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)

The only way these cakes could have been any more wrecktacular would be if they had been made out of cupcakes. Wedding cupcakes of course.

October 21, 2009 | Unregistered Commentermudslicker

Jen, I swear, anytime you begin with "This is what they asked for.......and this is what they got" I am scared to scroll down. And that last cake? It REALLY takes the cake! (pun intended)

October 21, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterummpumpkinseed

Natasha Wheatley said...

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!

Well, it could be worse....I mean, I'd rather my cake look bad than, say, the groom not show....

October 21, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterummpumpkinseed

I used to have such a hard time understanding why good chefs charged so much for their wedding cakes. THIS is why...because they are hard to make and if you don't know what you are doing your client will wind up with something completely wrong for their event.

ALWAYS ask for referrals, folks. ALWAYS. If something is too good to be true (ie: the price you are being quoted) it probably IS too good to be true.

I think these are my favorite posts on this site. Love me some cake wrecks.

October 21, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterDC Becca

"...dropped from great heights..."


October 21, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterBuffy

The last one looks like a white bridal Army tank!LOL

October 21, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterCindi

I wonder if the baker on the last one watched that Sandra Lee clip where she's showing Mario Lopez how to make $40 worth of cake & cookies into "a cake that you'd pay $500 for"--does anyone else remember that? That cake resembles Ms. Lee's final project, only with shells instead of cookies and sprinkles.

October 21, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterElizabeth

As a bride-to-be, I'm officially terrified!

October 21, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAmanda

There is nothing worse than being the recipient of one of those dropped at great heights cakes.

NO really-there is NOTHING worse.

October 21, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterRebecca Welch

These are sad, but it's an avoidable problem. Brides need to do research on bakers and not expect every baker to do such high-level work. Likewise, bakers should be honest with brides if they know they lack the skill to match what the bride is wanting. It's a wedding cake - it's a big deal. So, take the time to research and thoroughly communicate!

October 21, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

The first one reminds me of three wedding card boxes stacked on top of each other, with flowers glued to them.

The third one looks awfully complicated to create, and if a baker isn't known for doing those types of designs and decorations or has never attempted a cake like that, he or she needs to be honest and upfront. Sure, a sale may be lost, but it's better than making something that isn't what the couple ordered.

I do agree with the others here that the couple should look at a baker's portfolio and not just blindly trust them to do a cake unless you already know they can fill the request. My brother and his fiancee, who are getting married this Saturday, went with a bakery in my town because they do good work and their cakes are always tasty. I have no doubt their cake will be great.

If I ever get married, I'm seriously considering just a sheet cake.

October 21, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterBree

Once again...SOOO glad we eloped!

October 21, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterFeisty Irish Wench

These are the best posts. Freakin' HILARIOUS.

October 21, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterHannah

I'm just a beginner but I think I could do a better job than most of these. How could a baker let something like these go out the door?

October 21, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

Topsy's greatest sin
is how the wonkiness looks

October 21, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterHaiku Joy

Seeing these photos gives me serious panic attacks about my own wedding cake. The only reason we are having the wedding is for the cake.

October 21, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

Seeing all these bad wedding cakes makes me kind of freaked out to have mine done by a "professional." I want a creamy/pale gold cake with cherry blossoms on it. I have a picture!...but apparently that doesn't make a difference 0_o.


October 21, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterNami

Clearly the brides were getting a steal. No reputable cake designer would make garbage such as these. Brides: you get what you pay for!! Correct me if any of these brides were charged $5+ per serving, which is what would have to be charged to recreate the works of art they asked for...

October 21, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterKrista

The blue and white one looks like wads of chewing gum stuck to a freshly painted (for the 573rd time) alley wall.

October 21, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterLina

It's BOGGLING to me that there are people who can be sooo off!! Little things here and there yes, but seriously????

October 21, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterSweet Success

Getting married in 3 days - trying hard not to think...

Even with my small, informal, laid-back plans, if my cake looked like any of those abominations, the baker would be wearing it.

I totally love the topsy-turvy cake (the good one that is), too. Hmm, maybe for an anniversary.


WV - bragge - what I hope to be able to do about my wedding cakke

October 21, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterCake_or_Death

which just serves to make me all the more thankful that we did not even bother with a wedding cake...

October 21, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterBerry Girl

Did they not look at pictures of the baker's work?

October 21, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterfeathergirl

AIEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!! I feel SO sorry for those brides! D:

October 21, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterHikaru

Just out of curiosity, how *does* one accomplish a topsy turvy cake? Is it just a matter of carving the cakes and cutting out divots for the next layer up, or are there specific pans?

But the sheet cake monstrosity...that could only have been done by either a friend, or she ordered a cake from the grocery store where 2.5" is as high as they get per layer. That thing...that's just horrible. I can't imagine that anyone paid for that.

October 21, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterSoapy Hollow

ah. it does my heart good to see some happily wedded wreckage.

October 21, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterrachelle

Rose petals, like many other flowers, are edible... but only as long as you buy the culinary grade. Or you get them from your home garden, where you know there's no pesticides on them. Florist flowers should NOT be eaten. I would be worried about this one.

October 21, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterCath

Every time there are wedding Wrecks, I feel the need to point out that you don't have to spend a fortune to get a decent wedding cake. My baker worked out of her house and got business mostly by word-of-mouth. $1.50 a serving, custom, beautiful, and tasted so good that my photographer demanded the baker's name for her own patronage.

October 21, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterCyndi

if a baker thinks at a cake is too ambitious for him/her to attempt she/he should not atempt it.
or are thes "the eye of the beholder" type things?

October 21, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterarchersangel

If they can't make the cake the bride wants, why don't they just say so? They're not going to get paid for the crappy cake they provide anyway so it's not like they are losing anything if they turn down the order.

October 21, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterjanet2buns

I hate to say it, but most especially in the case of the (first) topsy-turvy cake, this is the creation of a real artist and asking someone else to copy it, only in different colors, is a kind of theft. If the bride would have said, we like this topsy-turvy cake, can you create something similar to this? -- OK. But to ask for an outright copy, just changing the colors, is not OK. How soon before a lame-o, deliberate knock-off of one of Duff Goldman's cakes shows up with a sad bridal story?

October 22, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterPirate Queen

The wedding cakes are by far my favorite wrecks.... I would LOVE to hear the stories behind these cakes. What happend on the wedding day? Did these people dispute the cakes? did they pay them? I mean, seriously - its your wedding day! Did they announce to the guests - "uh, please avoid the cake?" Did they at least taste good? So many questions... so little answers.

October 22, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterHeidi Williams

I actually liked the "bad" topsy turvy cake better than the original. (I don't like the topsy turvy look very much - though I appreciate the skill involved. I also prefer lighter colors for something I'm going to eat vs. bright/neon colors.)
The first one - original and copy - was not something I'd personally want, but I didn't think it looked that bad either.

In any case, I can understand why the bride would be disappointed if she was expecting something more like the original.

Sometimes I've seen cases on Judge Judy where a person orders something custom made like a cake or dress and then sues if it comes out very badly. From what I remember, the outcome depends largely on how similar/dissimilar it is to what was asked for and whether or not the person claimed they could do it. What amazes me is that the business owner would feel comfortable going on tv with a case like that!

October 22, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

I don't understand why people are blaming the couple (or just the bride). Of course you should spend a bit of time before you spend a lot of money, but it seems that these orders were accompanied by photos of what was wanted. Looking at a portfolio isn't always the answer, as it could have been the work of someone who no longer works there. As for the allegations that these are cheaper bakers, there are plenty of reasons a baker can be cheaper, such as trying to establish themselves or being located in a less expensive part of town...and that's assuming that you even realize that what you are buying is 'cheap' when it is more money than you've ever spent for a cake in your life.

I would place the blame on the bakeries who said they could do something that they couldn't do. It is a misrepresentation of services, i.e. a lie. It would have been better for them to tell the truth and either discuss a different design or recommend another bakery.

October 22, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAnn

I can't help to question the brides (and grooms) and why they request such complicated cakes. Most bakers can't make cakes like that topsy turvy one! If the baker hasn't have one like that in her/his window display, then don't ask for it!!

Or it this just common cake wreck sense? :)

October 22, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterSusannie

Holy Mother of God that last one is horrible. I'm thinking the brides should do a little more research on their cake makers. Also you can't expect diamonds on a cubic zirconia budget.

October 22, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJoanna @ The Casa

This is horrifying! It makes you realize how important it is to interview the baker just as intensely as you would your photographer. It's so important to see a portfolio, taste samples and express very specific details so that the end result is perfectly clear. Thanks for sharing those photos!

October 22, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterBudget Wise Weddings

Am I the only one who finds the first two 'original' cakes not all that hot?

The only TRULY bad one though, is the shell cake. Looks like something ran it over.

October 22, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterTypo Tat

Dang. I guess the moral of the story here is that if you are not a. swimming in money, b. prepared to hire a private investigator to learn the baker's life story, or c. willing to take out a bank loan for a cake, you'd best learn how to bake and decorate it yourself!

...which is exactly what I did, never mind that I'm divorced now, lol. At least my cake was good tasting and pretty!

October 22, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterMiranda

These are too sad for words. It has to be awful to have your wedding cake look like these disasters!

October 22, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterPam Walter

For everyone freaking out that this will happen at their future weddings, there are simple ways to avoid this.

As several people stated, check the baker's previous work and skill level.

If you want a replica of a particularly difficult cake - especially one that you found in wedding magazine or on a highly skilled professional's website - be willing to pay top dollar for it. And this could mean thousands, not hundreds.

If you are not willing to pay the insanely steep prices to go to specialty bakers, be willing to compromise and pick one of the styles that the baker offers and is confident making, not some Martha Stewart cake you just HAVE to have.

And remember, you're getting married to the person you will (hopefully) be spending the rest of your life with. The cake should be the least of your worries. Stressing out about sugar and flour seems quite ridiculous when you should be enjoying the most important day with the one you love.

October 22, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

This is why, as a baker, I don't do wedding cakes. You expect a perfect Replica of a Martha Stewart cake, and anything less will be mocked. I just have to assume that everyone that's mocking an imperfect copy of Martha can make a perfect one themselves and therefore doesn't need me.

October 22, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterBakestuff

Ok Everyone, the first cake was mine. And Yes, I did research the baker. I looked at all the books of examples of her work. She helped me pick that one out from a magazine IN HER SHOP. And we paid a lot of money for that cake!

And for the people who said they wouldn't accept that. I didn't!!! But what do I do when I walk in the reception hall & there it is? I was SOOOOO mad & embarrassed. That wasn't what I ordered at all. So I waited to get the photos back & emailed the baker for a refund. She said she couldn't see the difference. ?!?! Seriously!!!???

October 22, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

okay, I thought my wedding cake turned out horribly. Thanks for the laughs, it wasn't THAT bad afterall

October 22, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterRachel

the wedding cake is cried when it saw itself and that happened.- R

October 22, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterranzkiedoodles

The ONLY comment I can make is WTF???

(WV is Munksom..." I'ma hafta munksom un up if the make me a cake like these!)

October 22, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterDouble N

lol. wow. all of those were bad interpretations. especially that last one. that made me laugh out loud.

October 23, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterShiseiten

I'm planning my wedding right now and have not coordinated the cake yet. These posts definitely make me nervous!! I think we'll have to go with something simple just to make sure we get something nice. I wish I could make it myself (I make weddings cakes), but I don't see how I could make my own cake and deal with the masses of relatives flying into town early.

October 23, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterSusan

If I were that last bride; I would have been irate!!! At least the other cakes looked decent even if they weren't the cakes the girls wanted.

October 23, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAshley

OMG! Those cakes are awful. I would have refused to pay. Especially for the last one.

October 23, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterViolet

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