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

Sunday Sweets: Gingerbread!

I usually try to stick to actual cakes on Sunday Sweets, but I've had so many requests for gingerbread houses that I decided to make an exception this week. Besides, they are covered with icing, right? So we'll call that close enough.

Still, to kick things off let's start with a cake that only looks like gingerbread:

And now, on to the houses!

The Nittany Lion Inn in Penn State. Watch Heather Luse of the PSU bakery making the house here.
(Photo by Jerilyn Brom & found here.)

(Made by Chaz & found here)

(A Better Homes and Gardens photo found here)

How about a gingerbread trolley car streetcar?

(Sent in by Courtney and found in the lobby of Harrah's Hotel in New Orleans)

And now time for some geeky goodness. (You knew I couldn't resist, right?)

(Made by AnnaMaria & found here)

There are a few gingerbread Tardises out there (Q: what IS the proper plural of Tardis?), but this one gets extra points for having K-9 peeking out the door. Speaking of which, anyone remember the gingerbread K-9 I featured a while back?

Next a little Mario love:

(Made by Bade_MD & found here)

And lastly, here are my favorites from the '09 Cincinnati Houses of Hope Gingerbread House Contest. (Check out all the winners here.)


Today's charity, Heifer International, works to end hunger and poverty by providing livestock, training, and related services to communities worldwide.

And, good news: we found a way to make your dollar donations easier! We've created a page at Firstgiving, a secure payment-processing site specifically for charity fund raising. Here you'll only have to enter your information once for the rest of the two weeks, there are no minimums, and you can monitor how much we've raised each day. The fee is lower than most credit card processing charges, too, so more of your dollars will go to each charity.

Click here to donate your dollar, and to see how much we've raised so far!

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Reader Comments (116)

Shasta: Although comments are approved in batches and there is no answer to you posted *thus far*, I probably will not be the first.

WV is the word verification you see when you post a comment on this board (keeps electronic spammmers from being able to post ads). Mostly the verification is just odd letters but sometimes it will be an actual word or (more fun) almost a word. Or a combination of words slurred together. Earlier I had 'sawla'. So you use it in a sentence, 'I sawla (saw a) heifer'.

Really, just a play on words or playing with words. It's fun to look at the wv and try to make a 'normal' word or two out of it.

wv: tomoni. We want all tomoni (the money) we can get to buy heifers.

December 13, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterholly

man, i love that gingerbread tardis.... totally need to make one for myself!

December 13, 2009 | Unregistered Commentermiss k

Are gingerbread houses some sort of American thing? I've heard the story of Hansel and Gretel, but never actually encountered anyone making miniature structures from it. Are they seasonal? Seems like kind of a weird thing to do, but nice weird.

December 13, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterferretbottom

I'm thanking Cake Wrecks for giving me so much pleasure by giving to some of my favorite charities. What a joy!

And, during the Clinton Administration I got to go through the White House at Christmastime. There was an amazing gingerbread White House that even included (ack, I've forgotten the cat's name).

December 13, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterCathleen

First I must say how much I love your site - I stumbled on it a few months back and spent an entire evening reading and laughing. My 8year old daughter and I tried to get to the Framingham, MA book signing, but it wasn't to be.

This charitable giving idea of yours is brilliant - what a great way to raise lots of $ for deserving charities - and also a great way for all of us to give a bit. Feel good all around! And thanks for setting up through First Giving to make it easier for all of us.

December 13, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterMaura

Hi Deromanticize,

I thought we would end up getting at least one vegetarian who hates this organization. Please go to the Heifer site and read their counters to your argument.

Please let me add though that the idea of meat consumption leading to everything bad is a very American/ Western thought. And it's mainly because most of us, including me, eat way too much of it.

You have the right to disagree with today's charity. But they really do help people in a pretty unique way. Sometimes it's hard to see from our relatively cushy world view that, most of the time, a vegan/vegetarian lifestyle won't work for the poorest of the poor.

I know. You think I'm wrong. We'll just have to agree to disagree.

My two cents.


December 13, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterjohn (the hubby of Jen)

Beautimous, awesome idea to do Firstgiving, and THANK YOU for choosing Heifer International--what a great organization! =D


December 13, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterrobyn

This is a strange but weirdly compelling site!

December 13, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJPT

From what I can tell, HI is a wonderful charity, and I'm so glad you picked it for today! IF eating meat lead to cancer (and I do not believe it does--check out the movie "Fathead" for more info), I would still rather people run the small risk of dying of cancer from eating meat than the near-certain death that they will die of starvation without HI's intervention.

Anyway,I would also like to suggest a charity near and dear to my heart (I'm a volunteer): Heavenly Angels in Need We provide memory boxes and burial gowns to families who have lost a baby to stillbirth or early neonatal death (often preemies who don't make it), completely free of charge. We work closely with Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep, the volunteer infant bereavement photography organization (which would be another great charity pick!), to keep the photographers supplied with appropriately-sized burial garments to dress those tiny little angels in.

God bless you, John and Jen, for using your blog to accomplish so much good!

December 13, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterSamantha


How could you have missed this!?!?!

I think my gratuitous use of punctuation marks speaks for itself. In the event that it doesn't: It's the BATTLE OF PELENNOR FIELDS in gingerbread for frosty's sake! For shame, nerd! For shaaaaammme (at not having seen it yet).

Merry Xmas,
Sarah B

December 13, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterSarahAB

I recognized the Nittany Lion Inn immediately! Woohoo~ Let's go State.

December 13, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterPiccadilly

thanks for the mario cake!!! my son is a mario FREAK and loves it!

and for what it's worth ... as a texas gal, i sure do love me a big ol' juicy steak!!

team heifer! :-)

{ramblin' off to take my zocor ...}

December 13, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterTerry Lee

So loving the gingerbread TARDIS!!!

December 13, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJenn

If you haven't picked out all the charities yet, I would encourage/recommend donating to HERA, which supports research for finding a cure for ovarian cancer. So many women are touched by this cancer, yet it gets way less publicity than breast cancer. Just a suggestion!

Happy holidays!

December 13, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAlison


Your point has been made. There is no use in discussing it further.


December 13, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterjohn (the hubby of Jen)

a Dr. Who gingerbread....SCORE!!!!

December 13, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterredgirl

Iced baked good more than qualifies gingerbread houses for me...the cake or cookie issue is an ongoing debate in Jasper Fforde's The Fourth Bear where the Nursery Crime officers are trying to recapture ginja assassin The Gingerbread Man. Major spoiler to tell how they decide. ;-) Jen's geekiness and outrageously awesome sense of humor (I think) would take to Fforde if she isn't already familiar with his work.

December 13, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterLissanee

I am sure you are already chock full of causes, but I wanted to bring attention to these ladies... who I think are doing something very unique and very important. I am crossing my fingers that they reach their goal this month!

December 13, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterMegan

As a suggestion, B-eat (formally known as the Eating Disorders Association (EDA))is a great Charity.

Its main goal is to ensure that the support and information which people need to help them recover from eating disorders is always available.

December 13, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterNikki


The charities so far as so definitely worthy. I do hope you will consider a small, local charity too. The thousands of dollars being raised for each one is truly wonderful and surely will be put to good use, but a few thousand dollars in the pocket of a small, local charity (like the one I nominated, Rockland Parent-Child Center - ) can more than marginally increase their operating budget and even mean the difference between, in this specific case, the loss of whole programs and the moving to a smaller location that won't meet their needs as well. Please consider a small, local charity!!!!

December 13, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterLisa svara

"... And, during the Clinton Administration I got to go through the White House at Christmastime. There was an amazing gingerbread White House that even included (ack, I've forgotten the cat's name)."

How could you forget Socks?!?
He was our First Cat for eight years.
As a matter of fact, Socks died just this year, at the very advanced (for a cat) age of 20.

RIP, Socks!,,20260477,00.html

December 13, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterGary

The gingerbread houses are beautiful!!

The Appalachia Service Project would be a great charity for you to donate to! ASP serves the people of Appalachia by rebuilding homes t omake them "warmer, safer, and drier." It is truly a wonderful organization!

Thanks for reminding us all what Christmas is about by donating to such awesome organizations!!


December 13, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

I just saw the White House gingerbread house. That cake is amazing! Definitely worth adding.

December 13, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterRose

I squealed out loud when I saw the Nittany Lion Inn! Thank you, Cake Wrecks, for reminding me of home.

December 13, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

If anyone wants to give toys to kids for Christmas the CP24/CHUM Christmas Wish is one of the few I know of that does a "last minute" toy distribution, they are giving out toys basically until Christmas eve. A social worker has let me know that this year they are sadly almost out of toys and its almost two weeks until Christmas.

I'm not sure how long distance donations work for this one, but there are RBC branches in the USA. Toys for Tots may also do last minute distributions but they don't exist in Canada and I happen to be in Canada so :P

However since we are dealing in "cash" donations I'd recommend a food bank over Christmas toys. Food banks get huge discounts when they buy in bulk not only because it is bulk but because they are food banks. So if you gave a food bank $20 they can usually get 2-3 times the amount of food that you could have bought for $20.

December 13, 2009 | Unregistered Commentermystic_eye_cda

I remembered making my first gingerbread house! It was literally a disaster! I hope I can make beautiful houses like those in the pictures.

December 13, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterwood furniture


Heifer international give DAIRY goats. I'm not a huge fan of dairy as a part of developed nations' diets; but in places where protein and fat are scarce it can meet a need. Particularly when mixed with blood (common in some cultures)

Goats can eat pretty much anything and turn out decent quality milk.

Harvesting milk and blood from a goat can provide the protein and fat needed for a child's brain development; and the iron needed for growth. It can prevent anemia in women of reproductive years, another problem in some areas. Goats milk is also relatively rich in vitamin A -vitamin A prevents measles deaths.

Goats milk can also be given to newborns as a breast-milk substitute though it isn't completely adequate. However in areas where water is unsafe goat's milk is far safer than formula. Giving liquid vitamins, and sugar to be added to goats milk can make a completely safe breast milk substitute.

While breastfeeding is almost always the best choice for HIV+ mother's who can't get appropriate retrovirals or whose babies have started eating other foods breastfeeding is not best if there is a safe alternative. A milk goat is a safe alternative.

December 13, 2009 | Unregistered Commentermystic_eye_cda


I wouldn't call them a strictly American thing as they are popular in Canada.

They are basically a Christmas thing, I have a feeling humidity in the summer would make the gingerbread and icing soft pretty fast.

As far as I am aware gingerbread houses originated in Germany; though various Scandinavian countries sometimes claim they started it. I believe they are still popular in most of Europe?

December 13, 2009 | Unregistered Commentermystic_eye_cda

As a vegetarian I can sympathize with deromanticize. The over abundance of livestock in the western world does lead to the destruction of land and environment. Not to mention the way the animals are treated is enough to turn anyone's stomach. However, we're not talking about factory farming here. Or even, for the most part about the slaughter of many animals. Most are meant to be used for milk. We're talking about a way to help people help themselves to eat and live and maybe even prosper. I donated my $ and feel that I've done good for the world, if only a little. However if it isn't something you can support, I understand that, perhaps give the amount you would have given today to some other cause that speaks to you.

Thank you, Jen and John for this opportunity to give this holiday season!

December 13, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterlizdini

I was so excited to see the Nittany Lion Inn as a gingerbread house! I'm a senior at Penn State, and that gingerbread house is an awesome replica!

If you're looking for really awesome charities to contribute too, the Penn State Dance MaraTHON is definitely up your alley. THON is the largest student-run philanthropy in the world, last year raising $7.4 million for children with pediatric cancer. It supports the Four Diamonds fund, which helps families by paying for any care a child may need that their insurance company will not cover. Check it out at !

December 13, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAmanda

@Lissannee - Jasper Fforde is brilliant. Also very nice in person. :-) Heartily second the recommendation for anyone (not just Jen ;-) ) who likes that special brand of British humour. At one point Mr. Toad goes drag racing with Miss Havisham on a beach in Wales (which is a socialist republic with a cheese smuggling problem). 'Nuff said?

Oh yeah, and the gingerbreads, whether cake or cookie, are pretty darned amazing too. ;-)

December 13, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterBookworm

I'm in agreement with the comment about ovarian cancer research-- everyone I've ever known who's gotten it is gone now. Not to downplay breast cancer research, because it can be a very aggressive and devastating disease, indeed. But the way ovarian cancer research is funded now is the way that breast cancer used to be-- and look how nicely that is working out: it doesn't have to mean a death sentence to everyone anymore! Just food for thought... and thank you for doing this charity drive-- I think it's awesome!

December 14, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

Dear Jen,

First I want to say thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for Cake Wrecks! You can't know the number of dreary mornings at work that have be saved by a quick perusal of the latest cake atrocities. I love your site, and it is a bright spot of fun that I look forward to enjoying a few times a week.

A few days ago, you invited us readers to make suggestions for charity donations. One which I always donate to when I have some extra cash is GEMS: Girls Educational & Mentoring Services, which works to end the sexual exploitation and domestic trafficking of children (the majority of which are girls). They have won numerous awards, including the Susan B. Anthony Award from N.O.W. in 2008. Their current campaign "Girls are Not for Sale" has the goal of educating at least one million Americans about ways they can support and empower victims of sex trafficking, as well as prevent it from happening. You can read more about them at

This is a great idea you guys have to donate each day, and to share the process with your readers. I had never heard of Charity Water or Heifer International, but I'm so glad to have them in my mind now for future donations!

Hope you are enjoying the holidays! Can't wait for more wrecks this week.

December 14, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterShaheen

I grew up on a farm, and my family raised beef cattle on a small-scale. While I am not a vegetarian, I do have great respect for animals and am fully aware of where they come from. And I agree with John that Americans eat way too much protein, particularly that which is animal-based. Because of that, it creates a lot of problems here.

Heifer is not providing animals in such a way that I would consider them part of a large-scale industry, and those who benefit from this charity are not raising animals in the way we are all too often horrified to see in this country. The animals in this case are going to provide much-needed protein sources to a family somewhere, and it will let them make a small income by selling milk or eggs or offspring, if they are lucky. That is a very respectful way of life, and it is certainly not an extravagant one. These people are not exactly spoiled for choice as to the source of their diet. They don't have grocery stores (let alone socially conscious ones), they don't have vitamins they can take to make up the nutrients they lack in their diets, and they are going to need these animals for their very survival. They treat their animals well, or I, for one, would not support what this organization is doing.

I think in a lot of ways, the majority of Americans have become so removed from the food chain-- that is, seeing firsthand where food comes from-- that we have trouble understanding people who live the way a great many people did here even just a few decades ago.

December 14, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

The only thing better than a Mario gingerbread house is a loaf of Luigi bread made with Nintendough.

December 14, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterMakya

Heather Luse is AMAZING and does all of our family cakes! She did our wedding cake, our anniversary cakes (a wedding top replica each year) and all our our birthday cakes! I'm so excited to see her on here! GO HEATHER!

December 14, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterMike, Amy, and Maximus

Tardae. Definitely Tardae.

December 14, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterViiriäinen

Your Doctor Who love makes me so happy.

December 14, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAshlee

That gingerbread TARDIS made my day.

... Maybe the plural would just be TARDIS?
Because seeing as it stands for Time And Relative Dimension In Space, the plural would be Time And Relative DimensionS In Space, meaning the change wouldn't be visible when you write it as TARDIS?

*sigh* I actually spent 10 minutes thinking about it.

I really need to get out more.

December 14, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterSilkydog

Hi, Jen and John!

I've been lurking CakeWrecks for a long, long time, but have only now emerged from the woodwork to comment. Anyway, I love the site, and I really love your charity weeks idea. I didn't see anyone else mention it yet, but can I throw the ASPCA into the ring for consideration? I've been supporting them for a long time, as well as fostering and adopting pets from them, and they really do wonderful work. Thanks for your consideration, and your wonderful site.

December 14, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterEm

Did anyone see the White House gingerbread house last night on TV with Oprah? 390 lbs. 140 lbs of gingerbread, 250 lbs of white chocolate....and Bo on the front steps. It was stunning!

December 14, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

I love your site!

A worthy cause that could use a donation.The Braddock Pot Shop Water Filter Project helps people in the developing world build filters for clean, bacteria-free water:

You can reach me if you have questions at or 412. 362. 5328

December 14, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

Women for Women is a great charity that helps women survivors of war, civil strife and other conflicts.

December 14, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterGenie

Project 24 is an organization my uncle is part of. He went to Africa as part of Heifer International and found this great need for orphanages. Project 24 builds the orphanages and LCMS World Relief supports the children living in them. Thanks!

December 14, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterBecky

I tried to put this up on twitter in reply to Wendi Aaron's crackhouse, but the link was too long. My coworkers and I had a gingerbread contest a couple of years ago. We decided to do an actual gingerbread crackhouse. We won.

Pics here:

December 14, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterSillyGrrl

Hi Jen and John,

I work for Heifer International, and I’d like to thank you for including us in your Charity Countdown. We really appreciate your support.

deromanticize, some of the issues you raise are addressed in the FAQs on our Web site here:

Thanks everybody for the great comments and discussion.


December 14, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterCasey

Hi there,

I saw someone posted about the Women's Bean Project as an alternative to Heifer International. While we have no problem with HI, I wanted to share more about the Bean Project. We are a nonprofit dedicated to helping women break the cycle of chronic unemployment and poverty by employing them in our gourmet food and jewelry businesses (while teaching life skills necessary to find and maintain a better-paying job).

You can learn more about us here:

December 14, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterDiana

Gingerbread Tardis!!!! NERD DROOL, COMMENCE!.

December 14, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterMissCritta

OH my goodness soooo cute. Especially the gingerbread TARDIS (and K9!).

December 14, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterMelissa (& Billy)

If I remember correctly (and that's a big if), Jen/John live (have lived?) in the Greater Orlando area, and have some ties to Disney.

So, then, how could you come up with a sunday sweets featuring Gingerbread sculpture and not include the 15 foot tall Gingerbread House (Red Roof Inn ... aka Disney's Grand Floridian Resort and Spa), or the life-size Gingerbread Carousel (Disney's Beach Club) ... or even the Gingerbread Men in the MK Christmas parade ( )?

All that being said, good post ... i'm hungry now.

December 14, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterSyracuseWolvrine

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