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Wedding Cake Delivery Disaster  

post #1 of 59
Thread Starter 

So I did my very first wedding cake which was very exciting and scary at the same time.  I have been making cakes for years but mainly for friends and family and nothing with as much pressure as a wedding cake, but I really want to take my talents to the next level and someone had to be the first wedding cake, right?  Anyway my sister-in-law referred me to her friend she showed her my work and told her that I have never made a wedding cake before but that she was confidant that I could do it.  Once she saw my work she loved my cakes and called me to create her wedding cake.  She was looking for a deal and since she was my very wedding and since I struggle with pricing (I could really just some pointers because I am pretty clueless but I am getting better) I only charged her $300 for a 4 - tiered cake to server 150 not counting the top tier plus $75 for deliver since I am over an hour and a bridge away.  I pulled some images off the Internet to give her some ideas because she really had not insight on what she wanted it to look like just the flavors 2 tiers red velvet with cream cheese frosting and 2 tiers butter cake with butter cream icing.  We made some changes and off we went, the tiers where 12", 10", 8", 6" squares.  I definitely managed my time well, I had a few hiccups but nothing too serious (had to make all the cakes three layers instead of 2 because they were not 2 inches after leveling and it would not have been enough cake for a 150 people, had to recover the top tier 3 times for some reason I had a really hard time with it, my Kitchen Aid mixer broke during the cream cheese frosting, so I had to make 6 single batches of butter cream with an cheep stand mixer) and I actually had enough time to go to sleep all three nights that I work on the cake, lol. I had problems with the fondant not being totally smooth so to me it didn't look totally professional but after I decorated it looked very pretty and I was pleased. In reference to the fondant not being smooth I really would like pointers of what I am doing wrong I think it is a problem with my crumb coating or maybe cause I don't refrigerate the cake before covering it, or my fondant isn't thick enough, Idk?  Any help is appreciated. Anyway my brothers girlfriend agreed to come with me to deliver the cake and I decide to stack it at home and transport it that way since I wanted to see how it would look at the reception so if I had to make tweaks I would have everything I needed.  I was really scared to stack the cakes there I was just so scared something would go wrong and I was mistakenly thinking if the cake was completed before I left the house there would be less chance of things going wrong.  I bought a delivery box for stacked cakes from Oasis and had my companion in the back with the cake we left the lid off so she could make sure it didn't tip over. Well we get all the way to Philadelphia (an hour into the drive) and as we are going over the bridge she starts yelling "oh no oh no" I pull over on the bridge and jump in the back.  All 4 of the tiers were lined up in the back since there were only 2' difference in sizes so all the dowels were supporting the wait toward the back well the top three tiers slid forward crushing the front of the bottom tier. We lifted the top 3 tiers off with our hands and put them on the lid.  I just wanted to cry but Kelly just kept saying it was okay and not as bad as I thought and that I could fix it we just had to get to the reception. Well we could find the hall, the bridge gave me the wrong name of the place but luckily the correct address which GPS did not take me to but we did find it finally.  The air conditioner was broke in the truck and so when we touched the cake it was soft and there were finger holes all over from the rescue.  When we brought the cake into the room there was only one women there but see said she was the brides cousin and that her cousin would be extremely mad and if that was her cake she would have been pissed.  I told her we were going to do our best and if worse came to worse I would use set the bottom tier in the back with the caterers let the cut it and serve and just display the top 3 tiers but she was trying to hear that (plus there were no caterers just serve yourself buffet).  Luckily I did bring a bag of tools and supplies just in case but I really didn't think I would need them.  I already wanted to cry but this women was just mean, negative, nasty and worse yet she stood over us as we worked on fixing the cake.  Super long story made a bit shorter we worked some magic with the tool I had and used some real flowers from the center pieces to fill in stuff I couldn't fix and by the time I was done the negative lady and the wedding coordinator (the only 2 people that saw the broken cake) asked me for my card and the guest the started filing in were immediately complimenting me on how beautiful the cake was.  All I could think was really???? Thank god.  My sister-in-law text me later and said that my cake was a huge hit and that everyone was raving about how great it was.  All I can say is I was so anxious about it I couldn't sleep until I got that text. 

 

BEFORE DELIVERY

 

 

AFTER FIXING THE DISASTER DELIVERY

 

Since the front of the bottom tier was so squished down I just used the fondant smoother and pushed the sides up as much as I could and then made the side of the cake the front, took out the dowels and re-cut them since they were now to long added more flowers, fondant and real... just did my best to save this cake and make it as presentable as possible.  If you know cakes you know this is not what a wedding cake should look like but the guests could tell so I wasn't going to =)

 

I guess I will be figuring out a way to stack on site.  Can you stack at home then dissemble and reassemble at the location (I guess I am just concerned on not being able to see the finished product in cause it needs some changes) For example I was not going to put a boarder around the bottoms of the cakes but I wasn't real happy about how it looked so I tried a couple different boarders and finally decided on a simple rope as it complimented the simplicity of the cake most and gave it a finished look. 

 

Oh one more question what would you have charged for the cake (before it got messed up)?

 

All advise is welcome.  

 

Thanks for reading my extremely long winded story. 

post #2 of 59

That's quite a story, but you're definitely not alone as far as falling cakes go.  Glad you were able to salvage things.  I would have charged $3.00 per serving plus delivery fee, but again, you aren't alone with undercharging when it's your first time doing something.  Next time you can charge more!

 

What went wrong with the doweling?  Did you center all of the dowels?  I am curious because it seems like you did it right and it should not have fallen apart...

Did you use an SPS?  Wooden dowels? Were there dowels in all of the tiers?

post #3 of 59

Wow! What a story! Can I suggest a couple of things - can you split your long text into paragraphs? It's very difficult to read. Also, I would photoshop your first photo before posting it here.

 

As to your questions, I think you need to make sure that you have a transporting vehicle with working air-conditioning befor attempting a long delivery again.

 

Also, many fresh flowers are poisonous, and the ones from the centrepieces were probably not supposed to be used on food. I'm not sure what kind of flowers those are, but they may have had poisonous sap, and they probably had water on them from the centrepieces. That's a bit yuck.

 

You might have been better to just use the top three tiers, rather than trying to redo the bottom tier at the venue.

post #4 of 59
Thread Starter 

I watched a few you-tube videos on how to stack a cake and the one I mainly used was from Global Sugar Art, but none of them mentioned a center dowel rod that went through all the cakes. I used nine wooden dowels in the bottom (just to be safe) and less as I went up each tier.  But after the incident I went back and searched for transporting tiered cakes and read about that, so it defiantly would have prevented what happen because the cake didn't fall it just slipped forward when we hit a bump on the bridge and the weight instantly squished the cake down and we pretty much did the rest of the damage lifting the cakes off and then back on the bottom tier. I still think I would be afraid to stack such a big cake for such a long distance ever again even with the SPS system.

post #5 of 59
A cat and a baby crib. That is all.
post #6 of 59
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the suggestions as far as the air conditioning thing goes that is pretty much a given but I had no other option at the time. 

 

As for the text I would be happy to split it into paragraphs but can I edit it now?  I can't find that options. 

 

And the flowers I really wasn't thinking very clearly I was pretty much in panic mode and just trying not to break down.  I know that people put fresh flowers on cakes all the time so I didn't really think of poison but I will surely be researching that for the future. 

 

The picture I will try and Photo Shop but I'm not even sure I have that on my computer but I will look around and also remember that for the future. I am new at this cake central sharing thing =)

 

Thanks

post #7 of 59
Quote:
Originally Posted by amyssweettopia View Post

BEFORE DELIVERY

 

 

AFTER FIXING THE DISASTER DELIVERY

 

 

 

I'm so sorry this happened to you, and I'm sure you are already upset enough about this, but you asked...

 

I am not familiar with all the laws everywhere, but there seems to be one unifying part of the cottage laws around the world, which is NO ANIMALS in your workspace.  You posted a photo of a cake for 150+ people with a cat hanging out in the background.  It's unsanitary and and I may be wrong, but probably illegal.  I hate to mention this first off and want to keep things positive as a learning experience for you, but it's hard to take you seriously when I see that.  Maybe you are unfamiliar with having to have a license and permit to sell food from your home and maybe you don't know that no country would give you a permit to sell food with a cat walking and sitting on your kitchen counters with their gross fecal-covered feet and uncovered anuses, so I encourage you to stop everything and research this aspect before you agree to make another cake for the public.  

 

Making a tiered cake takes practice, skill and experience.  "Practicing" on someone's wedding is a really, really horrible idea that we on CC stress over and over to never do.  Most successful professionals don't do their 1st tiered cake for the 1st time for a wedding  - we all practiced before promising to deliver a product to someone on one of the most special days of their lives.  I have never had a cake so much as buckle, let alone collapse - but I researched, studied and practiced for at least 6 months before promising to make a tiered cake for a customer - but I also researched legalities of running a home business, had a business plan, did my own homework on pricing and figured out what goes into it before meeting my 1st client to sell a real cake.  If you plan on having a business you need to learn the business first.

 

Since you have never heard of a center dowel I am assuming that you didn't treat the fresh flowers before putting them on the cake.  This post is feeling like I'm beating up on you so I hope you take this also as a learning thing, but the blob of hydrangea you stuck on the top of the cake are poisonous and should never come into contact with food - and it looks like you stuck a whole branch in there.  Please study what flowers are safe for coming into contact with food and which should never, and how you need to treat the flowers before placing them on or in a cake.  
 
I didn't really get very many questions in your post, but when to stack the cake is a matter of preference.  I deliver a 100% completed cake and do not stack or decorate on site.  But nobody stacks, takes apart, transports and re-assembles.  Again, this is a preference and every decorator will give you a different answer.
 
I mean this with love when I tell you that you need to stop right now, look at what being in business entails, mainly working from a legal kitchen with NO animals, proper food safety and handling, and not poisoning your guests with dangerous flowers.
 
Good luck!
post #8 of 59

I missed the baby crib.  Sigh.  Yeah, kids are also a big NO-NO in the workspace.

post #9 of 59
New Jersey does not have a Cottage Food Law yet.
post #10 of 59
What a constructive and thoughtful post from scratch
Hey everybody! Check out google.com ! This is clearly an attempt to direct traffic onto that site and away from cake central. Because everyone knows you can only have one browser open!
Hey everybody! Check out google.com ! This is clearly an attempt to direct traffic onto that site and away from cake central. Because everyone knows you can only have one browser open!
post #11 of 59
You charged about $1.70/serving, when you figure things out you should really work on your pricing. Also delivery round trip, that's a long drive for $75. You did good fixing it, I don't like people watching over my shoulder! I know you were trying to salvage things, but you should never have flowers in direct contact with your cake as MC said many are poisonous so be careful there. I'm not sure about the box you used, so I don't have tips there but you should have some sort of plastic wrap just shielding from dust and you really need a cool temp in the car. Cream cheese frosting is not technically shelf stable (unless you just used flavoring), with the heat this probably contributed to the sliding too.

The main problems seem structural. Your cakes must be level, when stacking cakes and filling I put a cake board on top and a level to double check (do this for each tier) if your cakes aren't level to begin with you will have major problems. I bake, freeze or refrigerate-because it's easier for me to carve and torte cold cakes-this isn't necessary just something that helps me work ahead and it's easier to manipulate cold cake, fill and crumb coat then I let my cakes settle either overnight or I'll place something light on top to help speed up the process-this is an important step so your cakes don't settle after wrapped in fondant, this causes sagging. Then I do my final coat with each cake on their own cake board (something that's grease proof).

I prefer using sps, bubble tea straws, or polydowels. You have to make sure you cut all the dowells the same length for their tiers, you mentioned moving the dowels in the bottom cake and cutting them again-no matter where they were placed you shouldn't have had to recut them-this tells me something was off there too which probably caused the shifting/sinking during the car ride along with the heat.

You can dowel your cakes and stack them then unstack and box individually (or in sets of two, like 10&12" and 8&6"). Just make sure you use boards underneath each tier as well as a final board that will support the weight of the entire cake when completely assembled as well as some sort of internal supports. I would recommend sps, they will give you extra confidence, they are super sturdy, and inexpensive. Another thing that will help is chilling the cake overnight before delivery.

I'm sorry you had a stressful experience. Definitely practice leveling your cakes, one tier being off can mess up the integrity of the entire cake. This is my process, you probably know a lot of it, just wanted to cover everything so you can see what you missed. I actually think your fondant looks a bit too thick, I imagine the sliding was a combo of the heat, settling and sliding cake. I'm glad the bride & groom were happy!
post #12 of 59

Did you have the cake on the car seat?

 

Ditto on the cat and kid - grossly unhygienic, both of them.

 

That said - I have a cat and I love him! I change my clothes at work to minimise any contamination from cat hair and fecal paws and uncovered anuses.

post #13 of 59

" a cat walking and sitting on your kitchen counters with their gross fecal-covered feet and uncovered anuses"

icon_surprised.gif icon_eek.gif thumbsdown.gif 

Disgusting but very well put!

Dora Moreno
If you work with your hands you're a laborer. If you work with your hands and your mind you're a craftsman. If you work with your hands, your mind and your heart, you're an artist
Dora Moreno
If you work with your hands you're a laborer. If you work with your hands and your mind you're a craftsman. If you work with your hands, your mind and your heart, you're an artist
post #14 of 59
Thread Starter 
So I agree a cat on the counter in hygienic, and it really just down came to bad timing since I agreed to cat sit for my aunt while she was on vacation, my kids have been begging for a pet so I figured it was a good alternative, but I didn't know I was going to be making a wedding cake at the time and honestly forgot about the cat until she showed up and my door and then my kids weren't even there to play with it because I sent them to my mother-in-law so I could make the cake. I had the cat in the basement but my husband must have accidentally let it out. Needless to say I am now mortified and wish I could just delete this whole thread or at least the picture but I can't.

As far as practicing on someone's wedding cake goes the woman was a friend of the family who was well aware that I was not a professional, that I baked from my home and that I have children. She was just looking to save money she could not find a cake for under $600 so my $300 cake was just what she was looking for. I have only ever made 1 cake for someone that I myself or a family member didn't know personally and I made her aware that I was baking from my home and she came to house to pick up the cake.

This is basically a hobby that I hope will lead to making money but right now I pretty much charge for ingredients and not much more. Yes my ultimate goal would be to make this a true successful business and I bought a book to guide me through the legality of doing this but the whole reason I posted this was so that I could learn the craft better so I could get opinions of people who know more than me. I ALWAYS strive for perfection in all that I do and that is why I want my cakes to look professional but I'm not perfect and obviously have a lot to learn but I never claimed to be a professional baker, I honestly thought that this website was for professionals and amateurs.

I apologize to everyone I have offended and have certainly learned somethings:

The cat will never be an issue again as that is definitely the last time I pet sit
The flowers were obviously a huge mistake on my part that was just a lack of knowledge and a bit of panic
As for those kids I think I'll keep them, they are what I live for....That is at least until I have a real business.
post #15 of 59
Quote:
Originally Posted by amyssweettopia View Post

Thanks for the suggestions as far as the air conditioning thing goes that is pretty much a given but I had no other option at the time. 

 

As for the text I would be happy to split it into paragraphs but can I edit it now?  I can't find that options. 

 

And the flowers I really wasn't thinking very clearly I was pretty much in panic mode and just trying not to break down.  I know that people put fresh flowers on cakes all the time so I didn't really think of poison but I will surely be researching that for the future. 

 

The picture I will try and Photo Shop but I'm not even sure I have that on my computer but I will look around and also remember that for the future. I am new at this cake central sharing thing =)

 

Thanks

 

I was talking here about removing the cat from the background of your photo. I knew you'd get pounded for that. At the bottom of your post, there's a button with a red pencil to edit.

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