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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)

Wild Cakes - EXACTLY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

July 11, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

So I've read through a few of these comments, and on the large part, I agree. I'm a professional baker too, and all too often brides come in with a picture then start modifying it. Say, "I like this, but I want buttercream. And I don't like the flowers, can you change those? And this one is light blue, but I want it more of a "Tiffany" blue. Can you make the tiers square instead of round? And I want three tiers only, but my wedding is for 350 people." So what started out as a simple, clean, delicate cake is now a massive blue square honker and looks nothing like the original cake. And then they complain.

I've also seen people on here saying that "Professional bakers should know their limits and not make false promises"... not all bakers take their own orders- often, an event planner or whoever is lucky enough to have answered the phone is the one that takes the order, and has no clue what their baker can do. (At least this has been my experience in a couple of places, especially when I was just starting out.) And then what? You just don't show up with a cake? No, you do the best you can and hope that it's enough. I hate to say it, but that's how people learn and get better.

I'm not defending these bakers, but I do have sympathy for them. Some of the wrecks on here are truly pitiful but for these, I know that the picture doesn't tell the whole story.

July 11, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterKatie

Yeah - i've gotta give some grace on the last one. That design just really wasn't meant for a single layer.

July 11, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterRenee

Shouldn't the bakeries have examples of what kind of work they do? Because if you have to show them a picture then that tells me that the bakery doesn't do that type of cake so you're really risking whether or not they can get it right.

July 11, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterKirthan

Question from an uninformed observer: does anyone actually use fondant for real wedding cakes? Isn't it pretty tasteless?

July 11, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterRachel

i love how the bride and groom on stephanie's cake are perched on the edge, pushed off by the amount of plastic flowers lol

July 11, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

Boo to the toilet paper cake(s)! The inspiration one's almost as wrecky as what the bride got, I think. But boy, oh boy, royal blue ribbon and teal scrollwork - now THERE'S a wreck!!


WV: suffer. How appropriate!!

July 11, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterMJ

Sorry John... I calls 'em as I sees 'em. LOL

You are correct that we made an assumption that THESE brides requested buttercream (even more Wrecky if they didn't!) but I wasn't trying to blame the brides so much as offer a Public Service Announcement: "THIS is what happens when..."

FWIW... buttercream cakes can be done beautifully; I have seen many jaw-dropping designs rendered in buttercream. It's simply a fact that many designs do not translate well from one medium to the other.

It's not the kind of work *I* do, so I rarely offer it, and when I do, it is the same price as fondant cakes (trust me; the extra $$ in the cuss jar when I work with buttercream makes up for the cost of the fondant! LOL)

I agree that the bakers (if they had any say at all) should have told the brides that it would not be the same in buttercream, and that there is also some onus on the brides to do their homework. Unfortunately, some decorators include magazine photos and photos from other web sites in their portfolio so it can be difficult.

And one last topic before I close this book... there are MANY different brands of fondant out there. Some taste like a science experiment gone badly wrong; some do not! There are pleasant tasting (albeit very sweet) fondants out there; and most North American decorators do indeed provide a layer of buttercream under the fondant so your guests can simply peel off the fondant if they don't care for it...
[off my soapbox now...:-) ]

July 11, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterWild Cakes

Aghhhhh! I love these the best! Seeing these 'supposed to be/reality' cakes made me choose a very simple wedding cake (it was still gorgeous!)!

July 11, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterVintageSunshine

It looks like one of those pug dogs with too much skin. I bet the bride was in tears.

July 11, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterDale

Thanks for the entertainment during a boring layover at DFW!

July 11, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

On the 6th pic, the toppers look like they want to kill themselves...

This is my favorite section on the blog :)

July 11, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

Why are people so hung up on that last cake? It looks terrible, one tier or not. The swag is not a swag, it's a random blob of fondant. Someone already pointed out that if you cover the bottom tiers on the inspiration cake, the top single tier looks nice. The "fabric" is draped beautifully. The actually cake looks like someone tossed a blanket over it.

Granted, asking for a single tier takes away from the intended look (continuing drapes), but if it had been executed to actually look like the top tier on the inspiration, it'd be fine.


WV: whity. Not going there!!

July 11, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

But seriously... do these brides not look at samples beforehand? Are they ordering their wedding cakes at WalMart? This does not happen solely because of the bakery.

July 11, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

This is what happens when you're too picky during the planning stages! LOL! I basically took the cake the caterer included, they asked what I wanted, I said, um, strawberries in it and this on top (had/have a Cinderella topper) and otherwise - make it white and enough to feed the guests I have.

Guess what? It was beautiful. Simple, pretty - white - standing straight up - and definitely NOT a cause for tears.

I know people want their "style" in each part of the wedding - but I'll take taste over glam any day. And trust me, the guests don't care that much about the looks. I worked in weddings a LOT.

AHH - and I will say this - my cousin had a CHEESECAKE wedding cake for her wedding - because she wanted the look of fondant on top - but for it to taste fabulous. So they peeled the fondant off as they cut that sucker. OMG - cheesecake is sooooo yummy...LOL!

I think Food Network Challenges are warping people's sense of a ice, simple, elegant, but affordable cake, ya know? Not every girl lives in a town with someone who can create fabulous - but everyone, I will guarantee, has somewhere they can get very nice, and very NOT wrecked. LOL!

July 11, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterDea

Personally I think fondant tastes freaking AWFUL. Like play-do made with sugar. My wedding cake was buttercream and it looked lovely and tasted delicious.

When my best friend got married at Disneyworld, their cake was covered in fondant, and looked fantastic. But when they serve the cakes, Disney takes them in the back, pulls off the fondant and puts on some extra buttercream on them. That way they look fancy as hell and still taste good, but I'm not sure how many other wedding venues would do something like that.

July 11, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterBianca

While I grant you those cakes are ... less than lovely, I have to say that at least part of the blame lies with the person who ordered it. You take a fabulous EXPENSIVE designer cake as inspiration and you expect to get something similarly stylish but are not willing to pay some expensive cake designer to make it - I mean WTF? Cheap price = cheap cake.

July 11, 2009 | Unregistered Commentermaxon

My sister's wedding cake was dropped and put back together with extra icing and didn't look as bad as #2 or #4.

And Missie, she had a Precious Moments caketopper too.

July 11, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJerry

Honestly, my jaw was dropped with incredulity from the first picture on. At the last one, a very loud (and I swear, NOT mean-spirited) laugh erupted. Great post.

July 11, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterFauxology

Alright I hate that last 'good' cake (tiers with that white sheet draping down it) - I don't even like the inspiration. Considering that she wanted one layer of it, I think she got the best she could hope for.

The others are just hilarious, and kind of sad, because you can tell the bakers weren't ENTIRELY on drugs since the cakes vaguely resemble what was ordered, sort of.

July 11, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJenna

I think making that draping cake one tiered doomed it from the beginning, but that attempt at matching whites and the rough icing work on the cake part (for lack of a better word) just added insult to injury.

July 11, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAnne

"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."

I answer your rant and raise you a b*tch.

Am planning our wedding now (hooray!). I'm making my own cake because honestly I don't want some pretty 'shell' of a cake that doesn't even taste as good as the cakes I bake. I've eaten a lot of wedding cake, trust me, wedding cake may look great...if a little too foofy for my style, but my cakes are delicious and wedding cakes are not.

Do you really think that we, or any reasonable couple, are going to cut their guest list so as to accommodate a very expensive heap of refined sugar? That's insane. "Sorry, Cousin Roland, I know we grew up swimming in the lake together but if I invite you and your 4 kids, I can't have my frosted castle on my wedding day." Get real.

And this is after cutting all the people I don't really want but feel I 'have' to invite.

Plus, we're lucky. We have a bit of our own money (not a lot mind you) and some parental help. A lot of couples don't have that, and their only option for any wedding cake is to ask Aunt Sally.

Which, by the way, I'd rather have a meaningful but wrecky Aunt Sally cake than a beautiful, tasteless one by some guy I don't know.

So, heh. Rant all you want but some of us have different priorities, and those priorities are spending our wedding day with guests we love, rather than a big spun-sugar fantasy.

And I say this as a cake lover!

(Fortunately my cake won't count for Cake Wrecks submission even if I screw up - I'm not a professional).



July 11, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJenna

When I saw the first cake Stacey wanted (the one with the modern twist) I thought that was the wreck!!! It reminded me of toilet rolls with an initial!!! (Sorry but it did!)

July 12, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterMim

I was one of this particular Vanessa's bridesmaids. The original cake was not only gorgeous, but delicious.

The one tier anniversary cake... looks like a soggy tube sock. :(



July 12, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterShawn

I live 3 blocks from Vanille (the model cake #3) and they are true artists. They import flour from France and get around export restrictions just to make the perfect croissant. And the cakes are an art form (their mini cakes at $7 for a 3-inch cake are expensive but amazing). They have awards up the wazoo.

So I wonder whose fault it is then that Random Cake Shoppe couldn't match them. The cake shop for not admitting they aren't award-winning experts or the buyer for assuming all pastry shops have the same level of skill?

When your local wedding band can't do a perfect rendition of James Brown doing "I Feel Good" are they surprised? Or do they know there's only one James Brown and understand it's great they could have their own little imitation?

July 12, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterCraig

Also, I gotta defend Vanessa's cake (the third one) as some people saying she "deserved" to get the freakish wreck. The first cake (what she wanted) was from her wedding. She didn't save the cake top because she didn't want to freeze the damn thing and eat old cake a year later. So she ordered from a local baker a single layer of HER SAME CAKE. So yeah, I don't think it's out of the realm of possibility that she's entitled to that again, it can be done. We ate it, it was delicious. (Especially the red velvet layer!)

The single layer was for their first anniversary, and... yeah. So she did NOT get exactly what she wanted.

July 12, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterShawn

I find this posting extremely offensive on several levels. Because wedding cakes are only for heterosexual couples. And therefore fail to represent either gay people or single people. Or single gay people. Only smug marrieds.

They're also a Christian tradition and therefore exclusionist towards those of other religions. They also originated in Yarrup and, y'know, other countries' traditions are, like.... scary.

They're also racist as they're covered in WHITE icing. And we all know that white represents purity. And its the opposite of black.

They also contain sugar. Which was produced by slaves. Black slaves.

I'm extremely offended on so many levels.

My six year old son looked at the first cake (the example cake, no less), grinned, and said "toilet paper cake!"

July 12, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterMrs. Flax

Ironically, Amazing Wedding Cakes on We is going over how to make a buttercream cake look like fondant right now. (Hint: Not piping the edges is considered so obvious that it need not be mentioned.)

Now that we know that the last cake was ordered from the same baker as the original picture, I think we can safely consider it a wreck. That baker was absolutely capable of better work, but didn't put the time and effort into the smaller, less expensive project. That's understandable, but still too bad.

p.s. Jen, do you really review every single comment? That's a lot of work - I tip my hat to you!

July 12, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterCyndi

I think they are all awful, especially the one with all the fake flowers and junk on another reader said the bride and groom look like they are about to jump off the cake any minute.

AND John is right, there is total truth to his "Telephone Theory" for sure !

July 12, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterLynn

I've seen some "wrecks" in my time, but that last one "draped cake" made me ROTFL! I laughed so hard, the tears rolled down my face!

"Draped Tolit Paper" indeed! This one was a "two-fold tragedy" (pun intended), both the Bride and the Decorator were at fault. The Bride most likely wanted "a cheap cake" (requesting a single tier for a small gathering or smaller budget) assuming-rightly so-that more tiers cost more money. The Bride (and/or the obvious amateur Decorator) may not have known that particular "effect" could only be achieved with fondant. Neither may have known anything about fondant, as is likely the case with the majority of Americans. A professional would know. And to those who believe that fondant is "not as tasty" as "buttercream", this does not have to be the case if made properly. However, it "tastes different" than buttercream and can be said to be an "acquired taste". The fondant 99% of bakeries use today (including professional/high-end)is bought in bulk and is the powdered variety (mix with water for instant fondant)or pre-manufactured. I have worked in Supermarket bakeries and the "bettercreme" is actually Vegetable shortening with lots of sugar and preservatives. Great for churning out hundreds of "staple" cakes per week! Working with fondant is another "animal" altogether and should be saved for professionals.

As to showing pictures of cakes in magazines, many don't know the "tricks of the food photographer's trade", many items that look stunning in a photo are actualy not made of cake or icing! The original was probably made by a very skilled artisan, but the cake you see in the photo is often made of a stryofoam base(dummy), with White (or colored) Glue or modeling paste/clay (similar to Polymer Clay) for icing, strings, lacework, and other decoration. The reason is these types of cakes can't "hold up" under the hot lights of a professional photo shoot. Real decorations (especially the more delicate ones or in chocolate) will melt and slide off, the cake will droop, all sorts of things happen in "food photography".

July 13, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

The Bride most likely wanted "a cheap cake" (requesting a single tier for a small gathering or smaller budget) assuming-rightly so-that more tiers cost more money. The Bride (and/or the obvious amateur Decorator) may not have known that particular "effect" could only be achieved with fondant.

Um. What? It's already been stated that the bride that ordered the single tier draped cake ordered it for her anniversary rather than saving and freezing the original top layer from her wedding cake.

And unless I'm mistaken, the photo clearly shows that it IS fondant.

Doesn't anyone read the comments before posting??


July 13, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

Hello everyone! I'm the proud owner of the final cake! I'm Vanessa.

I just wanted to set the record straight. The first photo, the "inspiration" photo, was my actual cake at my reception. That is a photo my photographer, Justin Marantz took. The cake was created by Masterpieces in Wheeling, WV.

The second photo is the reproduction that I had made for our first anniversary when we moved to South Carolina. The bakery was highly recommended and I had even viewed pictures of similar cakes they had made in the past. They assured me it was not a challenge to replicate the top half of my cake.

I must laugh though at the suggestion that the problem with my wrecked cake was that it was only one tier. If you look at the "inspiration" shot, the draping effect does NOT go from one layer to another, it's completely contained within each layer.

Had I commissioned bakery #2 to make the cake in 3 tiers, it would have just been 3 times as bad!!!

Anyway, my husband and I got a good laugh out of the reproduction, and I can now warn my new friends to avoid unnamed bakery #2.

July 13, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterVanaBanana

I'm another person who knows Vanessa...and another person who has had a cake made by the same bakery.

If anyone wants a good laugh, you'll be happy to know that the bakery she bought it from has the reputation of being one of the top bakeries in our area. However, their problem is that they won't tell people no. They take on more than they can handle sometimes and you end up with results like this.

July 13, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterDolceDeux

I'm so amazed that you ordered a new cake for your anniversary. LOL! I'm so lazy....hehehe....don't blame ya for not wanting to eat the frozen layer (ours made me toss my lunch, but then - I was preggers, lol!). But then - doesn't a whole new cake defeat the purpose of the tradition? Kudos for trying to do it - blegh on that bakery for screwing it up! :D

(BTW - people's "take" on the backstory isn't meant as an insult, people - we don't HAVE the whole story so uh - we have to guess...)

July 13, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterDea

To those that say avoid family members or friends for wedding cakes: Not all cakes done by non-professionals are wrecks.

When my mother remarried, she had her new SIL do the cake, and while it was a simple traditional tiered cake with buttercream frosting and piped blue flowers, it looked good and tasted even better.

There will always be brides who will think big and not realize all bakers can't replicate what they see in magazines and TV shows done by high-paid experts, but you shouldn't solely lay the blame on the ladies. The modern culture of American weddings these days has a lot to do with it.

July 13, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterBree

Now, what's the take away? That you can't get an expensive looking cake from a cheap ass bakery that doesn't have a history of doing expensive looking cakes.

July 13, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

The last picture looked like a toilet paper roll

July 14, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterTom

Exit, I doubt you'll return to a blog post that offended you, but I found your comment unjustified towards this site. Perhaps where you live only straight people get married, but where I live gay and straight people are all entitled to marry. While the cakes in this particular post are all primarily white, you can easily find mostly black and other colour wedding cakes on Cake Wrecks. And wherever you live, people young and old, gay and straight, black and white, and of every religion are invited to weddings where they see and eat cake. I mean it's cake. Yummy!

Society may offend you, but this blog is a poor target for your anger, and Jen is definitely an equal-opportunity cake mocker. If someone sent her a photo of a terrible cake commemorating an African-American Buddhist gay wedding, you can bet she would mock it with equal glee.

July 14, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAviatrix

What I find sad about these piccys is that the cakes are obviously set up for the wedding day, - the posh cake knife, the matching petals ...
... the crap cake!?!

Thank goodness these brides have a sense of humour!

July 14, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterSuz

Aviatrix - I think Exit was being sarcastic, since the Christmas in July post was ALL about the offended people....LOL!

July 15, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterDea

these are so sad...however, i guess that's just what happens when you dont want to pay a little more money for a good bakery.

July 17, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterjoebenz

hahaha. a great blog you have here. never knew the situation was *that* bad in the glorious field of cake making :D

Wow. Some of you are sort of being jerks and assuming things, aren't you?

I know one of these brides, and she went to a well known and supposedly reputable bakery and showed them the picture of what she wanted. They simply said they could do that absolutely, no problem. She did not request they switch to buttercream. They showed up with crap.

Cannon Beach Bakery- in Cannon Beach Oregon was responsible for one of these cakewrecks. STAY AWAY FROM THEM!!!

July 19, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterThe Sandeen Family

....I actually like the Toga cake.

August 24, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

I'm looking at that second one and wondering where the hell the baker got the idea to put shell borders on it... the original design has NO borders at all and the wreck looks like it was copied from a 1950 edition of a Wilton wedding cakes album!

June 28, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAmy M. Bennett

OMG, OMG that all i can think right now.

July 23, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

I have a feeling that some of these bakers maybe do decent work but have trouble replicating intricate detail or techniques they've never done? Maybe that's generous. But when I chose my baker (she was just starting out and pretty cheap) I noticed that she was definitely better at some techniques - the cakes in her portfolio that looked the worst were ones that had clearly been replicated from other, more expensive cakes. She was good at fake flowers and other fondant stuff, and not as good at hand-drawn stuff, it appeared. I chose an exact cake from her portfolio that looked beautiful, because I knew she could do it. It looked awesome, tasted great, and made it into a bridal magazine with some of our other photos! And it was less than $300! (I love Publix as much as the next girl, but it was my WEDDING CAKE. Come on).

July 29, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

I have to laugh when I see these ribbon cakes, and the bakers that use real ribbon instead of trying to mess with fondant... It's a sure sign of an amateur baker. I catered a wedding once where the baker used PINS to hold the ribbon in place! Fortunately we were there to remove them, as the guests had already consumed several gallons of rum punch!

August 26, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

OH goodness, this just made my day so much better. Ha!

April 11, 2011 | Unregistered Commentereduardo

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