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

Oops! They Did It Again

Will you guys ever get tired of seeing wedding missed marks? 'Cuz I'm thinking, "no."

Let's test that theory, shall we?


What the bride wanted:

What the bride got:

That'll buff out.


A lovely leaf motif:

And a lovely...oh good grief:

Actually, that leaf design is so popular I have two wedding wrecks based on it:

Whoah. This baker needs to make like a tree, and get out of tree decorations.

(Hm. I feel like that line didn't go quite right. Maybe I should follow it up with something clever.)



(Theeere we go.)

This next one's in reverse order; here's what Anthony L's bakery replaced another bakery's initial wreck with, and with only an hour and a half to do so before the wedding started:

Not bad for less than two hours' work, right?


Especially when you compare what the original cake (again, from another bakery) looked like:

Am I the only one who thinks this looks like Play-Doh? I keep expecting it to spring to life, claymation style. And then maybe turn into a giant demon dog and terrorize a nerdy New York accountant.

Just me?


Here's a fun, modern pattern:

Aaaaand the fun stops HERE:

It's never a good sign when your cake is crying.


Goodness gracious, great balls on wires!

Seriously. They're like shiny little bubbles of joy - totally cute.


These, on the other hand, are just...



Thanks to Krista V., Emily B., Allison I., Anthony L., Tempest J., & Sarah B. for feeding our horrible wedding wreck obsession.

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Reader Comments (122)

I'm another who will never get tired of these wrecks. It's a guilty pleasure I don't want to quit.

For the "you get what you pay for" crew, read some of the comments from previous Inspiration vs. Perspiration threads. Some of the brides have verified that they weren't cheap, that they ponied up really big bucks to professional stand alone bakeries (not Wal-Mart, Costco, or the local grocery store) or professional cake decorators who presented what they claimed was photographic evidence of their ability to do what the brides requested. And they still ended up with wrecks. Money can't buy everything, sadly.

August 19, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAnne-with-an-e

Man, I just got into cake decorating, and my work is far from perfect, but I KNOW I could do a better job than those, and I don't feel my work is worthy of (at this point) charging for my cakes more than reimbursement for supplies. Just sad. So many of the example cakes are obviously fondant, so why would you try to recreate it in buttercream unless you had mad buttercream skills? Just don't get it...

August 19, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterComputermama

I'm not saying these are any good~in fact some are just down right awful~but in the decorators "defense" have these people coming in day after day after watching "Cake Boss" or whatever with pictures of these fabulous cakes but they only want to pay like $50 for it. Now I'm not saying they couldn't have done a little better job on these but don't come in with a hand painted fondant cake but not be willing to pay for it~I can do a lot with butter cream but it is never going to look exactly like the "fondant cake I saw on TV(or in a mag or on line or where ever)"

August 19, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJenC

The more I look at that blue and white monstrosity the more horrified I am. I keep seeing more and more details that make me cringe - for example, it looks like they used a different tip for each and every band around the base of the tiers - some smooth, some stars, some thick, some thin - ridiculous!!! Jen is there any back story?

August 19, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterSaraF

Cake #1: Guy in the background wearing a gun holster is the baker's bodyguard. After seeing the cake, you know why he is necessary.

Cake #2: The "I Want" version of the leaf motif doesn't look cartoonish to me, more like stained glass. The first "What I Got" version isn't sooo bad (am I just desensitized?). The second version, yikes.

Cake #3: I can see it now. A new cake reality show: Baker 911!

Cake #4: I don't even know where to start....

Cake #5: Yes, balls indeed.

I remember the weddings I've been to, but can't even recall what the cakes looked like. So, if you happen to get a wreck, put it on display or keep it in the kitchen until it's cut and served; whichever makes you feel better.

August 19, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAndrea

I am so happy that I only make my cakes for family. They are still better than these 'professional' ones.

Love the Ghostbusters reference.

August 19, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterRJ

It's a sad trend, the more weddings I go to the more I realize that I can do a better job making a wedding cake then most of these professionals! Of the last 6 I went to the 2 that had good cakes were actually made by a member of the Groom's family and the bride's instead of a fancy bakery. The rest were nice looking, save one a true wreck, but used the flavorless bucket fondant.

A cake is meant to be eaten first then pretty second but there is no excuse for a cake made with premixed fondant to not look good. I know how much work it is to carefully smooth Buttercreme and hand pipe decorations and some of the Sunday Sweets here have me in awe. The ones with hand pipes lacing the most. I'm good but no where near that good!

August 19, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterIsolder74

I LOVE when you post missed marks. That is all.

August 19, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJean D.

I think the problem is not picking a design generated by your chosen baker. I picked from my baker's catalogue, so it was obviously something they could do.

August 19, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterSylko

Anyone else hearing Geoff Peterson's voice with that last cake? ; )

August 19, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterKiwi

The answer to the question of why did some of those bakers use drippy ugly buttercream when the original design had fondant is: because the don't have the guts to tell the customer it NEEDS to be fondant. That, and they really have no business doing wedding cakes, because those attempts are not acceptable period. ((shudder)). I'm so glad I know what the hark I'm doing.

August 19, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJamie

Here's an idea: Bakeries should provide a free single-layer mini-cake that proves that they can, indeed, make the cake as promised. This should be done within a week of the wedding cake order and if it is not comparable in quality to what is ordered, the bride and groom can cancel the order right then and go somewhere else. That would help avoid a lot of those last minute horrifying wrecks. And we could still enjoy the wrecky tester cakes. :)

August 19, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMary Jane

That last one kind of looks like it has the Dippin' Dots logo on it, which makes me almost expect it to be an ice cream cake inside.

August 19, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterRainbow

The second leaf cake would be GREAT if a pair of soldiers were getting married in a jungle combat zone.

August 19, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterBeth

These look a case of the "I want the most amazing cake ever but I don't want to spend any money to get what I want."

just my 2 cents.

August 19, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterYelli

You're right. I will never get tired of seeing the "inspiration" vs. "wreckage" posts. They provide cakey satisfaction every time.

As for wedding cakes, I am really glad that I:
Didn't go into it having a super-specific mental picture.
Asked my very dearly beloved Aunt to make my cake.
Ended up with a lovely, elegant wedding cake that tasted delicious.

My Aunt's cake decorating skills were more than adequate to create a cake that was appropriate to the occasion as her gift to us. It was a simple three-tiered white cake with buttercream flowers, and really the main purpose for it was to have sweet cakey goodness to hand out to our guests and their kids. We had a LOT of kids at our wedding, I have a picture of the hallway lined with adorable little faces, several with suspicious blobs of white frosting on their faces. I can't ask for a better cake endorsement than that! And now most of those kids are either in college or starting to raise kids of their own! Yikes!

August 19, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterKat

`I'm not sure I agree with all the 'you get what you pay for' stuff. Obviously checking past work etc is wise, but any professional with integrity or pride in their work should be able to explain why they can't do x that the customer asked for and either suggest alternatives or recommend a more upmarket bakery that can. Unless the customers were being completely unreasonable with the bakers and not listening to what they said or something, there's no reason to make something crap, charge for it, and then present it on someone's wedding day. That's not a good way of dealing with too difficult orders at all.

For another thing, some of these cakes don't actually look massively complicated or advanced. What's involved in cake 1 for example?
- Bake some cakes of a suitable size
- White ice them smoothly
- Tie some ribbon around each one
- Find some nice pink flowers and place them on top.
While I'm not saying I could do 1 or 2 myself, they both seem like pretty basic things you'd learn how to do before starting out in professional decorating. Can you really call yourself a professional cake decorator if applying a smooth layer of icing to a round cake is too hard? It seems like something that would come up pretty often.

The leaf cakes look a lot harder and require some proper artistry, but again there are issues with the size of the layers, I'd have thought making cakes of the right size would be fairly easy for someone who makes cake every day. And did the wreckerators look at the end result and think, "Yes, I'm pleased with that, it looks like what the customer asked for"? I really don't know...

August 19, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJuniper

Hmm I'm an amateur cake decorator and I don't think I would ever be a professional one. My cakes aren't bad but they're not perfect. Having said that I have worked in a grocery store bakery and we would have people come up and want a 3 tiered fondant cake the next day for like $70. We had a fabulous decorator but there's only so much you can do when you've got 8 hours and a dozen birthday cakes to make as well. And of course to management there's no such thing as telling a customer we can't do something.

I would also like to point out that there's a big difference between a photoshoot cake which quite frankly is probably styrofoam with back lights and fabric swatches and an actual cake on a table being photographed with a cell phone.

August 19, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAngela

Why are so many people blaming the brides for these wrecks? As another poster mentioned already, most of these cakes were not that complicated and only required a few simple decorations, a smooth finish, and properly stacked and shaped tiers. Those should be things that anyone involved in a cake decorating business should be able to do.

If the bakery is not able to do what the bride has requested, they need to let her know so that a compromise can be made or the bride can take her vision elsewhere. If I brought a photo to a bakery and they told me there was no problem with replicating it, I would be expecting a cake that looked like my picture.

Hey, maybe some of these brides were looking for a bargain- then again, they could have paid out the nose for these cakes for all we know. Fact is, unless they were told from the beginning that making a cake of the quality they obviously wanted was not possible, the wreckerators are entirely to blame for these monstrosities.

August 19, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterPeachkins

I think the key here is to order simpler cakes so there is less room for disaster. Like how you give young children less clothing options so there are less ways for them to look terrible.

August 19, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterfim chizzle/ratmallow

You're totally right, these never get old! :)

August 19, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterSephiel

The very last one looks like those ice cream pellets, Dots. In fact, if that's what it was trying to be, they've done a really good job!

August 19, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterDeirdre

@Naomi - love "dusty little oblate spheroids of ennui" !!! I'm going to try to work that into conversation!

RE: Ebcot debate on get-what-you-pay-for vs just-plain-crappy-bakers - I think its probably some of both. Though as former florist, I had plenty brides come in with photos of $300 bouquets and wanted exact same thing for $50. I always told brides that I don't copy someone else's work, but I could give the same feeling as the photo using less expensive flowers. I think you always get into trouble when you ask someone to copy someone else's work exactly - no matter how well done, it'll never look the same.

August 19, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterFlower Girl

That blue monstrosity reminds me of not only play dough but of tempera paint. Blech.

August 19, 2011 | Unregistered Commentermeesh

I literally laughed out loud at the crying cake.

August 19, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAlex K

It's ribbon not fondant.
It's fondant not piping icing.
It's wire not straws.

August 19, 2011 | Unregistered Commentertiny p elephant

@SaraCVT - I'm with you on the "too much cake obsession." I got married straight out of college and my hubby (to-be, at the time) and I paid for most of it ourselves. Our cake was made by my maid of honor (who was not a professional baker) as our wedding gift. It was a little lopsided and, since it was just tiers of sheetcake, it was a little flat. But it also was my mum's fudge cake recipe with her cooked fudge frosting and it was absolutely heavenly taste-wise! Decorated with some early autumn flowers, it was just perfect for our wedding (held in a friend's barn). Simple and tasty is best for any cake that is actually meant to be eaten, in my opinion!

As for these wrecks, I do feel bad for the brides; hopefully the cake was the only thing to go wrong and they were able to later look back on it and laugh. After all, every wedding has to have at least one wedding horror story!

August 19, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterIkwig

What I don't get is how these brides can still allow those-do you call those *cakes*?-at their weddings. If it were me, I'd send that 'baker' packing. It'd be right back into the van with them, and I'd make a general announcement that we just weren't having cake at the reception. Because honestly, I would rather go without a wedding cake than have something that horrific in my photos.

August 19, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJill

Missed marks are my fave.

August 19, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterIndieSage

I just adore the before and (shudder) after wedding pics. Keep 'em coming!

August 19, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterCarrie

Am I the only one who things the things on the blue wreck look like smurf turds? Shudder.

August 19, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterKay @ BlueSpeckledPup

Maybe I'm just too addicted to G+ already but I want to +1 many of these comments. Any chance of that kind of functionality being built in?

I'll bake you some cookies. :D

August 20, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterKimberly Chapman

Wow I am totally impressed by that bakery being able to pull off such a gorgeous cake with less than two hours to go til the wedding. I honestly hope that other bakery had to eat the costs of that horrid blue toothpastey creation they made. Can't blame the bride for having the cake made by someone else.

August 20, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterArlene

I think one of the problems with bakeries is that the work represented in pictures and dummy cakes isn't necessarily that of the current decorators or the one(s) who will be making your cake. The blue and white mess is just astoundingly horrible, from the too-large star tip used to apply those haphazard excuse for scrolls to the way the shell borders go all the way to the edge of the board (how exactly is the person delivering the cake supposed to move it from the trolley to the cake table without putting their hands directly into the bottom of the cake? This isn't a small dessert cake that you can slide off the edge of the table and hold the palm of your hand from underneath!)

As a former cake decorator, I have to say that a beautiful wedding cake is a wonderful thing, but if I ever have a wedding I will serve fruit platters, have a chocolate fountain, perhaps a build-your-own sundae bar, and I might make a croquembouche or a 3-foot-tall chocolate truffle topiary...but NO CAKE!

August 20, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterjudy

The disaster of my first wedding cake (112-degree heat wave and buttercream do NOT mix!) is the reason my second wedding cake was a stack of pancakes at IHOP. ;-)

August 20, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterDenita TwoDragons

I have to admit that most of these look like what I would expect from taking a photo to a local bakery. Not wrecks, just not that height of perfection people who don't actually do things expect. These brides probably also brought their hairdressers photos of 3 different intricate up-dos the day of the wedding, and then got angry when they didn't combine them seamlessly into something comfortable that would look exactly the same for 12 hours. ;) Also, the main point of buying all that wedding cake is to feed it to people, so I think the suggestion that brides should put a high-quality photo of their dream above some plainly topped, tasty cakes is an excellent one!

August 20, 2011 | Unregistered Commenternobody

Some of us hate fondant. Beautiful to look at when decorated properly but nasty taste. When you peel it off you have cake with barely any icing and how festive is that?? When you decorate with butter cream vs fondant you will get a different look. That's not the issue so much as how badly these were done- it's not just that they're in a different medium.

It is very simple to smooth frost with butter cream in 3 easy steps (and round cakes are far easier than square or hexagon ones): 1) have enough frosting for the cake as if it's a skimpy layer then the imperfections will show; 2) allow time to frost the cake as you need to slap it on, even it out and then let it sit so you can take your time and then smooth it once it's set up a little; 3) focus on your job - sounds obvious, doesn't it, but you should see the talking, texting and uproar in some bakeries.

I used to decorate professionally and it's skill and practice plus allowing time to do the work. I'd be responsible for 12-15 cakes (not wedding ones!) in a day and it took 10 hours to stack, frost & decorate them. In a grocery store, they can have 8 for the same process plus have to work the counter. Grocery store cakes sometimes taste good and, if ordered in advance with basic designs, can even look good. If you went to a "real" bakery which has example cakes sitting around then there's no excuse for the sloppiness and poor proportions of some of these decorations (the leaves weren't horrible on the wrecks but they were too large for the layers).

August 20, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterBarbara Anne

anthony L's bakery is actually the johnson and wales inn baking commensary in seekonk mass.

August 20, 2011 | Unregistered Commenteru

Nope. "missed wedding marks" are my favorite! =) love it!

August 20, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterCourtney

Any chance you can post the url for anthony l's bakery, or Johson & Wales site? I'm thinking they will get a lot of business from making a cake that great with only hours to go.

August 20, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterLinda J-H

Ahhhh - the missed marks are always my favorites. And my least favorite. It's always amazing to see the gorgeous inspiration pieces and just horrifying to see the results. You can just sense the anguish of the poor people who were just trying to celebrate an event and were ambushed by the confectionary contortion they received.

And I relish it!

August 20, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterLaura

What I love is that in the pic of the first cake it looks like the man and woman could be arguing about what a piece of crap it is.

August 20, 2011 | Unregistered Commenter'Licia

alright. i'm getting married next week, and i actually took a printout of one of the sunday sweets cakes to the best bakery i could find in my town. they charge about 6€ per serving (depending on how difficult the design is), so they are definitely not cheap.

the original design is in fondant, which i don't eat because i'm a vegetarian. the alternative the bakery suggested (and has a lot of experience with since they've been using it for years, as their homepage and cataloge proof) is rolled out marzipan. it probably won't be 100% edible as for two slim ribbons that were (probably) made of fondant in the picture cake they told me it couldn't be done neatly in icing and they'd rather use fabric ribbons that you take off before you cut it, to which i agreed.

i also wrote down the adress of this blog for the baker when told him that i got the pic from here (and what this site is all about). i hope he takes it as a hint that whether it is breathtakingly beautiful or a wreck it will probably end up in jen's mailbox, and that it's up to him (and his team) if that is a good or a bad thing for them.

so, please wish me luck, and i'll definitely keep you posted!

August 20, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterLP

I do love a cakey disaster! Thanks Jen et al :¬)

that blue one, the original was hideous, but the replacement was also horrible! And no doubt down to the bride - why would you want turquoise swirls on your otherwise attractive wedding cake?

*sighs - at least it wasn't as bad as the life-sized bride cake. that still makes me laugh out loud when I look at it...

August 20, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJenni

I often wonder when I see these cakes, how many of them are the result of the bride and groom going for the cheapest baker they can find. Granted, not all inexpensive bakers do bad jobs. Goodness knows the cake for my first wedding was *gorgeous*, fed about 75 people, and cost $150. But when someone offers you a deal to feed 500 people for $200, *and* it's supposed to be quality work....

I think that would sting more if you saw the bakers portfolio of gorgeous cakes, paid a ton of money, and still got a wreck like these. I'd be breathing fire.

I'm so happy my SIL is a pastry chef and made our cake. :D

August 20, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterLizzyBean

I'm seriously scared. I mean reallly, speaking as someone who is starting a cupcake/cake business and will be doing weddings, cut out my eyeballs and sew my limbs together if I EVER even contemplate allowing someTHINGS like these out of my kitchen. Motto: DO NOT exceed your abilities, learn something/do it well/THEN move on-(I'm seriously serious here you know?)

August 20, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterkristine@SugarBeams

Story time. I SWEAR it is related.

When my son was about 3ish we would sometimes make a game of things he didn't particularly enjoy doing, Mommy would feign (in an obvious-over dramatic way) her desire that he not do something she really wanted him to do. Like "Don't you get in my bathtub!" etc... Then he would do the "forbidden" thing, I would feign more dramatic surprise at him doing it and so on. (Don't worry, we always made sure he knew the difference betwen the game and real no-nos)

One day he was playing with his playdoh at the table while I was making dinner. He was having a bit of trouble rolling out his playdoh the way he wanted it and asked for my help. I let him know i couldn't right then that he was going to have to keep trying himself.

A moment later he was walking past me with a sly look on his face, and in the exact voice I used for our "Don't You" game, he says, "Don't you roll out my playdoh!"
Of course I rolled out his playdoh.

So yeah, looking at these cakes...PLEASE Don't You Roll Out My Playdoh! No really, I mean it! :-P

August 20, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMetz

See, I think I would make a fabulous Wreckerator. Because I didn't even notice a lot of the problems with these cakes...instead I just thought 'oh! how pretty! hope I get a piece before everyone paws through it!'

Thanks for still being hilarious!

~Eve S. D'ropper
(P. S. Contest on my blog! Win books/candy/gift card! Check it out:

August 20, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterEve S. D'ropper

I am amazed at Anthony L's bakery's rendition. Did he have to re-interpret it from the wreck or was there an original photo? (I wouldn't blame them for not posting the original photo since two hours... I can't even bake a Betty Crocker box cake in two hours.)

I do want to say that not wanting fondant does not mean you're cheap. I hate the taste of fondant. I mean I'll eat a slice and smile at a wedding but I would never have it.*

*I also didn't go for an artsy wedding cake. When they asked what kind I said, "chocolate with white frosting".

August 20, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterLili

Ok... First and foremost, these are *awful*!

And yet...

I'll never understand why brides go to a grocery store for their wedding cakes, anyway. A lot of these before shots use fondant, which rarely translates well to buttercream icing.

Granted, the decorator should know better... But so should a bride! Check out other cakes. Ask for other photos (NOT just the pictures provided in the display pages in front of the case, since those are just provided by cake supply companies). And if you're only paying a fraction of the cost to get a cake made at a retail store or something similar, you can, most likely, expect a fraction of ability or talent.

Retail decorators are expected to churn out ridiculous amounts of sub par cakes day after day. I've never been so happy as when our manufacturer decided to discontinue our wedding cake supplies and we had to stop making them for customers. Wedding cakes are stressful enough without putting time and supply restraints on them. :)

Ok, ok... I'll stop my five minute advocacy for the cake decorator now. ;) In conclusion: Shame on the decorator AND the bride for allowing these wrecks to happen!

August 21, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAnnie

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