Saturday, January 7, 2012

My Topsy Turvy Cake Tutorial

  (The white sugar you see on the red will go away, I had just placed the strips on 
and didn't want them to stick to my fingers...hence the sugar.)
Have you ever wondered how they make the topsy turvy cakes? And how do they stop them from toppling over? Or have you ever wondered how you can make one of these cakes? I did... and only because my lovely sister requested I make her one for her birthday. I am not a great baker, and I don't have any cake experience, but I told her that I would try to make any cake she wanted. And boy did she want!! It seemed like she wanted the hardest cake to make! But after hours of research on how to make this whimsical cake, I was ready.

I am going to share the way I made my cake with you all, so if anyone would like to try it, they have my take on it. :) This might not be the right way to make this cake, and there are so many ways to do this, and it all can be found on the internet, but this is how I made mine... I hope I don't confuse you too much. And if you have any questions, feel free to ask!

(As for the serving sizes, you will need to estimate how much you need. It all depends on how big of a cake you make.)
Recipe for buttercream icing (20 servings):
  • 1/2 cup shortening
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 4 cups confectioners' sugar
  • 2 tablespoons milk


  1. In a large bowl, cream together the butter, shortening, and vanilla. Blend in the sugar, one cup at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in the milk, and continue mixing until light and fluffy. Keep icing covered until ready to decorate.

Recipe for fondant (10 servings):
 ***I found that it is easiest to add the food coloring into the marshmallows after they are melted. It was easier to stir it in than to kneed it in! But this only works if you are looking to use one color for that batch of marshmallows. With the small decorations, I had to kneed the food coloring in since I didn't need that much of each color. Also, I got my husband to kneed some of the fondant for me... it went by faster than when I tried to do it. :) ***


  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1 (16 ounce) package miniature marshmallows
  • 4 tablespoons water
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 pounds confectioners' sugar, divided


  1. Place the butter in a shallow bowl, and set aside.
  2. Place the marshmallows in a large microwave-safe bowl, and microwave on High for 30 seconds to 1 minute to start melting the marshmallows. Carefully stir the water and vanilla extract into the hot marshmallows, and stir until the mixture is smooth. Slowly beat in the confectioners' sugar, a cup at a time, until you have a sticky dough. Reserve 1 cup of powdered sugar for kneading. The dough will be very stiff.
  3. Rub your hands thoroughly with butter, and begin kneading the sticky dough. As you knead, the dough will become workable and pliable. Turn the dough out onto a working surface dusted with confectioners' sugar and continue kneading until the fondant is smooth and no longer sticky to the touch, 5 to 10 minutes.
  4. Form the fondant into a ball, wrap it tightly in plastic wrap, and refrigerate overnight. To use, allow the fondant to come to room temperature, and roll it out onto a flat surface dusted with confectioners' sugar. 
Now that we have the recipes, here are the steps:
Before you start, you will need to figure out how many tiers you want to have for your cake. Then with each tier, you will need to have at least 3 layers (one layer = one cake.) You can have more layers, but I have found that 3 looks best.  Once you have this number (amount of tiers x amount of layers in each tier) you can buy the right amount of cakes. I had 3 tiers, with 3 layers in each tier, so I used 9 cake boxes.
Step one:
 I started out by baking all my cakes. Since I needed so many, I started this the day before I needed the cake to be completed. You will need to use three different pan sizes, I believe I used 5, 7 and 9 inch cake pans.
-Bake all the cakes you need, and allow them to cool.
- Once they have completely cooled, you will need to cut the arched top off to make them straight tops.
I have three different types of cake, because I was making the tiers all different flavors. Make sure your bottom tier is the most dense cake type so it will be able to hold the other tiers. I baked these three all at once, and repeated this three times. So all together I had baked 9 cakes. 3 of each kind/size.
If you are going to bake your cakes the night before, make sure you wrap them in cling wrap. If you place them in the refrigerator, you will need to let them get back to room temperature before you ice them. I wrapped mine, and left them on the counter over night, and it worked out fine. 
Make your buttercream frosting. You will need this when stacking your layers. 
Once you have all your cakes baked and cooled, you will need to stack them. Work on one tier at a time.
Take your first cake and ice the top of it just a little, then place your next cake on top. This will help the next cake/layer stick to it. Repeat this until you have all your layers stacked on all your tiers. Once they are all stacked, you will need to shape them. In order to get that topsy turvy look, the top of the cake will need to be larger than the bottom. I ran my knife from the top layer down to the bottom layer, and slightly angled the entire tier. WARNING: do not take too much from the bottom cake on each tier, or it will become unstable.
 This is what my cakes looked like after carving them. I used a bread knife to do this. I found that the serrated knife was great for carving.  
You can see that the top layer of this tier is also angled. I don't have a picture of how I did this, but you will need to cut the top cake layer on each tier at an angle. Start at the top left and cut down to the bottom right of the cake. Then you will have to flip it over onto the other half to create a sharp curve at the top. 
 Sorry for such a horrible picture. I am not great when working in paint! :) 
 Ice all of your tiers. Once you have iced them, place them in the refrigerator and allow the frosting to firm.
You will need to ice more than this. Make sure you do not see the cake through the frosting.
Make your fondant. If you would like to make this a day before or ahead of time, you can do so. Just roll each color into a ball, cover it with shortening, wrap it with cling wrap and put it in the refrigerator until you are ready to use it. Once you are ready to use it, you need to let it get to room temperature. If it is not firm enough, just kneed in more conf. sugar. But not too much to where it will dry out and crack.

STEP 6 :
Once all of your tiers are frosted you need to refrigerate them all so that the frosting firms up. For this next step,I bought cake boards from a local cake store (but you can buy them from Michaels too) to sit on the top of each tier for support. I bought one 7inch board and one 5 inch board. I had to trim the boards a little since I carved the cakes into an angle. Once you cut your cake boards to the exact same size as the bottom of each tier, you are able to move on. (cake boards are circles,and made out of cardboard)
(For this next part, I am going to assume you are making a three tier cake like mine. Bottom tier = 3rd , middle tier = 2 and top tier =1)
Start with the 3rd tier. You will take the cake board that fits the bottom of the 2nd tier and trace it, with a knife on the top center of the 3rd tier. Once you have the cake board shape traced, take your knife and carve out a hole that goes down to the second layer. The bottom of the hole needs to be flat, so that the cake board will sit flat in this hole. Here is what mine looked like after I cut out this section and iced it.

 You are creating the illusion of the cake sitting at an angle,when it is actually sitting on this leveled section we just cut out.
 You will have to do this for the 2nd tier as well. But this time trace the cake bottom of the 1st tier to the top of the 2nd tier.  So now, tier 2 will fit inside the cavity we created on tier 3, and tier 1 will fit inside the cavity we created on tier 2. 

Once you have cut out these cavities, we will need to insert your dowels into each tier (also found at Michaels.) Push one wood dowel into the cavity of tier 3 and mark it with a pen, then cut a little below the mark. I used four dowels for each tier, and positioned them so that if you were to connect the dots, it would shape a box. Once you have placed your dowels into the cake, and pushed them to where they are a bit below the surface, ice with frosting, and then insert your cake board that fits that cavity. Do this for each tier.
Roll out your fondant into sheets and drape them over each tier. Gently press down into the cavity so that the fondant sticks to the surface of the entire cake. To smooth out the fondant, start from the top and work down the cake. Do this for each tier. Once you have all your tiers covered in fondant, you can stack them. 
- You will need to roll the fondant out to where it is not too think and not so thin that it will tear when draping. 

I said to smooth the fondant on from the top down to the bottom, because I did not do that and mine was a bit lumpy, but after decorating, you will not be able to see the imperfections.

One you have your cake covered, you can get to the fun part and decorate it! I used different shaped cookie cutters, and fondant cutters to make my shapes. It helped me to put some conf. sugar on the fondant so that it wouldn't stick to my hands when working with it.
FINAL cake!

If you decide to try to make this cake, I would suggest looking up other sites for more tutorials. I don't have all the pictures that show each step, because when I made this cake, the pictures were for myself, and I never thought I would try to post a tutorial. But trust me when I say this: If I can make this cake, ANYONE can! It did take a lot of work, and I messed up a few times, but I was very pleased with the outcome. 

My sister was more than pleased with her cake and didn't want to eat it. I probably will not be making anything like this any time soon! But it was a lot of fun making it.

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