questionsis this the new "thang" in gourmet baking?


Ew, I hope not. That sounds awful.


I've known about (and used) drinking straws in particularly unstable cakes.
I would say the cardboard is a no-no.


Straws, chopsticks, dowels...any of those can add structure to a wobbly cake. They're not baked in though, they're added after the cake layers are cooked. Plastic is pretty melty at oven temps. Cardboard between the two tiers is also pretty normal. You cut one tier at a time, like a wedding cake. Unless it's just a double layer cake, then that's weird.


@zuiquan: Yes, it's just a double layer cake, and the top layer is maybe twice the size of a cupcake. The bottom layer is about the size of a bread plate. The red velvet cake is super dense, like fruit cake dense. There's no way they needed all this non-food support to hold it together. I guess they are just automatically using the same methods they do for big cakes. I'm pretty disappointed. I thought I was getting us something nice for the holiday, but it turns out it's more of a decoration than a pastry, which is silly since they told me to keep it refrigerated. My refrigerator doesn't need interior decorating.


More like a common practice when using Groupon. I gave up on them after multiple experiences like this. One restaurant even had a special 'Groupon menu', and yes, the prices and servings were different than that of the normal menu.


This is what happens when people take something that is supposed to taste good and turn it into something for looks, but not really for eating. It's a sad day in the world of cakes. Besides, that fondant stuff is disgusting and tastes like plastic. Cakes should be for eating, not for looks!!!


@stile99: I've had very few negative experiences when using Groupon and it's cousins. I don't know if it's really fair to even call it a negative experience, since I don't buy cakes from real bakeries (I like to bake and Costco makes great and inexpensive cakes when I am short on time). It's definitely not what I was expecting, but I didn't know if I was off-base or the bakery was. It sounds like it's a little bit of both.


My parents' wedding cake had a layer of cardboard between the cake and the frosting. They discovered it when they tried to cut into it...with everyone standing around watching. they made the best of it and tell the story fondly now but I can imagine it was a little embarrassing when it actually happened. Never heard of anyone going back to the baker and complaining or anything, but I would bet that my grandparents did and hopefully got some money back.


I'd contact Groupon. They're pretty good about making good on such things. Also, I avoid any "deals" surrounding food/drink.


Baby cakes, like this one?

It is slightly disturbing to me, I don't know if I could eat it.


@90mcg112: Slightly disturbing? How about full body shudder terrifying?

This is a vision I will never be able to unsee. I want to scrub my brain.

{I still voted it up, though, which tells you that it's creepy, and yet funny, all at the same time. No, I couldn't eat that, either, and would have to physically harm anyone who tried to cut into it.}


Never heard of that. Sounds entirely unnecessary. Probably not "wrong" enough to get your money back (but close, might be worth arguing). But I personally would submit it as general feedback to the baker that you didn't enjoy discovering non-edible items when cutting into your cake. If you have a conversation with them, I would also press the point of what they were for. Like you say it definitely did not need support, and I have never seen a layer cake where you were supposed to cut/eat the layers separately (unless we are talking about a tier cake, which is different).

Very very strange.

Credentials: I do a LOT of baking, but no professional training. I also have no experience buying cakes (I either make one, or go hungry, no compromise).


it seems to me that overpriced baked goods is a new "thang". my wife brought home some cupcakes from work, saying that a vendor brought them in from a super fancy bakery known for their cupcakes, and usually sell them for $5 per cupcake. i immediately snagged up the carrot cake since that is one of my favorites, and ended up only eating part of it. it was "ok" but no better than my mom's or my wifes and if i had paid $5 for it i would have been pretty pissed. also, it was topped with icing that was sickeningly sweet and stood as tall as the cupcake itself. i think if i ate the whole thing i would have spontaneously gotten diabetes on the spot. fortunately no straws or cardboard though ;)


I think they are watching too many of the shows like food network challenge where the "cake artists" are making show pieces that aren't meant to be eaten and thinking that is the way the pros are supposed to do things. The artists seem to concentrate on looks to the point of sacrificing flavor. I have ordered birthday cakes for my girlfriend from two food network challenge winners and while they looked great, the flavor wasn't anything to write home about.


It is a new thing being mandated in certain municipalities to increase people's daily intake of fiber.

True story...


@moondrake: That's fondant?! It's not even smoothed out. There's texture and wrinkles! Even I, a totally amateur baker, knows how to avoid that... It's like the baker was too cheap to spring for the flat paper towel and used textured stuff. And used it badly.

The cardboard is there to make it easier to disassemble the cake, like it's meant to be served in layers to guests. The straws are overkill in a cake this small though.


Well, gosh. I'm with Jezebel on the fondant appearance. My baking consists of opening up the Sara Lee, but I think I could do better than that cake.

As far as I can tell, you have a two-layer bottom tier topped by a two-layer top tier, and I'm wondering if the straws in the bottom half are to stabilize the two bottom layers. And if the cardboard separator is to allow you to lift the top tier off the bottom, then the bottom will look really weird. As someone else commented, the cardboard base isn't unusual on a truly tiered cake (where the tiers are usually separated by plastic columns or some such), but the only reason I can imagine here is that the two tiers were decorated separately and the top one was then picked up and plopped on the bottom one.

I think I'd take it back and ask for a redo, frankly. Tell 'em the wooters voted and think this one sucks. If that fails, save the pictures and tell Groupon you want a refund.


@moondrake: IMO - Sloppy job. Overpriced - even at your discount. Can't really tell the size, but from your description it's pretty small.

I've had an experience w/a gourmet baker, too. Son & Dil ordered one for me - paid to have it delivered. The owner of the bakery did NOT want to deliver it. He was rude to them and to me, too. The cake was 'pretty', but mediocre in taste. It was supposed to be Hazelnut flavored (on his list) - I had a difficult time tasting it. Fondant was at least smooth; cake pretty. I guess that's nice if you just want to take photos of it. :-|


Unfortunately, there is a general move towards style over substance in our society. These types of "cakes" are a perfect example. Cake is food, not art. I'm way more concerned with how it tastes than how it looks. My Mom's cakes don't look like anything other than a cake, and I'll put them up against the best cake from the best bakery you can find.


I would have to side with @magic cave on this one. That doesn't really look attractive to me, and according to your description the taste/texture wasn't so great either. Failure with a redo or refund due.


I have to say that is the worst looking fondant I have ever seen. It is supposed to be smooth -- that is the point. My son makes better looking cakes with his playdough. Which is only one molecule off from fondant in my opinion. It looks good (or at least it CAN), but tastes like clay.

The leaves are interesting. The black piping is just nasty. Looks more like a (creepy) Halloween blood cake than Thanksgiving.

And unfortunately yes, that is the trend. Check out Or all the cake contest shows on Food Network. And the cupcake stores popping up everywhere. And cupcakes at wedding receptions. It's all about the looks, which means tons of man-handled fondant. Would you eat someone's playdough creation? That's fondant. Pass.


@moondrake: Yep, that's normal as far as the cardboard goes. That's a two-tier cake, not two-layer. You're supposed to eat or remove one tier at a time. That being said, that's a really poor example of a cake. It looks like someone dropped it and that fondant is a complete joke. Someone really needs to work on their piping skills. I've been seeing a lot of these abominations that people are charging outrageous money for when they're basically done by someone with basic baking skills and/or a wilton cake decorating class in their repertoire. Not cool. People with actual skills get away with charging a lot of money because this stuff is not easy. Noobs can't just decide one day that they're going to open a bakery and start making money hand over fist. They'll be out of business soonish. I mean, look at that thing. You wouldn't pay 20 dollars for that, let alone what they're charging for it.


That is a terrible job for a professional to be sending out.
1. If it doesn't taste good, it's doesn't matter if it's pretty.
2. Use edible supports whenever possible and only if needed.
3. Don't roll your fondant in gravel.
4. Nope. All of these rules are simple. Make it taste good, look good, and don't put sticks and twigs in it.

A lot of businesses are mis-using Groupon like this. They don't really get that the idea is to get new customers hooked on your product! This is their first impression. With idiots like this, it will be the only impression this bakery gets a chance to make.


Is the bakery attached to a meth lab?


Hate to pile on (ok, I really don't) but that is an awful cake job.


I might be able to understand the plastic straw dowels. They're there to support the weight of the top layer, which, if it's heavy, could easily sag. The cardboard is really overkill, and every time I've seen it in a cake (yes, it can come in a cake that's not separated by air and columns -- please, never ever get plastic columns on your cakes, btw), the baker at LEAST lets you know it's there.

As others have said, that fondant job is ridiculous. Not smooth, and with the pattern I can see in your pics combined with the color, it looks like turkey skin... which is creepy. Also, it looks WAY too thick. Fondant should be somewhere close to only 1/8" thick.

Bottom line: I support the redo or refund crowd.

Final note: To all of you who hate fondant, you've never had homemade stuff. I've made my own for cakes in the past, and it was not overly sweet, and tasted and looked pretty darn good (if I do say so myself). Try a non-commercial fondant sometime - it may change your whole outlook.


my solution to cakes like this..... just eat pie. Pie is better anyway :)


@ndcouch: Oh, NO! Now you've done it! :-/ You've given bakeries a new idea. They'll start making fondant topped PIES.

An entire new market... Cherry pie w/fondant cherries for Presidents Day. Fondant chocolates on chocolate pie for Valentine's Day. Elaborate, decorated fondant trees on mincemeat pie for Christmas. Arrrrggghhhh!


So at this point it looks like the best idea is to take your phone to them, show them this thread (with pictures) and just ask "Is this how you want your bakery to be seen?". If they are indeed happy, if they believe this is an example of their work, they agree that this is what they are going for, then thank them for their time, wish them well, and leave.

Just be sure you warn your friends what they can expect if they go there.


I've had fondant once, on a cake at at wedding, and it was delicious so I'm curious as to what is usually used....

The above cake's color is what my mother would refer to as poisonous. And, no, the cake did not need cardboard or straws or anything else. Maybe something in the summertime to keep it stable during transport but drinking straws? No.

cf cf

@gmwhit: NOOOOOOOO!!!! not pie!!

P.S. my bday was 11/19 and my mom made me a cherry pie and my grandmother made me a lemon pie. I always choose pie over cake, no exceptions. i still have some lemon pie left..... need to remedy that