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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

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Reader Comments (203)

The bakers "tried their hardest"???

Reminds me of the old adage: FAILURE - When your best just isn't good enough.

Seriously? Did you see the clashing ribbons/scrolls on CW 3 and amorphous blobs CW2 tried to pass off as 'tiers?' Fondant or buttercream, there really is no excuse for these wrecks!

WV: Comnoxi - the prescription these brides had to take to calm themselves after seeing their inspirations crushed by the wreckreaters

July 10, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterHolly

Every time a botch a cake--and it's usually only going to my family--I read your blog and feel much better. I do feel bad for the brides--Taylor (My Older Brothers) is right--you only get one wedding day. So do your research! Look at the baker's portfolio and call some of their previous customers!

July 10, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterCasey Daleman

Funny that you should post this today. It's my 10th wedding anniversary. Too bad the day is a bust though, because his boss went on vacation leaving him to have to work the entire day. OH well looking at a few wacky cakes might make me feel a little better about the non romantic, stay home eating tv dinners, and watching a rented movie anniversary. Life is grand! :-)

July 10, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterPraiseFiddler

Why do people take professional cake examples to grocery store bakeries?? Grocery store "bakers" can't hack it! Go to a professional people. It's your wedding day!

July 10, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterCarolyn

Just because one cannot afford to spend alot of money on a cake, does not mean they should have to settle for a cheap looking cake.
When ordering a cake, one expects to get what they ask for. If a decorator says they can do it, they should deliver. If they cannot, then they should admit it and refer the person to someone who can. Which is better: having a reputation for good customer service, or having a reputation for being a bad decorator?

July 10, 2009 | Unregistered Commenteraskaboutmycrabs

Wedding cakes gone wrong are always bittersweet (get it?!)

I wonder what bakeries these people are going to and if they do any research beforehand.

July 10, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterliz


Don't most bakers put buttercream under the fondant to hold the fondant in place? I've been playing with fondant at home lately, and that's how I've been doing that. Then even if you don't like the taste/texture of fondant, you can just eat around it and still get a yummy buttercream iced cake.

July 10, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJill

your blog makes me laugh until I cry every time I read it... Thanks for a little humor in my life!!

July 10, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

fondant vs buttercream
(to whoever asked why someone would chose to work with buttercream over fondant)

I am an amatuer baker, and I find fondant very difficult to work with; it's hard to use if you are not familiar with it. It wrinkles easily and overlaps. And the first time I used it, it found every dip and bump and imperfection on the cake itself, giving it an uneven, lumpy shape. I know it makes cakes look so much neater and more professional, but it is hard to work with, and a fondant cake can look just as wrecky as a poorly iced buttercream one. Real fondant, which is basically 100% sugar, is also more expensive than buttercream, and some places will use a fake fondant that is pretty gross.

Count me as one of the people saying that none of these cakes actually look that bad. Sure, the electric blue on the third one is gross, but it's the flowers that make it look tacky to me. The second one is the only one that RAELLY misses the mark; the inspiration cake is very modern looking, and the actual cake looks like your standard pretty-princess white wedding cake.

July 10, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterCedar

The last cake: they got what they asked for, IMHO....or maybe what they deserved! Without three or four layers, the draping just does not translate well.

July 10, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterLaura

Okay, I just can't keep quiet on this one.

1. Who said the brides requested the buttercream? I don't know anything about cakes. If my decorater told me a cake could be done just as well in buttercream, I would totally have believed her.

2. I like to think my own wedding cake is evidence that a decent effect can be made it buttercream. It does not resemble toliet paper in any way!

3. It was $300 in 2005. (Which included two sheet cakes and an anniversary cake not pictured. Every layer was a different flavor. No fillings, though.) You don't have to spend a fortune to get a decent cake. And it tasted fabulous. My photographer actually called my baker the very next day to order her anniversary cake.

July 10, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterCyndi

The last cake: they got what they asked for, IMHO.... Without three or four layers, the draping just does not translate well.

July 10, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterLaura

Taylor (My Older Brothers) said These always make me a little sad because you only get one wedding.

Theoretically, but not necessarily. I'm looking forward to my second. I got lucky with the cake (which was ordered sight unseen, on the assurance from my mom that it would be nice) the first time. After seeing how wrong it can go, I don't want to tempt fate the second time. Plain white sheet cake for me!

WV: raver. Well, that would explain who makes all the psychedelic wrecks, but these are a little too understated.

July 10, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterjackie31337

God, for some reason these just make me want to CRY! Those poor brides, all high with anticipation, and they get these wrecks. So sad!! But hilarious too. I'm having a crisis here.

July 10, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterjustmeandthevoices

Once there's time for a reaction I wonder what it looks and sounds like. Because it has to be a chemical reaction that one of those brides. I don't know...I'm easy going but I'd rather go fast to find some cupcakes at Albertson's or send someone to Costco.

July 10, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAlessandra

The first one *would* have made it (maybe almost) if not for its being left out on a table, uncovered, the night before; I remember peeking through the bakery window and seeing a couple of playful mice enjoying a rousing game chase-each-other around the cake. The longer streaks are from the dragging tails, you see. Later, they paused to lick frosting from between their little precious!
The last, one-tier-wonder thing is a marvel of rakishness! I think I saw that exact design on a hat once, on an elderly woman in the park. She was feeding the pigeons.

July 10, 2009 | Unregistered Commentersendingtheclowns

Oh I feel especially for the 3rd bride (Vanessa) as the inspiration cake is just about the same one I picked. Luckily, my bakery actually had done the original cake so it was executed flawlessly. I was so excited for that cake...I would have been devastated to get that wreck!!

July 10, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJen

Ok.. let me ask a stupid question:

Don't brides check out a baker's portfolio before ordering a cake?? C'mon, if a baker comes up with wrecks like these, wouldn't ya think that a good portion of their cakes are wrecky too?

Caveat emptor.

July 10, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterSue

AAAAHHH! *cringe* This brings back awful memories of the lone wedding cake I have ever done. It was a favor for my brother, one of his friends/co-workers was getting married and she wanted me to do it. She liked my work, and I was happy to do it. I mostly did it for the cost of materials (she bought me a new set of pans which I got to keep!)

Thing is the picture she gave me of what she wanted was of a Fondant creation, and she wanted it replicated in buttercream. Probably wouldn't have been so bad...but it was a cascade of grapes and vines...with satin ribbon. I was SO out of my league! I did my best, but everything that could go wrong DID go wrong, and I was nearly in tears by the end of it. :(

She still liked the cake, and she loved how it tasted, so I felt a little better, but I vowed to never again do a wedding cake unless I know for certian I could pull off the design and that it was for someone who would not be so hung up on perfect looks.

...actually, that wedding cake of mine would be a fine canidate for this site. ;_;

July 10, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterDawnspring

Well.... at least they resemble wedding cakes. More so than some previous ones have done.

The first one has issues other than trying to reproduce a fondant design in buttercream. Some spots look like they were trying to use a broom and sweep the frosting. The fondant-free Sunday Sweets features here should be plenty of proof that it's possible to get awesome looking cakes with buttercream, and I see little reason a cake with such a simple texture couldn't have been decently reproduced in a non-fondant medium. Even the little round plaque looks awful, and that wasn't done in fondant on the inspiration.

The rest I thought were buttercream to start with, with the exception of the fondant draping on the last one, though I thought the cakes themselves were still done in buttercream.

Cake #2... Ya know, there's no excuse. The inspiration piece was simple flat frosting (or fondant) with basic ribbon. No frou-frou frilly stuff, no bead work, no shell borders. I find that one to be the wreckiest of the bunch because it's like the wrecker took their idea, thought, "But it's a wedding! It should be frilly!" and proceeded to completely ignore what the couple asked for.

July 10, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterdiopsideanddiamonds

Poor Poor brides.
I wouldn't pay.
I agree with everyone that said those brides should have done a little more research, and demanded to see a portfolio." rel="nofollow">

July 10, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterG.H.

A lot of wreckiness could be avoided if the grocery stores would admit that their minimum wage teenager employee can't put together a $2,000 masterpiece. It's not the teenager's fault they are being asked the impossible.

July 10, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterjanet2buns

I have to agree with everyone who says that the last one is not bad. It really was dumb of the bride to try to make that a one layer cake.
I've sort of regretted not having a traditional wedding with a cake and all that (I was married in Vegas)but when I think of all the migraines that I didn't have, I think my decision was the correct one.

July 10, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterChristina

When you refer to tiers, perhaps you should replace with tears...these are sad...I only hope they tasted decent.

July 10, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

Judy, thanks for explaining the difference between the fondant and buttercream. I don't get to eat a lot of cake, and I don't think I've ever had fondant.

To the other person who said brides are expected to furnish the cake toppers and ribbon, wouldn't it then be on the part of the baker to at least TRY to match the colors? Is the bride literally walking in after the cake is done with "Here's the ribbon"? If so, the process is all backward.

Honestly, IMO, there is enough blame to go around on all these. Maybe the bride should have insisted on seeing other examples of the baker's work and had realistic expectations (you get what you pay for), but certainly someone at that bakery should have been able to compare picture to product and thought, "Not pretty."
But BOTH parties have to communicate one with the other. The bride can't know the baker's limitations unless she's told, and the baker can't read the bride's mind.

July 10, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterwren

Hm, I don't feel quite so bad about our wedding cake anymore. We wanted an iceberg, somewhat elegant looking, in a sea of blue. We got a non-elegant mountain, with a small lake with cutsie polar bears. I have to see if I have a good picture of it.

We always shake our heads when we read of the maker winning local wedding cake awards. I guess she does better with traditional cakes, although she said she'd do something really cool for us. :( At least it wasn't a tiered cake that ended up looking like an iceberg instead!

July 10, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAnnMarie

I just don't understand how a baker can be this disconnected from reality. If they lack the skills to make a replica, they should say so. If a bride asks to substitute buttercream for a replica of a fondant cake, the baker should say it probably won't work. And the baker should certainly not be so delusional as to believe that something that looks like cr*p and bears little similarity to the photo they have been provided with is going magically look pretty when it arrives at the reception.

A professionally made cake should be attractive in its own right, even if it looks nothing like the original it was meant to replicate. These are wrecks even without the "inspiration" photos for comparison.

July 10, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterMJS

what I don't understand (and maybe someone else has already pointed this out...I didn't read all the comments yet) is that these designs all looked relatively simple. The one cake was simple tiers with ribbons on it! How do you mess that up?!?!?!?

of course I'm remembering back to my own wedding cake and realized that while it came out pretty enough that at the reception we just cut it up and didn't think anything of it, seeing the pictures...that wasn't what their display cake looked like at all!!! They did good piping work on the display, not so much on my cake.

July 10, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterRenee

I think these are tough to look at because I can imagine my wife if she had seen one of these on our wedding day. It makes me shudder.

wv: dedwan - The way a dyslexic hick spells how he pronounces "nodded".

The first ones look like toilet paper rolls anyway! And reading through the comments I realize I am not alone. :)

WV: aisses. I don't even have to define that one in relationship to the wrecks posted here! Good job bakers! ;)

July 10, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterTara

to be fair on the last one... how was that cake supposed to look with only one tier? where was the flappy fold supposed to start from?

July 10, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterLittle Lovables

I'm sorry but I think the last one got what she asked for. It is the essense of the cake - she's the one that asked for the single layer. I just think you can't get the elegance, fit into 1 layer.

And yeah - people- don't ask for a fondant look to a buttercream cake.

July 10, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterStinaRie

If the divorce rate isn't enough to deter you from getting married, these cakes sure should!

July 10, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

Ditto what Wild Cakes said, and I only eat cakes, and know nothing about making or decorating them. If you've ever seen an episode of Bridezilla, you know sometimes it's the bride's insistence that causes these train wrecks.

July 10, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

I bet that those are from the "hobbyist" baker that cut the bride a "deal" for a cheap wedding cake. I've seen the wedding cake professional "wrecks" on her and they are still technically elegant and correct...just ugly.

July 10, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAustin Wedding Caker

I love these! The whole "This is what we want... guess we're not getting it."

Oh, and I tagged you, if you're so inclined!

July 10, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterDreamer

Oh, that third cake is so freakin' ugly I would have thrown it at the baker. Just bad. Very bad.

July 10, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterStuffCooksWant

Is that last one even big enough to be a wedding cake? It looks like it only serves 4 poeple!?!

July 10, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJessica

If you're getting married - Please, Please investigate the work of your bakery before you order. If they only work in buttercream you only have yourself to blame when you order fondant and it ends up looking like flabdant. Wild Cakes and others are spot on.

July 10, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterManda

OH good lord. That's terrifying. I would sue.

July 10, 2009 | Unregistered Commentercelestialcakes

I hope all these girls got refunds. I mean, sure, it makes for a funny story (after the blood stops boiling), but no laugh is worth a crappy $500 cake.

July 10, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

I think that last one kinda looks like it has on a slide! Too bad they didn't have some cute slidin' bride and groom toppers...

July 10, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterSarah

I can personally vouch for the scrollwork cake, as I was a bridesmaid in the wedding. The cake came from a reputable bakery in this area and the bride went to a tasting and was shown examples of work. The cake did taste wonderful; but I still felt pretty bad because the cake was not at all what she was expecting or what the baker said they could do.

July 10, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

I just have a question for everyone who is blaming the brides: Pretend you know nothing about cake decorating and fondant vs. buttercream. Now pretend you found a cake that you love, but it's a fondant and you want buttercream. How is it your fault if the cake turns out as a wreck? Shouldn't the decorator have told you it wouldn't work right? How are you, a complete dummy when it comes to cake decorating, supposed to know it won't work out right?

As for wreck #3, again I wonder how the bride is supposed to know that the design won't work on a one tier cake and how she manages to be the one blamed because the decorator should have known better and told her but didn't.

I know nothing about cake decorating. Absolutely nothing. If I had been ANY of those bride's, I would have expected the decorator to be professional and know their limits and tell me "Yeah, buttercream doesn't ever turn out as smooth as the fondant, here's what I suggest doing instead....." or "Yes, that's a beautiful 3-tier design, but I'm afraid that won't look right on a cake with only one layer."

So HOW can the bride be blamed in any of these situations, when it's more than likely the bride has no idea about cake decorating other than what she thinks looks pretty and what doesn't?

July 10, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterShannon

Oops, make that cake #4, not #3.

July 10, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterShannon

These are exactly why I picked my wedding cake out of the album of pictures of cakes that my chosen bakery had already done before... Those poor couples. I hope they didn't have to pay for the cakes, or at least got a huge discount. B

July 10, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAngie

I think the last one is well done. The only problem is that it needs more tiers. The bride requested a single layer, and that's what she got. The drapery effect is then lost.

Her fault.

July 10, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

oh, it's posts like these that make me soo happy our wedding cake turned out like we asked (thank god we went simple and with an awesome baker). i just wish i could say the same for my hair and the minister lol

July 10, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterlaura

Geez. I was pissed that I didn't get the cake flavors I asked for on my wedding day, but at least it looked okay on the outside. Maybe this is a good idea for your next blog post...cakewrecks where the flavor of the cake was messed up. lol!

Yeah, probably not.

July 10, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterMelissa

Ok first to those that are bashing grocery store bakeries, not ALL grocery store bakeries suck. One person on here either lives in FL,GA or AL b/c they got their wedding cake from Publix. I live in FL and dude let me tell you, they have the most rockin cakes ever. Even their basic cakes are to die for. If I don't make our cakes then that is the ONLY place I will buy a cake from for a birthday.

Also has anyone stopped to think that the majority of those "professional" bakers got started in their own homes? Has anyone stopped to think that there are tons of women/men who do cakes out of their homes and cheaper and don't have their cakes turn out like that. So come on, don't tell a bride to go pay gobs of money to a professional b/c we have all seen on here many times that even professionals screw things up too, so a professional is not the only choice. This IMHO is all on the baker, like others have said, they know their limits, they know what they can do and even if a bride did all her homework and whatnot and saw millions of cakes that looked awesome or saw an album of their cakes, their only seeing the best b/c who's going to put their mediocre cakes or their horrible cakes out there for all to see or in an album? Oh yeah I can see it now, go to ABC Bakery, look through the album they have perfect cakes for a bunch of money, soso cakes for a little less and then you have the discount cakes that look like crap.Sorry NO bakery does that. So a bride goes in, expecting that they'll get what they are asking for b/c hey that's what the BAKER told them they would get and when they don't, sorry it's not their fault, it's ALL on the BAKER.

So really I think it's crappy to say it's the brides fault and crappy to put down at home bakers and crappy to put down grocery store bakeries b/c you know what, they're not all the same. Sheesh when did it become b/c this one thing happened its all like that become a rule of thumb? Seriously people get your heads out of the sand and think just b/c someone had a bad experience with someone/some place doesn't mean every place in the world is like that and every person is like that.

Oh and if you want to see some of the cakes that Publix does you should check it out on their website. Oh and they actually do go to classes/school to do what they do, they are not allowed to ice a cake until they have taken such classes and decorate a cake yeah if you do that and you haven't taken a class you can get fired. I use to work at one of the stores and knew the head baker (who's name happened to be Russell Stover lol) and knew the cake decorators. So don't clump everyone into one thing or assume that it's all HS kids (which they aren't even allowed to work in the bakery there).

July 11, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterSimple Complexity

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