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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

Love is in the Air...

It's wedding season, and the spirit of fairy-tale perfection is in the air. So naturally, I must CRUSH that spirit with tales of wedding cakes gone wrong!! Mwuahahahahah!

[patting hair] Ahem.

What Stacey H. wanted:

Nifty modern texture. I like it.

What Stacey got:

Erm, I'm pretty sure dragging a fork through crusted-over icing doesn't count as a "technique".

Anony Bride wanted a cake with tiers similar to this:

But instead she got tiers like this:

Something about the puffy wobbliness of this cake makes it look like a diaper cake to me - you know, those shower gifts made out of actual diapers? Which probably would have been sturdier, come to think of it: the weight of the wedding topper made this cake start to collapse in on itself.

This was Stephanie S.'s inspiration:

Which resulted in...this:

I'm not sure who gets the blame for the ribbon selection, but that neon teal "scroll work" combined with the black icing border is sufficiently Wrecky on its own.

And lastly, Vanessa wanted a single layer version of her wedding cake for her one-year anniversary. Here's her wedding cake:

Oooh, preeeetty.

And here's what she got for her anniversary cake:

Oooh, pretty.

Ah, the mismatched whites, the battle-scarred frosting, the ponderous folds of flabby fondant! Who else is inspired to throw a toga party?

- Related Wreckage: Wedding Wrecks

« Early Detection is Key | Main | Copyright Unfringement »

Reader Comments (203)

okay, um, i actually don't think CWs 2 & 3 are that bad. lopsided, a little off...but i wouldn't snicker or gasp if i were a wedding guest.

July 10, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterEtiquette Bitch

for all who posted about fondant/butter cream--sure it's possible to make buttercream at least vaguely smooth? And not to pipe it with all sorts of extra gook the bride didn't request? Because at least the second one is a _very_ simple cake. Hell, I've gotten icing smoother than that for my daughter's birthday cakes, and I can barely bake a cake that's reasonably level.

July 10, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterCatherine

I'm still not sure what the whole problem with getting smooth buttercream is--I had a slightly simplified version of this Martha Stewart cake for my wedding (fewer dots on the sides, no shell piping between layers, and no sugar bubbles), it came out perfectly, and was pretty inexpensive.

July 10, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterCatherine

Toga,toga, toga!

July 10, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterChantal

How sad. How very very sad. Yet totally hilarious.

July 10, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterStevi

I'm with everyone else who said that these wrecks were absolutely the brides' fault. These "what they wanted/what they got" posts are usually right on the money. But in this case, I think they mostly got what they wanted -- they just were totally nuts about what they wanted and didn't really think about what it would look like.

Especially that last one. She got exactly what she wanted in one layer. Problem is, one layer of that design looks BAD.

The first one looks pretty much like a non-professionally photographed version of the supposedly "non-wreck" one. I think what she really liked about the toilet paper rolls in the first picture was the way they were LIGHTED.

The ribbons on the scrollwork wreck are ugly, but ribbons on cake are ugly and outdated anyway. Way too busy. Serves her right.

Rather than bringing in professionally photographed magazine photos, brides should pick cakes based on the designer's own book of samples. That way you KNOW what your baker is capable of and what their style is like.

I did that with my wedding cake (I asked for a cake based on some of her more colorful, rather than her "wedding" designs) and it was a real stunner.

July 10, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterSecret

@ anonymous: It is the decorators responsibility to know that a design will not work and to tell the brides as such. The decorator is the professional and the customer is coming to them because they are requiring their expertise. It is NEVER the brides fault that they ordered the wrong something that won't work. It is the decorators fault for not advising them correctly as to what will or will not work in the medium chosen. That is what they are paid to do.

July 10, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJudy

To all those complaining that the third is a wreck because of the bride for making it 1 tier, you missed the point.

Even with 1 tier, if the fondant had been folded correctly AND the baker remembered to use the shiny paint/dust used on the first to give it the gleam and highlights that the lighting is showing off well, it would have been great.

The baker didn't, so instead of looking like satin fabric like the original, the cake has a matte finish fondant, that alone is sad sad sad.

July 10, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJamie


July 10, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterMelissa (& Billy)

ha ha ha...reminds me of my moms third marriage. she asked for a 3 level round with simple flowers in light pastel pink and lavendar- what she got was a 3 level round with massive badly done flowers in hot pink and hot purple with neon green was so horrific that she cried...and the bakery gave it to her for free!

July 10, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

While the first two are certainly wreck-tastic, the last one isn't AS bad. I fault the bride for asking for a single layer cake of a tiered swag cake. Sure, it can be done, and done nicely (I have one of mine at home, thank you very much), but it's not easy to do.

also, if those flowers on the cake are gumpaste, they look pretty darn good. Of cousre, they could have just bought them.....

July 10, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterTrevor

I was also wondering if the brides requested fondant cakes to be replicated with butter cream. Only the best of the best (le creme de le creme) are that good with butter cream (as evidenced by sunday sweets).

If I ever get married, I'll just make sure my cake has a yummy interior and eat around the fondant outside that made it pretty. Canoli filling between the layers anyone?

July 10, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterYota Armai

Hm, a few people are mentioning that it's the bride's fault (and what of the groom in all this, by the way...?) for requesting buttercream instead of fondant. I disagree: it's the decorator's job to tell the couple that they cannot work with buttercream, or that they cannot recreate the requested effect without fondant. Many people honestly don't know the difference between the two, other than one tastes good while the other tastes, well... like fondant.

July 10, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

Don't get me wrong, the last cake is definitely wreck-arific... But I find it odd that someone would want a cake with drapped fondant in a single layer. It is an odd request becuase there is not enough space to really let the design flow. With that being said, it was executed wreck-tastically :-)

July 10, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterRysheda

You can NEVER make a buttercream cake look like fondant it is not possible. The texture will always be different. I tell my brides now I can absolutely do that cake out of fondant but if you want buttercream you need to find the example in buttercream. I hold the bride partly responsible for the top two cakes both fondant cakes clearly, and a bride demanding buttercream, a baker who needed to sell the cake trying to please bridezilla. The execution of the second buttercream wedding cake was whacked though, must have been a bride trying to save a dime, and paying a friend of the family to do her cake. You will see more of these wrecks as people pay Wilton class graduates who have NEVER put together a 4 tier wedding cake in there lives. They don't know about dowel rods, weight, leveling of icing, using a knife to level the cake, and proper stacking methods. BRIDES PAY A PROFESSIONAL PLEASE not aunt sally!
The bottom cake WHO puts a swag on a one tier. That bride is a nut! The baker should have said NO.
Sorry for the rant. The brides need to pay for a professional! If you want to save some money cut your guest list down, rent a cake, do something different like a dessert bar, but please stay away from non professionals on your wedding day.

July 10, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

Wild Cakes... I took a design meant for fondant and replaced it with buttercream and it looked great... so I think it's more like what happens when a baker says they can do it and really can't :) .. but i do feel bad for brides... and i'm just not sure how people think this is okay?! A bride has paid you money to make a cake for her wedding, and you give her wobbly garbage and a toga cake?! i'd be so busting heads ... after i took a picture, submitted it to cakewrecks and died laughing... then i'd ask for my money back :)

restox: "the bride refused to take the cake because it was slightly leaning, what do i do boss?" "Restox it and sell it to the next poor sucker"

July 10, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

I always wonder when I look at wedding cake wrecks, what kind of cakes did the bakery have on display when the couple went in there? Don't they usually give you a photo album you can look at of cakes they've done? Surely they don't have the wreckage on display. So is it pure laziness on the baker's part or they're showing fake cakes they didn't do themselves in their store and photo albums. I'm so confused.

July 10, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

And people wonder why nice sweet women turn into Bridezillas? lolol...

July 10, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJaye

Um...hey guys?

Who said the bride requested that the cakes be butter cream? I don't remember that.

Sometimes, I feel like the comment section is like the game telephone. One person says one thing as a hypothesis and it becomes fact.

I blame you, Wild Cakes smiling all innocently over there. Shame...;}


Yikes. My mom is getting married a week from today and she was NOT happy when she saw this entry--she decided to do individual one-tier cakes for each table instead of one big wedding cake, though. The way I see it, only more opportunity for Wreckage, though!

July 10, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAlexis

"toga! toga! toga!"

July 10, 2009 | Unregistered Commentermlpieters

Mmmm.... SORRY, but both of those first two look like TOILET PAPER!

Only the first one is some nice charmin ultra, and the second one is Member's Mark, or some other cheapo brand!

July 10, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterBanana

I'm SOOO glad my mother did a FABULOUS job on my cake!! I hope those brides have a good sense of humor :)

July 10, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterNichols

@ blueiguana: The difference between buttercream and fondant is this: Fondant was originally used in places such as south africa and australia because it stands up better in the heat than buttercream. It has only infiltrated North America in the past 20-25 years, making it still somewhat of a novelty to us because of it's smoother than buttercream appearance. Whether it tastes better or not is abit of a cultural thing. North Americans tend to prefer the taste of buttercream to fondant because it's more "fatty"...ummm I mean "palatable" ( Yee-aah, that's what I meant)So to westernize it abit many bakeries use buttercream under the fondant rather than the original and more traditional marzipan and apricot glaze. So to sum up...alot of North American brides want the look of the fondant but the taste of the buttercream....and really just can't have both.

BTW to the baker (dohmnaill) that noted to odd spellings of buttercream products that get around actually having butter in them. In Canada the FDA does not require that buttercream has ANY actual butter in it. Not sure what their rules are in the U.S.A.

July 10, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJudy

Rian, Straw, Dawn, etc. I am glad to see that I am not the only one perplexed by that last cake. As I gazed upon the beauty of that last inspiration cake and then read that the bride wanted it in one layer?!? could it be anything but a wreck. I think the draping looks nice, but seriously it is not a one cake tier design.

July 10, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAngela

Oh! And my mom was 65 yrs old with Rheumatoid arthritis issues!

July 10, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterNichols

that's horrible! i hope they received a refund.

July 10, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterLydee

Looks like the brides had fondant dreams but buttercream funds. Or maybe they just don't like the look of Play-Doh on cakes. Regardless, I don't think the cakes look wrecky. The bakers did the best they could. And let's not forget that the inspiration cakes are more than likely from wedding magazines that hire food stylists to make everything look perfect.

The blue ribbon selection was probably the bride's - most bakeries require the bride and groom to supply toppers, ribbons, fresh flowers or whatever they want on top of the cake short of gumpaste flowers and fondant.

July 10, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

What wild cakes said! After 3 weeks of work experience at a local bakery I can totally see how this happened. Well, no 1 looks like it fell over and they tried to recover it, but as for the others, this is a mixture of cheap bride syndrome and bad communication with the consultant at the bakery who probably needs to say 'no' or at least tip the bride off as to what she's going to get for the cheaper price of buttercream....

July 10, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJennywenny

The last one was almost impossible to copy as just one layer i think.

July 10, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

The toga cake just looks sad.

~Amy B.

July 10, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAmy

Cakes like these make me feel sorry for those poor brides!!!! To have your big day mess up because of, some bakes who can't copy something!

July 10, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterLucia Winter

Anyone else see a waterslide in the last cake?

July 10, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterGillian

These wedding cakes gone wrong actually make me very sad. I can't imagine how horrible those brides must have felt to be expecting an exquisite cake and got those instead. No do overs, you only have one wedding day, and you have to just go with it.

July 10, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterMary

Shame on the bakers for promising something they couldn't deliver, shame on the bride's for not choosing the right baker. I know that price is always a consideration when choosing your cake and the bakery...but this will ring get what you pay for! No bride should ever expect to take a picture of a $1000 cake to a bakery and say I want this but for $250. ISN'T going to happen!

July 10, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterCake Believe

I like you, John (hubby of Jen) and how you sweep in to bring us all down back to earth. :)

Wedding cake wrecks are always my favorite. It's that same evil being inside me that loves watching "Wipeout" and Japanese game shows.

July 10, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterSariah

You are absolutely awesome and I die laughing every day. keep up the outstanding work!!

July 10, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterTiffaney

Eughhh! That first monogrammed cakewreck looks as though it were carved out of vegetable shortening! Disgusting.

July 10, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterLuke

Only one thing will distract from these wrecks: an full open bar.

July 10, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterTiffaney

The last cake is not a wreck simply because it is one tier. As proof, click on the "What She Wanted" picture to enlarge it. Then cover the bottom two tiers with your hand or a piece of paper. See? One tier can look good. Maybe not *as* good, but still good.

As another pointed out, there's a technique to make the "fabric" portion look shiny and satin-y, which would differentiate it from the body of the cake. If that had been done, the cake wouldn't look like a Sharpei puppy.

July 10, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

This post makes me very very sad :'( I can't imagine getting one of those wrecks for my wedding.

July 10, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterDeray

These aren't quite as horribly bad as I expected. (This site has clearly raised my expectations of horribleness to unsustainable levels). Without knowing the target, most of them wouldn't make me pity the bride, without that basis for comparison.

I can see that they don't match the amazing example cakes, but how rare is the talent that can create such things? Perhaps the bakers didn't realize that the client needed to be told, "this picture is of a $2000 cake made by a top cake artist, with any imperfections in the cake corrected by altering the photograph. For $200 we can make something like this, but it won't be as polished."

Or is it a reasonable expectation that any professional bakery could create such wonders?

July 10, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAviatrix

blueiguana, buttercream is delicious, and for much of wedding cake history has been the covering of choice. It lends itself to piping all kinds of designs and borders. Fondant is more like a sugar dough that can be rolled out for a smooth texture on the cake. It is not always inedible, but chances are the decorator gets it in bulk, so it probably won't taste as good as homemade.

It's possible that the Bride thought about taste when she brought the picture to the decorator and requested buttercream, but chances are she brought the picture to be exactly duplicated. That means fondant, and many from home decorators have never even used fondant. But they can pipe like crazy.

My recommendation, if you see a picture in a magazine and want it, go to your local high end cake boutique and see if they can do it. Make sure they can work with fondant if that is what you want. If you are on a budget, and you know someone who does cakes, you could do like I did. I told the woman doing my wedding cake that I just wanted the white butter cream icing on my cake and I wasn't picky about how she piped it on. Then my florist put the flowers on top and around the tiers. I knew the woman's skill wouldn't let me down, and I had a beautiful cake.

July 10, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterElizabeth

The brides asked for tiers, but probably ended up with tears...

Sorry that my first ever comment here had to be an awful pun. :D I do love this blog!

Word verification: sanessly. As in cake wrecks are not created in a sanessly fashion.

July 10, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterMaria

Unsightly, but certainly not the WORST inspiration vs reality cakes you have ever shown us. I just hope that the brides read your blog so that they know how badly they COULD have had it.

July 10, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterStr4yk1tt3n

This is why I'm have s'mores and banana boats at my wedding, instead of wedding cake.


July 10, 2009 | Unregistered Commenter~ Faith

it was her fault for only wanting one layer! the last one wouldn't have been to horrible with other layers!

July 10, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterscb197

I agree with John (hubby of Jen). Who's to say that these were the results of cheap bridezillas demanding buttercream?

And there is NO excuse for that second one. Egads!

July 10, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterCakey Goodness

What's terrifying to me is just how simple most of these can be. I'm not saying that I could do it myself (I couldn't...ask me about the year I tried to turn an egg-shaped cake pan into a penguin for my son's birthday), but...I mean, smooth frosting, a bolt of tasteful ribbon, a few lines with dental floss, a squiggle here or there...only the last cake looks "hard" to me, and that's actually the one that disturbs me the least. (Other than being truncated. Comparing the two pics reminds me of the houses I grew up near where people would build the basement first, run out of funds and just put a roof on the thing. It's just so obvious that that wasn't the initial intent.)

July 10, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterKristen

now i feel all weird cause in LOVE how fondant tastes. The original w/ apricot. The one with buttercream is an awful combination. I didn't now that was an US thing.

July 10, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

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