I still consider my skills to be newbie level, even though I have been decorating for my family and friends for some time now. Anyway, I decided that it was time to do my first topsy turvy cake, and to start small by doing only the bottom tier topsy.
I have been planning this cake for a few months now, for my DD's 15th birthday. We were taking it in to school for her drill team's celebration of all the October birthdays. I searched cakes all over this site and came up with my own combination, even making a list and sketching out what I planned to do.
I started my MMF and gumpaste accents over a week in advance, and got my cakes baked and into the freezer ahead of time too. I wanted this to be great, so I took it slowly and planned EVERYTHING.
Yesterday was the day to decorate and assemble everything, so I blocked out my entire afternoon and evening, and got to work. I started frosting and decorating and everything was going great. I even got my icing nice and smooth using the foam roller.
I got both tiers done, and stacked the large cupcake on the bottom tier, and put a long dowel through both tiers and into the board because I was worried about the stability of the topsy turvy bottom.
As I was admiring my work, and adding the finishing accents, I noticed that the cupcake was leaning toward the back of the cake. I wondered why, but thought I could fix it until I walked around to the back and noticed that the entire side was sinking downward and the cake was cracking--I FORGOT TO PUT DOWELS UNDER THE TOP TIER!!!
I immediately ripped off the top tier and half of the accents, damaging the top tier in the process, and then had to run out the door to pick up said DD from an after school activity. When we got back, we went to work trying to salvage things, adding dowels and touching up where I had pulled the top off, but it only got worse.
Since the cupcake was now fully assembled (I had originally put in on in stages) it was EXTREMELY top-heavy, and when we tried to lift it back on, it wobbled, and both of our hands went into the frosting, both on the sides, and the top! (By now, DD is hearing words that she's never heard out of my mouth before , and she breaks into tears). I ended up scraping of large areas of frosting, put the top back on while I could steady it in those areas without frosting, and then re-iced them. Even though it now looked nowhere near as good as it originally had, we thought we had done a pretty good job salvaging it (see picture #1).--WRONG
About 1/2 hour later when I looked at the cake again, THE ENTIRE BACK SIDE WAS FALLING AWAY FROM THE CAKE!!! I grabbed it and pushed it back up while calling for my daughter to help. We probably looked a sight standing there holding a cake together and looking at each other totally bewildered. My mind was racing trying to think of what I could brace it up with and I said out loud "We need something that can tie all the way around to hold it in like a girdle," and my DD (did I mention that she's brilliant?) asked "Do we have any more of the ribbon that's around the board?" Not only did I have a piece, but it was EXACTLY the right length to go around the cake snugly and tie with a tiny knot (see picture #2).
It looked strange to have that there, and you can see from the pictures that the front eventually started sagging, and my perfectly smooth frosting wasn't anymore, but the cake held together through the night, and I delivered it this morning to a group of 14 and 15-year-old girls who thought it was great! Bless their hearts, they were whipping out their cell phones and snapping pictures and asking if I would make their birthday cakes. One girl even said "It's just like 'Ace of Cakes!'" (Duff would be shaking his head in disgust)
Anyway, I left the school this morning feeling MUCH better than I did last night. I may even consider trying another topsy turvy again; but with dowels this time.
Thanks for letting me vent!
I was reading your post, fully imagining that this cake must look like H#ll, but when I got to the pictures you posted, it's just adorable! I can't see anything at all wrong with it. So what did you figure was the problem, just leaving the dowels out of the bottom tier, or more than that? I've always wanted to try one of these too, but your story reinforces my fear of them! (PS did you use a cupcake pan for the top tier?)
I'm sure they did love it, it's darling.
I loved your story. I know the exact look when the two of you were holding up the cake wondering what to do!
Anyway, the cake is adorable. Did you use the giant cupcake cake pan?
I really like this one. It is cute and girlie!
Ahhh! I think you did a great job at salvaging the cake, by the way you posted your story, it sure sounds like you went through a lot. GREAT JOB on salvaging the cake, it still looks VERY GOOD!
I've only made one and had problems with it being stable also. If I ever do another one it will be with the SPS system that leahs uses.
I was reading your post, fully imagining that this cake must look like H#ll, but when I got to the pictures you posted, it's just adorable! I can't see anything at all wrong with it.
I was thinking the exact same thing. You did an awesome job. It is such an adorable cake. You would never be able to tell how much trouble you were having by the picture!
While I was reading your story I was wrenching at every step. But the end result is FANTASTIC. Great save.
BTW, don't foreget to tell your daughter thanks for helping mom but never....never repeat what she heard!
I think it turned out cute despite the drama! I know Leahs is going to come on and tell you about SPS...haha (BTW Leah, totally said without any sarcasm!). After reading it a few times I've decided to hold off trying to do my first TT until I have it. Great save though and don't kids have the best ability to bring you up?!
Thanks everyone. It is easier to stand back and look at things the next day when you are much less frazzled!
Yes, that is the giant cupcake pan. Since you bake the two parts separately, I initially decorated them separately and then put them on one at a time so I had somewhere to grab as I put them on; but when I had to remove them in one piece, that is when the disasters started.
I think that the problem with it cracking afterward started because I used the method where you cut a circle in the top of the tier for the next tier to sit in. When the cupcake sunk and shifted, I think it started to tear along that circle (does that make sense?), and then I guess the cake was just moist enough that it continued to tear even after I had doweled the top tier.
I did have visions of Leah chastising me about SPS, and I am very interested in it. I've even looked at it on different websites, but I haven't decided to take the plunge yet since I don't do this professionally. And even SPS can't save a cake if you forget to put it in! I think things were just going so well, that I started to get too confident and got ahead of myself.
Oh, and for the record, I did apologize to my daughter and reassure her that this was not her fault; I was just at the end of my rope!
Thanks again for all your positive comments!
What part of UT are you in? We're BYU grads
Wow...I think it turned out great. I actually like it better with the purple ribbon!
We're in Clinton...it's near Layton etc. Just about 20 miles north of SLC I think. We've only been here for 6 months, and so far it's not been bad. I'm nervous about the bulk of winter, but we got around 6 in of snow at the beginning of Oct, and we survived.
I love your cake--that was a great save. I feel sure you and your daughter will laugh your faces off about this over time. I can just picture cake popping out all over with the expletives and you guys grabbing cake and freaking out. I'm laughing already.
Oh the memories!
The cake is amazing.
. I'm nervous about the bulk of winter, but we got around 6 in of snow at the beginning of Oct, and we survived.
You'll do fine. Remember Utah has "The Best Snow on Earth!" I can see why you'd really be missing CA at this time of year.