My Other Blog

What's a Wreck?

A Cake Wreck is any cake that is unintentionally sad, silly, creepy, inappropriate - you name it. A Wreck is not necessarily a poorly-made cake; it's simply one I find funny, for any of a number of reasons. Anyone who has ever smeared frosting on a baked good has made a Wreck at one time or another, so I'm not here to vilify decorators: Cake Wrecks is just about finding the funny in unexpected, sugar-filled places.

Now, don't you have a photo you want to send me? ;)

- Jen

The Great Cupcake Cake Debate Continues


Apparently last week's post in which I 'fessed up to my cupcake cake aversion hit a nerve. Or, a hundred nerves. Yep, my inbox has been inundated with e-mails both defending the hapless creation and joining me on the side of decency and real cakes.

(And just to be clear: I have no problems with cupcakes. C'mon: mini cakes you don't have to share? What's not to like? No, it's only when you cram a bunch of them together and slop on a gallon of icing to make a smooth surface that my eyelid begins to twitch uncontrollably. Ok? So, to sum up: cupcakes good, cupcake cakes baaaad.)

The best part about all this public outcry, however, are the photos you guys have sent in supposed "defense" of cupcake cakes. Many of them are so bad I can only hope you guys are being sarcastic, 'cuz if not, daaaang.

An example:

If this looks familiar, it should: it's what the Ojai cupcake cake was supposed to look like. However, looking at it you can see that Ojai actually wasn't that far off the mark; I guess "shiny poo souffle" must be on the spec sheet.

Then there's this one:

Which I don't think is professionally done, but I am assured is still a "good" CCC.

These baffling creations, however, are professionally made:

But I don't get it. I guess the mounds made into animals are the cupcakes? Considering how messy that would be to serve, though, why not go with a real cake? Plus, that only serves 9 I'll-just-have-a-tiny-piece people, or 3 kids - which is hardly worth the effort.

And here a decorator traded in the neon french fries for a bad airbrush job:

Now granted, these are not the worst cupcake cakes I've seen - not by a long shot - but keep in mind that all of the above were sent in as examples of "good" cupcake cakes, people. As in, seeing these should make me change my mind and start liking CCCs. This goes to show two things:

1) Readers L.G., Callie C., Michelle M., and Valerie M. are sweet people who undoubtedly see the best in everyone, and

2) anything e-mailed to Cake Wrecks is fair game. Just sayin'.

The CCC indecency is spreading, too: check out this article in a recent issue of Family Fun sent in by Jess T. & Kelli:

"An easier way to decorate cupcakes"?!? That thing looks more like a radioactive zombie cloud than a pumpkin!

Of course now I know I have to throw some "good" cupcakes cake examples in here, if for no other reason than to prevent another tidal wave of angry pro-CCC e-mails. Let's see here...

Well, due to the confusion over whether or not I was vilifying all cupcakes, about a billion of you sent in these iPhone cupcakes:

Which are cute, but don't count; they're separate cakes and therefore Jen-approved.

Ok, we still need a "good" cupcake cake. (Yes, the "good" will always be in quotation marks.)
Hm. Ah, here ya go:

There's the ticket: draw the design inside the edges, thereby avoiding the scalloped look. Bravo, Carrie S.; you found a "good" one!

And Katie S.'s is still scalloped, but nicely done:

So there are two exceptions that prove the rule. I still maintain, however, that anything a cupcake cake can do:

A real cake can do better:


The floor is now open. Discuss.

« Adding Insult to Injury | Main | Any Occasion Will Do »

Reader Comments (254)

It seems that my prior appreciation for cupcake cakes was mostly theoretical. Basically, I love icing and cupcakes do nothing if deliver on icing. But this post has changed my mind. Wow.

September 26, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterTeri

Clearly it is possible to make a cupcake-cake look good, but it's still a horrible idea because of all that extra frosting. It would be a nightmare of a mess!

That Starry Night cupcake-cake looks fantastic, but a normal rectangular cake would have looked better, filling in the frame with no scalloped edges.

And one thing I've been wondering... am I the only person on the planet who has ever had a slice of regular cake served on a paper napkin, thus eliminating the need for those dreaded plates and forks? It's really no different than a cupcake in the easy clean-up department, or in the way you eat it. And it doesn't have massive globs of frosting oozing all over the place. So I question "You don't have to use plates or utensils!" as a selling point for cupcake-cakes. You never did have to use them.

Individual cupcakes, however, are awesome. People just need to appreciate them for what they are (small individual cakes) and not try to make them into full size cakes.

September 26, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

No one will ever convince me (ever!) that a CCC is easier than separate cupcakes. You know you can glob a pound of icing on separate cupcakes and still be a hero to kids. It's black and white to me, regular cake or separate cupcakes. Someone mentioned pull apart cake earlier, that's a completely separate animal. They make cake pans in specific shapes for that and while each piece is smaller in size and can be pulled off like a cupcake, they are not actually cupcakes.

September 26, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterMeg

Umm.. anyone else notice how all the scary ughly cakes (as opposed to scary content cakes) are all buttercream/royal/whipped icing? Those with the skill to work in fondant and even the liquid stuff (that dries like a plate - Evenflow??) tend to have better taste. And none are CCC.... makes you think!


September 26, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

I surprised that nobody realized (at least I think) that the purple pimp-mobile cupcake cake is a MUCH better attempt at the "suicide run through a radioactive river on blood" wreck entitled "Ow." I recognized it immediately because I'm still wearing an eye patch from the ruptured retinal blood vessel I endured from laughing so hard that day. Of course, I use the words "MUCH better attempt" loosely, as it is still ugly, but at least we know now what the "pit stop cupcake" was supposed to be!!!

BTW I like both Van Gogh cakes because they're creative and I can only imagine VERY difficult to attempt! So many icing colors to mix up and get just right! Kudos!

September 26, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterMichelle

That last Starry Night cake is pretty amazing. I'd love to know who made that one...

September 26, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterLiz

omg...great site! we're linking you up to our new blog as a recommended read.
have a fab weekend...
hansen's cakes!

September 26, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterHansen's Cakes

I actually kind of like the watermelon one. It's somewhat endearing.

September 26, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterChewbob

I don't get why people don't use square cupcakes for the CCCs, I mean, yeah, a real cake still could easily do better, but the CCCs would be decent.

I found a version of the first CCC there, the beach one, it was done very well, for that cake design. Because, that design is destined for failure, no matter how good you are with cakes. It was the best CCC I've seen, but...crap.

September 26, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterskaterbeetle

The "good" ones really are good huh? And the last cake scares me, it looks like monster eyes staring at me!

September 26, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterCece

One good thing about cupcake cakes---you get more frosting, which is pretty much the whole point of eating the cake in the first place, right?

September 26, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

I'm not sure if this counts as a cupcake cake since the cupcakes aren't 'attached' with icing, but I thought this was awesome. (and not too much icing!)

Also, fark's cake thread makes for good entertainment!

September 26, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterVanessa

AMEN HATE CCC'S (and for the record so do elementary schools so STOP taking them to school for your kids b-days, they are a MESS)!

September 26, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterMelanie

I agree on not liking the CCC's, but do like your "good" examples. however, I'm rather disappointed that you didn't draw a comparison of watermellon ones to the watermellon cake! how could you miss THAT one? It was the first thing I thought of.

September 26, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterTrevor

The starry night cakes are wonderful. Although I liked them both, I preferred the CCC in this instance. It was the frame that did it.

That is the only good CCC I've seen, though. The rest just don't look right.

September 26, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterJuliet

The final real cake pictured of Starry Night is awesome.

And - add me to the list who prefer real cakes to ccc's.

P.S. Recently found blog, read the entire thing, and LOVE it!

September 26, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterVPIReiner

nancy b: Gurl you almost got me in trouble with your comment about the psycho pumpkin CCC. Almost got caught by my Job Search Development Case Mrg. LOL!
(It's coming for you nancy, it's comming, Maaaaaaaaawhahaha!)
Jen: I hate to jump on the Starry Night CCC looks good bandwagon but yeah, it looks slightly better that the Van Gogh, Mamet, Monet, cake. Sorry, gurl! But hey all the rest of the examples people sd were good were not so good. Beside what beats a good Hostess Chocolate cupcake? Nothing I can see, except a homemake single chocolate cupcake with chocolate Icing of course! ;)

September 26, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterclueuin

Cupcake cakes are evil straight from the anus of Satan. Good for you Jen for fighting the evil scourge.

September 26, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterjanet

The "good" palm tree cake looks rather phallic, in my opinion.

September 26, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

As the daughter of an art dealer, I gotta go with the cupcake Starry Nights version, and hope it didn't cost whoever bought it an arm and an ear (sorry!)

September 26, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterAlisonH

Yeah, sorry, I can't get over the ducks' four feet.

I honestly don't get cupcake cakes. Real cakes just seem so much easier.

September 26, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterKatie Alender

Looking at those cupcakes with icing oozing over the edges just makes me teeth hurt looking at them! Plus I love it when I serve those things at a classroom birthday and 10 minutes after eating, the kids all say, "Uh....I have to go to the bathroom!" Oops that icing must run through fast!

September 26, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterAndrea Frederick

Can I say I am just impressed w/ both starry night cakes? I actually like the CCC version just a little better, because I think it expresses the spirit of the painting better.

September 26, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterMarita

@ The Lili Effect -- I think the second layer is supposed to be "Haystacks in Provence" (or one like that).

And cupcake cakes are just awful. The frosting, the lumpy, the missing the whole point of a cupcake. I'll pass than you very much.

September 26, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterAshley

That was a watermelon? Never would have guessed, I thought it was a woman's chest with pimples!

September 26, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

Oh my god. That Starry Night one is beautiful. Something about that painting just gets to me x.x

I'm sorry you got some crap for speaking the truth. Happens to me all the time. The only CCC I liked was the duck. Not the one WITH the duck. Just the duck.

Anyway, always a pleasing entry. I'm so glad I found this blog. It makes me smile everyday.

September 26, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterJenni

I agree with you 100%, including the Starry Night....sorry folks, it's not cutting it for me!

And truthfully - icing separate cupcakes takes so much more creativity and skill (to get any semblance of design, etc) that I think the CCC as a whole smeared frosted entity is just lazy and sad...

And truthfully, it sets off the frosting to cake ratio....

September 26, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterDea

Wow...the Starry Night ccc is way better than the tiered cake version.

I'm amazed!

September 26, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

What I don't understand is why anyone chooses to have a CCC instead of choosing either a plain old cake or plain old cupcakes. People keep saying that a CCC allows for dividing the "cake" into pieces more easily and the pieces can be eaten by hand and without utensils or plates, but since the very same thing can be had by serving individual cupcakes (and even more easily, since they can be made with less oozing frosting)why would you not just serve cupcakes? Heck, serving cupcakes would allow you to cater for individual tastes by having a variety of flavours (white cake, chocolate cake, yellow cake, etc.) as well as allowing for variety in the decorating options on each little cupcake. The kids who like bunnies could have ones with bunnies, the kids who like dogs could have cupcakes with dogs, and so on. Easier, less messy, more attractive, more choices... why would a CCC be a better option than cupcakes, again? Please, help me "get" this fad. I'm just lost. My own kid always loved cupcakes, and never would have felt that having cupcakes at his party was a disappointment, especially since the cupcakes were always so cute and were a hit with his pals. Surely he's not so different from other kids?

September 26, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

Agree w/writtenwyrdd about the Starry Night CCC.

But in general, I hate CCC, which is blasphemous b/c I LOVE icing. But that's just asking for sugar to be ground into the carpet.

September 26, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterAmy

I agree with everyone who said the Van Gogh CCC is better than the real cake. But it would have been better still as a regular sheet cake.

I also think the little animals are cute, but I don't think they count as CCC's. They are individually frosted, after all. I would probably have them on top of a normal cake though. And they have too much frosting. But cute.

September 26, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

you missed a third point in what the emailed pictures could demonstrate:

3) the average person can't seem to judge what makes a good cake.

seriously, those cupcake cakes are ugly - even the supposed 'good' ones. really. the amount of frosting on them is disgusting.

September 26, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterThe Hyperlexian Aspie

I agree that the starry night cake is better than the cupcakes. Cupcakes are fine as long as they are separate. If you are going to put them together, than just get a cake. If you want cupcakes, then leave them separate.

I agree. No arguments here!!

September 26, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterManders

Besides the main issue of working with a scalloped edge, which hardly ever goes well, I worry about what happens when someone pulls a cupcake off the cupcake cake. I'm sure the glopped-on icing stretches along with it and probably runs down the edges of what's left of the cupcake colony.

Perhaps people get cupcake cakes to avoid using knives to cut cake with, or because they're sure someone will throw a fit about not getting a big enough/small enough/corner piece?

September 26, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterErika

I'm still not convinced...I didn't know CCC existed, I don't like them. They just look like a huge mess to me. I always thought the purpose of a cupcake was so the wee one's wouldn't make such a mess. Was I wrong?

September 26, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterTiona

I love the Starry Night ones!!

I saw the Pumpkin one in Family Fun and totally thought of you!! haha

September 26, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterReg

Ok, on the one with the lions and the bear that look like something the bear did in the is that neater?! - the cupcakes and the board they are sitting on are all covered in frosting

and yeah, since when do ducks have 4 feet

If I ever try to do anything like this, just shoot me

September 26, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterphillygirl64

This is the only kind of cupcake cake that should ever be made...

September 26, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterTisha_

I am so making my sister a Starry Night cake now!

The watermelon cupcake cake took me a second; at first I thought it was a womb.

The iPhone cupcakes are cute!

September 26, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

Colette does an awesome Starry Nights cake:

The cupcake cake one is in the Hello Cupcake book- such a fun book (and from memory the only cupcake cake in the book ;-) )

September 26, 2008 | Unregistered Commenteramy

I also have to say that I like the starry night CCC better - I think it's the frame tray that does it for me.

September 26, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterRin

I was enjoying reading the comments until someone wrote FOILage instead of FOLIage.
*double eye twitch* One for the cakes and one for the all-too-common misspelled (and often mispronounced as well) word.

September 26, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

I do, in fact, have a problem with cupcakes. that's why I penned this back in April:" REL="nofollow">It's Time to Shut Up About Cupcakes

September 26, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterJon

I've never attemped to make a cupcake cake because I hate the idea of having to stick the paper cups down on the board with icing. Of course I'm not even sure if this is how everyone does it, but did see one my brother-in-law brought to his son's class for Christmas and it was a pure mess!
But that Van Gogh Cake!!!! That thing is awesome! Who did that?

September 26, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterRita

You know, it’s not like the decorators had any choice when it came to these cupcake cakes, so I think it’s pretty mean of you to pick on them for just doing their job. How would you like it if people were constantly complaining to you about what YOU do for a living?

Love the blog, btw.

September 26, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterJae

Am I missing something? What Munch cake is here? Did I miss a silent scream or something?

September 26, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterholly

Thanks to those who pointed put that it's supposed to be a watermelon... All i could see was bum crack and g-string!

September 26, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterBunsen

I used to think they were cute but now I'm starting to think they are hideous. Although I would eat them.

September 26, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterthenewsarahsundae

I have to say I think the C3 Starry Night beats the 3D interpretation.

September 26, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterAlexandra Erin

I agree that all cupcake cakes are bad, but I don't think the Starry Night real cake is very good, either. Too much globby, colored frosting and it looks like it has three fried eggs on top. I would have expected to see that on here as a wreck.

September 26, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterAlli

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