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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

She Turned In Her Own MOTHER

Sometimes the best part about your Wreck submissions isn't the photo, but the e-mail that came with it. Today's Wreck is aces on both counts. So allow me to allow Sarah L. to give you the intro.

"This wedding cake was made by my mom (who you can see having a nervous breakdown in one of the pictures) for her brother's wedding. Yes, she's my mom, but she IS a professional pastry chef. She went to culinary school, works at the Ritz Carlton, and her brother paid her for her services. (She's made several wedding cakes for $$ since then that turned out much better...I SWEAR.)"

You'll understand why Sarah was so adamant about her mom doing better work in just a moment.

In fact, I'd say all will be made clear right...about....

Hi, Sarah's mom!
Say, you DO kind of look like you're having a nervous breakdown. Perhaps if you sprinkled a little more powdered sugar?

To be fair, Sarah offers the following explanation:

"The wedding took place during August in Dallas, and I think the biggest lesson here is humidity and fondant DO NOT mix. The cake was essentially "sweating," and as it melted, it began to lean."

And yet, bravely, (some might say suicidally so) Sarah's mom battled onward:

Ah, that's better. The writing really helps camouflage all bits. Don't you agree, Sarah?

" ended up looking like it was constructed by an over-caffeinated toddler with poor spatial awareness."

Whoah, whoah, whoah! An over-caffeinated toddler with poor spatial awareness? Really? C'mon, maybe if she just added a few flowers...


So I know the readers are dying to know, Sarah: what was the final verdict?

"It was made with love, and it tasted great, but...I thought the bride was gonna have an anxiety attack."

You mean she didn't have an anxiety attack? Aw, now that's a couple that's gonna go the distance, right there.

Well, I think we've all learned some valuable lessons today. Now if you'll excuse me, I'm off to dig up some embarrassing pictures of my mom during Band Camp; this mom stuff is comedy GOLD.

Oh, and Sarah? Better go with the premium bouquet this Mother's Day. With chocolates. And a few diamond necklaces. Delivered ahead of time. By someone else.

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Reader Comments (131)

c'mon, was a cake made with lots and lots of love for her BROTHER AND SISTER-IN-LAW...and Mother Nature decided that this cake was just not gonna happen.

There are times when, no matter how talented you are, you cannot fool with Mother Nature (lightning and thunder)...She recovered as well as she should, and her final cake is still an awful lot better than some of the Wrecks that show up here...and it's a story that will last a long time. (If there were any truly hard feelings about this, I'm pretty sure it wouldn't have ended up in Jen's inbox...for something like this to be passed around for the world to see means everybody has forgiven and moved on. Y'all should do the same.)

Most wedding cakes come out fine...can you actually describe what a wedding cake looked like at a wedding other than your own? We went cheap on ours -- it was a very pretty cake, but nothing fancy -- because nobody actually cares what the stupid thing looks like...and ours tasted good, too.

As for those pondering the timing...maybe, just maybe, people decide to get married in August in Dallas because they love each other and want to make it forever, and they don't actually give a rat's red rump if it's the proper humidity levels for the fondant.

WV: Blest. Blest be the cake decorator who can laugh at the stuff that went wrong.

May 8, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

Is this really a Wreck? I have to admit, to me it looks rather cute and unique once the writing is on. A charming, cuddly sort of cake.

May 8, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterFrances

This is an interesting test of how many people read the text, as opposed to just looking at the pictures. The baker was not the bride's mother-in-law-to-be, folks. She's the sister of the groom. Sarah clearly states that it was Sarah's mom's brother's wedding (not her son's wedding). What ever happened to paying attention? I guess attention spans are now only 140 characters long ...

May 8, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterGary

I'm sorry...there is such a thing as AIR CONDITIONING. Even in Dallas. And especially in August! So really there is no excuse!

May 8, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterKari in Dallas

This cake reminds me of the cake wrech that Funa made in "Sleeping Beauty." If only Sarah's mom had a magic wand!!

May 8, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

LOL that was great. It reminded me of a toilet paper cover my great grandmother once knitted. I think I still have it....Jess

May 8, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJess

This has to be one of the best wrecks! I was able to work with Anne "the MOM" in the pictures. I can assure you the stories were just as funny as the pictures everyone gets to see today. I think Anne will think this is one of the most perfect mother's day presents from her daughter. And I think she has the best family. It's too bad the alligator groom's cake wasn't included! All of her former Ritz family has enjoyed this post maybe more than her!

May 8, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterturnersinflorida

You know, if you just saw the end product and not the WIP (wreck-in-progress!) pics, it wouldn't be that bad. Considering the heat and the delicate nature of fondant, this is actually a passable cake. And I don't remember who said it, but someone made the comment about how the things that didn't go smoothly on the wedding day are more memorable. My wedding was relatively hiccup-free, and as a result it's pretty much a blur!

So YAY Sarah's mum - you didn't just make their cake, you made their most memorable moment!

May 10, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterLauren

Oh no! That is just awful. I recently had a similar experience with my 5 year olds birthday cake. I'm not a professional baker, but I didn't think I had to worry about icing melting in February! You can see it, here, if you like:

I don't really know who to feel bad for - the Bride, or the Mother-in-Law. Perhaps both?

I really appreciate the effort that went into it, and even if it doesn't look great, I'm sure that it tasted good!

May 10, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterCreative Mom

No offense to the baker...but the minute the fondant headed south, she should went to buttercream. I would've been an unhappy bride. Sorry, to me it's just not "cute", it's sloppy and unprofessional.

May 10, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

My mom had a similar situation happen one summer. She made a wedding cake for a friend's daughter and it was so hot the cake was leaning. As soon as she got it all set up it fell over!! Flowers on top saved the day!

May 11, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterSLV

aww bless her heart. she did a great job fixing it. it looks like its supposed to be a cartoony style.

May 14, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

just one word: sorry, would have been enough

February 1, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterfiona

I think the "corn pops" and spacing there are the biggest tragedy on the cake.

March 5, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterverve

I would only get married in August in Dallas if the wedding were held in a meat locker.

Good effort mom of Sarah, but that is a droopy cake. I hope it tasted really good!

March 19, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterseriousschwartz

Oh yes, humidity! I made and frosted my daughter's wedding cake, then froze it. I had done that to cakes before with no the winter. However, after two weeks of cold, rainy weather in May, my daughter's wedding day was outside on a very humid 80 degree day. As the cake defrosted, the frosting began to slide off the side of the cake. We headed the problem off by covering it with real flowers and cutting the cake after the 1st dance, BEFORE the meal.

April 13, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterRita

I can't believe people are ripping this woman apart for something that was obviously beyond her capabilities. She obviously did her best and you can see at the end the gold bows looked pretty darn good. I like it.

April 23, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterSilly Monkey

I would have been in a corner breathing into a paper bag singing a cher song. I would have just lost it. (Totally kidding.. Sort of)
Good job Sarah's mom! You gotta do the best with what you got. Finish the job first and cry hysterically about it later! :D

May 1, 2012 | Unregistered Commentercassalexi

I first opened my custom bakery in east Tennessee, where I thought the humidity was horrid. I then opened it on the gulf coast to find out Tennessee humidity was practically non-existent. Sarah is correct about the fondant and humidity, and it also greatly affects baking cakes if you make them from scratch and not from box mixes like we do. It was a learning curve for us to adjust to the new conditions. Sarah and her mom are great for letting us see her cake! The thing with cake decorating is that it looks so much easier and simpler than it really is.

June 8, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterskmills

ok, this is an older post,but i have also made a wedding cake for an august wedding, which also melted on the way to the wedding. strawberries floating down the cake. did what i could once i got to the venue. bride was my sis-in-law so very understanding. i was doing it pro bono, but she still paid me. august in texas=rough on cakes!!

January 1, 2013 | Unregistered Commentervgaulden

August in Dallas? August 2012?? I'm surprised it didn't spontaneously combust.

January 1, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterClint

I feel her pain.I made a 5 tiered wedding cheesecake for a friend's wedding in early April. The wedding was in Yuma, Arizona. I had made a similar cake for my father's wedding years before, during the hottest summer day, in Pittsburgh, PA, so I thought it would be no problem. I've done plenty of cakes here in Southern California. I just wasn't prepared. I had no idea that 90 degrees in Yuma is like stepping foot onto the sun!

As soon as I opened the trunk to take out the tiers, decorations started falling from the cake. The buttercream turned to some kind of shiny, greasy, melty, bumpy, bubbly, concoction and the colors turned from soft pastels to school bus yellow and funereal gray. And no matter what, I could not keep it standing. It leaned this leaned that way. Finally, the cheesecake just started to break in half and fall off. This is when I begged the bride to please cut it, so that it wouldn't end up on the floor. It tasted great (why not, all the butter was melted) but it looked like a nightmare.

February 14, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterthe clever cake

I guess I'll never get why *everything* being absolutely PERFECT at a wedding is so crucial!
One commenter insinuated she would have assaulted! her mother in law over a cake. Another that they wouldn't be speaking. That's insane.
The lady's stress and effort should be appreciated no matter how funny the cake turned out. Kiss your moher in law, then your new husband, have a sip of champagne and be grateful, not hateful!

April 2, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterbarbara

I agree with Heather - I've made a bunch of fondant cakes in Missouri in August - 90% humidity and 105 degrees.....This cake has MANY, MANY more problems than the heat. Mom needed to practice her fondant skills ALOT before promising a wedding cake. And sorry but for a pastry chef, buttercream should have been a natural go-to for this cake. All of the decoration (piped wording, monogram, beads, but maybe not in horrid gold) are easily achieved in buttercream. I feel bad for the bride.

May 19, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterDani

As a fellow culinary professional, this hurts me. I'm glad that she's improved since then, but just unfortunate that her son's wedding had to be a 'stepping stone' of sorts.

June 5, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJellaine

Oh my word. Now I'm going to have to post my "Some People Are Worth Melting For" Olaf from this past weekend. It makes me feel better that a pro attempted Texas heat and humidity with fondant. I didn't know better. I do now.

June 25, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterLori

I kinda Like it! theres this Alice-in-wonderland-ish feel to it.

October 1, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterEdmund Montoro

I know this cake saga was posted a very long time ago, but the picture ended up below another day's cakes that I was looking at. I had to go see what was up with the shiny cake.

As I read the story, I chuckled a little, but mostly wanted to cry. I've done 2 fondant cakes in school. One shaped like a butterfly, and another a three-tier wedding cake. It was June here in DC, but fortunately, the humidity was reasonably low. It is very instructive to see what happens to fondant in heat and humidity. I'm with whoever said that, when the cake really started going south, it was time to separate the layers, take off the fondant and frost in Italian or Swiss Buttercream. I do have to admire the dear lady for soldiering on, however.

I once made a four-tier wedding cake (I was 25 yrs old and too stupid to know it was a bad idea). I was to transport it 150 miles in August in central Indiana and Illinois. I sent dowels through all the layers (pencil sharpener and rubber mallet came in handy). Then I froze the cake in a chest freezer for about 12 hours, and then transported it in my little Audi Fox with the A/C up full blast (I wore hat, gloves, and jacket). When I got to the venue about 3 hrs and 45 minutes later, it had just thawed and I was able to do the little bit of touch-up and put it in the walk-in refrigerator. It was pretty, tasty, and I was VERY lucky to have done some things by instinct that it turns out that professionals do.

I. Hate. Fondant ...Really ... Honest ... I do.

June 29, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterMary Kay

I would've turned my mom in too... And then hoped she kept her sense of humor.

July 16, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterStorm

I'm late to this party but I couldn't resist. "Omg Becky, look at that cake, it's so round"

January 25, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterValerie

This reminds me of my first tries with fondant. It was... floops. Yes, floops is the term that describes best the result. It had less flowers though.

May 22, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterLeina

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