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is it my fault the cake collapsed?

post #1 of 132
Thread Starter 
I completed my first tiered cake yesterday, yay me!! It was collected from my house, and one the way met with an unfortunate accident. Apparently the floor of the car was not as level as first thought, and the top two cakes slid sideways, causing them to collapse the bottom cake.

I know that they told me it was because of the car floor, but this is my first tiered cake, what if it wasn't?

I had a 12", 9" and a 6". I placed five dowels in the 12", and four in the 9". No centre dowel. The bottom cake was not as dense as the top two cakes, could have have contributed? Or was it simply that the car floor was not level?

I am making a wedding cake next week, this can't happen again! Would I be safer to assemble the tiers onsite?

http://cakecentral.com/modules.php?name=gallery&file=displayimage&pid=1883781
post #2 of 132
You needed the center dowel down through all three tiers. That would have prevented the top tiers from sliding. If you're assembling onsite, you don't need the center dowel. But if the cake is being transported assembled, you really need it. Unlevel car (as you experienced), bumps and hills in the road, vibrations... all will cause those tiers to slip.

Chalk it up to lesson learned and make sure you put that dowel in next time. : )
post #3 of 132
Yes I agree.
Mare
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Mare
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post #4 of 132
I looked at the pictures. It doesn't look like a slide to me, it looks like a collapse. The middle and top tier look like they are exactly in the same place. The bottom tier is squished on one side.
post #5 of 132
Thread Starter 
Hi cheatize, yes, the top two cakes slid to one side, and nobody tried to re-position them back to the centre. So over the hours it was sitting like that it got more and more crushed on that side.
post #6 of 132
In looking at your pic, you cake doesnt look solid enough and you dont have anywhere near enough dowels in it. When you dowel a cake the next tier up should sit ON the dowels. What were you using for dowels? Your cake may have been too soft and the few dowels you had would have been pushed aside. If you had centre dowelled I think it would have still collapsed but those tiers wouldnt have slid.

What kind of cake was the bottom tier and what did you fill it with? When I stack I also glue them into place with royal icing. My cakes are stacked and decorated the day before so if anything happens I have a chance to fix it. It might sound like a luxury but I would never risk someones cake by decorating the day of delivery. Just the way I work. This also gives the fondant to time to set up as well.

If you are doing a wedding cake I would give yourself a 4 day decorating window. Bake one day, ganache the next, cover the next, decorate, rest, deliver. Obviously you can cut this down with refrigeration but you need to give your filling time to set and also your fondant. If you do centre dowel use the silver cardboard rounds and sharpen your dowel and bang it down with a hammer until its all the way thru your last board. I use masonite boards and drill but you need alot of skill to get the holes lined up correctly on the cakes so its sometimes easier to do it that way.

HTH
post #7 of 132
Thread Starter 
The bottom cake was a chocolate cake filled with a thin layer of raspberry jam. No, it was not as dense as the caramel mud cake and lemon coconut cake on top.

How many dowels do I need? I have been told if I have a 10 inch cake, half that number is 5, so use 5 dowels. I used wooden dowels. Hmm.... good tip to glue them with royal icing, thank you.

I used foamcore board covered in self adhesive plastic. Hopefully a centre dowel would break through that?

I am confused about the definition of a 'collapse', as both cheatize and yourself said that. I assumed it collapsed because the top cakes slid, so there was no dowel underneath their new location to support them...?
post #8 of 132
Ooh, can't believe I'm going to be the first person to say this but: use the SPS system!
It's not expensive but will give you the peace of mind knowing that there's absolutely now way your cake can collapse. I've made 2 3-tiered cakes with it and was nervous every time but one was even transported over bumpy roads on a large hill without any problem. Another was whisked over to the area where we were taking pictures (she touched my cake without asking me - and was holding it crooked!!!) but nothing happened. Use it, you'll never regret it.

http://cakecentral.com/cake-decorating-ftopict-603925.html

icon_smile.gif

Good luck with the wedding cake! You can do it!
A genius is seldom orderly, an orderly person is rarely of genius.
A. Einstein
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A genius is seldom orderly, an orderly person is rarely of genius.
A. Einstein
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post #9 of 132
Thread Starter 
Hi Jennicita, thanks for the reply! I actually read about this system before making this cake, but the bits and pieces I would need didn't seem to be available to me here in New Zealand, so I went with the tradtional method thinking that thousands of other people use it successfully, so I would be able to as well!
post #10 of 132
I guess particularly as a beginner, I don't want all my hard work to go down the drain because of my structural support system. Look for it online - maybe you can find it somewhere? I'm in Germany and it's a bit hard to find here - the one place I've found it online (in Germany) doesn't even have all the pieces I've wanted. I might end up ordering some in the States and having it shipped - might even be cheaper that way. The markup on imported caking items is insane!

I've used the traditional method on cakes of odd shapes (house, ski jump) and that's worked well for me. Those weren't 3-tiered cakes, though, so they just didn't have the weight issues that you had.

Good luck!
A genius is seldom orderly, an orderly person is rarely of genius.
A. Einstein
Reply
A genius is seldom orderly, an orderly person is rarely of genius.
A. Einstein
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post #11 of 132
Quote:
Originally Posted by zespri

The bottom cake was a chocolate cake filled with a thin layer of raspberry jam. No, it was not as dense as the caramel mud cake and lemon coconut cake on top.

Yeah it sounds as though it was too light to cope with the other tiers. Jam is also quite slippery in a cake too, the good thing about filling with ganache or buttercream is it can be chilled to solid state.

How many dowels do I need? I have been told if I have a 10 inch cake, half that number is 5, so use 5 dowels. I used wooden dowels. Hmm.... good tip to glue them with royal icing, thank you.

A 12" is a big cake, I would have used 7 personally. Are you using the thick dowels from a cake deco shop or skewers? Also make sure they are all the same length otherwise you will get an uneven surface. When you dowel do you make sure you dowel as close to the size of the next tier as possible?


I used foamcore board covered in self adhesive plastic. Hopefully a centre dowel would break through that?

Should do, I dont use it myself so I dont know. But I cant see it being a problem.

I am confused about the definition of a 'collapse', as both cheatize and yourself said that. I assumed it collapsed because the top cakes slid, so there was no dowel underneath their new location to support them...?

I think it was a combination. If the cake wasnt level and you had nothing to bind the the other cakes to the bottom then it would have slipped but if there was already weaknesses in the bottom tier then it would have gone anyway.




Its all live and learn unfortunately, I remember my first collapse and it was a 5 and a 7! I didn't know about dowelling at all then.

Personally I think the SPS system is over-rated and not really relevant for the cakes we do here. I've delivered a 7 tier wedding cake (needed 2 boys to lift it) to the mountains up and down hills and had nerry a crack.

As long as you dowel properly, glue your tiers with RI and have it on non slip matting and on a flat surface in the car (I have a station wagon) you should be fine.
post #12 of 132
Thread Starter 
Thanks for all the input, I'm feeling better already about my next cake.

I used dowels about as thick as a standard pencil, bought from a cake shop. My hubby cut them for me and they all looked exactly the same height, I was impressed he got them so even!

What you said about doweling as close to the size of the next cake might be another contributing factor. I probably left 1-2cm of space that I shouldn't have.

Do you sit yours in the back of the station wagon, just placing the cake board on top of a non-stick mat? I have a station wagon, and I have a non-slip mat, so that's a good start! Actually I gave the non-stick mat to the people picking the cake up last night to use, but I have a yoga mat which would do a good job too. I tried to find a box to sit the cake in, but failed to find anything big enough. Do you use boxes, or just sit the cake on the mat with nothing around it? It's scary, the thought of it just sitting there as you drive!
post #13 of 132
OK so you've got the right dowels. Try and dowel as far out as possible next time. It gives it much more stability. My cakes go on non-slip matting, in a box, on non slip matting, in the car.

I would try and find some more non slip matting if you can, I dont know about a yoga mat... If you cant find boxes ask if you can buy some from a bakery. I got mine originally from a paper supply store and then started buying the proper boxes in bulk. I think it looks more professional but I'm also charging on average 500 for a cake so I gotta look good!

Good luck next week and if you need anymore help just let me know.
post #14 of 132
Thread Starter 
beautiful!! I feel like I can go to bed now.. lol

One more quick question: What does your box look like? It wouldn't cover the whole cake, surely? I bought a box from my cake supply shop, it's only about 6" high, and comes with a lid. Are you talking about one of those, with the lid off and the cake poking out the top?

P.S. I asked at a bakery for their boxes, same as I just described, they said NO because they had their name printed on them and didn't want me passing my cakes off as theirs... fair enough!
post #15 of 132
Hi Zespri - congratulations on your first tiered cake!

I am sorry to hear it gave way. To me it looks like it moved laterally and the top layer slipped on the bottom layer of your bottom tier. ie, INSIDE the bottom tier. If there was a big enough movement of the car back or forward, (or side to side) then it would have moved at this point first. What may have happened then is the internal dowels in the bottom tier gave way (fell over) and then it was too late!

How thick were your dowels? If they were very thin then you could add more in to make up the support necessary. And did you make them all exactly level with the top of the fondant before putting the next tier on it? I think your top two tiers are entirely intact...just that slippage in the middle of the bottom tier at layer level. Like prvious posters - I also use thinned down gumpaste, fondant or royal icing to glue the tiers together.

As you know I don't dowel my 2 and 3 tier cakes at all. BUT, I DO deliver them myself, and also have them usually sitting on a non-slip stable table on my lap while my husband drives.

If SPS was cheaper and available here I might buy it strictly for tiered pick ups. But for now it is a cost (ie for delivery) I add into my tiered cakes because most folks don't know how to drive with a cake on board, LOL!

Life's too short to make cake pops.
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www.sweetperfection.com.au

www.sweetperfectioncakes.blogspot.com.au/
www.facebook.com/sweetperfectioncakes (come visit sometime!)

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Life's too short to make cake pops.
___________________________________
www.sweetperfection.com.au

www.sweetperfectioncakes.blogspot.com.au/
www.facebook.com/sweetperfectioncakes (come visit sometime!)

Reply
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