Need Input On A Cake Collapse

Decorating By zinger60 Updated 28 Sep 2015 , 3:44pm by Brookebakescake

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zinger60 Posted 27 Sep 2015 , 2:48pm
post #1 of 22

I made a 2-tier (6" & 8") fondant covered cake and the customer picked it up. We gave the usual speech about being careful transporting it, keeping it level and away from sun and heat. My husband put it in the back of their SUV. 2 hours later, we get a call that the bottom cake collapsed on one side. I'm not sure if this happened while they were driving or after they got home since I wasn't notified until 2 hours later. I thought that maybe they had run errands for 2 hours with the cake in the car but not sure. This was for a small in-home wedding for the next day so I felt obligated to make a replacement cake even though I didn't know if it was my fault or theirs that the cake collapsed. I delivered the second one the next day to make sure it got there ok and I took back the collapsed cake. Once I got home I was studying it to try to find out what happened. Once I took it out of the box, I knew for sure. The bottom cake had slid about halfway off the cardboard round that it was on, towards the front of the box. Of course once it slid, the top cake fell forward and the weight of it collapsed the bottom cake on that side. The customers had set the top cake back up and when I picked it up, I was amazed that the top cake was still sitting on top of the bubble straws with the center dowel in place so I knew that the cake was supported very well and it collapsed because it slid. Can anyone give me ideas on what would cause a cake to slide so far on the board like this? Seems to me it would have to be either reckless driving or the whole thing was tilted when they were carrying it. Any ideas? I have pictures but I don't see anywhere to post them.

21 replies
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zinger60 Posted 27 Sep 2015 , 2:51pm
post #2 of 22


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julia1812 Posted 27 Sep 2015 , 3:53pm
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Did you asked them if the cake was okay after the car drive? Would amaze me if it was...but did you ask? Sounds to me like reckless driving and then an hour of discussion on what to do. Oh...let's call the baker and tell her. Lucky for them you made another cak. Did you get paid already? So many people come up with stories when it's actually their fault but they need to blame someone (ideally the baker to get it replaced for free-in your case?). You should include something in your contracts stating that once a cake left your premises it's not your responsibility anymore. 

A cake doesn't slides off a cake board if handled correctly. Therefore it's the customer's fault.  End of story for me.

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-K8memphis Posted 27 Sep 2015 , 4:04pm
post #4 of 22

what is that plastic looking thing in the box in the top picture -- it kinda looks like it imprinted the top of the bottom tier there somehow?

so the cake was not sealed into the box? could have just been plain old fashioned heat -- even if it's cool where you are -- just sitting in the car can heat it up enough even with air conditioning and the movement of the vehicle can cause it to slide on the bottom board -- hit a pothole -- especially if it's a nice moist cake which i'm sure it was --

 and was the cake cold when they picked it up? being cold adds that invisible extra cohesiveness that can cover a multitude of potential delivery issues

sweet pretty cake btw

*Last edited by -K8memphis on 27 Sep 2015 , 4:06pm
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Jenn123 Posted 27 Sep 2015 , 4:34pm
post #5 of 22

They definitely slammed on the brakes.

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-K8memphis Posted 27 Sep 2015 , 4:38pm
post #6 of 22

cakes can slide off boards easy peasy -- was there some icing under the bottom layer to adhere it to the board?

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mommy1st Posted 27 Sep 2015 , 4:40pm
post #7 of 22

I have to agree with Jenn. It looks like the had to stop fast and the cake slid. It could have been a car pulling in front of them and just an accident.  Kuddos to you for redoing the cake for them.

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zinger60 Posted 27 Sep 2015 , 6:51pm
post #8 of 22

 The customer did not say when the cake collapsed.  She just said" it collapsed in itself".  My husband talked to her so if it would have been me, I would have asked her when the collapse happened but I know it had to be in the car while traveling because I don't know how a cake can slide just sitting on the counter. Of course I didn't know that until I picked it up the next day.  They were about 30 minutes late picking up the cake and then didn't call for 2 hours after they picked it up so my thinking is that they were running errands getting everything together for the wedding the next day and left the cake in the car while they ran their errands but I'm just guessing on that one.  But in the picture they sent, the top tier looked all melted to me.  The slit in the top tier in the first picture we figured out was from when the bottom cake slid, it caused the top tier to go forward and it landed on the edge of the box.  There was a mark on the box where the top cake landed and thats what caused that indentation on the top cake.

The first picture is one they sent me when they called me to say it had collapsed so I'm not sure what that plastic thing is in the picture but it looks like a roll of ribbon. Not sure why they put it there.  For all my cakes I put frosting on the cake circle underneath the cake and then also put frosting between the cake circle and the foamboard.  I use regular white cardboard cake boxes and most of my cakes are too tall to close the lid so we leave the top of the box open so the box was not sealed.  I guess the thing that upsets me is that everyone from the family, the guests and the wedding party saw and I'm sure heard about this cake I made that fell apart so it's my reputation that is hurt when I don't even feel it was my fault.   It was a repeat customer of mine who was in the wedding party that recommended me to the bride to make her cake.  I feel like not only I lost future customers but I also lost my repeat customer because everyone thinks it was the way I made the cake that caused it to collapse. 

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-K8memphis Posted 27 Sep 2015 , 7:04pm
post #9 of 22

you don't really know that -- that would be worst case scenario -- but if that was true (and it isn't) you know someone would say 'well she made another one didn't she and it's gorgeous' -- i trust/hope the big take away is that you are very responsible because you are and you made two beautiful cakes --

i know next time you will caution stronger for them not to make any stops, to drive like there are a dozen raw eggs rolling around on the dashboard -- and i tell them those things before they pick up so they can adjust their schedule -- i say, if you have any errands to run do them before you come here make this your last stop before going to the venue/home so the cake is not waltzed around the county melting in the car --  also invest in some corrugated cardboard boxes where the cake can be sealed inside and be kept climate controlled -- add a few bucks to the price to cover it -- and i hope you deliver cold cake --

sure it stings but put it behind you asap -- best to you -- you did a great job...twice! clap.png

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poey223 Posted 27 Sep 2015 , 7:43pm
post #10 of 22

First, I am so sorry something has happened to you, however, this is exactly how we ALL learn. (the silver lining here). Ok so, my two cents: I totally agree that this person was reckless. Are you working from a store front? Did they sign a contract? I would put in an  insurance claim in on this to try and recoup some cost, but it may need to  be written in your contract that they were transporting the cake. 

Second, I too put icing on the top of the bottom cake board. I tend to use covered dowels (not straws) and when I dowel the center of a cake, I ALWAYS push the center dowel down into the bottom cake board as well as the Styrofoam base. That way I KNOW it's not going anywhere. (as long as we aren't taking the curves on two wheels) . I once made a two tier cake for a groom's cake. I wasn't super experienced and put the cake up on a make shift scaffold in my car (back seat). I stopped for the second light leaving my house and I heard a thud. I pulled over to check and the entire cake was upside down in my trunk. (it's a PT Cruiser). I started crying on the side of the road. But as I picked it up (praying), I realized that it was FINE. Only a couple of the fondant pieces came off and were easy to replace. Had I not driven that center dowel into the board it would have been an entirely different out come. 

Third and final..did she ASK you to make a new one? Did she offer to pay for it? I would think if this is  a return customer, she would at LEAST offer to pay something towards the second cake. If not, I would never allow this person to transport another cake, no matter what the circumstances were. 

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costumeczar Posted 27 Sep 2015 , 9:07pm
post #11 of 22

Somebody hit the brakes hard and the cake slid. Or they tilted the box and the icing had warmed up and made it a slippery situation.

You should put loops of duct tape or packing tape between the bottom cake drum and the board the bottom tier is sitting on, that's more secure than icing.

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Jinkies Posted 27 Sep 2015 , 9:26pm
post #12 of 22

Interesting...I use icing between the cake board and drum as well.  Maybe I should think about tape instead.

Anyway, I agree with the others, this cake was mishandled.  This is one of the many reasons that I deliver all my cakes.  The only pick-ups I allow is by family and those are only single tiers.  I'd rather schedule a little time out of my day and be done with it than have to deal with the many headaches of pick-ups.

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Apti Posted 27 Sep 2015 , 11:50pm
post #13 of 22

Cake #1 was stunning.  Cake #2 was probably stunning as well. 

No use wondering why now, it's done and you came through with a second cake which is 1000% customer service satisfaction.  Far from being concerned that it may harm  your reputation, I would think it will enhance your reputation. 

Also--yet another lesson learned.  Write out a sheet and have them sign it, "How to Drive with a Cake for Dummies".

Do not hold cake.

Place cake on a flat surface on the floor (not on a seat folded forward)

Do not run any  errands after you have the cake -- go STRAIGHT home! 

Drive as if you are leaving the maternity ward and have a your  infant in their car seat for the first time.

Turn your air conditioning on high.

Try not to place the cake in an area of the floor with direct sunlight.

Do not place something large and heavy on the seat above the floor area where you have placed the cake.

Do not put the cake in the trunk.

Do not swerve for zombies, just carefully and slowly drive over them.

~~~~~If you have chosen to have your cake  picked up, we cannot be held responsible for any mishaps that may occur since the cake left our bakery in excellent conditions with no problems. 

* * * * *

Here's a disclaimer from a cake central member, Delicious Desserts, from 2012:

"If you choose to pick up your cake, please remember that you will be the one responsible for ensuring the cake safely reaches its destination. I do not accept any responsibility for damages or losses once the cake leaves my personal control. Please don't bring any pets unless they are safely crated. Plan to have a nice level space to place the cake. You will be provided with the dimensions. Be sure that any other items are secured so they can't possibly fall during a sharp turn or hard brake. When you arrive at the event facility, personally walk the path to your destination before taking the cake. This will allow you an opportunity to notice (& possibly move) any obstacles. This also alerts the staff that you will be bringing in the cake & they should move out of the way! Should a disaster befall, every effort will be made to reach your location and repair the damage. Repair costs will be billed."

*Last edited by Apti on 27 Sep 2015 , 11:52pm
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-K8memphis Posted 27 Sep 2015 , 11:55pm
post #14 of 22

smile.png don't swerve for zombies just carefully and slowly drive over them  hahahaha

good one, apti

*Last edited by -K8memphis on 27 Sep 2015 , 11:59pm
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zinger60 Posted 28 Sep 2015 , 12:03am
post #15 of 22

She did not ask me to make a new cake but since this was for a wedding, I didn't want to leave them with no cake at all.  She had to have thought it was my fault and that I did not make the cake correctly because when I asked what time the next day would be the latest they could pick up the new cake, she told me that they were afraid to pick the new one up that the same thing would happen again.  So they had to have thought they didn't do anthing wrong and that it was the way I made the cake that made it collapse.

As for using tape between the cake circle and the foam board, I think that is a great idea.  If you notice in the picture where the cake slid, the cake circle was still in the same position and I had also used buttercream between the cake circle and the foam board, but it did not slide.  I think I'll start using tape for extra security.  Do all of you put your cakes on waxed cardboard circles or unwaxed?  I have always used waxed boards so that they would hold up better because the grease and moisture would not weaken the cardboard but on the other hand, it seems the grease would make the waxed board more slippery underneath the cake.

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costumeczar Posted 28 Sep 2015 , 12:40am
post #16 of 22

I use corrugated plastic boards so that they don't absorb any grease at all. I don't use icing to stick anything together, but the upper tiers usually stick together because of the icing on them. I put a circle of waxed paper that's smaller than the tier above it on the tier below it, then there's about a 1/2" ring around it where the top tier is sittng on the icing of the tier under that. Once it's in the fridge it hardens up and keeps the upper tier in place. The tape goes only under the bottom tier and attaches  the cake drum to the board that the bottom tier is on. As long as the underside of the cake board isn't super greasy (which it shouldn't be) it will hold it in place. I put two loops of tape in an X pattern so that it's stuck in both directions.

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Magda_MI Posted 28 Sep 2015 , 5:55am
post #17 of 22

"She had to have thought it was my fault and that I did not make the cake correctly because when I asked what time the next day would be the latest they could pick up the new cake, she told me that they were afraid to pick the new one up that the same thing would happen again."

It's also possible that they knew or suspected that they had caused the problem in transport, which is why they were afraid to transport the 2nd cake themselves.

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poey223 Posted 28 Sep 2015 , 7:17am
post #18 of 22

As someone's all over now, but one more thought here..I just wonder if she even liked the cake. It doesn't sound to me like she thought you would jump to making another. She probably was prepared for an argument on this. What a shame that she made you feel like you did something wrong. You clearly did it right. All the way around!! 

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poey223 Posted 28 Sep 2015 , 7:18am
post #19 of 22

Corrugated plastic boards...where do you get these from?

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costumeczar Posted 28 Sep 2015 , 11:51am
post #20 of 22

I have a bunch of tuffboards, but they went out of business. I know that there are some other places selling them, though, here's a sampling of some that I found online:

Then there are these, which are the same things as tuffboards from what I can tell.

If you don't like the scallops, just trim them off with scissors.

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costumeczar Posted 28 Sep 2015 , 2:54pm
post #21 of 22

Here's a visual: 

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Brookebakescake Posted 28 Sep 2015 , 3:44pm
post #22 of 22

I think I've figured out what is in the box with the cake.  It looks like a square rubbermaid/tupperware dish, and a white small plate (can't tell if it's plastic or glass).  What an odd thing to be in the cake box! It does look like a ribbon spool at first, but when you look at it, you can see the open side of the tupperware dish is away from the cake, and the bottom of the plate is towards the cake.

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