Cake fails - it’s every cakers worst nightmare.
Let me set the scene: You’ve spent hours planning this amazing cake for your bestie’s milestone birthday party (the big 3-0). Your bestie is gushing about her party and how excited she is - apparently the cake is going to be the main centrepiece at the event. No pressure right?
You’re a bit nervous at first but everything seems to be going great. You’re adding the finishing touches to your cake when you realise that - GASP - the cake is starting to lean to one side….
...and your sugar flowers are starting to droop and lose their shape - YIKES.
That sick feeling washes over you and then panic takes over - “how am I going to fix this??”
Let me tell you guys...I’ve experienced this feeling a few times over my cake career.
Back in the day when I was taking cake orders (so a few years ago now), I had accepted an order for a small wedding cake. It was one of those modern and simplistic cake designs - a bare white fondant cake, topped with three wafer paper flowers. Nothing more, nothing less (nope, not even a ribbon for the bottom of the cake!).
There was no room for error with this simplistic and ‘bare’ design.
I was feeling pretty confident in myself and started to drape and cover my cake in fondant. But as I reached the bottom of my cake, the dreaded ‘elephant skin’ decided to make its appearance. It looked rough and ugly. I was devastated!
Then to top it all off, I hadn’t sized out my flowers properly. The three flowers I promised the bride were WAY too big for the top of the cake - I couldn’t glue them all together without damaging the flowers or having them topple off the cake. Definitely not that upmarket ‘look’ I was going for.
So here I was, standing in my kitchen, pretty damn sure that I was about to ruin this brides wedding with a dreadful cake.
So what should you do when you find yourself in this ‘cake fail’ situation?
Firsty, take a step back and breathe. When times are stressful, you need to step away and clear your head. Seperate yourself from the situation - go for a walk, have a shower or just make yourself a cup of tea and take a break.
Come back to the situation at hand with a ‘can do’ attitude. I know that’s easier said than done, but believe me when I say that the right attitude can help in any situation.
If you have time to fix your mistakes - like re-baking a cake or making more sugar flowers - then go for it. But if your situation is time sensitive (eg. the cake is due in 2 hours), then it’s just one of those ‘you have to make it work’ situations.
Focus on what you CAN do. There is always a solution, even though it may not be the solution you want or hope for. Most of the time, you can turn a disaster into a win. Just know that you’re not alone - cake fails happen to EVERYONE.
To help avoid a cake disaster in the future, always:
- Research and practice your cake design before the ‘real deal’
I strongly encourage everyone to try new cake designs and decorating techniques. However, your first attempt a geode cake should NOT be on your sister’s engagement cake. ALWAYS research and practice new techniques before using them for ‘real’ cake orders.
- Plan ahead
Slamming a cake together a day before the big event is not doing you any favours - it’s stressful and it’s easy for mistakes to happen when you’re in a rush. Plan your time thoroughly in advance to give yourself enough time to get everything done. This also allows you a bit of ‘breathing room’ to fix any issues that may crop up in the cake making process.
What did I end up doing in my situation?
I called the bride on the day of her wedding - yep, I was THAT ballsy - and asked her permission to change the design of the cake. I was lucky that the bride was very understanding and accommodating!
With having no ribbon to use to hide the elephant skin, I covered the bottom of the cake with cake lace (which hid most of the fondant scarring), and I used only one of the three flowers I created for the top of the cake.
You know what? The cake lace ended up being a major win and the bride LOVED her cake!