Help! Customer's Cake Fell Apart!

Decorating By DreamCakesOnline Updated 25 Jul 2009 , 8:04pm by DreamCakesOnline

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DreamCakesOnline Posted 24 Jul 2009 , 9:13pm
post #1 of 19

O.K. I'm staying calm. I dropped off a 3-D Build A Bear cake at a client's office (her request) this afternoon. It was perfect when I dropped it off. She left work, took it to pick up her daughter so the birthday girl got to see it in one piece. Then, it fell apart on the way home to their house. The bear pan is two pieces split down the middle from head to toe and it looks like it was cleaved with an ax. The party is tomorrow. She emails me a pix of the cake and says she's upset it didn't make the trip. It's heavy chocolate pound cake. Explained that they are fragile and it made the trip not only 15 miles from my place to her office but then to her daughter's daycare. I offered to let her drop it off this evening so I could try to put it back together but I'm only subbing for her "regular cake lady" who's on vacation this week. First, am I being smart about this? I only charged $45 and bought the pan for $20 (I'm planning to post on the website as a cake provider for their parties) and, second, any thoughts as to how to fix it? The head broke off before I even put it together as did a piece of the tail and the nose. I'm ready to just sell the pan and tell people I don't do those kind of cakes...

18 replies
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Deb_ Posted 24 Jul 2009 , 9:19pm
post #2 of 19

If possible, post a pic of the damaged cake when you get it back tonight. Without seeing the damage it's hard to say how/if it can be fixed.

I personally hate those 3d pans, I'd much rather sculpt a cake out of stacked layers, they're much more stable.

Did you leave the cake in 2 whole pieces or did you torte/fill stack with boards and dowel?

I'm sorry this happened, it stinks especially when you're "filling in" for her regular baker.

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playingwithsugar Posted 24 Jul 2009 , 9:22pm
post #3 of 19

Let's see - heavy pound cake, North Carolina heat, you certainly didn't charge enough, whether it fell apart or not... where to start?

Which pan is this, a Wilton pan or some other brand?

Did you use any skewers to try and anchor it together, or anchor it to the board? Gravity always wins.

If she brings it by, make sure you refrigerate it before sending it on it's way.

Don't let Indydebi see how much you charged for this cake - her slap therapy has a reputation for finding it's way through computer screens.

Theresa icon_smile.gif

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__Jamie__ Posted 24 Jul 2009 , 9:27pm
post #4 of 19

Well, $45 was too much for a cake that fell apart. But that's neither here nor there. icon_biggrin.gif I shudder at the thought of sending a cake constructed that way with the customer. No way. These type of orders come with restrictions. One being I deliver ifs ands or buts.

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DreamCakesOnline Posted 24 Jul 2009 , 9:40pm
post #5 of 19

Yeah, I tried to get her to let me deliver it but she wanted it today for some reason. I didn't torte/stack or skewer. I know it sounds stupid but I followed the directions on the box. BTW, it's a Williams Sonoma pan. I'll try to post the after pix again. I dropped it off at 2:15 and had to sit in her lobby waiting for 15 minutes while she was on the phone. Finally, someone let me take it back to her office and she put the call on hold just long enough to look at it and mouth that it was really cute and she'd email me to let me know what the daughter thought of it so no attention to instructions. It was refrigerated all night and half the morning. I know I didn't charge enough but she works for the same place my husband works and they have about 1000 employees that I'm trying to get some business from so I was hoping word of mouth would get me more orders. My husband figures she stopped at the store on the way home and it overheated and cut loose.

O.K. This thing will not let me upload the picture. It's 400 x 533. Any ideas why it's rejecting it?

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Deb_ Posted 24 Jul 2009 , 9:46pm
post #6 of 19

If you go to the file and right click on the pic there is an option to resize or edit the pic. You can shrink it or crop it to fit.

I know it's tempting to "lowball" a cake in order to get more orders, however once you start doing that EVERYONE will expect the "low" price. It's much better to price the cake where it should be priced. You can't work for free just to get more orders, it kind of defeats the purpose.

It sounds like she may have let the cake heat up too much in the car. I hope you don't have to remake this thing........ughhh, that would really stink!

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DreamCakesOnline Posted 24 Jul 2009 , 9:56pm
post #7 of 19

Well, my standpoint is that I don't have any control over what happens to it after it leaves my care so I'm not remaking it for free. There were plenty of witnesses that it was fine when I handed it off to her (everyone wanted a look while I waited on her) and for all I know she abused it and now wants me to fix it. I've already invested about 4-5 hours, materials, the pan and delivery so I'm already in the hole. I feel certain I can fix it (it might be full of wood and covered with straps...) but I'm not going to pick it up and then take it back too. If she brings it to me, I'm willing to try to fix it and maybe even do the delivery like I should have to begin with. Would it hold together better if it was torted and stacked? It's so tiny and the features are so apt to break off already.

I did resize the picture but it still won't take it...

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DreamCakesOnline Posted 24 Jul 2009 , 10:03pm
post #8 of 19

I'm going to upload it to my photos as a cake disaster and see if it'll work...

Husband thinks skewers drove through the ears into the opposite sides might work... Any other ideas?

She emailed me at 4:37 pm, I answered about 5:10 pm, and haven't heard back from her yet (6:05 pm). Only number I have it work and she left early.

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Deb_ Posted 24 Jul 2009 , 10:10pm
post #9 of 19

OK I just looked at your pic's and I see the bear cake (is that the one?) It's really cute.

I think that in the future, yes, it would be more sturdy if you torte/fill/stack, put a board in the middle since it looks taller then 4" and dowel.

You won't be able to do that with this repair job though since it's already covered in icing. Now, you said the "head fell off" while you were working on it, how did you put it back?

If the head fell off again in her possession, technically it could be because it was already pieced back together once and the stability of the cake was already compromised.

Hopefully someone will have some ideas or suggestions on how to repair it.

Good luck!

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DreamCakesOnline Posted 24 Jul 2009 , 10:15pm
post #10 of 19

I think the after picture finally loaded into the cake disasters but I'm seeing it on the my photos so you might be able to click on my pictures button and see it now.

I did just attach it back with a lot of icing because the neck was almost non-existent and the cake was only about seven inches tall. I was afraid that any wood would further weaken it because there was so little to skewer into. It looks like the whole of both halves split apart.

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Deb_ Posted 24 Jul 2009 , 10:16pm
post #11 of 19

Just saw the new picture. Did you put icing between the 2 halves? I can't tell from the picture.

I'm not sure if skewers would be enough to keep it together, it looks pretty heavy.

I think I'd stand it up, slice the whole head off, dowel the bottom of the bear, put the head on a board cut to size and stack it on top of the bottom and repair icing.

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DreamCakesOnline Posted 24 Jul 2009 , 10:21pm
post #12 of 19

It had about 1/4 to 3/8 of an inch of pretty stiff icing in the middle. It also has a thin coat of icing on the outside with demerara sugar finish to look like fur. I'm not arguing with the fix but I'm afraid that if I cut the whole head off and put it on a board, that it will roll off the shoulders due to the weight of the nose.

The more I look at the picture, the more I think it went around a corner too fast and tipped over... A hard left would have slung it to the right and probably split it like it's laying. If it just split in two, it would have one half rolled to each side, at least I would think that's what would have happened.

Still no word from the customer.

Before I sell the pan, I think I'll try the skewers in at the ears and crossed at the neck and into the board on the opposite side to see if it works. If I can angle them right, they might also provide some front to back stability. Was a building inspector in a former life... Not how I planned to use that background...

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kkswmmr114 Posted 24 Jul 2009 , 11:20pm
post #13 of 19

What I would do next time is after it is baked cut both halves in half... so then it is in 4 parts. Then put the bottom two together, secure them together with a dowel going horizontal through both halves. Then use a cake board in the middle and do the same for the top, again putting a dowel through both of the halves horizontally. I would also refridgerate or even freeze for a little bit just to get the frosting very set. I don't know if that would work, but that's the first thing that came to my mind. Good luck!!

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Deb_ Posted 24 Jul 2009 , 11:53pm
post #14 of 19

Yeah kkswmmr114, that's what I was thinking.......treat it as 2 tiers stacked so that the head sits on a board supported by dowels in the bottom of the bear.

It does look like she took a sharp corner and it tipped, hopefully the cake didn't crumble and it'll be easy to repair.

Good luck!

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DreamCakesOnline Posted 25 Jul 2009 , 12:22am
post #15 of 19

It's 8:15 here and still no word from her. She tried to repair it before she emailed me. Maybe she was successful in repairing it herself. I'll try your suggestions when I do some research and development this coming week.

So, my next question is: Is a $75 minimum order a good idea and will it keep the Costco shoppers away? I'm getting killed on these birthday cakes that I'm doing for next to nothing...

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BlakesCakes Posted 25 Jul 2009 , 1:15am
post #16 of 19

I avoided buying this pan because of the vertical seam--it scared me. Short of covering it in fondant, I just couldn't see it holding together very well. It seems to need side to side support, perhaps 3 dowels (head, torso, and butt) cut to the width of the cake.

I use the Wilton sitting bear pan and have wonderful results with it.

Other than reassembling it with multiple buttercream seams--horizontal & vertical, I don't have any good suggestions.

Yes, it probably did get warm in the car during it's trip, but I think it's the design of the pan more than the client's driving. The same could have easily happened to you while delivering.

Good luck.

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DreamCakesOnline Posted 25 Jul 2009 , 2:10am
post #17 of 19

I agree. I think the design is the primary problem. If she hadn't asked for that specific cake because they were having a theme party I would have used the Wilton pan. I think fondant might have helped but not much. Maybe a ribbon around the waist with a stitch through it under the clothes. Going to make another one and try several ideas and see what kind of stress they take. Might even post an article on my findings. If I can't wrestle it into submission, I'm just going to concentrate on big cakes that I can run a sturdy armature in.

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shannon100 Posted 25 Jul 2009 , 2:12am
post #18 of 19

I have the Williams Sonoma football trophy pan, and it's the same type as the bear. I took skewers (the ones you use for kabobs on the grill) and crisscrossed them through the cake. It was a top-heavy cake too, with a football sitting on top of a base, and it held up well. I didn't drive it around a whole lot, but if I wouldn't have skewered it, I couldn't have even taken it out of my house without it falling apart. If you keep the cake pan, definitely skewer it next time. But you probably need to check the pan and make sure it doesn't say "for home use only" like the Wilton pans. Some pans you aren't allowed to use for profit.

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DreamCakesOnline Posted 25 Jul 2009 , 8:04pm
post #19 of 19

We figured using the kabob type skewers was the best idea to try too. I'm glad you've done it before and had success with it. I looked at the box and it doesn't say anything about being for home use only. I think I'd be limited and couldn't advertise it but I know the Build A Bear site has the ability to get linked from them as providing services in your community for the theme parties.

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