Fortunately, most cake problems I’ve had have happened before a customer has collected a cake. I’ve had cakes I’ve had to re-bake because they weren’t cooked properly, cakes I’ve had to re-cover because I’ve not been happy with the design but I’d not had one fail after delivery until a few months back.
After many emails back and forth the customer finally decided on an art deco, peacock feather design cake in pale blue. The cake consisted of two tiers but each tier was double height. Each cake layer was placed on its own cake card, dowelled (apart from top layer) and the whole thing seemed pretty sturdy and stable before collection. This is the cake as it left me.
About half an hour later I got a phone call. The customer had had a ‘disaster’ on the way home and the cake had collapsed in some way. The cake was for a big party the next night and the customer asked if I could do anything to repair it. Usually I would apologise and say that once a cake had left me it was their responsibility but the customer was a good friend so I wanted to see what I could do. I requested that she sent photos so I could see the damage and assess what needed to be done. I could have cried when I saw these photos.
The whole cake had slid but also collapsed somehow at the bottom, causing cracks in the fondant and damage to the decoration. At this point I took a very deep breath! I arranged to visit the venue where the party was to be held once the cake had been taken there (in case any further damage occurred on its way there) and prepared a repair kit. I knew I wouldn’t have that much time once I was there so decided to try making some extra peacock feathers before I went. As I made them I placed them in a plastic box, layered them with cling film and hoped they’d stay soft and flexible enough until the next day. I had no idea if this would work or not but fortunately, when I got to the venue, the feathers were still soft.
I’m not really sure why this cake collapsed but whatever the reason, I learned quite a lot during the repair process.
The most difficult thing to deal with was the collapsing at the bottom. I had to find something quite sturdy to ‘prop’ this up and ended up using some cardboard covered in clingfilm to get the cake level again which I then covered with fondant. I then replaced the ‘beading’ round the bottom of the tiers, added peacock feathers over the ones that had been damaged, repaired the piping detail and then repaired any remaining cracks with a paste of the coloured fondant and water.
I forgot to take a photo of the repaired cake but I was happy with the result and the customer was very appreciative that I’d gone out to help.
So, what did I learn from this experience? Repair techniques and maybe that its a good idea to deliver tall cakes!