First Big Disaster .... And Recovery!! (Warning -- A Little Long)

Decorating By KellyKSD Updated 11 Oct 2016 , 10:57pm by Apti

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KellyKSD Posted 10 Oct 2016 , 3:55pm
post #1 of 10

So, I know everyone likes a good disaster tale, so here goes......

I have a friend at work who got married on Saturday. She had been engaged for a while, but the wedding came together very quickly. She knows I have a side cake/cookie business, so asked if I would do her cake. I did, gladly, accept the order, and because she is a friend, I did most of the work as a gift for her wedding. Three tiers, fairly simple buttercream scrolls, and some gumpaste flowers. For once, I was right on schedule --- had the flowers done on Wednesday, and the cake was filled, frosted, and stacked by Friday evening. Got up Saturday to do the final piping and put the flowers on. Her reception was just a small gathering at a local Italian restaurant. Because of my schedule, I had to deliver the cake (fully assembled, which was not my first choice -- I would have rather taken in 2 pieces and assembled on site) at 11:00am for them to hold until her reception at 4:30. Here is a pic of the cake (keeps coming out sideways, though):

 [postimage id="5268" thumb="900"]

So, cake is boxed, securely positioned in my backseat, perfectly level and on that rubbery non-slip stuff to make sure it didn't go anywhere. Well, the BOX didn't go anywhere.......but 2 blocks - 2 BLOCKS! - from my destination (about a 20 mile trip total in which I drove as slowly/carefully as possible) I heard a sickening thud-crunch-smush sound. Out loud, to no one, I said, "no....No.....NOOOOO!!!!" Pulled over into a parking lot, and opened the box to the horror inside. Somehow (which I can only assume to be a support in the bottom tier that was inadequate or angled slightly and I didn't realize it) the entire left side of the bottom tier was collapsed and the top two tiers were smashed/leaning against the side of the box. The worst part? I was supposed to be to work (my regular job as a nurse) in 50 minutes!!!

After a few minutes of sheer panic and several frantic phone calls, I secured a replacement at work and headed home to fix this disaster. Sent my hubby to the cake supply store to get a couple cake dummies for the bottom and middle tier -- started baking some sheet cakes to cut and serve to the guests. Luckily, I had baked 2 extra 6" rounds from extra batter I had left, and I still had extra buttercream left. So, I filled and frosted those to make the top tier --- carefully salvaged the non-crushed gumpaste flowers from the original cake and set about cleaning them up. Hubby arrives home with the dummies....I make a ton of buttercream and frost up the dummies, add the top tier and the salvaged flowers, and literally slapped some icing on the sheets (I called it "rustic"). After an extremely stressful 4 hours, I was able to deliver this cake (remarkably similar to the original, if I do say so myself) and the sheets, just as their reception was starting. The bride was so understanding, and reassured me over and over that it was still beautiful and everyone loved it, but honestly, I don't know if I can take that again!!!

[postimage id="5269" thumb="900"]

9 replies
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Jenmarlene Posted 10 Oct 2016 , 4:03pm
post #2 of 10

it looks perfectly fine!!

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Pastrybaglady Posted 10 Oct 2016 , 7:48pm
post #3 of 10

Nice recovery! I can see some of your stress and tension in some of the swirls but that's only with comparing it to your first cake. What an awful thing to have happened. Glad everything worked out okay :)

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kakeladi Posted 10 Oct 2016 , 8:53pm
post #4 of 10

If we look hard enough yes, there is some flawed swirls but a non-cake person would never notice them so relax.  It's only us other decorators that see that.  So now you can put all you jitters behind you and go on to make many, many more beautiful creations.

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Apti Posted 10 Oct 2016 , 9:33pm
post #5 of 10

WOW!!!!  what a great story!   Thunderous applause for getting a replacement for your shift, not breaking down on the side of the road, having a fabulous and supportive hubby, thinking FAST, and getting it done!   If you didn't know, you'd think the two photos were the same cake.

Well done!!!!!

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KellyKSD Posted 10 Oct 2016 , 10:58pm
post #6 of 10

Thank you all for your replies! Yep, I took about 45 minutes to do the swirls and borders on the first cake, compared to about 15 minutes on the 2nd one, so yeah, was just trying to get it done!!  Not quite my vision but close! LOL

And @Apti ‍ you are so right about my hubby --- he was my first phone call after I opened the box, and I think he was just as heartbroken as I was! When I got home he opened the door, hugged me, and said "I took a sick day -- what do you need me to do?" My cake supply store is about 30 minutes away from my house (the joys of living in a small country town), so I would never have been able to finish when I did without him making that drive for me. He is amazing!!

I'm just so proud of myself for immediately going into problem-solving mode --- had this happened even a year ago, I would have been sitting in the parking lot, crying over smashed cake, not accomplishing anything. So even though my decorating skills keep improving, I'm almost more proud of my emotional development!!

Also, although I desperately would love to know exactly why it happened (so as not to repeat this harrowing incident!), I don't think I ever will. I made and constructed that cake exactly the same as others I have delivered successfully, some for much further distances. The bride said nothing had gone well for her that day, so when I called her to let her know what happened, she wasn't that surprised! 

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Frank68 Posted 11 Oct 2016 , 12:00am
post #7 of 10

What did you use for support on your tiers? I've never had this happen but I exclusively use SPS so it doesn't. I tried bubble tea straws and wooden dowels when I first started and I didn't fully trust it.

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KellyKSD Posted 11 Oct 2016 , 2:41am
post #8 of 10

I used straws, but honestly I have used them for all my tiered cakes without issue, even topsy-turvy and heavier/taller ones. When I had time to really deconstruct it, I think one of my skinny straws I used for my flowers might have pushed up against a support straw, angling it slightly, and it probably just finally gave way with the vibration of the car ride. 

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KellyKSD Posted 11 Oct 2016 , 2:46am
post #9 of 10

That being said, I probably will heavily consider using SPS in the future smiley.png

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Apti Posted 11 Oct 2016 , 10:57pm
post #10 of 10

He took a sick day?   Give that man a huge kiss from me.   Give yourself a ton of credit for your responses.  You are a very impressive, power, couple.

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