I've heard of a lot of cake tragedies where people post a picture of the cake and say that the customer claimed that it "fell over." When you look at the cake it's obvious that the cake didn't just "fall over," it had to go through some kind of tragic treatment to end up the way that it ended up.
Of course, the customer won't admit that, they'll try to blame it on you. Or, like in one situation, the friend who picked it up won't tell them the full story about how they were steering with their knees while applying makeup and driving 70mph down the highway, so nobody will know what really happened.
One of my friends (who shall remain nameless because I don't want people writing to her telling her what she did wrong) had a cake tragedy.
Her customer picked up a birthday cake, put it in her car and on the way home had to hit the brakes to avoid hitting someone in front of her. This is the cake before and after.
Her customer says that she "cried like a baby," then she called my friend, who was able to go over and fix the cake somehow so that it looked like this for the party:
I'm not sure how she managed to make it look like that again, but kudos to her!
When I started quizzing her about how the cake was made, she said that both tiers were doweled, and that there was even a center dowel.
I'll say this again...A center dowel is false security! Slamming on the brakes will just make the dowel shift and when it goes, it rips the cake in half as it's pulled through the cake.
Now the big question here was whether the cake was room temperature or cold. She said that it was room temp, and that's where the problem was (Well, that, and the laws of physics working against you as a large, fast-moving object comes to a complete stop.)
Would the cake have collapsed if it had been refrigerated? There's no way to really know, but it might have stood a better chance of survival. Remember this horror story of a wedding cake that was dropped on the ground? That one took a real fall, and it was the fondant, center dowel and the fact that it was cold that saved it. However, I think that if it had been room temp the fondant and center dowel wouldn't have been enough to save it. The fact that it was cold was the key to saving it's life.
If you're delivering a tiered cake make sure to refrigerate it overnight beforehand, especially if the customer is gong to be picking it up. Make sure that you box it up and carry it to the customer's car yourself and that you put it in their car yourself. That way you can control the safety up until the moment that they drive away with it!
And tell your customer to drive like they have a baby in a car seat sitting on the roof of the car. Watch out for those slamming brakes!
Kara Buntin owns A Cake To Remember LLC, custom wedding cakes in Richmond VA, and cake supplies online at www.acaketoremember.biz and www.acaketoremember.etsy.com