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: Ribbons and Lace

This week I figured we'd take a break from the geek themes and instead feature some Sweets that showcase amazing piping skills. This kind of cake art is becoming pretty rare in these days of all-fondant cakes, so it's nice to be reminded of the painstaking talent that a lot of the more traditional bakers possess. The designs can be deceptively simple, but it takes a practiced hand and a lot of patience to get results like these.

First, let's start off with some lovely scroll work and piped pearls:

(Made by Yukiko, aka Rosey Sugar.)


Here's a fondant-free example:

(Submitted by Amanda T. and made by Das Meyer Fine Pastry Chalet.)

That's all hand-piped! Here, check out the detail:

This next one contains some mind-boggling string work. (String work uses royal icing, which hardens after it dries.) Just look at this:

Those triangular pillows on the side were made by layering royal icing in a lattice pattern. It's incredibly fragile, and there's no room for error. That goes double for that astounding bottom ruffle of strings. Each strand is piped individually, and is literally suspended over thin air. Look how perfect the spacing is:

I love the color on this next one:

(Made by Annie K. of Annie's Art Book)

Orange and white - awesome! Love the ball and the butterflies, and the way this baker used the molded lace edging is really unique and modern:

Doesn't it look like crochet? Hard to believe it's actually icing.

And last is the most technically difficult of today's bunch:

(Also by Rosey Sugar. Thanks to Donatella for the link!)

What makes this cake so impressive is the icing drop strings and the hanging scroll border. For the strings, each strand was in effect piped in mid-air. The tip is pulled away and placed in the same spot, hopefully leaving an unbroken string. Then, to really show off her mad skilz, the decorator did a second tiny loop inside of the first one:

For the scroll border, royal icing is layered on a flat surface, dried, and then carefully adhered to the base with more icing. Have I mentioned that this stuff is incredibly fragile? 'Cuz it is. I've been told that for a cake like this, you have to do the string work onsite; the slightest bump or jarring would cause them all the break right off.

Well, hopefully you have a better appreciation for piping art now! Thanks to today's bakers!

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Reader Comments (144)

AMAZING! I've never wanted to get married but now I do just to order a cake like these. Such skill and talent.

September 13, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

It's already Sunday night on my side of the world (I live in China) and I've been waiting for Sunday Sweets all evening long! I'm always so amazed at the artistry involved. That last cake . . . oooh la la (kissing fingers and waving them in the air)!

BTW, I really had no clue there were fund raising teams on breast cancer, thus my confusion on a "team" cake with a breast cancer ribbon on it. (This was a few days ago.) At least I understand the concept now . . . just not the writing on the cake!

September 13, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterVickie

These are all awesometasticness! I imagine that stringwork must be SOO frustrating to perfect!
I think my favorite would be that fondant-free one. The orange and white one is lovely as well, but I would much prefer A&M maroon (whoop!)

September 13, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterChannie

a mid-air loop WITHIN a loop? oh my god, amazing.

September 13, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterBeantownBaller

Those are truly beautiful. I am not dismissing fondant art, but too often the result is a pretty cake without tasty icing. A feast for the eyes is lovely, but cakes and their decorations should always be delicious as well.

September 13, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterKnitty

I'm in awe. These people are artists.

September 13, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterCarmenT


September 13, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterpharmgirl

these are fantastic! just...WOW!

September 13, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterMarianne

WOW. Jen, thank you for showcasing these beautiful, intricate works of art. Not only have I never seen these types of piping before, but you also educated me about them in the process!

Now, THAT is sweet! :)

September 13, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterLauren S.

These are some of my favorite cakes! They're absolutely gorgeous!

I hope this means that the fondant-royal icing pendulum is swinging away from the ubiquitous fondant decorating. Fondant is beautiful, but it just doesn't taste very good.

September 13, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterKelly

I am in awe, as my air loop skill level stops at the I-can-tie-my shoe level.

Just gorgeous. (going back for another look)

WV cheds- Variety of cracker: you've got your salts, cheds, wheats, and the ultimate, chiken in a biskt.

September 13, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterfrigglesnitz

Oh my gosh! My eyes are popping out of my head! I always thought of traditional wedding cakes as stuffy, stodgy, and unattractive, but looking at the creativity and talent (and all the friggin' WORK!) that went into these cakes, I think my opinion is turning around!

I've so decided that when it comes time for my own wedding, I'm going all buttercream. Life is too short to eat fondant!

September 13, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterThat Kind of Girl

Beautiful! I love the nostalgia of this seemingly lost art! Thank you for sharing. :)

September 13, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterDeanna

Thanks for crushing my dreams of becoming a professional Cake artist. I love to do on the side and arent the best right now but getting better. But that I will never achieve. I had bad eyesight, shaky hands and I'm left handed LMAO.

Thank God I'm in School still because Sun Sweets has crushed my dreams..

September 13, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterlaura killian

What incredible workmanship! Absolutely lovely!

September 13, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

I read your blog every day (and I love it!) but I rarely comment. I just had to say that these cakes are amazing! Wow.

September 13, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterLaura

I've always appreciated piped cakes. That's decorating a cake. Using fondant is just carving and molding, and you really don't have to be a baker for that.

I hope to someday open a bakery/cafe something where I focus on non-fondant cakes. I wanna do that someday!

September 13, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterSpicy

Wow, my hand is cramping up just looking at a couple of those. I can only imagine how perfect of consistency the royal would need to be to get some of those effects to actually work. I like seeing that there are still people working in icing. I got tired of fondant a long time ago.

September 13, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterzebe912

i'm lucky to get the entire cake smeared with canned icing without it falling apart. so i'm easily impressed.

but after these beauties, i have a totally new appreciation for the talent of cake artistry.


September 13, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterTerry Lee

I'm completely geeking out that our submission is featured today! It was so much fun to email our bride and groom and let them know that it's not just their photographers who think their cake is gorgeous!

I feel a bit like I've eaten all that royal icing.

STUNNING all of them. My fav is the orange amazing!

September 13, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterVashti

wow, nice!

September 13, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterMuum


September 13, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterMs Avery

I've done royal icing tiaras before and fragile is exactly right! Even with 3 layers of icing I still broke my first two just removing them from the parchment paper...
Beautiful cakes!

September 13, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterMelissa

Hey, for the last picture, you ask "anyone know who made this cake?" But in the commentary you say " really show off HER mad skillz..."

Are you saying that a male is not capable of decorating like this?

September 13, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

These cakes are indeed amazing and these designers have crazy skills...I hope they charge accordingly!!

As for the people who have commented on here that think fondant takes no skill and that it doesn't taste good...that is ignorance in its most blatent form. Fondant can taste absolutely horrible, but it can also taste like white chocolate and other yummy flavors. Trust me, as someone who does both buttercream AND fondant over-the-top cake designs that my elite clients can't get enough of, I don't feel like I'm a "fraud" or a "non-baker" when proclaiming that I'm a cake designer...and a darn good one that cares about what I attach my name to!

September 13, 2009 | Unregistered Commentersugarbabies

GORGEOUS!!! I can't believe people have that steady of hands - or that much patience!!!

September 13, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterDea

Simply amazing. These make the wrecks look even more awful.

September 13, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

I am awestruck! Just gorgeous work!! Really, really great!!

September 13, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterSusie

That is AMAZING!! You've got quite the touch. Thanks for sharing with us. :)

September 13, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAmanda P

That is amazing! Now I'm totally intimidated about making my sis's wedding cake in January, lol! Although now I know how I can make snowflakes for it! Thanks for the Royal Icing "lesson"!

September 13, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterKailah

Wow. Just wow - in an extremely awed and reverential voice. Stunningly beautiful.

I'm in the process of deciding what to order for our wedding cake. We already knew we wanted fondant-free and it's good to know there are still those who appreciate the art of piping and the luscious taste of buttercream. I just don't know if I could cut into one of these works of art!

WV -- apharad - apharadly someone was paying attention in piping class

September 13, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterCake_or_Death

Absolutely AMAZING!!!

September 13, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJanella

Anon @ 10:56,

Yeah. That's exactly what she's saying.

Actually, for years, the pronoun to use when dealing with unknown persons was "his." Jen thought it was time for a change. I think we should start using her/his. It sounds awkward but I think it's more chivalrous, don't you?


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

Wow, I didn't know it was even possible do do this with sugar!
Those mid-air thingies are just mad!

September 13, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterClaire

My mother had a cake business from home when I was a small child. We used to watch her make these massive wedding cakes with iced flowers and all the types of piping as seen on today's Sunday Sweets. Just last week I was talking with my mom about fondant (I had never seen fondant until the reality cake decorating shows and this blog) and we were discussing how piped iciing is a lost art now. I am *thrilled* to see today's cakes - it really brings back happy memories from my childhood and focuses on how much talent it takes to decorate a cake "old school style."

September 13, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterkatekinners

Fantastic cakes! Love all the intricate work that was shown!!

September 13, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterhollymac79

That is so beautiful! My hands would have fell off doing work like that. Absolutely stunning!

September 13, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

AMAZING!!!!! i am proud of myself if after i ice a cake i is some-what-smooth!

September 13, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterLucille Ball Jr.

Das Meyer is making our wedding cake, and I am more excited than ever after seeing them on Sunday Sweets! We picked them because they are one of two bakeries in the area that do fondant-free unless you make a special request, as opposed to using fondant unless you tell them not to :-) After a couple tasting and interviews, it became clear that they are also extraordinarily talented decorators!

Their cakes are delicious, too! We're offering four flavors: Orange Blossom, Chocolate Raspberry Truffle, Texas Pecan, and white cake for the more boring relatives.

Just have to share, since they're literally the first vendor we booked- a year in advance! If you are in the metro Denver area, be sure to check them out!

The one with the hanging icing is so impressive, I can't fathom the patience that takes!

September 13, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAmy.mangos

The his/her thing is an annoying shortcoming of our language family (and many others). Though it's interesting that there apparently was a gender-neutral pronoun or two in Middle English that didn't survive.

As for these cakes, what I'm in awe of is what I imagine the size of the bill to be. That kind of work cannot be cheap.

September 13, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterThanny

Wow. I wish my wedding cake had looked like that!

September 13, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterSarah M. Anderson

Our cake was the submission from Das Meyer and we loved it. Amanda did a beautiful job of capturing the beauty of the cake on film (thank you!), and we're delighted that she passed the photo along. Someone mentioned cost and their hope that the bakers were charging in accord with the skills required. To Das Meyer's credit, we chose them because we loved what they had to offer, but their prices were better than those of many bakeries we considered. Das Meyer was a success all the way around!

September 13, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJulie

Sweet ZOMBIES, those are freakin' AMAZING!

September 13, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterLeah

incredible and soo pretty!!

WV = flojoy!

September 13, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterdiddleymaz

Those are so beautiful I wouldn't want to eat them. I'd feel awful about ruining such exquisite works of cakey art.

September 13, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterjackie31337

Holy COW! My hands are cramping just looking at all that piping work!

September 13, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterRyan, Corrie, and Max


September 13, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterMarji

Oh wow! Breathtaking!
As someone who doesn't like Fondant I love to be awed at those who can pull off amazing feats of cake artistry without it!

I want to get married and have a beautiful cake with detail like that!

September 13, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterKisa

Jenn, I'm so glad that you posted cake like these. I know I am a more modern baker doing fondant work and sculpted cakes and these cakes are the ones that get 1st prize at the cake shows. I really do hope you find out who the other cakes belong to because they deserve the credit. String work is not a lost art, yet, but decorators need to try their hand at it. (I know I do)

September 13, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterstep0nmi2

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