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

A Lesson in Proper Penmanship

Today, class, we're going to review the art of cake inscriptions, as well as some problem-solving techniques that will come in handy while on the job. Now remember: the hand-written message is the crowning jewel of every cake, and should showcase not only your skill, but also how much you care.

Take this one, for example:

Lovely, Dana K., lovely. There's no question that Ben felt special upon seeing this. Oh, and class, see how she filled in that awkward blank area with a mass of ribbon? That's called "thinking on your feet." There's no sense in wasting edible decor when you can simply reuse gift wrap you have on hand.

Andy B., pop quiz: What do you do when you run out of icing mid-inscription? Do you make more, or simply switch colors and hope no ones notices?

Haha, that's correct! Remember, class: Many children are colorblind. And the ones that aren't are generally too buzzed on sugar and caffeine to notice petty things like spacing, spelling, or sperm-like balloons.

Now, Erin S., say you have a small cake that someone wants you to write a message on, but you've also been wanting to try out the new 'blob' flower technique you saw on Careless Cakes. Which gets priority: the message, or the blobs?

Also correct! You see, class, this is why it's important to fill the entire cake with your design; so the message you write on top of it is uniformly difficult to read. As an added bonus, it's much harder for the client to spot any misspellings this way.

And lastly, Bethany T. is going to show us two things every baker should make more use of: plastic picks and abbreviations.

Wow, Bethany; I think that "BS" stands for "Beautifully Scripted!" I like how the color almost matches the birthday pick, too, but is off just enough to clash spectacularly - that took a lot of talent, I know.

[bell ringing] Well, that's all we have time for today, class. Remember to practice those blobs for next week's "Plop-a-Flower" review!

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Reader Comments (79)

The backstory on the BS cake makes it even funnier! Thanks, Bethany, and may you and Stephanie have many more happy birthdays — no BS!

May 27, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterScritzy

hahaha, that was hilarious.

May 27, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterCathy

Jen writes (about the first cake):
"Oh, and class, see how she filled in that awkward blank area with a mass of ribbon? That's called "thinking on your feet."
Yeaaahhhh...that's ONE way of putting it.
I, however, tend to ever-so-slightly lean toward calling it " *scrawling with* your feet" (refering to the message-writing, that is).

And I'd REALLY love to know what a "Haydenl Birthday" is that someone is being wished a Happy one OF (on the second creation).

As for #3-- This appears to be yet another case of that wild & crazy Latest Fad (don't EVEN tell me that you haven't heard of this yet) wherein the person who drew the short straw (*loser*) has to go on a wild scamper through a bakery, randomly assailing unsuspecting cakes with Silly String and maniacal giggles. Great fun for the ten to ten-and-a-half-year-old set, I hear.

May 27, 2009 | Unregistered Commentersendingtheclowns

hahahahahaha! The "BS" cake?! What's with that? I almost choked on my jicama when I saw it... Thanks for a wonderful post, Jen!

May 27, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAimersss(:

@Ted S. (Just a Cineast)... "Welcome Bitchy Hannah" is CLASSIC!!! My cheeks hurt from laughing at that one!

May 27, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterLisa

Really? I can't believe these people still have jobs!! Almost makes me want to go back to decorating...almost!!

May 27, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJust Me

I really think that a sprinkles and squiggles class is necessary.
Is dribbling the leftover icing from christmas all over the edges acceptable now?

And maybe for the more gifted students you should give a "How to make balloons that do not look like fat wing-ed sperms" lesson ;)

May 27, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterLizard

Every time I think of getting a degree in baking and pastry arts I think of how often my creations would end up on this blog and I rethink that decision. Thanks, Jen, for keeping the world free of one more wreckerator. (Though I think there will be many more to replace me.)

The cakes in this post were magnificently horrid and the backstory on the BS cake is hilarious and makes the cake better.

Jen...I have a question. I have seen cakes similar to this one that is made by...say Walmart but the only thing they do is the outside decorations...the cake is left blank for you to do your own "writing". Do we know for certain that this (or any other cake...especially the really bad ones) aren't really done by the buyer and not a "cake decorator"?
I was just biggy.

May 27, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterNancy

These are so...bad. How are they allowed to be SOLD?!!

I hope at least they tasted good...

May 27, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterCorningNY

The first one should have an artistic name like "Murder on Christmas!" :) tina

May 28, 2009 | Unregistered Commentertwinklescrapbooks

My husband's initials are BS. Hmmm...I have now picked out his next cake. Thanks, Care Wrecks!

May 28, 2009 | Unregistered Commentercs

ha ha those pictures are awesome. oh by the way, i added you to my blogroll, thanks.

May 28, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterLen and Zen

Nancy: "but the only thing they do is the outside decorations...the cake is left blank for you to do your own "writing". Do we know for certain that this (or any other cake...especially the really bad ones) aren't really done by the buyer and not a "cake decorator"?"

I assure you the BS cake was not decorated by us. The Walmart cake decorators would not give the bag to my friend so she could just write on it herself (the back story about it is in the comments). If we were to have written it, trust me, it would have said Happy Birthday Bethany and Stephanie and it would have been centered.
Our Walmart does write and decorate on cakes. Stephanie has had them do it before for her. They come blank, but then you take them up to the bakery counter and tell them what you want written on it and they do it. As we can see from the BS cake, it's just not always done well.

May 28, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterB

Wow, I never thought about using ribbons to fill in empty space. I'll have to file that one away!

I love your site! Even if I don't have time to do anything in the morning, I usually at least make it over here to start my morning with a chuckle. I know you probably aren't really into the whole blog award meme thing, but I have an award for you over at my blog (2 awards, actually), and just wanted to let you know.

May 28, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterDreamybee

Ms. England, if you ever get your hands on Snape, happy pills or no, would you be so kind as to send him to me?

I have many, many evil plans for him. *whipcrax*

May 28, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterMiranda

@Nancy: the "wrecks are so bad they must be hoaxes" comments have been all made before. Jen does her best to assure the sources are from sold or for sale cakes, that is the premise of the whole blog.
When they are done by not for profit home bakers, she usually notes it.

And as long as I can remember (up to 40 years) grocery store bakeries have been making predecorated cakes that they (or you) can add a message to at the last minute if you are too rushed or too cheap to pre-order a custom cake.

May 28, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

Just to add to the comments "B" keeps leaving. This is "S", and had I been able to write on the cake it would have looked so much better. I mean, it couldn't look much worse, right! :) I should have known better, though, than to even ask them to write on it. We just thought that this was our night, so why we have to decorate our own cake? I once bought a large there, and asked the decorator to write on it. I wanted it to say, "NERDS RULE!" It was for B's husband's get-together. Well, she wrote it in large flowery cursive. It didn't fit at all. Nerds don't do flowing script. They do binary code, and block letters, right? So, I brought it home and scraped the writing off. I even used some paper towels. I then wrote on it myself, and added some sprinkles. Now it looked nerdy enough! Never again, unless it's a joke, will I ask them to write on any dessert!

~ S

May 28, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterstephanie

To be fair--I worked in a Food Lion deli/bakery for nearly a year. I was never given any training in cake decorating--all that was done by my boss. But sometimes after she left for the day, people would come to the deli, pick up a premade cake, and ask me or my friend to write on it for them. We did our best, but we always warned them ahead of time that we weren't trained at it and couldn't guarantee the results would be great. And writing with an icing bag isn't the easiest task in the world. So keep that in mind when hating on badly written cakes.

May 28, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterSam

I do get that not everyone is able to write nicely on a cake. However, most people aren't so "spacially-challenged" as to not even be able to identify the center of something. I think she may have done better with her eyes closed. We truly did appreciate the effort, though, and the laughs it provided. It was so horrible that we figured that it couldn't get much worse, so we put those really long sparkler candles on it. By the end, there was black ash all over the cake as well. Having never used that type of candle before, I had no idea what to expect. It was too funny! Our cake was on fire!

May 28, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterstephanie

In defense of the third cake (the one with balloons): I work in a bakery and so many people want to order the smallest store cake they can buy and want us to put every name of every person they met in their entire life.

In that case I force the customer to take Happy Birthday or buy a larger cake.

May 28, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterDana

Oh come on. I CAN'T believe those are iced by professional bakers.

SURELY people bought blank sheet cakes and had their eight year olds put the inscriptions on, using butter icing, toothpicks and a butter knife. I know you can get exactly the effects shown here with those tools, because that's all I had to work with when I was eight. And my spelling was better.

May 28, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAviatrix

Oh, I'm sorry. I was bad and didn't read the comments before adding mine. I usually do.

I do believe you that professionals did this. I just don't want to believe it.

May 28, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAviatrix

The Happy Birthday picks remind me of a story I heard about 12 years ago at work. Someone had ordered a birthday cake for a coworker and actually asked for a Happy Birthday pick on it. When they picked up the cake, the wreckerator had written "Happy Birthday Pick" on the cake. I really wish someone had taken a picture of it back then!

May 29, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterHannah

Happy Birthday to the names:D. Nice" REL="nofollow">vanilla frosting's and!

I am the owner of the 1st cake!! First of all, it was for my son's hstily thrown together 2nd birthday party. Quick side note: Ben was born December 19th and we can never seem to get people to take time out of their busy holiday schedules to come to the poor little guy's parties. Anyways, we found out about 2 days before the party that our family was actually free and able to come, so we put together a quick get-together for him. I stopped at our local Giant Eagle grocery store to get a cake. I figured, "He's 2! What does he care if it's generic?" ;o) So I found an almond flavored cake (sadly, that close to Christmas, all you can find are red and green cakes!) and asked the woman to please write 'Happy Birthday Ben!' on the cake for me. She was extremely annoyed to be called away from her donut sprinkling to assist me and when she gave me the cake back a few minutes later, it was sealed in a white box. I took the cake from her, didn't even think twice about it and headed home to set up for the party. When I opened the box I was appalled at what I saw! The writing! The leaning! The awful uncenteredness (is that a word?)! THE HORROR! LOL -- of course, as a faithful CW reader, I immediately grabbed my camera and snapped a picture. Luckily, Benjamin (being 2) didn't care what his cake looked like, as long as it tasted good (which it did!). And my family? They thought it was hilarious! :o)


June 1, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterCabaline16

You know, I've had to DO that inscription-over-the-decorations stuff, like on that one round cake. Or write something insanely long in something insanely small, with sorta-kinda-but-not-really legible handwriting.

Two reasons. (1. That's the cake the customer wants, and that's the inscription the customer wants, and whoever decorated the cake last night didn't think about somebody wanting "Congratulations Hanna, Barbara, Micheal and Pam" written on a three-inch wide oval (NOT KIDDING). Now if the customer ordered the cake the night before, there is no excuse, the decorator should have known better. (2. I am not a cake decorator. I had to fill in for the Cake decorator ONCE, and after an hour of being defeated by frosting, I do not want to do that again without at least six hours of training/practice. However, the managers of my store requires EVERYBODY in the bakery to write on the cake if the customer hands it to you. This includes the people who can't actually write and the people whose writing is known to be illegiable (like me). We can't say no, and asking somebody else (like the cake decorators, who are usually standing two feet behind us putting fresh fruit on top of a cheesecake or beating cookie crumbs into buttercream) is heavily frowned upon. Your hand needs to be BLEEDING for you to say no.

I can always tell how tired I am at work if the thought "This might wind up on cake wrecks" goes through my head. If it's follwed by the thought "screw it", it's usually about thirty minutes after my blood sugar crashed and thirty minutes before I get to go home and lay down for a while.

June 3, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

Isn't 'Careless Cakes' one of the Sandra Lee stable of shows? No, wait -- that was 'I Couldn't Care Less Cakes'. My bad.

I keep trying to read 'Hayderm'. Maybe that is because of the 'balloons'.

January 24, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterCraig

i used to work at a bakery as a cake decorator and the cakes that left looking like that were for the customers that wait until the last min and go and want a custom cake after the decorators left. just because you work in a bakery doesn't mean your a cake decorator.

lesson her: remember your loved ones special day and order a cake, don't leave it up to chance and if you do and you get a cake like this than maybe that actually does show how much you cared

March 14, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

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