I Yield To The Topsy Turvy Demons!!!!

Decorating By jjkarm Updated 16 Apr 2010 , 3:40pm by j-nita

jjkarm Posted 14 Mar 2010 , 3:43pm
post #1 of 33

I just want to sit in the corner and cry! After going through 9 cake mixes, 7 lbs of white chocolate, 20 eggs, and so much powdered sugar I lost count...... I give up! I've spent the last 4 days trying to make a surprise topsy turvy birthday cake for my son's girlfriend. I'd researched and studied for quite a while on how to make one, so I thought I was prepared.

I had no problems with the carving or crumb coating (used ganache by the way) I made sure the cake was thoroughly chilled before applying the fondant, but every cake began leaning and slouching and cracking apart after the fondant was applied. I used the durable 3D cake for carving recipe but I don't think the recipe was strong enough. I live at 4600 feet, so maybe the higher altitude was the culprit. I don't know! icon_cry.gificon_cry.gificon_cry.gif

I've never had so many problems and now I'm nervous about making and new cakes at all! I kind of want to quit the whole cake making thing for a while!

We ended up going to Costco and buying a cake.... icon_mad.gif I did put the cute little gum paste daisies I'd made on top, but that was little consolation. Topsy turvy..... oh how I hate you! icon_evil.gificon_cry.gificon_cry.gificon_cry.gif

32 replies
Jemoiselle Posted 14 Mar 2010 , 8:17pm
post #2 of 33

Oh no! I am so sorry! I have never tried a TT cake, partly because of all of these horrible experiences I keep seeing on here! You keep trying, don't give up! I just know sometime soon somebody with some REAL experience with these TT cakes and some helpful advice is going to be here posting for ya and will help you figure out what went wrong. I completely understand how you feel, keep your head up.
Sorry I am not much help, just wanted to be supportive at least and say "we've all been there in some way or another"... hugs!

dreamacres Posted 14 Mar 2010 , 9:25pm
post #3 of 33

Well join the team. I have not ever done fondant cake before and tried a topsy turvy for my first. They looked so great crumb coated. Then, well it was like being a child and watching in horror as your favorite balloon deflated slowly before my eyes. I felt maybe this cake thing has changed too much for me. Maybe someone can give us some hints.

BlakesCakes Posted 14 Mar 2010 , 11:58pm
post #4 of 33

Sorry for all of the problems.......

Did you follow the tutorial here on CC? It was my saving grace when I did my first topsy.


Did you put filling in the cake(s)? It's a good idea to avoid filling them--just stick them together with some buttercream.

I use WASC recipes and find them well suited to this type of cake.

Better luck with the next one!

aundrea Posted 15 Mar 2010 , 12:11am
post #5 of 33

im so sorry this happend to you. i just peaked at your pics - you got some mad talent.
dont give up im sure you will work it out.
the wedding cake you did for your niece is ....amazing!! i give you alot of credit for first time. your flowers look so real.
let us know if you attempt another TT would love to see it!

The_Lil_Cakehouse Posted 15 Mar 2010 , 12:26am
post #6 of 33

I've done a TT. For my first though, I didn't taper the tiers. It went ok (in my pics) I purchased the DVD from Sugarshack and am ready to use some of her techniques. Give it a breather, and then in a couple of months try one for fun so you don't have the pressure!! Good LUCK!!!

jjkarm Posted 15 Mar 2010 , 2:07am
post #7 of 33

Thanks for the sympathy. I didn't even get to finish decorating the cake before it was beyond repair....

BlakesCakes: Yes, I studied that tutorial along with any others I could find. I used a whipped ganache for the filling, and it was sturdier then regular buttercream filling. So I don't think that was the problem. Maybe I should have used WASC. My WASC tends to turn out gummy and I just figured the Durable 3D recipe was a safer bet. Hmmmmmm?????

I did notice when I carved a hole in the bottom cake, I could already see the cake had a few cracks in it. The tall side of a TT is a lot heavier then the short side. How do you keep the cake stable when it wants to lean and tip to the heavy side?

If I can get them to show up.... here are a couple pictures of my disaster. This is the only section of the cake that was even salvageable.

dreamacres Posted 15 Mar 2010 , 3:05am
post #8 of 33

I looked through pictures here and the deflated look seems a common thing. TT I hate you. Your design was great. Love the "sock that needs pulled up" comment. I am going to try again. I did not use fillings. Just BC and white cake. Not sure what is happening. i am going to try a denser cake and longer settle time.

tonimarie Posted 15 Mar 2010 , 3:23am
post #9 of 33


have you watched the above you tube video? It's from Janell's cakes, and it is how I learned. I watched the video over and over again, don't give upicon_smile.gif

Sagebrush Posted 15 Mar 2010 , 4:21am
post #10 of 33
Originally Posted by jjkarm

I live at 4600 feet, so maybe the higher altitude was the culprit...

My WASC tends to turn out gummy

Yep... I'll bet the altitude was at least a major player in the problem.

According to some of the research I've done, reducing the amount of sugar is one of the adjustments that you need to make when baking in high altitude, and a gummy top can be caused by too much sugar and/or underbaking (I think I tend to underbake.. mine are still ending up tacky when I try to level and torte, so I'm still working it out myself, and I'm at close to 7000 feet).

Chickycakes Posted 15 Mar 2010 , 3:19pm
post #11 of 33

So sorry this happened. Stick with it and I bet things will improve. Sugar Ed Productions has a great DVD on TT cakes-give that a look as see if it helps.
Google baking in high altitudes and see what tips you find. I'm at 4900 feet, so I understand.
My first TT fell over and I never though I could do one again. But you know what, I stuck with it and have made some beautiful ones since. icon_smile.gif You can do it!

jjkarm Posted 15 Mar 2010 , 8:02pm
post #12 of 33

Yes, I watched Janell's video and it was very helpful. I've been wanting to order Sugarshacks TT video for a while, maybe it's time that I finally do it... LOL.

I've tweeked the WASC recipe for higher altitude, but it doesn't seem to work the same with every flavor. Sometimes it turns out great and sometimes it's still gummy. (Why can't life just be easy???)

The more I think about it, the more I think the cake recipe just wasn't strong enough to stand up to the carving and uneven weight distribution. I guess it's back to the drawing board (or should I say "recipe box") to find a dense high altitude cake recipe. icon_cry.gif If anyone has a great one... I'd love to try it! thumbs_up.gif

this-mama-rocks Posted 15 Mar 2010 , 8:26pm
post #13 of 33

Try looking in the recipe section - there's a "durable cake for wedding and carving" or something like that.

jjkarm Posted 15 Mar 2010 , 8:28pm
post #14 of 33

Yea, that's the recipe I used..... didn't work too well for me. I'll keep searching.

Uniqueask Posted 15 Mar 2010 , 9:18pm
post #15 of 33

You better not give up, I looked at your photos and you made some amazing cakes, Just order Sharon's DVD's they have a Wealth of info.

Chickycakes Posted 17 Mar 2010 , 3:10pm
post #16 of 33

I use the basic WASC recipe and it works fine-not gummy etc.

sugarshack Posted 19 Mar 2010 , 5:04am
post #17 of 33

I use the durable for TT's but I have no idea how altitude affects the recipe.

OP, you said you used ganache under the fondant, is that correct? or BC?

If you used ganache, which ratio did you use? the ganache should set up as a nice firm shell that holds the cake in place. very sturdy, no sagging involved....

let me know......

jjkarm Posted 19 Mar 2010 , 4:21pm
post #18 of 33

Hi Sharon... icon_biggrin.gif

I used white chocolate ganache at a 3:1 ratio. I put on a thin crumb coat and let it chill. Later I added a 2nd layer of ganache so I could get the sharp corners I wanted. The ganache seems to go on well, however, a few times the 2nd layer of ganache pulled off the crumb coat (this happened on the areas where the cake was carved).

After I frosted with the ganache, the cakes kept wanting to lean and tip to the tall side. I used pan sizes 8, 9, 10 and 6, 8, 8. I tried not to carve very much into the bottom cake, but it still didn't seem stable. Also, I noticed when I carved the hole into the bottom layer, the cake inside was already cracking..... *sigh icon_sad.gif

I woke up last night and couldn't get back to sleep.... kept worrying about what I'd do if someone asked me for a topsy turvy! icon_cry.gificon_cry.gificon_cry.gif

sugarshack Posted 23 Mar 2010 , 3:45am
post #19 of 33

what was the consistency of the ganache when you aplpied it with the spatula?

u said you chilled it.... to get it firm?

it should not pull off the first layer. hmmmm

the way I do it:

make the ganache and let it sit at room temp overnight till like thick PB

ice the cake with that and let that sit at cool room temp overnight to form the shell

cover with fondant the next day

is this the process you used?

jjkarm Posted 26 Mar 2010 , 6:54pm
post #20 of 33

The consistency of my ganache was just a little thinner then PB.
This was my method for applying the ganache:

-Applied the crumb coat and let it set for about 6 hours.
-Put it in the refrigerator to thoroughly chill the cake, then I applied the second layer of ganache.
-Put the cake back in the fridge to firm up again before applying the fondant.

I'm just stubborn enough.... that I will not let this topsy turvy thing defeat me! icon_twisted.gif When I finally get it right I'll make sure to post it and show everyone my success!!! party.gif

.......*not sure how long that will take*..... LOL icon_rolleyes.gif

sugarshack Posted 26 Mar 2010 , 6:59pm
post #21 of 33


I do not do any chilling with the ganache technique, so I am not sure if that adversely affected your resutls or not.

i have done two coats of ganache and never had the 2nd pull off the first either. try dipping your spatula in hot water (and wipe off) as u are applying it, might make it go on easier.

maybe you try a thicker layer og ganache too. I go 1/8- 1./4 inch, it adds stability to the cake.


jjkarm Posted 26 Mar 2010 , 7:51pm
post #22 of 33

Thanks so much Sharon!!! I appreciate you taking your time to help me. I'll give it a go again using your tips and see if it helps. thumbs_up.gificon_biggrin.gif

Shannon1129 Posted 27 Mar 2010 , 6:16pm
post #23 of 33

I was browsing this thread and my son walked in. He saw the picture and liked it! He even asked me if I could make a cake like that! So, take heart.... it wasn't as bad as you thought. My 7 year old thinks your cake is awesome! icon_smile.gif

dixie3 Posted 1 Apr 2010 , 1:19am
post #24 of 33

I'm at 7000 feet and I reduce my sugar (1-2 tbsp) inrease my flour (1-2 tbsp), decrease my leaveners (1/2 tsp) and add an extra egg. This usually helps me with the firmness of my cake.

Hope this helps


Kitagrl Posted 2 Apr 2010 , 3:55am
post #25 of 33

I really, really, really wish I had read this thread about not using regular fillings in topsy turvy cakes before I used pudding in a topsy turvy cake today.


SpecialtyCakesbyKelli Posted 2 Apr 2010 , 4:18am
post #26 of 33

Feeling your pain here... I hate TT cakes with a passion... and will not do them any more. My first one did the saggy thing... fixed that problem. Did a beautiful hand painted TT cake for my friends daughter..... it was a work of art.....until the *^%$^ thing FELL OVER in the car. I did everything right (I thought) had dowels in each tier, boards in between... flat area for each tier to sit in... and dowel all the way through the middle... but the top 2 tiers still fell off in transit. I wanted to cry icon_sad.gif
So I let the Topsy Turvy Gods beat me....... don't let them beat you too! icon_biggrin.gif

Kitagrl Posted 2 Apr 2010 , 4:21am
post #27 of 33

I've done a few of them and they've always worked out just fine...but tonight I just realized I've always used buttercream filling! Never pudding or preserves or anything (dumb) like that....like I did tonight...

I emailed my customer last minute hoping to switch to a delivery instead of pickup...this cake must be handled with kid gloves if its going to make it.

zdebssweetsj Posted 2 Apr 2010 , 7:11am
post #28 of 33

I've only done one TT, it was a challange no doubt. I gave it to my son-in-law to give to his daughter. On the way to deliver it someone ran him off the road, he wasn't injured but the cake didn't make it. Broke my heart. I've got another one due in June, got excitement and fear going on at the same time. LOL

sweetcakes Posted 4 Apr 2010 , 7:41pm
post #29 of 33

im no expert at these, having only done 2-3 of them myself. But on one of your picture the overhang looks to be about 2" past the base of the cake. I think this could be the problem. I also think it is easier and gives a firmer edge if you make all three layers the same size then carve. Ive tried baking the 8"9" 10" cakes but you have to carve so much away which takes the very bottom down to a 7". But dont give up, next time will be so much better.

zdebssweetsj Posted 4 Apr 2010 , 10:25pm
post #30 of 33
Originally Posted by sweetcakes

im no expert at these, having only done 2-3 of them myself. But on one of your picture the overhang looks to be about 2" past the base of the cake. I think this could be the problem. I also think it is easier and gives a firmer edge if you make all three layers the same size then carve. Ive tried baking the 8"9" 10" cakes but you have to carve so much away which takes the very bottom down to a 7". But dont give up, next time will be so much better.

That cake was the orange and pink TT, all I had to work from was a picture the bride had sent me, the cut was extreme to say the least. What's really funny they canceled their wedding last year, and she contacted me about doing the same one this June. Needless to say I will be delivering this one.

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