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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

Good Luck Wrecking The Castle!

Joanna H. ordered this cake for her 30th birthday:

The horse shoe is for luck.




Here's what Joanna got instead:

Insert "the trots" joke here. BAHAA TOILET HUMOR.


Whitney M. wanted a cake that looked like Neuschwanstein castle for her husband's 30th birthday.

Here's a picture of the castle for reference:

Ha! Come on, now, you'd have to pay someone at least four hundred bucks for a cake like tha...

"I paid $400 for this cake," Whitney writes, "plus $100 for delivery!!!!!!"

Oh. Well, ok, then. Um...



And finally, here's the cake Terrisa K. ordered for her wedding:

So, ya know, that's gonna end well.


She writes: "I didn't see the cake until I was actually walking down the aisle, whispering to my dad, 'is that my f***ing cake?!'"

Yes, Terrisa. Yes, it is.


Thanks to Joanna H., Whitney M., & Terrisa K. for showing us what's black and white and wrecked all over.


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« Friday Favs 7/31/15 | Main | It's TOO DARN HOT »

Reader Comments (55)

Huh? I'm confused how that last situation could happen. Was the cake brought to the church or something? Don't they usually bring the cake to the reception hall?

July 30, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterJoanne

This is exactly why it's best to have an open bar at any party.

July 30, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterSuBee

Ooh! I did that last cake for a friend's wedding! Of course, mine came out a bit more...ahem...edible looking.

July 30, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterVanessa

Moral: Never pay a huge amount before you see the cake.

From this perspective, the second horseshoe is upside-down, signifying bad luck.

July 30, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterClassic Steve

Cakewrecks, I love you guys so very much. You give me my much-needed laugh for the day and I am so thankful for that. Having said that, I must admit that I find these 'ordered this/got that' posts kind of -um- one-sided to say the least.


I work in a "big box" store in the bakery department. I wish I had a nickel for every time I had a customer order a cake design ripped from the pages of high-end wedding or party planning magazines, and actually expect to pay the "big box" price for it. These customers expect the Read Deal too - not "something like this picture" or "based on this picture"...they want The Exact Thing, Replicated Or As Close As You Can Get To It (for cheap) and are then disappointed/angry/pissed off when we can't give them their $2000 cake for $29.99. We tell the customer that we can't give them what they want at the price they want to pay, and in return we get a dismissing wave of the hand and a "do the best you can" as they flounce off.

It's so very frustrating.

I would urge the readers of your blog to please keep in mind that we don't know the price of these original, model cakes, designed and beautifully crafted by very skilled cake decorators, but trust that they are very expensive. We also don't know the price the customers were willing to pay (well, outside of Whitney) for these cakes. Let's face it, if you're willing to pay $50 for something that was sold for $500, it's going to come up a little short.

As for Whitney's cake, personally I don't find anything wrong with it outside of the colors being a little harsh. If you look closely, there are many details on it (ie. the "stonework") so obviously the decorator took his/her time with it. I'm not really sure what Whitney had in mind for the finished product, but I'd wager that she likely expected a design more true to form, and for $400, she's most definitely not going to get that level of intricacy.

Thank you for allowing me to share my side.

[Editor's note- Hi CrazyCakeyToes. I know that chain store bakers deal with this kind of stuff all the time. People with huge expectations and a minimal budget. But honestly, we work pretty hard to screen those out so we don't use them in a missed marks post. Most of the time, we get an email and it says, "I ordered this from a reputable baker, she swore she could do it, she had many examples of excellent work on her website, and I got this terrible cake anyway." Sometimes, they include what they paid for it and even who they got it from. That's the case with the three cakes in this post. The customers were promised one thing and got something else. Hope that helps to clarify. -john (thoJ)]

July 30, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterCrazyCakeyToes

CW1 - Dear God, what is that THING????? Why do people keep promising to deliver on something they KNOW they cannot do????

CW2 - While $400 is a lot, maybe the budget was a bit too low and the expectation a little too high? It's at least a recognizable castle....

CW3 - I got nuthin. That monstrosity is not even a mockery of the inspiration photo. This, people, is why bail bondsmen have jobs. The ONLY excuse would be if she had contracted a culinary school for the blind to do the work. Sheesh.

July 30, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterMiss Paper

If I was a (competent) baker and was asked a Neuschwanstein castle cake, it would cost a lot more than 400$, believe me.
And when a bride walks down the aisle and is looking at the cake more than the groom and actually comments about it to her dad… she might be a Bridezilla. And an inefficient one, judging by the appearance of the cake, since Bridezillas usually get exactly what they want.

July 30, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterAthena

$400 and $400 more for delivery? Try and get it! It's hard to believe people accept and pay for these things.

July 30, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterDorothy

the second cake - the castle one - was not all that bad - not really good but it certainly could have been worse.

July 30, 2015 | Unregistered Commenterjane lewis

I wouldn't call the castle cake a wreck. It's actually very well done -- look at the brickwork on those turrets, for example. It just doesn't look like the picture. But I wouldn't be *ashamed* to have that at my party, or even my wedding!

July 30, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterLee

We love you John(thoj), but also hope Jen is okay, being missing most of the week.

[Editor's note- Really, Jen "tweaks" all of my posts anyway so this is mostly hers. I just come up with ideas occasionally. -john (thoJ)]

July 30, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterAngelaS

The castle doesn't look exactly like the picture, but I don't think it's a wreck. It's too bad the peaks on the corner towers (especially the front right one) softened up and lost shape, though. I'm with crazycakeytoes - the decorator has put a lot of detail on it with the windows, the towers and "stone work".

July 30, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterChicago

Bwah, "black and white and wrecked all over" made my day! Thanks John! (And, by tweaking extension, Jen!)

July 30, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterJodi

I am very impressed with the Neuschwanstein. The decorator picked up on all the colors in the original while having to compact a whole set of buildings that sprawl up a mountain top into a cake size - and every tower looks like one and not like a phallic symbol.

July 30, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterAlison in Indiana

I see these "What they wanted/what they got" wedding pictures and I'm terrified to see my cake in 23 days.


July 30, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterRachel

Soooo...what happens when you are charged hundreds of dollars for a cake that does not meet your expectations? Do you still pay? Do you leave the cake there and walk away? Can you refuse the cake and get your down payment back? (IS there a down payment?)

July 30, 2015 | Unregistered Commenterelisssabeth

That castle is using the Wilton "romantic castle" kit for the turrets. Nice shortcut!

July 30, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterAnother Jen

To be fair, on the first one, the lady refused to pay a huge amount. She wanted a hundred dollar cake, she didn't get quite that, but still it's not as huge of a wreck as it would seem. I know this because it played out on Facebook in my town !

July 30, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterLeah

I have to disagree with the people who thought the castle look pretty good. There's a local shopping area that has a gingerbread house making contest every year. I've seen better entries in the children's category. And the little windows on the top almost look like mini pretzels. What the heck? The top one made me think about a friend who ordered a cake for her housewarming. She called to order it and told them she wanted it to say "welcome to our new... " with a picture of a house under it. When she went to pick up the cake, it was pouring rain and they had graciously boxed it, tied up with string so she wouldn't have to get it wet. She insisted they cut the string so she could look at the cake. They grudgingly did so, and what she found was "welcome to our new ... " and a brown horse in full stride. And at the party, you could hardly tell they had scraped off the horse and hastily put on a house. Lol

July 30, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterJB

Eh, the massive blobby edging around the windows and all ruin the castle for me. Makes it look like a child's drawing.

July 30, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterElissa

Wrecks happen and everyone contributes to the delightfulness of the wreck; unrealistic expectations, penny-pinching, over-confident or totally delusional decorators and, yes, the overused catch-all Bridezilla (or MOB). The results are that we, CakeWrecks fans and supporters of the funny that Jen and John bring, get our daily dose if "OMG!" and "Whoa!Unbelievable" and laugh until we tinkle ( just a little). So thanks to everyone everywhere in the whole world who has a part, however small, in making ugly, grotesque tasteless or simply WRONG cakes happen.
I'm especially pleased to see that the castle didn't have penile turrets.

July 30, 2015 | Unregistered Commenters.marie

Hi CrazyCakeyToes. I like Whitney's cake also.

July 30, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterCarol

I for one think the Neuschwanstein cake is actually fairly well done. It is at least recognizable. I mean look at the original! Even Ludwig II of Bavaria, the guy who commissioned it, didn't have the "dough" to finish it. That's right. It's a beautiful shell with precious few finished rooms inside. Plus he was insane and got murdered for his lavish expenditures.

If the bride expected an exact copy, I'm fairly certain the baker could have done it, given a mountaintop and a couple billion dollars.

July 30, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterGinger

dorothy, you misread.. $400.00 for the cake $100.00 for delivery (not 400 for delivery)

that 3rd cake ugg

July 30, 2015 | Unregistered Commenterlibby2140

The castle looks like a $400 cake

July 30, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterYoyo aki

@SuBee: Brilliant response, as always!
CW 1: What's with the dachshund on the side of the cake? I guess edges are trimmed with "dog dirt"? ;)
CW 2: The Castle could have been much (much) worse, but (looking through my magic mirror) I see a barn in the front (maybe the horse from CW 1 is hiding in there!), gumdrops around the windows - not unlike a good, amateur gingerbread house, and last but not least, turrets that remind me of soft-serve ice cream cones. Having said all that, Yes, there clearly has been a great deal of effort put into that cake. But Neuschwanstein? Well....?
CW 3: No. Just. No.

John (thoJ), thanks for the clarification how these cakes were chosen.

July 30, 2015 | Unregistered Commenterjuice

Blackening the windows on the castle cake makes it look like there are bunch of mouths, screaming in agony. Maybe they saw the third cake?

July 30, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterTLC

My first thought on finding out there was a castle involved was "What do the towers look like??" I think I read (on one of the many pages of this great site) that a wreck could be caused by either a bakery messing up or a customer with unrealistic expectations, providing that it's funny. Perhaps we simply assume that it must be the bakery - after all, how many people would write in & say "I'm the penny-pinching customer with unrealistic expectations"?

July 30, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterStiria_the_fast_one

I have to say that, being a baker myself, the castle wasn't that bad and it had to have taken several dozen hours to create. If the customer wanted a creation like the original picture, they would have paid several thousand dollars for it, not just 400. They got what they paid for and then some.

July 30, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterPeggy

What bothers me most about the castle cake, aside from the creamy turd piles on top of the turrets and the "grass", is the weirdly lumpy border around all the windows and walls. It's almost as if the baker went to all that trouble to make actual turrets and detailed stones, and then realized they had to deliver the cake in 5 minutes.

July 30, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterDegera

As a cake decorator, I wonder how often the customer is asking for their fondant inspiration cake to be converted into buttercream. Most of my customers prefer buttercream but are often showing me pictures of fondant cakes and it seems like a lot of the wrecks are buttercream but based off of fondant pictures. Is the baker doing the conversion or is the customer? These are two completely different mediums and it takes a very skilled hand to get buttercream even close to resembling fondant and it still won't be the same to decorate. Secondly, the second cake missed the mark but she should have added another zero to her check and found a better decorator if she wanted to get an exact replica. Nice cakes take a lot of time and that is why they aren't cheap!

July 30, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterMandyJo

My daughter gets married in 20 months. I don't know if that is long enough to find a good wedding cake. Posts like this make me shudder. I think the moral of the story is 1.) make sure the cake you want is done by the baker that made the original. 2.) Don't just go by the website's pictures, go see some cakes for yourself 3) be painstakingly specific 4) Keep a sense of humor (if it is a wreck, it makes a great story later)

July 30, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterHelen

I'll go along with the opinion- that Neuschwanstein cake is not all that bad. It isn't exactly like the original, but reproducing that level of detail would be remarkable even in a competition level cake. It's very recognizably a castle.

July 30, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterEric Stott

The castle cake would be a good entry in a gingerbread house/castle/cottage/some sort of building contest, but I have to agree with many of the posters - it looks a little too 'cartoonish'. While I won't deny that creating the cake likely took hours and hours, I wasn't expecting something that looks kind of like the evil witch's cottage in Hansel & Gretel. (Hansel?...Hansel?)

In scrutinizing the cake, and particularly the towers and turrets, I thought to myself "Hmm...they replaced the cauldrons of boiling oil with big piles of poo, I suppose that would be effective too.."

July 30, 2015 | Unregistered Commenterkrunchifrog

From what I'm looking at is first the pictures they want replicated are all fondant covered. And what they got us buttercream covered. So during the process of ordering did the customer request no fondant our minimal fondant? But the castle cake has piped tower "roofs" and fondant walls ?!? The wedding cake, is that plastic flyers sticking out on top? They could have at least bought those ready made flowers next to the candles in agrocerystore and painted them white and black and cascaded down the cake. Wow... I mean wow

July 30, 2015 | Unregistered Commenterdj

I'm just surprised that apparently no one so far has commented "Nailed it!" in reference to the horseshoe cake.

July 30, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterTorka

Western theme on the first cake.,,maybe the customer was singing "get along little dogie" and the caker thought she said "put on a long little doggie"..I totally see a daschund too, Juice (even held my iPad up next to my mini Doxie to make sure..,yep, twins)

July 30, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterKim

The castle cake is not so bad
And Wagner's patron wasn't mad
So get the wine from some bodega
Serve with your Altentleinschräge

July 30, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterEoin

The first cake, I would be very disappointed. Not the same number of tiers, horseshoe laying flat, not the same at all. Second cake: not bad, but a little "kiddie" looking for a wedding. Third: not exactly like the picture, but I think it looks pretty good. No weird lumps or cracks, smooth icing. She got a buttercream recreation of what was originally a fondant cake. I also wonder what happens for the truly ugly cakes...I would refuse to pay for a horrible cake that was totally wrong.

July 30, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterSlytheringrrl

I see a barn on the Neuschwanstein castle cake…

July 30, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterDNA

Okay, I understand the whole "the castle that woman wanted would have costed her WAY more than $400." That makes sense, but normally people discuss things like 1) price and 2) ability beforehand. If she says "I want this," and you can't do "this," you say "sorry, ma'am, that's not in our skill set, but let me tell you what we can do," or "that requires a great deal more time and effort than you may think, and will cost you x-amount of money." But presumably the baker said "oh, sure, we can do this," then said "this is how much it will cost," at which point she said, "that seems reasonable." What you don't do is promise something you can't actually deliver. The cake doesn't look awful, (the non-phallic turrets are certainly a point in its favor) but it's probably not anything like what she was told they could do. I understand her disappointment. What I don't understand is how so many people can afford to spend $500 on a birthday cake, but that's another story....

July 30, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterTAL

Regarding the Neuschwanstein cake: any "professional" cake that utilizes Wilton products (the castle turrets and the embossed fondant "stonework") should retake course one "piping and buttercream skills" to avoid the blobby detail work.

The construction of the cake (minus the tower "shortcuts") is impressive. The decorating is sub par. If the baker can't deliver for the price point given, they should lower their client's expectations. In the case of the castle cake, I'm thinking skill set had more to do with the wreckiness than the cost.

July 30, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterCk

@JB: Now you've given me an idea! It might be a nice gesture to give a friend a horse-warming party! Hay, everyone-what do you think of that? If it weren't so late, we could field some ideas...I herd that even the cows might be willing to chip in with a pie or two...=^-.-^=

July 30, 2015 | Unregistered Commentersendingtheclowns

Oh my gosh. I think the price tag alone on the castle cake made me faint lol. And the poor bride that saw her cake as she walked down the aisle..the wreckerator probably escaped out the back. Wow.

July 31, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterArlene Marie

I am professional cake decorator and own my own bakery. The first cake is absolutely horrid. The second cake however I must say you got what you paid for. You wanted a cake to look like a friggin castle but yet only paid $400 for it. That is exactly what $400 looks like. That cake would run at least $1200 in my bakery if not more. People want these extravagant cakes that are worth thousands of dollars for $50 bucks. Get real people... If you can't afford it get a sheet cake.

July 31, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterRinn P

If funeral cakes ever become popular then I think the creator of no. 3 is on to a winner.

July 31, 2015 | Unregistered Commentercsrster

I made the last cake a few years ago in red & white & I did it almost exactly as the picture I was given. How anyone could do it like the cake wreck version is beyond me. I'd have been devastated if that was my wedding cake! Xx

July 31, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterPatsy

@csrter - Funeral cakes are part of Eastern Christian tradition.

July 31, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterEoin

I see all the comments saying that the castle post isn't so bad, but the decorator didn't even get the colors right. In the inspiration photo, I see primarily white, grey, and blue with the main facade being a shadowed salmon color and aqua. No yellow, no red, no orange, and certainly no puffy piping around the pillars.

July 31, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterNatalieJane

John(thoj), thanks for taking so much time to respond to our inquiries. Glad everyone is well!

July 31, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterAngelaS

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