, but with the TX heat, those would have been in the fridge for at least an hour before pick up.

FrostedMoon Posted 11 Jun 2014 , 3:37am
post #10 of 21

I agree, looks like they were bumped or slid around during a fast stop.  Legally I can't sell anything that needs to be refrigerated, and condensation is awful on cold cakes this time of year in New England, so room temp they must be.  I use SPS for tiered cakes, and make sure everything is well settled and level before I ice them.  Roads around Boston are notorious for being crappy, and so far so good (picture me knocking  on wood, throwing salt over my shoulder, and any other thing that might help me not jinx myself by typing that!).  

AZCouture Posted 11 Jun 2014 , 4:38am
post #11 of 21


Original message sent by Norasmom

So don't feel too badly, it's not the structure of the cake that failed, it's the transport.

Not necessarily. It's up to us to provide a sturdy stable product that will transport well. It may very well be that this.guy drove like a maniac, but who knows. So I remove any possible fault that may be mine from the equation [B]before[/B] it has a chance to happen...hence the chilling before handing it off.

DGbcs Posted 11 Jun 2014 , 11:32am
post #12 of 21

Thank you everyone for your responses!  I sincerely appreciate all of the feedback.  In the years I've been baking I haven't refrigerated before transport. Even the 5 tiered cake pictured as my profile pic left unstacked and at room temp, traveled 3 floors and made it fine.  Like some, I too am restricted from selling refrigerated items but that doesn't mean I couldn't stick it in the fridge to stiffen things up. However, I live in an extremely hot and humid area and am concerned about condensation.


Does anyone in very hot and humid areas have experience transporting refrigerated cakes?  Condensation? I know if it's happens to my cake pops (which eventually dissipates) my guess is it's likely to happen with cakes, but cakes are a lot more time consuming and worrisome than my pops so I am a little hesitant!  :) I do tons of buttercream cakes, some fondant, if that helps.

cupadeecakes Posted 11 Jun 2014 , 12:58pm
post #13 of 21

I live in Georgia where the only thing higher than the humidity is the pollen count.  I refrigerate all my cakes - I would never dream of traveling with a cake that wasn't nice and cold through and through.  You will get some condensation, just leave it alone and it will dry out.  The only real problem the condensation has ever caused me is with those darned food writer edible markers.  Those things will run on me every time.  So I just quit using them.


Listen to @AZCouture - the force is strong with this one!

DGbcs Posted 11 Jun 2014 , 2:09pm
post #14 of 21

I think Georgia is a good comparison.  :)  I have a pickup tomorrow and will test refrigerate that order to see how it does.  How far in advance to do you take it out before customer pickup? I wouldn't want them to freak out by the condensation and try to do something, therefore messing it up.  Most of my orders are pickups.

cupadeecakes Posted 11 Jun 2014 , 2:30pm
post #15 of 21


Originally Posted by DGbcs 

I think Georgia is a good comparison.  :)  I have a pickup tomorrow and will test refrigerate that order to see how it does.  How far in advance to do you take it out before customer pickup? I wouldn't want them to freak out by the condensation and try to do something, therefore messing it up.  Most of my orders are pickups.

I don't have a lot of pickups, but when I do, I remove it from the fridge maybe 5 minutes before I expect them to arrive.  I always warn them about the condensation and instruct them not to touch it and that it will dry back out.  If you tell them about it, they shouldn't freak out.

DGbcs Posted 11 Jun 2014 , 2:34pm
post #16 of 21

That was gonna be my guess.  :)  Thanks so very much!!!!

dkltll Posted 11 Jun 2014 , 7:22pm
post #17 of 21

Something else I do whether a pick up or delivery- I buy rolls of the rubber shelf liner (at Dollar General for like $1) and cut it to size. I put a piece in the cake box under the cake plate (between the plate and box bottom) and then I put one under the cake box (between the box and the floor). Nothing slides this way! I keep several pieces in the back of my SUV to use for Church Suppers, groceries, etc... It is a miracle product! I live in Florida and I was hesitant at first to refrigerate but my life has become so much easier since I started cooling before transport.

Valscake Posted 12 Jun 2014 , 2:54am
post #18 of 21

I live in the SW United States, and sometimes it's very low humidity and sometimes it hits double digit humidity.  I've been doing cakes for 14 years.   Some things I've learned,mostly the hard way...(don't ask!) 


I never transport cake at room temperature.  We have a saying at my bakery..."A cold cake is your friend".  Even if the cake is fondant, buttercream, fondant accents, ganache...whatever...It is refrigerated overnight.  It is taken out within 15 min. of the customer's arrival, boxed and readied to go.  Please don't worry about the condensation from the temp change.  The cake will reabsorb or the condensation will evaporate as long as it isn't touched while it's drying...You can even put it near a fan.


Oh BTW, we use products that don't necessarily require refrigeration.  We refrigerate for stability.


Also, if we aren't delivering the cake, we have the customer put it on the floorboards of the car and we carry it to the car and place it appropriately on the floorboards.  


If we are delivering the cake we use non-slip mats under the cake and under the boxes and we transport early in the day if at all possible.


Hope this helps..

DGbcs Posted 12 Jun 2014 , 11:41am
post #19 of 21

This is all great information.  I've tried to cover all bases, help customers load, explain driving carefully, keep it away from heat, etc....the only thing I haven't done is refrigerate cakes!  Guess I will start now.  So does it matter if the cake is refrigerated already boxed or not?  I wouldn't think so but when you mentioned you take it out and box it before pickup that made me wonder.  I will be using the fridge at my house, not a commercial one.

Valscake Posted 12 Jun 2014 , 2:09pm
post #20 of 21

Whether at home or when I'm at work (my bakery), I just put them in the fridge, not boxed, and leave them there overnight.  I get my box ready, and right before the customer gets there, I take the cake out, box it (leave the box open so the customer can view the final product) and then close it up and take to the customer's car.  The cake is fine unboxed in the fridge because the buttercream seals the moisture in the cake,so the cake will not dry out.

DGbcs Posted 12 Jun 2014 , 2:52pm
post #21 of 21

Do you know if there is a problem doing it boxed in the fridge though? I have some reservations leaving it un-boxed for a couple of reasons, one being 3 small kids. :)

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