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)

I think CCCs do have their place in the world, and that's for little kids. As a preschool teacher, cupcakes are much easier to deal with than a whole cake, and if a child wants a particular theme, frosting them as a whole makes it easier. You're going to destroy the picture when serving whether it's a CCC or regular cake. As for the argument of too much frosting - all cupcakes have too much frosting, and most cakes (store-bought ones at least) use globs of frosting for decoration (particularly frosting balloons, yuck!), which is a mess to serve. I do agree, however, that for anything other than a child's party (or possibly a themed picnic), CCCs are probably inappropriate.

September 26, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterATK

i personally think it's horrible that you have to defend your views on your own blog. if people are so butthurt that you don't like cupcake cakes they should just move right on along. i'm sure there's plenty of cupcake cake-love blogs out there.

that being said, the last two photos are downright amazing. the cupcake cake version is so CLASSY because it has the frame and the tiered counterpart is just a beautiful (delicious!) reproduction. i love seeing great cakes right along side the shoddy ones.

September 26, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterstephanie s.

Hmmm, I dunno...I'm on the fence about cupcake cakes. I dont love 'em, but I dont NOT love 'em either.

September 26, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterSarah

Cupcake cakes BAD!!! BAD BAD BAD!!!!

Thanks Jen, this post was hilarious!


September 26, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterevil cake lady

That last cake is just too awesome for words! I wholeheartedly agree, nothing beats the cake!

September 26, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterEmBee

Wow yeah I have to agree the CCC are a little odd. I haven't seen one in a store that looked good or if it looked ok was easy to eat and not get icing all over the place.

I love the Starry Night Cake! Who does that so when I win the Lotto I can have a Wheat Field with Crows Cake made :D LOL


September 26, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterZiggyeor

Ok - I have actually made a few CCCs. The benefit is saving decorating time. Imagine decorating individual cupcakes for a large number of people (like a couple of classes at your child's school...). Yes, it can be done, but in a time crunch, the CCC is faster.

The down side is that they usually do not look very good. I will admit that mine really were wrecks! I now try to cleave only unto cakes! HA!

September 26, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterSara

I'm approximately comment number 3,471, so my two cents may not count for much, but I completely agree with you. Cupcake "cakes" make no sense to me. Why wouldn't you just want a cake? Or cupcakes? Why would you want to pull a cupcake out of a messy glop of frosting and then try to eat it? Uck.

September 26, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterblissfullycaffeinated

The watermelon (?) looks like a shredded pair of panties. And also I agree with Emily. Yeah yeah, gutter schmutter.

September 26, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterX

The last two pics of starry night reminds me of Van Gogh overboard! But I pefer the CCC version.

Anyway, whoever suggested the 'easier way of decorating cupcakes' needs to be shot.

September 26, 2008 | Unregistered Commentern i l e e y

Another vote for the CCC Starry Nights. I also was boggled by the three-footed and four-footed ducks.
I would never have guessed that was supposed to be a watermelon; I just
assumed it was a party dress with a spotted veil over the decolletage.

September 26, 2008 | Unregistered Commenter=Tamar

Isn't it funny when you make a preference known that people feel this overwhelming urge to try to convince you otherwise?

For example, my husband and I don't like animated movies. As soon as I say that, people act like I've said I don't like butterflies or babies. They immediately start rattling through all the Pixar movies that I'm supposed to like.

I mean, I just don't like them.

By the way, I'm totally with you on the CCC. I think they're stupid.

September 26, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterthepipers

I'm the person who did the impressionist cake (yes I know van gogh is post-impressionist). I love cake wrecks, I've always worried about ending up on here, but this is very cool and I'm quite flattered.

I have to say the cupcake version is amazing. My cake tends to make a better impact from a little farther away and with a view of all 3 paintings (van gogh, monet, monet). I was lucky enough to do another monet sheet cake later on.

Also, there's nothing wrong with cupcakes, but the ccc just seems pointless.

September 26, 2008 | Unregistered Commentermegan
September 26, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterMel

OK...I am a cake decorator and in all honesty, when someone came in wanting a CCC, I tried, often in vain, to talk them out of it! You *think* this is a less messy alternative...NO!
1. There are globs of icing on the bottoms to hold them in place so that they can be decorated, and 2. there is even more globs of icing in between them coz there is like a 1/4 inch GAP around the tops of the cupcakes, and it takes a MEGA-TON of icing to fill in those gaps for the supposed smooth surface! Twice as much as a "normal" sheet cake! *QUOTE---- and you can easily mix flavors to allow for folks with chocolate allergies* DUH!!! A LOT of bakeries DO make half 'n half cakes if you ask!

September 26, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

HIDEOUS!! Cupcake "cakes" are an awful horrible creation! I love the Starry Night cake that, I will admit looks good in cupcakes, it looks GREAT in an actually cake.

September 26, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterBecky

well...cupcake cakes i suppose...are ok, if done properly. some of those looked pretty, and i guess it's handy in a way that allowes you to shate cake without having to cut it. but cakes are much better. i can have a big piece if i wanted. much better see?

September 27, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterMad Izatie

two words for cupcake "cakes" - CHEAP & CHEESY!!! (sorry, no exceptions to this rule)

September 27, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterClare

I'm actually kind of sick of this whole debate. Seriously, can you just go back to posting seriously ugly cakes? I'm *this* close to being a "former reader" of this blog. :/

September 27, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

CCC are generally abhorrent and should be shunned by all folk of good cake taste.

That said, I think the CCC version of Van Gogh's "Starry Night" captures the original better than the multi-layer real cake. Part of it is I am put off by the multi-dimensional take on an already disturbing painting.

As for the pink and green "watermelon" creation, get this. Several of us, me included, went immediately for the "light green nighty with freckled decollatage" description, with watermelon coming in second. My husband, who has a fairly sensitive "booby detector" didn't see anything but a watermelon. I think we have a new candidate for the "which do you see: two faces or a vase" test.

September 27, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterSioux B

I made that same Starry Night CCC from a book for a faculty birthday party at my mom's school. But the real cake version is absolutely beautiful :)

September 27, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterksaldria

Two things are very clear to me now:

1) While I agree that the cupcake cake version of Starry Night was superior to the tiered cake version, cupcake caked are never a good idea. Why ruin the awesome single-serving goodness of a cupcake by attaching it to a dozen of its brethren with a metric ass-ton of technicolor frosting??

2) I should never read this blog while eating, as I spit popcorn onto my keyboard no fewer than 3 times reading this entry and its accompanying comments.

September 27, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterAmberSwan

First of all, DAAANG! I want a Starry Night cake for my next birthday! =D

The Cupcake Palm Tree (note: NOT the cupcake cake with palm trees on it) is a fun, if somewhat unusual, baked goodie.

But I have to ask, has anyone else looked at that "pumpkin" cupcake cake and thought of Meatwad from "Aqua Teen Hunger Force"? Or am I the only one?

- AV

September 27, 2008 | Unregistered Commentersabertooth-kit

Well in regards to the article...I can see how kids would like pulling apart the cupcakes....BUT how can it possibly be EASIER to ice a bunch of rounded tops, that don't come together, into looking like one smooth surface?? I've never made one (probably never will, unless my daughter were to beg me one day...), but it just seems like the little spaces between the cupcakes would keep developing holes, and you'd have to shove more and more icing down in there...

September 27, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterAndrea

I agree with whomever it was that said (sorry, I cannot face scrolling back up to quote them directly) that the van Gogh CCC just looked better because it was 2D with a frame, and that having done the same icing job on a normal rectangular sponge would have been even more impressive.

Cup cake cakes are thankfully not a thing I have ever seen in the UK.

They are unnatural. They defy the laws of Gestalt, and we shall have to concoct new laws to explain them. The sum of the whole is lamer than the sum of the parts.

September 27, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterGlory von Hathor


It's Vincent van Gogh and not Edvard Munch. That is if you were referring to Starry Night.

I am not a fan of CCCs either. I'd much rather stick to actual cupcakes or cakes, but not a mash-up.

September 27, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterRobotika

That second one is a watermelon? Are you sure? It looks a CCC version of that Busty Boobs one to me!

Have to agree with others, the CCC starry night is better than the real cake.

CCC are horrible and should not be permitted as anyones cake if they're older than 5.

September 27, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterKaish

OK OK I concede there is no such thing as a good CCC

September 27, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterPoetry Sue

OMG this Van Gogh cake is so fugly it should have deserved its own post!
And as much as I hate cupcake cakes I have to say its CCC version is way better!

September 27, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterIsa

I agree with you. Let a cupcake be a cupcake. Most people slop off the excess icing anyway!

September 27, 2008 | Unregistered Commentercara

it looks like 3 fried eggs on top of that Starry Night cake!!!

September 27, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

Believe it or not, I strongly prefer the cupcake version of Starry Night to the cake version. The cake one just looks... sloppy, almost. And I'm generally not a cupcake cake fan.

September 27, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterSilvertongue

Oh, that pink and green CCC wasn't cleavage??? Honestly, I couldn't figure what else it might be...

September 27, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

Can't we just dislike cupcakes in general? Too much edge, and almost always dry.

I agree, the football is bad and the penis/poo palm tree is terrible.

And I agree that the CCC version of Starry Night is better. But I still don't want to eat cupcakes over cake any day.

September 27, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterkentucky

On the first animal-lumps cupcake cake at least one of the ducklings has 3 feet. What the hell.

September 27, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterRonald MacKinnon

The starry night ccc is very pretty. But, it would still have been better as a regular sheet cake- you know there has to be a full inch of frosting on there to create a smooth surface.

What really boggles the mind, though, is the people who insist a ccc is "less mess"- less mess than WHAT? It can't possibly be less mess than regular cupcakes, what with all that extra frosting glopping around, and it certainly isn't less mess than a regular sheet cake cut into neat little squares. Granted, I've never seen a ccc in real life, but I can't imagine any way to pull it apart that wouldn't leave big globs of frosting everywhere.

September 27, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterwhirlygirly

Hmmm... I would say that maybe those ducks are really platypuses, but neither ducks nor platypuses have pointy chicken beaks. So I'm guessing that maybe they're really those four-footed mutant chickens you hear about in the news sometimes.

September 27, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterjanet

This is the first time I have felt compelled to comment....Although I totally agree about cupcake cakes (though I had never encountered one or heard of them till reading cakewrecks) I have to disagree on one. That Starry Night ccc is awesome. I think it's better than the cake one.

Kim E.

September 27, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

I'm with you on banning the CCC's--it doesn't make sense to take a neat individual cupcake and turn it into a serving nightmare.

Some of the better ones were interesting to look at, but would still be better on a sheet cake.

I like the look of the CCC Van Gogh--but again, say it with me...SHEET CAKE! It would have been even cooler to have the sheet cake in a frame--no scalloped edge = realism. (wait--can you combine realism and impressionism--artists?) ;)

And WHAT is with the individual animals on the cake board?! Look at all that wasted yummy icing on the board--you want us to scrape that stuff off and eat it? If there was--again--a SHEET CAKE under it, it would then be considered happily edible--and feed more than 3 people.

I'm stickin' with you, Jen--anything a CCC can do a REAL cake can do better!

September 27, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterour3qtgirlz

Cupcake cakes are a work-around for the "no weapons" rules at school. No knives allowed to cut a sheet cake; no forks allowed to eat it.

Not to worry, many schools have banned cupcakes to battle the obesity crisis. [sigh]

September 27, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterLulubelle B

Following a party last summer my sister sent home the leftover ccc with me, thinking my 4 teens would devour it...

... A week later the raccoons who come begging for food enjoyed the cupcakes, but even they left frosting in the grass. If it's too much frosting for a scavenger animal, it's too much for a human. These were truly the most flavorless, topheavy cupcakes possible.

September 27, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

I nearly died with all those animals that look like they're sliding on the cake. What is that all about?

The starry night cake was AMAZING. Can I have that for my wedding, please? Screw all that fancy edible pearls crap. I want edible ART.

September 27, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterawriterswindow

I guess Naomi Henderson's cupcakes don't count either...but I don't care, because they're cute.

September 27, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterTB Tabby

I am a cake deocorator and I HATE CCC's!! I refuse to make them. It's either cake OR cupcakes people!! My boss asks me all the time if we are going to start making them, and I always tell him N-O! I don't care what Walmart does, we don't have to follow suit. (They are our biggest competitor in town)
Love your blog!!

September 27, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterScraplin

i love those little cupcakes with the ipods and notepads and stuff!!!! there so cute!

September 27, 2008 | Unregistered Commenternatalie

Cakedom (the good, the bad, and the bizarre) + your commentary = PURE HILARITY.

As a former preschool teacher, I've never found CCCs easier to serve or less messy to consume. I don't exactly hate them, but they'd never be my first choice.

I gotta admit: I had to laugh at the idea of someone taking your comments about CCCs personally when you're only poking fun--in a cheeky, though good-humored way--at various strange and silly cake creations. I have a few cake-decorating friends who've created some "monstrosities" during their careers and are the first to giggle about them. They work diligently to improve their art and craft, but they're great sports as well. I love that.

Keep on keepin' on!

September 27, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterJennifer

When I first saw the post about cupcake cakes, I thought you were talking about those damn cake pans that make a large sized "cupcake"... what's the point of that? "It's like a small cake, but it's big!" So serve a big cake, genius.

These stuck-together horrors are even worse.

September 27, 2008 | Unregistered Commentermrs. q.

I had never personally seen a cupcake cake -- or even looked for one -- until reading this blog.

Today, I saw one in the bakery section of a local store. It was designed as a tic-tac-toe board, and while the icing wasn't overwhelming, it was . . . well, it was four cupcakes wide and three down. This spread the grid out in a rather awkward way. I wish I'd had a camera.

September 27, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterSnow

Maybe it's because I'm an English teacher, but it REALLY bothers me that hardly any cakes are punctuated correctly. If we are holding them to correct spelling standards, they should be held to correct punctuation standards as well. It should be "Happy birthday, Jake." It should not be "Happy birthday Jake." Yes, a comma is always used to separate a name in a phrase or sentence.

September 27, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterDishClothGal

Lol, is it just me, or does someone else prefer the cupcake Starry Night to the cake one?

They are both amazing, but the cup cake one is just better to me.

September 27, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterFhtrkstr101

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