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

Bride/Baker Communication 101

Most brides think that bringing in a photo of their dream wedding cake will help clarify for their bakers what it is that they want and expect on their big day.

[shaking head] Those sweet, silly girls.

In reality, these photos are more like "guidelines." A springboard, if you will, from which the baker may or may not spring - and then into heretofore unheard-of realms of artistic "expression."

Perhaps some examples will help.

Bride Laurie S. asked for this cake, only in ivory and with blue flowers instead of white:

(Photo & cake by Martha Stewart)
Instead, she got this:

"It's boxy, and it's blue and white. What more do you want?"

Kirstie also wanted a cascading floral design, like this:

Which her baker recreated pretty well, except for one key detail:

S/he used real flowers instead of sugar ones.

Once the petals shriveled, Kirstie's cake design became less "cascading flowers" and more "attacking butterflies." Which isn't horrible, I suppose, but it is kind of hard to resist the urge to flap your arms and shoo them off.

(Note: The silver thing is their topper, which the baker laid flat instead of standing up. Or maybe the butterflies just knocked it over. :D)

Sharon L. wanted this gorgeous topsy-turvy design:

(Made by Lisa's Creative Cakes - and I totally want one.)

...only in 3 tiers and using her colors of fuchsia, orange, and lime.

Her baker's interpretation?

Remember that springboard I mentioned? Well, some are a LOT springier than others.

And finally, this bride wanted her seashell-themed cake to rise to new heights:

Instead, she got one that was apparently dropped from great heights:

Think it was served with a pancake dinner?


- Related Wreckage: Love is in the Air...

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Reader Comments (165)

These make me SO glad we had an awesome baker and a cake that would take more effort to screw up than get right (White buttercream with black buttercream polka dots - even if it was all fondant [which I HATE] it still would have been sort of what I asked for).
Oy! Sometimes these cakes make my head hurt and my head cock to an odd angle to try to figure out where THAT came from vs. the picture provided of what the customer REALLY wanted!

October 21, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterGrumpyBear in Blue

Put these bakers with a high percentage of hairstylists: Can't follow directions, even with an explicit photograph.

This is why I decorate my own cakes and cut my own hair. Tired of paying people to screw up!

October 21, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterMiranda

How sad is it that (until the last one) I thought, "Well, it's not *that* bad?" I mean, we've seen some TERRIBLE wedding cakes, which makes these almost... passable.

October 21, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterHeather

That last one is truly awful. It definitely left me feeling a bit...deflated. :0

October 21, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterCorningNY

At least the dead butterflies added some crunch to the cake. Shriveled rose petals are edible, right?

October 21, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterHalf Assed Kitchen

1 - Is that from a mooninite wedding?

3 - It's like the plus-sized model of the original cake.

October 21, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterTaylor@MyOlderBrothers

Holy crap! Really? That last one was atrocious!

October 21, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterSuzie

The top layer on that last cake looks like it's staring at us - kind of like the GEICO stack of cash with the googly eyes. Either that or it's a couple of olives stuck on the side (mmmm, olives and butter cream frosting!)

October 21, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

On average, do people get refunds for these sorts of abominations? Or is this fairly standard practice--mutilating cake designs--and couples expect and accept it when it happens? I realize that it may vary from couple to couple, of course, but what is the overall trend, if there is one?


October 21, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

Man, if I saw those at my wedding, that's when my inner bridzilla would take over

October 21, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterHorribleLicensePlates

hee hee... The flat cake has eyes!!

October 21, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterFluffy Cow

I don't think these are examples of misunderstandings. I just think the cake-makers lacked the skill (and maybe some pieces of equipment and/or materials?) to make the cakes they undertook. They remind me of the first decorated cake I made, with no experience behind me. I knew how I wanted it to look, but making it was another thing.

October 21, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterGary

I feel so blessed these 20+ years later for having found a baker that did an awesome job. The cake looked just like the picture. Unfortunately, she retired and has gone out of business...

October 21, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterHyacinth

That just makes me sad for those brides. Something always will and DOES go wrong at a wedding, but it shouldn't be the cake! I'm so glad my cake turned out even better than what I could have imagined.

October 21, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterNatasha Wheatley

Wow, that last one is really sad. I feel really sorry for the bride and groom. The others are probably disappointing, but at least the bakers put in some effort. Well, maybe not the rose petal/attacking butterflies one!

October 21, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterKarenlibrarian

I had a similar experience with my wedding cake. I designed my own celtic knot for the invites and everything and wanted it on my cake too. We ordered a 3 tier hexagonal cake with the design on every second side of the cakes, all constructed from fondant. Really not hard, it was a simple knot and I could decorate the whole thing in an hour easy. We paid a fair chunk of money because it was a custom design, even more than they charged for their most intricate design which involved a ton of royal icing lace work in a large structure atop the cake.

Instead they used a small tip (I'd guess a tip 3, maybe 4 at the outside) and basically scribbled the design on each side of the cake in royal icing. It wasn't even separated like knot work should be, just doodled on top. You couldn't even see it unless you were right up next to it. Not wrecky enough to be submitted here but enough to make me wish I'd just gone with one of their book designs.

October 21, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterrhonda

It looks like a lot of these bakers have never heard of fondant. There are just some things you can't do with butter cream.

Of course, it also looks like the customers didn't bother to ask for a portfolio or samples of past work to see if they were up to the task. It's like getting a tattoo. You wouldn't go just anywhere to get The Last Supper tattooed on your back. If the artist messes it up, you can't go back. Likewise with the wedding cake. So make sure you actually got a good baker.

October 21, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAndy

That last one is really, um, something!

October 21, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAmy's Stocking Stuffers

that last've GOT to be kidding!!

October 21, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterMarianne

I feel so sorry for all those brides. I know that they were all greatly disappointed with their cakes... but the last cake...ummm wow! I just don't understand how they could get from box layers to sheetcake layers???

On the topsy turvey cake...I think she forgot to change cake pan sizes!

and the others my 11y/o could produce. She's had one cake decorating class. (you've seen her work in Denver)

I think it's so important for brides to check out the bakery's portfolio (and make sure the pictures are really the bakery's products!)

October 21, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterRenee

Those made me want to cry. and not have cake at my wedding. Pie can't be screwed up, right??

October 21, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterLaura Wynn

I can't imagine any bride just "accepting" something so far off the mark. My mom worked in a bakery for years and the brides were usually pretty evil about getting EXACTLY what they wanted. One swore that the bakery had RUINED HER WEDDING by putting pale green stems on the rosebuds on the mints, instead of the dark green she had ordered.

October 21, 2009 | Unregistered Commentertogetherforgood

so...did the last one and the topsy-turvy attempt not know that their baker was apparently incapable of producing a reasonable topsy-turvy and tiered cake???

There is nothing that replaces seeing a LARGE body of your baker's work. Seeing all Jen's examples of missed wedding marks, I was scared even when we'd found a baker with copius examples of absolutely perfect cakes.

There is a popular baker in my town who does decent cakes, but her topsy-turvies were iffy...I kept right on looking and others should too!

also get a sketch. For heaven's sake, make sure, absolutely certain that you're on the same page with your baker!

October 21, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterErin

I'm very very very afraid to ever get married... If I do take the plunge I may just opt for a chocolate fountain because seriously I don't know any great decorators in the area and I've seen how horrible birthday cake that I've order have come out... SCARY that a bad cake would ruin what is the most perfect day!

October 21, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterTonya Lynn

As a semi-professional baker, and the cake lady at my church who does all the wedding cakes for the members, I would totally crap on myself if I had done any of those things to a cake! I would be in tears, and would immediately give back all money, and get out of the business.

October 21, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterannacakes79

What are the little pearls made out of on that topsy-turvy masterpiece? All of the originals were so beautiful.... but not all artists are creative in the same ways LOL! I think even when they try to keep it simple, it's still open to some enterpretation. Remind me to get a big plain cake for the guests and one small pretty cake for the photographs!

October 21, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterHeidi A

I have to agree with everyone who is pointing out that brides who don't ask for an extensive baker portfolio are asking for disaster.

Bringing in a picture of someone else's work and asking them to copy it just won't do--you never know what you'll end up with!

October 21, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterSarah

LOL wow I'm happy that the lady who did my cake did great and i gave her nothing to go on... these poor brides!!

October 21, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

Those poor, poor brides! I only hope that removed from the stress of the wedding, they can find the humor in it all, and that they were refunded their money.

October 21, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterlisadh

I am curious this really the fault of the decorator or the bride? Sure, a decorator shouldn't take a job they know they can't handle, but a bride should also ask for references and proof of artistic ability. Is this a case of hiring cheap labor and expecting to get Michelangelo? Those cakes in the magazines are designed and decorated by artists whose mediums happen to be cake and they get paid a pretty penny to create that art! I wouldn't expect my local mom and pop bakery to be able to reproduce those masterpieces unless they had provided me with portfolio proof that they were equally talented.

October 21, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterCMW

As much as I can't stand how some Bridezilla's get so worked up over nothing, to the point where the very idea of weddings makes me wish they were never invented, I can't help but feel really bad for the brides here! Whenever you post these wedding cake disasters, I can't help but wonder what actually ended up happening. Especailly some of them, where the original concept is an obviously expensive hard to make cake, and the finished product looks like something a supermarket baker would scoff at, do they at least get a refund? I just don't understand why a baker would want to put their name on some of this crap. Like the first two, okay, more or less just a misunderstanding, and the third its simply a matter of the baker not fully getting the concept (and from certain sides I'm sure it looked fine) but the final one is just a sheet cake with some tiers plopped on, why would anyone want to think they baked that?

October 21, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

I feel so sad for those brides! I guess I got lucky. I never met face to face with my cake baker and my cake was exactly what I asked for!

October 21, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterThe Stringham 4

The one with real petals - did they have to take all of those off before cutting it???

And the flat one - makes me wonder if the baker/cake decorator has ever seen a wedding cake. They totally missed the layer concept that most wedding cakes have.

October 21, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterCyndi

A friend of mine bakes and decorates event cakes; part of the contract she gives the brides-to-be includes a sketch of the cake (and what she makes is always exactly what she sketches). Through her I've seen some horrific jobs done by other bakers... and I've seen brides get exactly what they wanted and be unhappy with it anyhow. It's such a difficult and often subjective thing.

But with a photo of what's wanted, presumably with swatches of colours, there's little room to claim that pastels might equal orange/fuschia/lime, or that sheet cakes might equal boxes. Many flower petals are edible, yes, but they don't look good after a surprisingly short time if they're not candied first. Can bakers not admit when they don't know how to do something, or don't have the time/equipment? That's a rhetorical question, by the way.

It hurts me. HURTS ME.

October 21, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterOphelia

Wait, she put REAL flowers touching the cake? And people ATE it?

October 21, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterTrevor

My husband and I didn't really care about our wedding cake . . . so much so that we had a grocery store make it for us. Instead of a topper, we used real flowers and it turned out great!

I literally scrolled down as slowly as I could so as to drag out the anticipation of how "bad" these could be. The first two . . . well, I didn't think they were *that* bad. They weren't great, but they weren't atrocious either. (Got to admit, the cascading flowers original looked like it used silk flowers rather than sugar.)

BUT, that topsy-turvy cake wasn't topsy-turvy at all! It was just nasty looking! Could the baker have thought that it looked anything like what the customer wanted?

And that poor seashell cake . . . it looked like it had been washed ashore. It was just sad.

October 21, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterWriteCards

My jaw literally dropped on some of these.

I was a very low-maintenance bride, but I would have sobbed if my wedding cake had turned out like these disasters! Good grief!

October 21, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterkarmapearl

I was apparently a very easy to please young bride. All I wanted was a cake, that had three layers and tasted good. I knew my aunt bakes and decorates pretty cakes, and I just told her make it with something pretty like doves, not tacky like little naked "cherub" things (no offense to anyone who likes those, they weren't what I had in mind). I had a lovely cake, and no nasty surprises. Of course, it helped to have a close relative doing the cake, because they *truly* want you to love it, and you truly want to be able to tell them "It looks amazing!"

October 21, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

the last two are especially wrecky.

WTH on that last one?! can't believe a bride would accept a piece of garbage as that.

really really lovin' that topsy turvy (unwrecked) cake! how cool is that?!

October 21, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterTerry Lee

Ok, but let's ask the delicate question: were the brides' fathers, uh, you know... cheap? Trying to save money by having their "professional" baker friends attempt it on the side? I mean, you see a cake like the ones in the pictures with a huge price tag, you take a pic to the what, grocery store? WalMart? BJ's Wholesale? Cost Plus? And expect to get something comparable for a quarter of the price?


I think there's more to the story, and at least part of that "more" is CHEAP!

October 21, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterRufus Opus

First of all, except for the last one, these aren't so bad. I blame the brides in these cases. Bringing in a magazine picture of what you want (designed by MARTHA STEWART and her ARMY of food stylists, no less!) is one thing, but if all bakers were Martha Stewart, they'd not need to have little bakeries.

If you want a nice wedding cake, pick something from the BAKER'S portfolio. Then you know they can do it. Otherwise you're just asking for trouble.

October 21, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

This is why you go the extra mile to get an expensive cake, and you check the work of the baker beforehand.

Not much sympathy, but I wasn't a sympathetic person to begin with.

October 21, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterSpicy

Ouch, poor brides (and bridegrooms, although most men seem happy if the cake is edible)!

Guess I'll let my sister prepare the cake if ever I should marry... with her I *know* what I'm getting - exceptional decorating skills and a very dark kind of humor... (^v^)

- Diandra -

October 21, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterDiandra

I am so sad for these couples! Shame on these bakers. Shame, shame, shame!

wv: hasun - You like-a deese cake? I hasun ova here you you like even betta, ya.

October 21, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterNatalie

WFT!!!!!! Seriously ppl get it right, this is someones special day, witht the possibility of 100's of ppl seeing your work as a seriously sent those out?! I made my own cake, it wasn't as lavish as those were supposed to be but it was pretty anyway. Red velvet cake with real homemade whipped cream frosting.mmmm, and it looked like it was draped in satin

October 21, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

yikes... that orange and pink one looks like it is being held on a white fluffy water bed

October 21, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterLittle Lovables

Having just learned to make cake in general and wedding cake in particular this year, the missed marks NEVER get old! Mostly because there's hope for my slowly developing skills. Thanks!

Also, I checked out the Framingham, MA, B&N site, and there you are, Jen!

So there I will be too! Thanks again for putting Boston(ish) on your tour!

October 21, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterdessertschick

Trevor, cakes with real flowers are very edible. Or at least nobody died and everyone loved my cousin's wedding cake in 2000.


October 21, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterKaren

Go, Pirates of the Caribbean! (At least, the first movie.)

October 21, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterSandi

I know my wedding cake turned out kind of differently from the picture because I was adamant that no fondant touch my cake. That might be the problem for these brides too. Sure mine didn't look like the picture, but at least it was good! Which is far more than I can say for all of my friends that have had gross tasting fondant cakes.

October 21, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAlly

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