Wednesday, May 27, 2009

A Lesson in Proper Penmanship

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Today, class, we're going to review the art of cake inscriptions, as well as some problem-solving techniques that will come in handy while on the job. Now remember: the hand-written message is the crowning jewel of every cake, and should showcase not only your skill, but also how much you care.

Take this one, for example:

Lovely, Dana K., lovely. There's no question that Ben felt special upon seeing this. Oh, and class, see how she filled in that awkward blank area with a mass of ribbon? That's called "thinking on your feet." There's no sense in wasting edible decor when you can simply reuse gift wrap you have on hand.

Andy B., pop quiz: What do you do when you run out of icing mid-inscription? Do you make more, or simply switch colors and hope no ones notices?

Haha, that's correct! Remember, class: Many children are colorblind. And the ones that aren't are generally too buzzed on sugar and caffeine to notice petty things like spacing, spelling, or sperm-like balloons.

Now, Erin S., say you have a small cake that someone wants you to write a message on, but you've also been wanting to try out the new 'blob' flower technique you saw on Careless Cakes. Which gets priority: the message, or the blobs?

Also correct! You see, class, this is why it's important to fill the entire cake with your design; so the message you write on top of it is uniformly difficult to read. As an added bonus, it's much harder for the client to spot any misspellings this way.

And lastly, Bethany T. is going to show us two things every baker should make more use of: plastic picks and abbreviations.

Wow, Bethany; I think that "BS" stands for "Beautifully Scripted!" I like how the color almost matches the birthday pick, too, but is off just enough to clash spectacularly - that took a lot of talent, I know.

[bell ringing] Well, that's all we have time for today, class. Remember to practice those blobs for next week's "Plop-a-Flower" review!
Judy said...

Wow! we seem to have a pattern here with Carvel and Walmart.

Lesson learned: If you have absolutely no talent as a cake decorator you can still get a job as one if you just put in your application at the right places!

Haiku Joy said...

Plastic birthday wish
really shows "dedication."
But hey, great knife lines.

HelpMakeCents said...

Oh please... please please please.... please let my unordered, undetermined wedding cake have an abbreviation like "BS."

I wonder what it would stand for...

Bride Sweets?
Bachelor: Shattered?
Bologna Stack?

Kerri said...

Just makes me not want any cake.

And that is sad.

Haiku Joy said...

When sperm jerks go wild:
"The fittest survive, suckers!"
("Hey, who tied our tails?")

The said...

I think that there is only one solution to these cakes. Write your message on a piece of paper, and ask the wreckorater to just leave a blank space in the middle of the cake. That way, your message says exactly what you want, since you are going to end up with inedible decorations anyway. -Erin Q.

Yakira said...

Wow, priceless. xD

Half Assed Kitchen said...

Apparently that last one doesn't know about a thing called CENTERING.

Angie (from over at www.HalfAssedKitchen.com)

Giana said...

I think the one with pink icing looks like one of those puzzles they have for kids, where you tip the paper to read the tall stretched out letters. As if eating cake isn't fun enough, now its a party game to figure out the message!

LostLifeFound said...

nice!

Cakedreamer said...

Ouch! That blob flower/writing on top cake hurt my eyes! Maybe it was supposed to be a "find the hidden image" cake. Now I'll be blinking all day.

Holly said...

I can't believe they actually gave the "BS" cake to a customer. What were they thinking?

Viewtiful_Justin said...

That BS is really unfortunate...

Anonymous said...

What else can you do when you have a teeny tiny cake with no room to put a beautiful message? You almost HAVE to use a teeny tiny pick and abbreviations. Where on earth would she have put the full name?!?

Becky

wv: alowdozl-Some folk should not be alowdozl near a cake with icing.

Anonymous said...

This has to be one of my favorite updates.

Great job, Jen. :)

I showed it to my brother, who said "I don't know, some of them seem alright..."

I should probably convert him to Wreckism.

Olga said...

Hi!
As I was looking in Google for an image of OPI Chocolate Moose nail polish, I came across the whole phenomena of chocolate moose cakes
I don't remember if you have posted anything about them, although they are not as funny as smoking camels, but still,
some of them are very wrecky
http://www.plan-a-magical-vacation.com/images/moose-at-Le-Cellier.jpg
http://img408.imageshack.us/img408/4623/chocolatemoosetj9.jpg
and some are actually quite nice, although not very moose-looking
http://www.epicurious.com/images/recipesmenus/1998/1998_december/233318.jpg
http://mike-peggy.com/pics/alaska/rimg0031.jpg

TheQueen@TerrorsInTiaras said...

You better cover sprinkle placement in the next class, too. It's obvious your class has some talent in that area as well. :)

Monique in TX said...

And when did just randomly squirting icing along the edges become acceptable as "decoration"? All of these are horrible.

WV: jolob. Verb, to squirt randomly and carelessly. "I'll just jolop some icing along the edge and I this cake will be ready to go."

Jeremy said...

Silly cakes. Everyone knows that pie is superior anyway. ;) How about a pie-wrecks day? *laughs*

ElegantSnobbery said...

LOL, love it! Starting my morning with a cup of coffee and a moment to read your blog, puts a bounce in my step for the rest of the day. Thank you!

Passion Fruit said...

wow...These make me sad. They're unfortunate cakes...I felt almost bad for laughing at them. Almost. Meh...not really.

Did the Magic Colour Change Frosting decorator write that inscription with a butterknife or a matchstick or something other than a piping bag?

Morgi said...

I'm going to be generous and assume the round cake with "Welcome Baby Hlrhlr" was a tiny, pre-decorated cake that the customer had to have written on THAT VERY SECOND. Not that I've ever had that happen.

Morgi

RecoveringActor said...

It's a good thing "Hayderd" is colorblind.

Natalie said...

Hm. These are. Um. Special. (Scratching my head.) (Furrowing my eyebrows.) (Sighing.) (Turning my head away.) (Weeping.) Yeah, really, uh, special.

DangGina said...

I like the big BS on the last cake. So appropriate...

Wow. I feel pretty d@mn good about my cake-writing abilities now. Thanks, Jen!

Mandy said...

I'm seriously crying, I'm laughing SO hard at the "BS" cake!

Christina M. said...

I would feel bad if I had to reuse my christmas colors and ribbons on someone's birthday cake (like the first shown). Then again, maybe they were Ben's favorite colors. I just can help but see recycled christmas decorations...

B said...

I am the proud owner of the BS cake. :) We (my friend Stephanie and I) went to the store to pick out our own birthday cake after we and our group of friends had just not enjoyed a meal of eh-ish quality that cost us an arm a leg to pay for it. When we got there to get a cake and we asked the people behind the decorator counter to write on it for us, they told us they weren't allowed. They wouldn't even hand the frosting bag over to my friend Stephanie so she could decorate it herself. After we had told them about our already subpar birthday night, they finally agreed to decorate it. It took one of the decorator's a full 10 minutes (NOT exaggerating!) to write BS. When she held it up and asked if it was okay we were like "Yeah, it's great...." but it was perfect. It totally went along with everything else that happened that day on our birthday celebration. When we brought it back to the house for the party, our friends and spouses couldn't stop laughing. :) Def a memorable birthday. :D

B said...

The decorators of the BS cake told us they weren't allowed to decorate the cake b/c they "hadn't practiced enough". We relayed our already eh birthday night and convinced them to decorate it for us. When they showed it to us we were like "Greaaat...." The B in the BS cake is supposed to stand for my name Bethany while the S stands for my friend's name also celebrating her birthday (Stephanie).

Suzanne Dargie said...

EEEEK! The last cake! Not only is it hideous, it's an ICE CREAM CAKE! (I HATE those)

KritterBugg said...

BS! Oh dear... Bloodcurdling-ly Sickening...?

DK
http://uberfoodnoob.blogspot.com/

A. B. England said...

I love the sarcastic cake decorating teacher. Like Snape on happy pills...or a sugar high.

*giggles madly*

Denise said...

I have seen some work like this at my place of work! Since I am or was a cake decorator! I have to admit I did find myself thumbing through the older posts to see if any of MY cakes made it on this blog...Whew! (There wasn't any) But I can say this usually if a cake decorator is on break or off that day then the other peeps in the bakery get to do the honor of writing on cakes! And it is not a pretty site! My coworker mispelled congradulations. Yes, she is a cake decorator for 20 years! Uhm how can you mispell that? I always check the cake orders and there it sat. A plain white cake with red writing.Congradulations...I am thinking wow I have to hand this cake to a CUSTOMER? Well, after trying to scrape off the red writing which didn't work I had to refrost the whole damn cake! I added red roses and red border. This cake was for management I found out later. I am glad I caught the error right away!Congratulations!

Dennis said...

> hope no ones notices

Someones did.

Rebecca Welch said...

What kills me...these people have jobs after letting stuff like this go out the door! Seriously.

Melissa (& Billy) said...

Almost all the cakes at my local supermarket look like the Carvel one, with artfully(?) applied icing squiggles in your choice of coordinating colors (or, near graduation time, in the local school colors) and sprinkles. They are, in effect, blank canvases for messages of thoughtfulness and good cheer...or wrecks like these. 0_o

I agree with Morgi; the flower blob cake with the pepto-pink icing probably went something like this:

Friend 1: Have we got everything we need for the baby shower? Oh no, I forgot to order a cake!
Friend 2: How about one of these over here? I like the one with the flowers.
Friend 1: Well, she IS having a girl...but it's kind of impersonal as it is.
Friend 2: They could write something on it--like with pink icing.
Friend 1: Wouldn't that look funny?
Friend 2: Oh, it won't matter. We're just going to cut it up and eat it anyway.
Friend 1: Why, you're right!

XD

Justi said...

Why on earth would someone use red and green (clearly Christmas colors) on a birthday cake?!?

Fluffy Cow said...

Great. I'm going to be giggling at "Sperm-like balloons" all day!

PS- thank you Haiku Joy. That. Was. Brilliant.

Patti said...

This was truly hilarious! Thanks!

Morgan the Muse said...

ha, what is with that last one, really? Geez.

Anonymous said...

SAD, JUST PLAIN SAD!

WV: ALIGI - THE GIRL BEHIND THE BAKERY COUNTER IS ALIGI TO BE A CAKE DECORATOR.

Amy said...

The BS on the last cake looks like it was written with the same stuff. You know, the stuff you find in a pasture full of cows? :op

~Amy B.
wv: subtable "there are some very subtable mistakes in those wrecks.." LOL

My Feet Hurt said...

I FINALLY got it!! That third cake says "Welcome Baby Hannah". I think I need glasses now...

JennyF said...

I wonder if they meant "PS" but then didn't know what to say.

ksaldria said...

Great now I've got a song stuck in my head. *sings* 99 sperm balloons sitting in my living room...

jackie31337 said...

I've said it before, and I'll say it again: the needs to be a Cake Wrecks show on Food Network. Maybe it could be a reality show where random people with no cake decorating experience are dropped into a bakery and expected to churn out cakes.

jackie31337 said...

Jeremy said Silly cakes. Everyone knows that pie is superior anyway. ;) How about a pie-wrecks day? *laughs*

I can't remember if Jen commemorated Pi day on March 14th, but she still has a chance to get some pie wrecks up in time for European Pi Day on July 22nd (22/7).

Anonymous said...

Perhaps Hayden is a Seattle FC fan?

Ted S. (Just a Cineast) said...

Hayden's only one year old -- I don't think he can even read his birthday cake.

And I think that pink thing reads "Welcome Bitchy Hannah" -- welcoming a new employee and angling for a sexual harassment lawsuit at the same time.

Karla_s said...

Thank you...they say laughter is good for your health. And since I have started reading your blog I am getting my daily dose. This blog is just about the funniest thing I have ever read!

Laurie said...

Hilarious! Love the "BS" one.

Scritzy said...

The backstory on the BS cake makes it even funnier! Thanks, Bethany, and may you and Stephanie have many more happy birthdays — no BS!

Cathy said...

hahaha, that was hilarious.

sendingtheclowns said...

Jen writes (about the first cake):
"Oh, and class, see how she filled in that awkward blank area with a mass of ribbon? That's called "thinking on your feet."
*************
Yeaaahhhh...that's ONE way of putting it.
I, however, tend to ever-so-slightly lean toward calling it " *scrawling with* your feet" (refering to the message-writing, that is).

And I'd REALLY love to know what a "Haydenl Birthday" is that someone is being wished a Happy one OF (on the second creation).

As for #3-- This appears to be yet another case of that wild & crazy Latest Fad (don't EVEN tell me that you haven't heard of this yet) wherein the person who drew the short straw (*loser*) has to go on a wild scamper through a bakery, randomly assailing unsuspecting cakes with Silly String and maniacal giggles. Great fun for the ten to ten-and-a-half-year-old set, I hear.

Aimersss(: said...

hahahahahaha! The "BS" cake?! What's with that? I almost choked on my jicama when I saw it... Thanks for a wonderful post, Jen!

Lisa said...

@Ted S. (Just a Cineast)... "Welcome Bitchy Hannah" is CLASSIC!!! My cheeks hurt from laughing at that one!

Just Me said...

Really? I can't believe these people still have jobs!! Almost makes me want to go back to decorating...almost!!

Lizard said...

I really think that a sprinkles and squiggles class is necessary.
Is dribbling the leftover icing from christmas all over the edges acceptable now?

And maybe for the more gifted students you should give a "How to make balloons that do not look like fat wing-ed sperms" lesson ;)

Novice Writer Anonymous said...

Every time I think of getting a degree in baking and pastry arts I think of how often my creations would end up on this blog and I rethink that decision. Thanks, Jen, for keeping the world free of one more wreckerator. (Though I think there will be many more to replace me.)


The cakes in this post were magnificently horrid and the backstory on the BS cake is hilarious and makes the cake better.

Nancy said...

Jen...I have a question. I have seen cakes similar to this one that is made by...say Walmart but the only thing they do is the outside decorations...the cake is left blank for you to do your own "writing". Do we know for certain that this (or any other cake...especially the really bad ones) aren't really done by the buyer and not a "cake decorator"?
I was just wondering...no biggy.

CorningNY said...

These are so...bad. How are they allowed to be SOLD?!!

I hope at least they tasted good...

twinklescrapbooks said...

The first one should have an artistic name like "Murder on Christmas!" :) tina

cs said...

My husband's initials are BS. Hmmm...I have now picked out his next cake. Thanks, Care Wrecks!

Len and Zen said...

ha ha those pictures are awesome. oh by the way, i added you to my blogroll http://www.foodmailers.blogspot.com, thanks.

B said...

Nancy: "but the only thing they do is the outside decorations...the cake is left blank for you to do your own "writing". Do we know for certain that this (or any other cake...especially the really bad ones) aren't really done by the buyer and not a "cake decorator"?"

I assure you the BS cake was not decorated by us. The Walmart cake decorators would not give the bag to my friend so she could just write on it herself (the back story about it is in the comments). If we were to have written it, trust me, it would have said Happy Birthday Bethany and Stephanie and it would have been centered.
Our Walmart does write and decorate on cakes. Stephanie has had them do it before for her. They come blank, but then you take them up to the bakery counter and tell them what you want written on it and they do it. As we can see from the BS cake, it's just not always done well.

Dreamybee said...

Wow, I never thought about using ribbons to fill in empty space. I'll have to file that one away!

I love your site! Even if I don't have time to do anything in the morning, I usually at least make it over here to start my morning with a chuckle. I know you probably aren't really into the whole blog award meme thing, but I have an award for you over at my blog (2 awards, actually), and just wanted to let you know.

http://subliminalintervention.blogspot.com/2009/04/im-such-ingrate.html

Miranda said...

Ms. England, if you ever get your hands on Snape, happy pills or no, would you be so kind as to send him to me?

I have many, many evil plans for him. *whipcrax*

Anonymous said...

@Nancy: the "wrecks are so bad they must be hoaxes" comments have been all made before. Jen does her best to assure the sources are from sold or for sale cakes, that is the premise of the whole blog.
When they are done by not for profit home bakers, she usually notes it.

And as long as I can remember (up to 40 years) grocery store bakeries have been making predecorated cakes that they (or you) can add a message to at the last minute if you are too rushed or too cheap to pre-order a custom cake.
Alex

stephanie said...

Just to add to the comments "B" keeps leaving. This is "S", and had I been able to write on the cake it would have looked so much better. I mean, it couldn't look much worse, right! :) I should have known better, though, than to even ask them to write on it. We just thought that this was our night, so why we have to decorate our own cake? I once bought a large there, and asked the decorator to write on it. I wanted it to say, "NERDS RULE!" It was for B's husband's get-together. Well, she wrote it in large flowery cursive. It didn't fit at all. Nerds don't do flowing script. They do binary code, and block letters, right? So, I brought it home and scraped the writing off. I even used some paper towels. I then wrote on it myself, and added some sprinkles. Now it looked nerdy enough! Never again, unless it's a joke, will I ask them to write on any dessert!

~ S

Sam said...

To be fair--I worked in a Food Lion deli/bakery for nearly a year. I was never given any training in cake decorating--all that was done by my boss. But sometimes after she left for the day, people would come to the deli, pick up a premade cake, and ask me or my friend to write on it for them. We did our best, but we always warned them ahead of time that we weren't trained at it and couldn't guarantee the results would be great. And writing with an icing bag isn't the easiest task in the world. So keep that in mind when hating on badly written cakes.

stephanie said...

I do get that not everyone is able to write nicely on a cake. However, most people aren't so "spacially-challenged" as to not even be able to identify the center of something. I think she may have done better with her eyes closed. We truly did appreciate the effort, though, and the laughs it provided. It was so horrible that we figured that it couldn't get much worse, so we put those really long sparkler candles on it. By the end, there was black ash all over the cake as well. Having never used that type of candle before, I had no idea what to expect. It was too funny! Our cake was on fire!

Dana said...

In defense of the third cake (the one with balloons): I work in a bakery and so many people want to order the smallest store cake they can buy and want us to put every name of every person they met in their entire life.

In that case I force the customer to take Happy Birthday or buy a larger cake.

Aviatrix said...

Oh come on. I CAN'T believe those are iced by professional bakers.

SURELY people bought blank sheet cakes and had their eight year olds put the inscriptions on, using butter icing, toothpicks and a butter knife. I know you can get exactly the effects shown here with those tools, because that's all I had to work with when I was eight. And my spelling was better.

Aviatrix said...

Oh, I'm sorry. I was bad and didn't read the comments before adding mine. I usually do.

I do believe you that professionals did this. I just don't want to believe it.

Hannah said...

The Happy Birthday picks remind me of a story I heard about 12 years ago at work. Someone had ordered a birthday cake for a coworker and actually asked for a Happy Birthday pick on it. When they picked up the cake, the wreckerator had written "Happy Birthday Pick" on the cake. I really wish someone had taken a picture of it back then!

mr.sound and mrs.sound said...

Happy Birthday to the names:D. Nice vanilla frosting's and penmanship.lol!

Cabaline16 said...

I am the owner of the 1st cake!! First of all, it was for my son's hstily thrown together 2nd birthday party. Quick side note: Ben was born December 19th and we can never seem to get people to take time out of their busy holiday schedules to come to the poor little guy's parties. Anyways, we found out about 2 days before the party that our family was actually free and able to come, so we put together a quick get-together for him. I stopped at our local Giant Eagle grocery store to get a cake. I figured, "He's 2! What does he care if it's generic?" ;o) So I found an almond flavored cake (sadly, that close to Christmas, all you can find are red and green cakes!) and asked the woman to please write 'Happy Birthday Ben!' on the cake for me. She was extremely annoyed to be called away from her donut sprinkling to assist me and when she gave me the cake back a few minutes later, it was sealed in a white box. I took the cake from her, didn't even think twice about it and headed home to set up for the party. When I opened the box I was appalled at what I saw! The writing! The leaning! The awful uncenteredness (is that a word?)! THE HORROR! LOL -- of course, as a faithful CW reader, I immediately grabbed my camera and snapped a picture. Luckily, Benjamin (being 2) didn't care what his cake looked like, as long as it tasted good (which it did!). And my family? They thought it was hilarious! :o)

~Dana

Anonymous said...

You know, I've had to DO that inscription-over-the-decorations stuff, like on that one round cake. Or write something insanely long in something insanely small, with sorta-kinda-but-not-really legible handwriting.

Two reasons. (1. That's the cake the customer wants, and that's the inscription the customer wants, and whoever decorated the cake last night didn't think about somebody wanting "Congratulations Hanna, Barbara, Micheal and Pam" written on a three-inch wide oval (NOT KIDDING). Now if the customer ordered the cake the night before, there is no excuse, the decorator should have known better. (2. I am not a cake decorator. I had to fill in for the Cake decorator ONCE, and after an hour of being defeated by frosting, I do not want to do that again without at least six hours of training/practice. However, the managers of my store requires EVERYBODY in the bakery to write on the cake if the customer hands it to you. This includes the people who can't actually write and the people whose writing is known to be illegiable (like me). We can't say no, and asking somebody else (like the cake decorators, who are usually standing two feet behind us putting fresh fruit on top of a cheesecake or beating cookie crumbs into buttercream) is heavily frowned upon. Your hand needs to be BLEEDING for you to say no.

I can always tell how tired I am at work if the thought "This might wind up on cake wrecks" goes through my head. If it's follwed by the thought "screw it", it's usually about thirty minutes after my blood sugar crashed and thirty minutes before I get to go home and lay down for a while.

Craig said...

Isn't 'Careless Cakes' one of the Sandra Lee stable of shows? No, wait -- that was 'I Couldn't Care Less Cakes'. My bad.

I keep trying to read 'Hayderm'. Maybe that is because of the 'balloons'.

Anonymous said...

i used to work at a bakery as a cake decorator and the cakes that left looking like that were for the customers that wait until the last min and go and want a custom cake after the decorators left. just because you work in a bakery doesn't mean your a cake decorator.

lesson her: remember your loved ones special day and order a cake, don't leave it up to chance and if you do and you get a cake like this than maybe that actually does show how much you cared