What is a Cake 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
Now, don't you have a photo you want to send me? ;)
— Jen Yates, author of the blog CakeWrecks
It began when blogger Jen Yates spotted a cake at a
Wal-Mart bakery department that was personalized with the message:
Best wishes Suzanne. Under Neat that We will miss you
Yates photographed the offending cake and put the image on-line.
Fast forward a precious few months, and Orlando, Florida resident
Yates's blog has won the 2008 Blogger's Choice Award for humor.
And humorous it is. After all, one needn't be a cake
decorator, baker, or even a gourmet to appreciate cake. Everybody's been
exposed to cakes at birthdays, weddings and showers, at least. These costly
confections are typically decorated with flowers and rosettes made of icing or
fondant. However, the demand for a difference has been felt by the cake-baking
business and they've risen (in most cases) to the occasion.
Cake Disasters Rear Their Ugly Heads
Uncle Bob is an outdoorsman? Fabulous. Have them put the image
of a deer in a forest in full fall foliage on the cake! The problem is,
occasionally the colorful woodland floor, lined with leaves of orange, red and
brown is rendered all wrong. One receives a cake emblazoned with a deer
negotiating a forest fire.
Sue's having a baby? What better idea for the baby shower cake
than topping it with a woman with a baby popping out of her stomach? Or
how about the baby shower cake, inscribed in a juvenile-looking hand, which
Its a Gril
As one can see, the possibilities are endless. Think of your
worst nightmare, perhaps abetted by a dose of LSD, and it's been put on a
cake. It begins with hysterically funny misspellings (some of which are astounding given that the cake
decorator is entrusted to spell similar things on a nearly daily basis) and ranges from
Thanksgiving turkeys getting goosed by candy corn to a fireman wielding an
enormous, flesh-colored penis instead of a hose.
How To Avoid A CakeWreck
Everyone's looking for a reason to order a cake these days, it
seems, posits Yates. With so many cakes being crafted, the smart cake buyer will
avoid trouble by following a simple 1-2-3 process. First, it's important to give
oneself time. Yates says that the recipients of a majority of her cake-mistakes
all mentioned that they had no alternative but to serve the cake because they
picked up the offending pastry "at the last minute."
The second thing many people forget to do is research their
purveyor. Look at a bakery's website, or absent a web presence, the baker's
portfolio of photographs.
Finally, one cannot make a silk purse out of a sow's ear. Nor
can one make a wedding cake out of a stack of doughnuts. It pays to pay good
money for cakes if artistry is what one wants, says Yates. If you buy a cake
that's cheap, that's what you get; a cheap cake. True works of art made by the
cake decorator's hand are not cheap.
Peeves and Kudos Alike
Yates often skewers the current (U.S.) trend of arranging
cupcakes together under a cloyingly thick umbrella of icing so as to make a
"cake" surface. These Cupcake Cakes, or "CCCs" do indeed achieve the goal of
giving each diner an equal portion of cake, but that's where the convenience
ends. They're as messy or more so than an ordinary cake, and the decoration atop
these monstrosities of the baker's craft is often a pound or more of icing — far
too much, says Yates.
Each Sunday, followers of the blog are treated to "Sunday
Sweets," where Yates takes the opportunity to treat viewers to
exquisitely-decorated bits of the baker's craft. Wedding cakes look as if
they're covered with porcelain decoration, holiday cakes enchant with
superbly-sculpted festive icons, and cupcakes are crafted (individually, mind
you) into things one would be hard-pressed to eat, so gorgeously done they are.
Jen Yates claims that she started the blog as something for
herself, and that people were just drawn to it. She credits her offbeat sense of
humor, not just the funny peculiarity of her subjects. Attached to each cake
photograph is a bit of commentary by Yates. Always in good taste, the author
manages to frame each disaster with enough color to increase the laugh quotient.
Although ever tasteful, she addresses the racy bits with aplomb, e.g., the
phallus-waving fireman mentioned above. Then, there were the decorations which
looked like huge red, blue and yellow phalluses (she didn't say what she saw,
instead displaying a close-up view of the offending globs of sugar). A monkey
modeled by a baker on a photo produced by the cake buyer resulted in a monkey
with chocolate blobs for a tail, which looked like (Yates didn't say it), well,
shit. I could go on and on with more, but it's better just to go to the site and
cast eyes on the disastrous delicacies and Yates's tasty comments.
"Icing that's not so enticing," by Vanessa Farquharson, The
National Post, January 17, 2009: http://www.nationalpost.com/story.html?id=1187338
"Party Wrecker," by Patrick Alan Coleman, The Portland
Mercury, November 13, 2008: http://www.portlandmercury.com/food/party-wrecker/Content?oid=939387
"Interview With Jen From Cake Wrecks," by Alicia King,
Suite101.com, December 11, 2008: http://blogs.suite101.com/article.cfm/cakewrecks_authoress_jen