Tall Tier Fiasco--Long!

Decorating By Sassy74 Updated 14 Jun 2010 , 6:12pm by Karen421

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Sassy74 Posted 12 Jun 2010 , 11:44pm
post #1 of 14

Well, it was bound to happen...my first cake disaster. And it was a doozie.

I have a great friend who has ordered tons of cakes from me. She and her husband just built a beautiful house and are having a party tonight to celebrate. It's a very special circumstance as their previous house burned to the ground a year ago, so this house and the celebration party are a big deal.

So, I told her I'd do the cake for the party as my gift to her. She was thrilled, and the only details she asked for were that the only colors be gold and white as that was the theme of her party decor. No problemo!

I've never done a tall tier, and have wanted to so I thought...why not? She needed to serve A LOT of ppl, so I decided I'd do a 12" round, a 9" tall tier, and a 6" round, all WASC with BC filling. I made white anemones and painted the centers with super gold. I also made a beautiful monogram topper and painted it gold as well.

Everything went wonderful. I baked the cakes earlier this week, froze them, made all my icing and fondant...flowers were made, monogram was made DAYS in advance. Everything is running like a well-oiled machine, right???

So I get the cakes out Thur, let them come to room temp, and fill them. Let them sit overnight and iced them on Fri. Got my board ready. Yeah, I was feelin' great!

So I get up this morning to finish decorating (party was at 6:00 tonight) and notice that the tall tier is...leaning? It was perfectly straight when I iced it the night before. I stacked/filled two layers, doweled them, and put the third layer on its own board on top of the dowels, just like I've read others do, so I didn't think I'd have any issues with support. I straightened the tier up as best I could and actually did a good job of it haha! It was almost straight but didn't look perfect to me. Let it sit for a couple of hours to see how it would behave and no problems.

So I assemble the cake and finish decorating. For support, I use straws. Not bubble tea straws but not drinking straws either. They're called party straws and I get them at a party supply store. They're about halfway between a bubble tea and a drinking straw. I've never had issues with them before.

So I get the cake assembled and decorated and I'm totally thrilled. It was beautiful, simple, and elegant. I did a diamond impression on the top and bottom tiers, with gold dragees, a tall fondant border on the tall tier that I painted gold, topped with another smaller white fondant border, and a simple buttercream border on the top and bottom tiers. I put my anemones on and it looked WONDERFUL. Being a total dork, I didn't take any pix at my house 'cuz my kitchen was a WRECK. So guess what...no pix of the cake.

I load that heavy sucker into my SUV and set off on the 30 min drive to my friends house. Well, about 10 before we get there we discover that the roads are completely destroyed and that highway crews are stripped/repaving them ALL THE WAY TO HER HOUSE. So it was like driving down a rutted dirt road. I swear, I was driving like 15 miles an hour down this major highway with a line of cars behind me but I didn't care. I had a baaaaad feeling.....

I get there, open the hatch on my SUV and just about lost control of my bodily functions. The tall tier had slid almost to the edge of the 12" tier (yes, it was doweled). Because there was no support near the edge of the bottom tier, it started collapsing/blowing out on the side. It was hideous. The top two tiers were almost falling off.

I get the cake inside and immediately start trying to repair it. I'm apologizing to my friend, telling her I can't believe this, this has never happened, I'll try to fix it, yadda yadda. She was very gracious. But I felt like pond scum.

So, it becomes apparent that I can't salvage the entire cake. I take off the top two tiers and work on them because they have the least damage. I tell my friend to take the bottom tier in the kitchen, slice it up, and serve it...just DON'T LET ANYONE SEE IT lol .

I was able to make the top two tiers look ok. Got the icing smoothed back out, put on new borders, and it looked....well, OK. Then I discovered that the monogram had also broken. Sigh. I manage to repair that as well. At this point, I want to crawl into a hole.

But, I have to say that it looked OK when I got done. If you didn't look closely that is haha! My friend was like, "It's OK...no one will notice, it looks fine..." But *I* knew what it looked like before the disaster and couldn't help but be devastated.

Sorry I cant supply pix. As I said, I wanted to take pix at her house, which was decorated so beautifully, and because my kitchen was such a wreck (it always is when I finish a cake)...well, I'll never make that mistake again. And I didn't take pix of the disaster because I was working so frantically to fix it...party started less than 15 min after I fixed the cake! I had no time to take pix at her house. I was in panic mode lol .

OK...I think I've finally run out of steam. Hope you enjoyed my novel lol.

Anyone have any suggestions on how to better support a tall tier? I looked in the forums but I don't know what key words to type in...didn't find a lot. I want to do it again...at this point it's a matter of pride! Also, it just looked beautiful. Thanks so much!

13 replies
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jadedlogic Posted 13 Jun 2010 , 12:16am
post #2 of 14

I have no advice but just wanted to say I am sorry that happened to you and it's great that your friend was so understanding!

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karenm0712 Posted 13 Jun 2010 , 12:33am
post #3 of 14

Oh man! So sorry this happened to you. I have no advice because I have never made a tall tier before, but I am sure that someone on here is bound to have great advice for you. icon_smile.gif

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Karen421 Posted 13 Jun 2010 , 1:13am
post #4 of 14

I am sooooo sorry this happen, and I am glad you were able do salvage some of it. Two things for future tiered cakes, 1- dowel straight through all 3 tiers, after you are done and before you put on the monogram. 2- I like the SPS system. It is really good a good system!!! Again, I am sorry! It sounded really pretty!!

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BlakesCakes Posted 13 Jun 2010 , 1:50am
post #5 of 14

I'm pretty sure that it was the vibration on the torn up roads that did you in. Short of having the cake suspended in zero-gravity, I don't think it had a chance.

I do what I can to mitigate vibration--the roads here are pretty rough at times--by putting the cake, in it's box, on top of several layers of memory foam. Knock wood, so far, so good.

My thoughts on very tall tiers is that they get disrupted very easily. I make them with dense cake, like pound cake, with only buttercream or ganache between layers. Fondanted "around" the cake, not over. Ganache under the fondant. Stacked on site whenever possible.

It sounds like it was a lovely cake............so sorry that it didn't make it!


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sweetkake Posted 13 Jun 2010 , 2:26am
post #6 of 14

I do what I can to mitigate vibration--the roads here are pretty rough at times--by putting the cake, in it's box, on top of several layers of memory foam.

Blakescakes, I have a tall tier 5-tier wedding cake Sunday, feeling very nervous. Where do you find the memory foam?

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BlakesCakes Posted 13 Jun 2010 , 2:34am
post #7 of 14

You can find memory foam/visco elastic foam mattress toppers in WalMart, Target, Sears, K-Mart, probably TJMaxx and Marshalls, too.

They're the foam you see where when you push your hand into it, the hand imprint stays there for awhile--the one on the commercial where the wine glass doesn't budge when the woman jumps up and down on the Temperpedic mattress.

I was lucky and got a few twin toppers cheap at Target when they had back to college sales. You can also just buy a memory foam seat cushion(s).

My DH & I fold the twin toppers until we have about 4-5 inches of foam under the cake box.


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Karen421 Posted 13 Jun 2010 , 2:58am
post #8 of 14

Rae- That sounds like a good idea!

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sweetkake Posted 13 Jun 2010 , 5:32am
post #9 of 14

Thanks Blakescakes, I'll be out looking for that in te morning.

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bmoser24 Posted 13 Jun 2010 , 5:52am
post #10 of 14

SPS-SPS-SPS, bakery craft!!!!...I'm sold, just delivered a 14, 10, 6 Grad cake, over 70 miles, in the heat, over a hill, with my hubby driving like a race car driver...lol...really!!!( I know sounds like familliar, huh? walking 5 mi. in the snow....)But really, it was amazing, oh and it was sitting on the seat of the truck,,,would not fit on the floor.
The cake didn't even budge...looked great, peacce of mind for 'bout $10.
Last cake i did w/dowels, one tilted and 2nd tier settled on one side, slightly. only i noticed but i said never again.
Sorry about your cake, but good for you in not giving up. I bet it looked great

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carmijok Posted 13 Jun 2010 , 5:56am
post #11 of 14

Bless your heart! How devastating! But it does sound like your delivery was from hell and was what caused the damage for sure. The only thing I can think of that you might have done differently is put one large wooden dowel down the center through all the tiers...(if you DID do that never mind. I just didn't read that you had). That and keeping your cake cold is the only other suggestion I might have. For bad roads, I got nothin'! Bet it looked beautiful. too bad no photos!

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Sassy74 Posted 14 Jun 2010 , 5:12pm
post #12 of 14

Thank y'all so much for your kind words! I've been MIA for a couple of days trying to recover haha! It still makes me sick to just think about it...

Yes, I did dowel the cake all the way through. I think I included that in my story but it was loooong, so I know some details got lost. I'm not sure what I could have done...those roads were just so bad, and no matter how slowly I drove, there was no way to avoid the ruts and bumps. That road was like a washboard. Sigh...

Anyway, I've read about the SPS system, but I'm a hobby baker so I've never really thought I could budget for it. bmoser, where do you get your SPS supplies? $10 isn't a lot at all to pay for peace of mind lol .

About the pix...I can't believe I was such a bonehead. I was rushing around trying to get my two kids dressed, in the truck, get the cake loaded, load my supplies, etc. I just thought to myself that I'd wait and take a pic there at her house with all the decorations. It's not the first time I've not taken the pic at my house. I guarantee it'll be the last! And quite honestly, taking pix didn't even occur to me while I was in the midst of trying to repair the cake. It wasn't until after I'd left her house that I even had that thought. Urrrgggh. Something else to be ticked about lol !

Again, thanks. And I'd love to know where y'all order your SPS supplies. I'll be looking into it muuuuch more closely!

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Karen421 Posted 14 Jun 2010 , 6:02pm
post #13 of 14

They really aren't that expensive, especially since you can reuse them.
I get mine at global sugar.


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Karen421 Posted 14 Jun 2010 , 6:12pm
post #14 of 14

Forgot - Read Leah_S sticky on the SPS system it is really good.


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