The Wedding Cake that Didn’t Make it

This is one of the hardest posts I’m going to write. Whenever I’m asked to spill the tea on cake horror stories, this one hurts so bad that it usually doesn’t even come up. This is the cake that I thought was going to end my career. So pull up a seat and a drink for story time.

Top two tiers. Ivory fondant. Cake lace. Sugar pearls/ dragees. Fondant jewels.

I started decorating at a professional level in 2010. This cake went down in the summer of 2016, my first wedding season at the bakery. This was one of the brides I inherited when I started working at the bakery. I had spent two meetings with her and repeatedly assured her that I was just as good as the decorator I had replaced. Clearly I was wrong. This cake broke my heart and I was ready to throw in the towel. I thought I had done everything right, to the best of my ability.

This wasn’t the most expensive cake (the guitar 🎸) I had made to this point, but it was the most expensive Wedding cake I had made at that point, and possibly the first 4 tier wedding cake.

I hated that topper and took pics of the cake before adding it to the top.

In hindsight it was a recipe for disaster. Our bakery’s soft moist decadent cake. Our fragile swiss meringue buttercream. Heavy Fondant. Slippery raspberry filling. Delicate Cake lace. 4 tiers. Delivered almost 2 hours away. In the humidity of Southwestern Pennsylvania and heat of the summer. Outside In a barn. All the tell tale signs of a disaster in the making. The fondant was sweating and sticky as I stacked the top two onto the bottom two tiers. I had a bad feeling about the cake as i drove away, up the bumpy windy farm road, but i never could have imagined what was to come. I had a feeling the fondant was going to get air bubbles and no one would know that they can just be popped with a pin and resmoothed. That was my biggest concern. I hung out a bit longer than usual after the delivery but all seemed well enough when I was taking pictures.

Picture perfect wedding

I didn’t find out about the disaster until the next day, on a well earned day off, my friends were in town and we rode the incline and visited the bakery. The venue had called and left voicemail messages the evening before. We had the absolute worst telephone system.

The couple was on their honeymoon and I didn’t hear from them for a couple weeks. The unknown was torture. The bakery owner wanted to rectify the situation and offer a refund. Our contacts terms and conditions talks about how the heat, nature, weather and any post drop off problems isn’t really our responsibility.

She took it in stride. She thought she was being punked. Luckily the venue was still able to serve the cake. They tore it down before it fell -to keep it from falling. I’m going to now post all of the venue/ event planners emails and the pictures. I made $20k in wedding cakes that year. When I started this blog I was worried that if I were to post the Fails then I’d lose my legitimacy and future clients, not to mention other wedding industry professionals contacts and referrals. However, In the spirit of teaching, here goes it.

I believe the biggest problems were heat, humidity, moist soft cake mix, fragile all butter buttercream, slippery wet filling. Straws are just as strong as wooden Dowels, that wasn’t the problem. I’ve read a physics study about the strength of jumbo straws. When I was still learning I have had layered cakes shift in delivery from mousse fillings and fruit fillings. Dowels could be helpful to keep them together.

I also spoke with the venue and the bride on the phone, but everything was pretty much consistent with the emails. I have heard from others that in some situations that things can get stickier. Since after the Caker leaves the cake at drop off, that the responsibility lies with the venue. That’s what our contracts say. I have heard that Venues are not going to accept that responsibility. I have seen horror stories from other cakers where the florist or the heavy flowers have toppled cakes.

😬😳😱🤬🥵

I don’t even know what I could have done at that point if we had gotten the call to come back. I’m going to share with you in another post about yet another 4 tier wedding cake that fell and how we fixed it before the reception.

Emails from the venue to the bride, shared with me from the bride. 1 of 3
Correspondence between event planner/ venue and bride. 2 of 3
Correspondence between event planner/ venue and bride. 3 of 3

Tail between my legs I had to tell my new boss that I would learn from this and not have to refund another $700++ to any more couples in the future

Changes were made and implemented. 4 tier cakes get an extra $75.00 support system charge. There is a future blog post planned detailing supports and dowels. We invested in cake delivery in coolers and ice packs. They’re completed and refrigerated over night the day before delivery. 4 tiers are stacked on site.

We changed the tier separators to make sure our cardboard rounds are wax coated, and not just cardboard getting soggy with grease and wilting. The wedding contract was updated to ask if the cake was going to be outside or inside and if there was air conditioning. Delivery times are adjusted and time is cut real close to when guests are arriving for outside events. 2 and 3 tier cakes can sometimes be kept in the event venues coolers or fridge until guests start to arrive.

The real gravity and scope of the importance of a wedding cake, the significance of the cake, especially to a bride that wanted a showpiece, weighs heavy. I was ready to call it quits, throw in the towel. It took years to get over having ruined someone’s wedding day. If I can share some wisdom and cautionary tales to help save future cakes then I guess it helps balance the scales. We were fortunate that the bakery has other income other than weddings to offer a refund. I wouldn’t have been able to do that without using my personal finances, as a home based business owner. We were fortunate that the bride was so incredibly understanding and empathic to the situation.

Still standing, last pic I took before away, Flower insertion vases . Humorous Topper .
I sent her pictures of the cake so she could see what was hand crafted and intended for her 😭

Sometimes cakes fall.

That really is the moral of the story. Accidents happen. Mistakes are made. Learn from them and move on. Learn more. Do better. Teach others.

Happy Anniversary

And there you have it. I am now Going to go outside and do a yoga rinse under the moon light and hopefully, finally, put this disaster behind me for good.

Thanks for stopping by and having a read.

Good luck and blessings for all of our future wedding cakes!

Cheers!

Brandi Janine

Geode Wedding Cake

Oh my beautiful Geode! How lovely and serene. June, 2017

I loved this bride. She was gorgeous and so lovely. We bonded over laughter about how some geode cakes, with pinks and red rocks look like vaginas.

She was Laid back but also an artist so she was particular but also really appreciated what went into making cake. This was Both of their second marriages. The geode cake was actually the second wedding cake I made for them. The first one was a beach themed cake for their beach ceremony in Baltimore. She was worried it would come out too much like a kids birthday cake and not a wedding cake. I was worried about the cake making that big drive! Her car was packed and She kept it on the floor of the passenger side. In a box, obviously. Buttercream with fondant accents. I used the wilton seashell fondant mood and satin ice fondant. She had a special custom cake topper. She sent me a good pic with the topper at that dinner and I’ll add it if I come across it.

March, 2017

Here’s a few progress pics i took during the making of the geode cake.

Wedding tiers are four layers of cake and 3 layers of filling. You can see one of the tier supports, jumbo bubble straws.

Carved for shape, cut the cardboard tier separator round. 6″ top tier, 8″ middle, 10″ bottom. The 10″ stayed in the fridge while the top two got worked on.

Covered in buttercream and fondant. Use an edible marker to outline where you’ll cut. Carve it already stacked so you’re sure it lines up.

piping gel is the glue that keeps the sugar rocks glued in. Layer of piping gel on top of the buttercream and then you’ll want a piping bag of piping gel to use as you go.

Rock sugar colored with airbrush color. I used the airbrush color instead of gel color because it’s already so liquid y. If i had needed to use gel color I would have diluted it with everclear. It didn’t take a lot of color, the sugar rocks took the color brilliantly. I needed three shades of purple and this was the darkest. I divided them and stirred more .Here i moved into the other room so i could sit while i worked . You can see the brides’ geode on the table, she lent it to me to look at while I worked. This was a tedious task, inserting each rock individually with a pair of long tweezers. Darkest color in the center gives added depth and shadows.

This took several hours of work to complete. The bride even stopped in with her friends while I was working on it to check out the progress. They were big geode buffs and fell in love with the cake.

The rock cave gets outlined with gold leaf, and the inspiration cake she liked best had that big section of gold leaf. Gold leaf has a slight learning curve, but is easy to use as long as there is no breeze. A dry fan brush helps to smooth it out, but the wrinkles add another dimension too. Make sure you get the single Individual sheets. Gold leaf isn’t exactly edible, but it is non toxic.

Finally, at the reception. The bling band bottom border, topper, and cake stand really bring it all together.

Photo credit goes to Flip. He was the first person to get a new phone with the new portrait mode. 😻

This is the inspiration cake, seen in a store window on a vacation. I think i knocked this one out of the park.eliminated that very top 4th tier,

The inspiration cake from a far away land.

I don’t like to copy other artists cake designs exactly, but I don’t mind at all if someone else makes one of mine. It’s great to make adjustments when and where there’s room for improvement and if i can get the client to go along with the changes. She was pretty set on this style. We eliminated that very top 4th tier and used amethyst rocks instead of blue.

A picture one of the guests took and sent. The cake matches well with the chandeliers of the LeMont. – that’s a super fancy restaurant in Pittsburgh with incredible views of the city.

The bride Emailed me From her reception!

I felt pretty good about this cake, but it’s always magnificent to hear from the client when they enjoy a commissioned art.

My mom didn’t like this cake. Our oldest baker didn’t like it either, on a personal matter of style or taste. It stings a little anyways. It was my first geode cake after all.

A week later she sent this:

Thanks, Brandi!

I have yet to get the photographer’s photos & will pass those along, (including the 3/18 cake images), in a WELL DESERVED thank-you note…

Your incredible talents added SO much to our 3/18 wedding & 7/21 reception.

I ran into her again a few years later and she still raves about the Cakes. It means so much to be so appreciated. An amazing reminder of how truly important your cakes actually are.

Sweetly,

Brandi Janine

I ❤️ Strawberry 🍓 Wedding Cake

Extreme Giant Heart ❤️ 🍓 Wedding Cake

Strawberry Heart Wedding

This cake was incredible!

I would love to make it again and you can too. The First step to recreate this is to come up with a plan. I had just come on board at the Grandview Bakery so the plan and price were already worked out for this cake. I had a parchment paper drawing of a Heart with servings calculated to work with (and whomever did it did a great job- probably the wedding cake decorator that worked there before me- she’s mega talented too)

Ready to cut! Tape that sucker down. Give the board anywhere from a 2- 3 inch clearance around the diagram and draw a Heart on the wood. The cutting part is pretty easy. I balanced it on the table, put on safety goggles and went slowly.

Hot HusbandHot Caker

Funny story! I went to Home Depot to buy the Masonite wood. Sometimes I have them cut it to size. This time I knew I’d have to cut it anyways so I bought a jigsaw and a piece big enough for the widest part and figured I’d save the rest for smaller boards. (I still haven’t cut down the extra Masonite into more boards- slacker) When I hauled it out awkwardly to the car I realized It doesn’t fit in my car!! OMG I wish I had a camera crew filming me while I tried to figure out how to make this thing fit! Sideways, the other way, standing, at an angle, seats down and over, seats up, car seats out, etc etc. Literally took me a half hour- which is a super long time for this pale girl in the summer sun and heat. I eventually got it in vertically and angled between the front and back seats. Once i got it in there it stayed there for another couple days until we needed our SUV back and then moved it to the garage.

A big part of the planning process should be MEASURING! Making sure it’s going to fit!! It did NOT fit through the front door of the Bakery flat, Once it has cake on it you have to keep it relatively flat. It had to go out the back door. I had to call the reception planner to make sure it was going to fit through their door. It barely fit in the SUV. Measuring during the planning process would eliminate that stress.

This was FOUR FULL Vanilla Sheet Cakes.

I cut an identical heart out of heavy weight foam core and hot glued that onto the Masonite. I hot glued a white satin ribbon around the edge, and a small pearl ribbon on the top edge to finish it off.

Sheet cakes glued back together with Swiss meringue buttercream.

Filled with Strawberry preserves filling and buttercream

2nd cake layer

Covered in buttercream

And add a simple tip 12 bead border on top and bottom.

Cut your strawberries before you deliver, but don’t add them to the cake until you’re there. Add a little bit of granulated sugar to the strawberries to help preserve their freshness, but not too much because you don’t want the sugar to pull the juices out of them. I also added a little of the strawberry fillings to coat them too, but not too much, you don’t want them to turn into a filling. Arrange strawberries 🍓 in a single layer, cut side down , covering entire top. Enlist help of hunky hubs if you got one. He had more patience than me so his strawberries were more meticulously placed than mine.

Don’t stop until you completely cover the entire top- give yourself enough time to do this- probably added an extra half hour to delivery.

Take pics with your cake! It’s hard to appreciate the massiveness without a person to reference perspective. Take pics of you helper with the cake! It’s a proud moment for them too! It took hard work and big muscles to carry this!

Congratulations to the bride and groom!

Thank you for allowing me the opportunity to create this for you!

XOXO 😘 🍓

Strawberry kisses!

Brandi