My First Cake Collapse!

Decorating By zinger60 Updated 9 Jul 2014 , 4:33am by Lunita13

zinger60 Posted 2 Jul 2014 , 9:42pm
post #1 of 35

I have made probably hundreds of tier cakes the same way over the past 5 years and never had a problem with one collapsing until now so I'm not sure if it was something I did or something the customer did after they picked it up.

It was a 2-tier, 8" and 10", buttercream covered, chocolate cake bottom tier with strawberry pastry filling, vanilla top tier with vanilla buttercream filling.  The cake sat for a day and a half  at my house with no sign of any problems.  The cake had bubble tea straws for support, cake boards under the top tier and a central dowel through both of them.  The customer transported the cake about 25 minutes and said after they got to the party and opened the box, they found the bottom cake collapsed.  The woman never told us about this until over 2 days later when she delivered the box back to us.  We asked for pictures of the cake, which she emailed to us.  One side of the bottom tier was totally destroyed, like it exploded.  The other half was perfect,  The top tier was cracked in a V shape but otherwise was fine and still sitting on top of the bottom tier.  From the looks of the cake, it looks to me like the whole cake box was dropped.  We had the cake in a large shipping box with a lid on top.  When we got the box back, we noticed there was even buttercream splattered on the inside of the lid even though the top of the cake was about 6-8 inches from the inside of the lid.  The woman said that the first thing she did was question the driving of the man who picked it up for her but he told her he went so slow that people behind him were upset.  I'm thinking that when they took it out of the van, they dropped one  side of the box and that is why It looks like the cake exploded.  One big question is if the cake had collapsed through some fault of my own, or because of the top cake sliding, would the dowels still be standing upright inside the exploded cake?  In the picture, I can see all the bubble straws still standing upright.  Any ideas?

34 replies
Gingerlocks Posted 2 Jul 2014 , 9:55pm
post #2 of 35

Could you post the pictures of before the cake was sent and then the "exploded" pictures? Its hard to tell without seeing it..

zinger60 Posted 2 Jul 2014 , 10:52pm
post #3 of 35

How do I post the pictures?

Goreti Posted 2 Jul 2014 , 11:25pm
post #4 of 35

Quote:

Originally Posted by zinger60 
 

How do I post the pictures

 

 

Just click on the insert image tab at the top of the reply window.  When you get the embed image message, you choose upload file to get the file from your computer.

zinger60 Posted 2 Jul 2014 , 11:43pm
post #5 of 35

As you can see, the whole bottom of the cake has been pushed out very far all the way from the front to the back on that one side.  My reason for thinking that they dropped the whole box on one side is because all the dowels in the bottom cake are still standing straight up,  It seems like if the cake collapsed, the dowels would be at an angle and also because of the huge extent of damage to it.  It also looks like someone's fingerprint on top of the top cake and on the side of it.  Any ideas on what could have happened?

enga Posted 3 Jul 2014 , 12:17am
post #6 of 35

It looks like someone dropped it and dropped it hard judging by the cracks. SMH

 

The way you boxed the cake seems real secure, I always wedge my cakes in too.

Sorry you had to experience this but it doesn't look like it was your fault at all.

zinger60 Posted 3 Jul 2014 , 12:33am
post #7 of 35

Yeah. that was my first thought when she sent the picture was that someone dropped the box on that one side,  I cant believe how far out the side of the cake is from where it used to be.  The dowels that are visible in the cake were underneath the top cake and the pink frosting on top of the left side of the bottom cake was actually the border around the top cake.  That shows how far out it blew out.  I'm still in shock.

denetteb Posted 3 Jul 2014 , 12:35am
post #8 of 35

AWhy was the cake sitting for a day and a half before pick up?

reginaherrin Posted 3 Jul 2014 , 12:39am
post #9 of 35

It looks like the box was dropped to me.  I wonder why the mickey mouse hat is damaged and are those plastic forks or knifes stuck into the bottom tier on the collapsed side? Also, if this was not dropped and they opened it to this then why would they not call right away and wait 2 days to tell you instead?

Singerssoul Posted 3 Jul 2014 , 12:53am
post #10 of 35

I have to agree, it looks like it was dropped or something happened along the drive. There is frosting on the side of the box (at a higher height that the tier would have been seems to lend towards that). I also see at least 3 plastic forks in the box along that messed up bottom tier. It seems odd that upon delivery with a cake that looks like that, she didn't say anything that day. Has she asked for a return of any money? To me the customer behavior and the look of the cake seems to indicate something else happened. 

 

(ah reginaherrin posted my thoughts exactly dang slow update)

remnant3333 Posted 3 Jul 2014 , 1:05am
post #11 of 35

Looks like cake was dropped. Not your fault at all!!!  So, is the customer asking for money back?

costumeczar Posted 3 Jul 2014 , 1:56am
post #12 of 35

AI have to say that I bet it was the strawberry. Whenever there's a total collapse like this it's not unusual that the cake was filled with strawberry. What kind of filling was it, a sleeved filling or a buttercream? And was the cake refrigerated or not while it sat there waiting? If it was sitting there at room temp it would look fine until the vibrations of the car on the road made a bottom tier that had been destabilized on the inside because of weepy strawberry filling just fall apart. It wouldn't need to be dropped if the cake was just softened to make it fall apart like that.

enga Posted 3 Jul 2014 , 2:36am
post #13 of 35

I don't know about that, I have never experienced anything like this even with using fresh strawberries and SMBC. I've only seen cracks like that when turning a cake out of the pan too soon.

 

The cake definitely received some kind of force from the bottom to crack in almost the same place on both tiers. One made with strawberry filling and one made with buttercream.

Gingerlocks Posted 3 Jul 2014 , 2:47am
post #14 of 35

To me that looks like someone hit the breaks hard..I honestly don't think this was your fault. If it was they would have called you right away as soon as then had "come to a gentle stop" after a "smooth, and slow" ride home and would have called immediately and said something happened; but they didn't they waited two days because they knew it had something to do with their driving. 

morganchampagne Posted 3 Jul 2014 , 5:53am
post #15 of 35

AHesitate to say. But I dropped a cake once and the bottom tier looks EXACTLY like that. This was one for my god daughters first birthday :(. I wish I had the picturs to show you how similar the disasters look. Although I have seen this thing with those slippery slick fruit fillings

Snowflakebunny23 Posted 3 Jul 2014 , 9:54am
post #16 of 35

If i had ordered a cake and it arrived like that, you'd have a phone call inside 10 seconds.  Unless of course the driver had told me that he had damaged it.  Seems a little odd to me...

Claire138 Posted 3 Jul 2014 , 10:50am
post #17 of 35

Quote:

Originally Posted by Snowflakebunny23 
 

If i had ordered a cake and it arrived like that, you'd have a phone call inside 10 seconds.  Unless of course the driver had told me that he had damaged it.  Seems a little odd to me...

 

I agree.

costumeczar Posted 3 Jul 2014 , 10:54am
post #18 of 35

A

Original message sent by morganchampagne

Hesitate to say. But I dropped a cake once and the bottom tier looks EXACTLY like that. This was one for my god daughters first birthday :(. I wish I had the picturs to show you how similar the disasters look. Although I have seen this thing with those slippery slick fruit fillings

That's the kind of filling I'm thinking of too. I use strawberry meringue buttercreams and fresh strawberries all the time, but it's the jams and sleeved filling types that cause the problems. I'm waiting to hear what kind of filling it was before i make a judgment on whose "fault" it was...it's too easy to blame the customer when it could be that the bottom tier was soaking wet on the inside from too much filling and nobody could tell until it went road tripping. The fingerprints on the top tier are probably from where the client opened the box, went "what the heck?" And tried to push it back into place, who knows.

The issue i see a lot on here is people blaming the customer for slamming on the brakes, dropping the box, etc before finding out about all the information. It's better to find out more before brushing off the possibility that there was something going on that could be prevented in the future. I deliver wedding cakes every week and I've had to slam my brakes on and it would never cause something like that collapse, which is why I have a feeling that the cake could have been sitting at room temp and soaking up the juice from a goopy filling for a couple of days. But I don't know until the OP says what kind of filling it was, so that's why I'm waiting for the answer to that before saying who's to "blame." And it's not a matter of blame so much as figuring out what happened so it won't happen again.

So i still want to know 1. Was the cake refrigerated or at room temp. And 2. What kind of strawberry filling wa it, buttercream or liquidy preservy type?

ruellesmith Posted 3 Jul 2014 , 12:55pm
post #19 of 35

If you use too much baking powder, it causes air bubbles that are too big to support themselves, and they collapse. Try cutting down the baking powder (if you used BP) and see if that works.

zinger60 Posted 3 Jul 2014 , 1:09pm
post #20 of 35

To answer the question about the cake sitting for a day and a half, yes, I finished the cake the morning before the pickup (which was 2pm the next day) and the cake was in a small room that was very cool with air conditioning on. 

The woman did not ask for her money back and didn't even really complain about it.  She just said that the next time she orders a cake from us, she will have us deliver it.

The picture of the cake in the box is very strange not only because it was taken from the top view but also with the plastic forks or whatever they are, set on the bottom of the cake.  You would think they would have taken a picture of the front of the cake.  We made a slit all the way up the corner of the box so that it was like a door to open and slide out the cake board.  In that picture, the door is closed and it is made to look like the cake was never taken out of the box but if that was the case, how did the plastic ware get in there.  It's like the cake was taken out of the box and messed with and then put back in exactly like I had it, and then they took the picture.  I'm not sure whether to even contact her about it again.  My husband said we should give her a discount on her next cake order as a gesture of good will but I don't want that to look like we are admitting we did something wrong.

 

For the people who thought it might have happened because of the Strawberry sleeve filling and the cake might have slipped, wouldn't the straws be at an angle instead of still standing straight up?  I have made so many cakes with sleeve filling and never had anything like this happen before.

zinger60 Posted 3 Jul 2014 , 1:14pm
post #21 of 35

Also, I had put down a very thin layer of buttercream on top of the cake before I put on the sleeve filling so the filling would not soak into the cake. 

Claire138 Posted 3 Jul 2014 , 1:16pm
post #22 of 35

I'll just add another point about the straws, I have switched over (Leah's advice) to SPS. They are wonderful for transporting  & is an extra security esp if the client is picking up the cake.

zinger60 Posted 3 Jul 2014 , 2:01pm
post #23 of 35

The cake before the collapse

random user Posted 3 Jul 2014 , 2:25pm
post #24 of 35


beautiful cake. What a shame.

costumeczar Posted 3 Jul 2014 , 3:05pm
post #25 of 35

Quote:

Originally Posted by zinger60 
 

To answer the question about the cake sitting for a day and a half, yes, I finished the cake the morning before the pickup (which was 2pm the next day) and the cake was in a small room that was very cool with air conditioning on.

The woman did not ask for her money back and didn't even really complain about it.  She just said that the next time she orders a cake from us, she will have us deliver it.

The picture of the cake in the box is very strange not only because it was taken from the top view but also with the plastic forks or whatever they are, set on the bottom of the cake.  You would think they would have taken a picture of the front of the cake.  We made a slit all the way up the corner of the box so that it was like a door to open and slide out the cake board.  In that picture, the door is closed and it is made to look like the cake was never taken out of the box but if that was the case, how did the plastic ware get in there.  It's like the cake was taken out of the box and messed with and then put back in exactly like I had it, and then they took the picture.  I'm not sure whether to even contact her about it again.  My husband said we should give her a discount on her next cake order as a gesture of good will but I don't want that to look like we are admitting we did something wrong.

 

For the people who thought it might have happened because of the Strawberry sleeve filling and the cake might have slipped, wouldn't the straws be at an angle instead of still standing straight up?  I have made so many cakes with sleeve filling and never had anything like this happen before.

If the filling had soaked into the cake and softened it, which it could do on the layer above the layer of filling, the soft cake could easily collapse around the straws. Who knows...I would say that the customer probably suspects some manhandling on the part of the delivery person too, or she would have called you sooner. Personally, I wouldn't offer any kind of refund or discounts since she's not asking for it and has pretty much acknowledged that the delivery could have played a part.

 

I would do two things differently, the first being to ditch sleeved fillings since they're nasty anyway, and they seem to cause trouble. Seriously 90% of the time I see threads on here about cakes sliding it's a strawberry or raspberry sleeved filing that's involved. Switch to a strawberry preserve that you put on in thin layers, or a strawberry buttercream instead and save yourself some problems.

 

The second thing would be to refrigerate your cakes before delivery so that they're solid and not prone to moving. Especially if they're going to be picked up by a customer. It just gives you one more layer of protection against something moving during the delivery.

enga Posted 3 Jul 2014 , 5:32pm
post #26 of 35
Quote:
Originally Posted by zinger60 
 

The cake before the collapse

Oh what a shame such a cute cake, now I see what you mean about how far to the left the cake was thrown. On closer inspection of the first pic it looks like someone took their hand and slide it back to the right and placed forks in it to prevent it from shifting any further.

 

At any rate accidents like this make us question our selves as cake decorators. Did I do something wrong or maybe I should have done this or that differently? Maybe I would have felt that way even more if the customer had called me right away. But to wait 2 days later......Naaaaaaaeh, somethings going on here. And oh, and  the "I was going so slow the cars behind me were mad." would have furtherd my reasons to call you back right away. But noooooo, they wait 2 whole days, tick tock, tick tock. Sounds like enough time to come up with a good excuse. Oh and by the way, the cake exploded, here's your box, BYE! :???:.......

 

I don't know zinger60, you said your have been doing your cakes the same way for years with no problems. I think deep down you know this wasn't your fault but it made you question your skills, so you posted this thread to lets us see it too. And I'm telling ya they dropped the cake! That's my story and I'm sticking to it!  

 

You sealed the filling in buttercream "Also, I had put down a very thin layer of buttercream on top of the cake before I put on the sleeve filling so the filling would not soak into the cake." I do the same thing by placing a thin layer of bc, a dam, the filling, and top that with bc. I find that the dam and filling alone can cause seepage problems. I personally think that sleeve fillings and preserves/jams more stable than fresh strawberries. 

 

I remember a thread awhile back called "What went wrong" were the OP used a raspberry filling and the cake sat out I think. When the customer picked up the cakes, they seemed like they hit the brakes too hard and the cake layers slide at the exact point where the filling was located. Now we can get all CSI (a show I loved by the way) and go on about measuring the distance of icing spatter and the angle of impact to find out who or what killed this poor cake, lol. But going by your past experience and the actions of the customer, I believe that I can safely say that the cake was damaged by them.

 

I don't know if I would do anything differently than you did except to add a clause that states that if the customer decides to pick up the cake, you are no longer responsible for it.

 

Accidents happen and just like we shouldn't be quick to blame the customer, the customer shouldn't be quick to blame the decorator. There is a gray area where the decorator nor the customer can account for the cake.

 

ps, I know the thread has moved on, I had to take a call before posting my reply.

 

*maybe not

Norasmom Posted 3 Jul 2014 , 8:59pm
post #27 of 35

Quote:

 

If i had ordered a cake and it arrived like that, you'd have a phone call inside 10 seconds.  Unless of course the driver had told me that he had damaged it.  Seems a little odd to me...

 

I agree, why would they wait 2 days…

 

it was mishandled, for sure!  

 

​What a beautiful job you did on the original, though!

jenmat Posted 4 Jul 2014 , 1:11am
post #28 of 35

Quote:

Originally Posted by costumeczar 
 

If the filling had soaked into the cake and softened it, which it could do on the layer above the layer of filling, the soft cake could easily collapse around the straws. Who knows...I would say that the customer probably suspects some manhandling on the part of the delivery person too, or she would have called you sooner. Personally, I wouldn't offer any kind of refund or discounts since she's not asking for it and has pretty much acknowledged that the delivery could have played a part.

 

I would do two things differently, the first being to ditch sleeved fillings since they're nasty anyway, and they seem to cause trouble. Seriously 90% of the time I see threads on here about cakes sliding it's a strawberry or raspberry sleeved filing that's involved. Switch to a strawberry preserve that you put on in thin layers, or a strawberry buttercream instead and save yourself some problems.

 

The second thing would be to refrigerate your cakes before delivery so that they're solid and not prone to moving. Especially if they're going to be picked up by a customer. It just gives you one more layer of protection against something moving during the delivery.

Funny, the first thing I thought was "was it strawberry sleeved filling?" And then yes it was. If it was sitting out for a long time at room temp with strawberry filling....well I can see this happening just the way they say- the vibrations from the car fractured it. And when the cake falls apart it's not because of the supports in this situation, it's because of the filling and the cake's day's worth of soaking it up. I dunno. While the circumstance of the weird picture combined with the no phone call and no request for a refund probably points to foul play, I think you should probably be grateful it hasn't happened before. 

Chill your cakes, use real fruit. Or just chill your cakes. 

MimiFix Posted 4 Jul 2014 , 12:59pm
post #29 of 35
Quote:

Originally Posted by Norasmom 

 

If i had ordered a cake and it arrived like that, you'd have a phone call inside 10 seconds.  Unless of course the driver had told me that he had damaged it.  Seems a little odd to me... I agree, why would they wait 2 days… it was mishandled, for sure!  

 

Please keep in mind that not everyone reacts the same. I know people who never complain even if the situation was egregious. 

Lunita13 Posted 7 Jul 2014 , 5:44am
post #30 of 35

I agree. Maybe they weren't sure whether they should say anything. Or maybe they aren't sure of the cause. But I think you might be reading too much into some of the actions, like the angle the photo was taken from. When I saw the photo, I didn't automatically think, "how weird, why is it from the top?" I am not in the business of selling cakes but it seems to me like the best thing to do is use this as a learning lesson and, if you didn't have one before, create a policy for damage and refunds and be clear of how and when refunds will be given, especially under ambiguous circumstances like this one. 

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