My Bottom Tier Split In Half!!!!

Baking By JPepper Updated 13 Oct 2019 , 2:35am by SandraSmiley

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JPepper Posted 12 Oct 2019 , 2:37am
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Hi everyone,

I'm hoping someone here can help shed some light on a situation I just had with a cake. I made a 2-tier cake; 8 and 6 inch. Bottom was vanilla  and top was chocolate. Custard on the inside, buttercream icing on the outside. Each tier was 4 layers... I bake in 2 pans and then tort and fill each one so each layer isn't super thick. The cake that made I've made many times. The recipes I use are the same recipes I always use. And I secured the cake the same way I always do; supports in the bottom tier and a dowel through the middle of the entire cake. I do this as a hobby only and usually only make cakes for friends, friends of friends etc and I don't charge a ton. The one I made today is for a wedding tomorrow. The friend of a friend came and picked it up and all was fine. A little while later I got a message with a picture stating that the bottom tier cracked in half!  The top tier is fine but it had to be removed. I've never had this happen before and cannot imagine why it would have happened.  Does anyone have any insight??  Did I do something wrong? The lady assures me she drove super slow and didn't take any fast corners while transporting the cake. I've attached the picture she sent of the bottom tier with the top tier removed. She said they had to tie a ribbon around the cake to hold it together.

Thanks!My Bottom Tier Split In Half!!!!

22 replies
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Debbieshobby Posted 12 Oct 2019 , 10:18am
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Not an expert it looks like it slipped and the top tier shifted and tore the cake. I think that may be due to the driver braking sharply or something. Where did they place the cake in the cake. Was it actually perfectly level in the car? 

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bubs1stbirthday Posted 12 Oct 2019 , 11:17am
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What sort of cake board is it on? It looks a bit like the cake had pressure put on it from underneath that pushed it up and cracked it?

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me_me1 Posted 12 Oct 2019 , 11:22am
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Was it thoroughly chilled before collection? 

My initial reaction is driver not doing 'cake driving' and not wanting to take any responsibility. If the cake was room temp and soft then that may have played a role also. Was the custard a thick layer? If it was too thick the cake layers may have slid.

Lots of different things could've gone wrong unfortunately. But once the cake is collected from you, then it is out of your hands. 

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-K8memphis Posted 12 Oct 2019 , 12:59pm
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was the cake kept refrigerated — and yes yes like debbieshobby said if it was not perfectly level in the vehicle that alone would do it —

talk about your dowel — how many — were they cut the identical length or inserted and cut to the top of the tier? if yes to the second option that could be it because they would not be equal in length and could cause a shift in weight and crack the bottom tier —

so sorry this happened — don’t let it hurt you — although some self recrimination is probably unavoidable  — let it make you a better caker— and move on to bigger and better — best to you

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-K8memphis Posted 12 Oct 2019 , 1:01pm
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in other words if she sat it on a seat without leveling the seat first that would do it 

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kakeladi Posted 12 Oct 2019 , 2:37pm
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It’s always hard to find the reason for such problems as we will never have all the true facts   2nd guessing might help  you to be more careful w/future orders  but you won’t know the answer this   This is one reason I insisted on delivering any cake that was tiered (&  built in $s to cover cost! )  after having a similar incident

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JPepper Posted 12 Oct 2019 , 2:58pm
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Quote by @Debbieshobby on 4 hours ago

Not an expert it looks like it slipped and the top tier shifted and tore the cake. I think that may be due to the driver braking sharply or something. Where did they place the cake in the cake. Was it actually perfectly level in the car? 

I placed the cake in a large closed box....the box was the exact same size as the cake drum so it wouldn't shift. I provided her a slip guard to place under the box so the box wouldn't move around during transport. She initially mentioned she would put in on her lap but I strongly suggested she put it in the trunk as it required a level surface....I did watch her to put in the trunk, although I didn't see if there were other things in the trunk that could potentially bump into the box.

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JPepper Posted 12 Oct 2019 , 3:00pm
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Quote by @bubs1stbirthday on 3 hours ago

What sort of cake board is it on? It looks a bit like the cake had pressure put on it from underneath that pushed it up and cracked it?

I tried to edit my post after posting but it wouldn't let me :(  I wanted to add that I placed it on a large silver cake drum as I knew this question would come up...LOL!  Each cake was decorated on a cake board the same size as the cake and then I stacked it on a 12 inch cake drum.

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JPepper Posted 12 Oct 2019 , 3:07pm
post #10 of 23


Quote by @me_me1 on 3 hours ago

Was it thoroughly chilled before collection? 

My initial reaction is driver not doing 'cake driving' and not wanting to take any responsibility. If the cake was room temp and soft then that may have played a role also. Was the custard a thick layer? If it was too thick the cake layers may have slid.

Lots of different things could've gone wrong unfortunately. But once the cake is collected from you, then it is out of your hands. 

It was not thoroughly chilled before collection as my fridge is not big enough to fit a tiered cake. That said, I don't chill any of my cakes and have never had an issue.

I have the same thought as you that it is driver related. Even though the lady messaged me to let me know what happened, she was super relaxed about the incident and has not asked for a refund which makes me think something happened when they were driving....maybe a sharp corner or a sudden brake that she suspects could have caused the issue.

The custard layer wasn't very thick. I created a buttercream dam and then the custard was a little lower than the top of the dam. I would say it was less than a 1/4 inch thick.

I know it could be so many different things that could have gone wrong....I just want to see if it was something I did so I can make sure I don't do it again! LOL!

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JPepper Posted 12 Oct 2019 , 3:14pm
post #11 of 23


Quote by @-K8memphis on 2 hours ago

was the cake kept refrigerated — and yes yes like debbieshobby said if it was not perfectly level in the vehicle that alone would do it —

talk about your dowel — how many — were they cut the identical length or inserted and cut to the top of the tier? if yes to the second option that could be it because they would not be equal in length and could cause a shift in weight and crack the bottom tier —

so sorry this happened — don’t let it hurt you — although some self recrimination is probably unavoidable  — let it make you a better caker— and move on to bigger and better — best to you

It's wasn't kept refrigerated as I don't have room in my fridge for a tiered cake, however, I don't chill any of my cakes before transport unless I've used whipped cream.

For the dowels, I had 4 all the exact same length inserted into the bottom of the cake that sat ever so slightly below the top of the buttercream. I then inserted a dowel down the centre of the entire cake to hold it all together and to avoid any shifting. When I cut the dowels for the bottom tier, I insert one, move it around a bit to get icing on it, pull it out, cut it, put in back in to ensure it is the correct height, pull it out again and then cut the others the exact same size. Does that process sound correct? I know that it is sooo important for them to be the same size so the cake sits level.

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JPepper Posted 12 Oct 2019 , 3:16pm
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Quote by @kakeladi on 36 minutes ago

It’s always hard to find the reason for such problems as we will never have all the true facts   2nd guessing might help  you to be more careful w/future orders  but you won’t know the answer this   This is one reason I insisted on delivering any cake that was tiered (&  built in $s to cover cost! )  after having a similar incident

I completely agree that we will never have all the true facts! LOL! But if it's something I could have possibly done, I want to make sure I change the way I do things to avoid this happening. Personally, I don't think it was something I did since I have made this exact cake many time, however, I recognize I am not perfect and I'm still learning so maybe there is something I can do to make things better :)

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SandraSmiley Posted 12 Oct 2019 , 4:18pm
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You are absolutely cutting your dowels correctly, so that should not have been a problem.

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-K8memphis Posted 12 Oct 2019 , 4:20pm
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I think it’s colonel custard in the cake room —

even if it’s a small amount i think it sunk in and just the motion of a car can do that — and if they can wrap a ribbon around it — it was a gentle crack so — that could be it but true enough we never know for 100% sure even if was a sleeve filling or a made from eggs filling — 

and I would like to thank you So Much for all the careful replies — a lot of the time we either never get replies or never get the facts — THANK YOU!

and I failed to credit  me_me1 who had already mentioned the fridge thing —

your doweling is correct! 

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JPepper Posted 12 Oct 2019 , 5:10pm
post #15 of 23


Quote by @SandraSmiley on 45 minutes ago

You are absolutely cutting your dowels correctly, so that should not have been a problem.

PHEW!  I'm happy to hear that I'm cutting the dowels properly. I always make sure I do a ton of research before making my cakes and then I make a lot of 'test' cakes and give them away to family before actually selling one...LOL!

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JPepper Posted 12 Oct 2019 , 5:18pm
post #16 of 23


Quote by @-K8memphis on 51 minutes ago

I think it’s colonel custard in the cake room —

even if it’s a small amount i think it sunk in and just the motion of a car can do that — and if they can wrap a ribbon around it — it was a gentle crack so — that could be it but true enough we never know for 100% sure even if was a sleeve filling or a made from eggs filling — 

and I would like to thank you So Much for all the careful replies — a lot of the time we either never get replies or never get the facts — THANK YOU!

and I failed to credit  me_me1 who had already mentioned the fridge thing —

your doweling is correct! 

What do you mean by 'sunk in'? I always put a very thin layer of buttercream on eacg layer first and then add the filling so the cake/sponge won't absorb it.  I had to search what a 'sleeve' filling was...lol...that's definitely what I used. I didn't realize there was a name for it! LOL!  I learn something new everyday! LOL!

Everyone in this forum is always so helpful and it takes time to respond to people's questions, which I truly appreciate. I feel it is only courteous to at least take time to reply back :)

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JPepper Posted 12 Oct 2019 , 5:34pm
post #17 of 23

I just want to take a moment to thank everyone for their replies.....I am so grateful for the time you have taken to help me figure out the issue on this cake! While I may never know exactly why the bottom tier split, I'm feeling a bit more confident that it was likely not something I did, although I am sure this situation will forever be in the back of my mind...LOL!  For reference, attached is a picture of the original cake, pre split. Not totally happy with how the border looks on this style of cake but that's how she wanted it so that's how I made it...LOL! 

Thanks again for all your help!! My Bottom Tier Split In Half!!!!

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kakeladi Posted 12 Oct 2019 , 6:07pm
post #18 of 23

You said..............It was not thoroughly chilled before collection as my fridge is not big enough to fit a tiered cake. That said, I don't chill any of my cakes and have never had an issue...............

........ Over the 30 or so yrs I was active decorating I never knew to chill cakes.  There were few problems......yes, a few times I lost a cake or had to do what I consider major repairs but overall there were very few compared to how many got to destination w/o a problem.

.....You said:   The custard layer wasn't very thick. I created a buttercream dam and then the custard was a little lower than the top of the dam. I would say it was less than a 1/4 inch thick..........

........sounds like you are doing everything right - including the placing of dowels, fillings, even insturcting the customer about how & where to travel w/the cake so it almost has to be the driving that caused this problem.

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jchuck Posted 12 Oct 2019 , 7:42pm
post #19 of 23

JPepper

Reading all the posts, and seeing the picture of the cake, pre split, I can say I’ve transported cakes very similar to this. Sturdy cake board, properly dowelled. Although as everyone has posted you will never know 100%, I’m pretty sure it wasn’t your fault. It was either driver error, or even picking the cake up out of the car and losing there footing/balance. Perhaps the person who picked up the cake doesn’t want to admit to accidentally spoiling the cake. Easier to blame the decorator and not take responsibility. At any rate, no point fretting about it. Can’t change the outcome now. You did a great job.  

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-K8memphis Posted 12 Oct 2019 , 9:44pm
post #20 of 23

by sunk in I mean the custard perhaps melted into the cake —could have softened it — but probably not if you layered buttercream on both top and bottom of cakes surrounding it —

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bubs1stbirthday Posted 12 Oct 2019 , 10:50pm
post #21 of 23

No chance of it being lifted from underneath then on that board so I agree that they probably are not telling you something. Not sure if I missed this but was the cake able to be repaired?

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jchuck Posted 12 Oct 2019 , 10:54pm
post #22 of 23

Good question bubs1stbirthday 

When cake was received, the top tier was removed.  They tied a broad white ribbon around the split bottom tier to keep from falling apart. If you look further up in the post, you will see the picture. Curious to see the final outcome???

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SandraSmiley Posted 13 Oct 2019 , 2:35am
post #23 of 23

Funny that you don't like the borders, I love them.  It is a beautiful cake, a shame that it was damaged.  I agree with everyone else, since your customer doesn't seem too pushy about the split, it is more than likely something that happened during transporting or handling, not something you did wrong.

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