What Happened to My Topsy Turvy!

Decorating By jenscreativity Updated 30 Jan 2011 , 11:25pm by jenscreativity

jenscreativity Posted 28 Jan 2011 , 4:06pm
post #1 of 32

So, I was doing a topsy turvey, DR seuss cake when it all crumbled once I stacked it. I followed the instructions on a youtube, step by step, but it still crashed! They didn't want fondant, so it was all cake and buttercream(FIRST TIME USING HI-RATIO SHORTENING AND WOW, WHAT A DIFFERENCE - I LOVE IT!).. Due to NOT being fondanted,,I'm not sure if that was the reason or not..I have done a fondant topsy turvey that looked great with the SAME instructions , so not sure what happened here!

ANyways,,I used the 8" size, layered 3 times and carved, and then 6", layered 3 times and carved. As I stacked it crushed at bottom..I doweled the lower level with 4 dowels, and the 2 level with 3 dowels. but the dowels looked like it split bottom 1/2 in half for some reason. I don't understand what happened??? My cake was VERY moist, so could that have caused the problem with the weight?? OR are my layers too close intact?

Please let me know..sorry this is long..frustrated!

31 replies
jenscreativity Posted 28 Jan 2011 , 4:07pm
post #2 of 32

I doweled rodded with wooden dowels b/c my bubble tea straws didn't arrive yet,,waiting for them in mail..and I doweled all the way through from top to bottom with a fat plastic , rod. Wanted to mention this also..does someone have an idea of what may have went wrong, or an easier tip to assemble next time around?

jenscreativity Posted 28 Jan 2011 , 4:51pm
post #3 of 32

anyone know at all? I want to do another one since I made royal icing figurines for this theme and want to get this technique down..please?? Also, if cake is super moist,,can too many dowel rods split cake too?/ same maybe use less dowel rods? Thanks for your time.,please help..

CWR41 Posted 28 Jan 2011 , 5:01pm
post #4 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by jenscreativity

As I stacked it crushed at bottom




Too many dowels can be disasterous, but you didn't use an extreme amount. I don't understand why you dowelled the top tier since nothing goes on top of the top tier that requires support. You say the bottom crushed AS you stacked... was it when you placed the plastic dowel through both tiers? How did you get a plastic rod through both cakes and the cardboard that the top tier was on?

jenscreativity Posted 28 Jan 2011 , 5:06pm
post #5 of 32

Ok, let me rephrase this..so sorry.Ok,,so I put a 6" carved down to like 4" on the very top and doweled the whole cake down with the plastic rod..and yes, when I stcked and doweled the whole thing together,,it started to collaspe. I put a hole in the cardboards to put the dowel through them..so then what? You are awesome,,please keep helping me or tell me another way to do this so i can master this today? Smaller/bigger tiers or what?

CWR41 Posted 28 Jan 2011 , 5:24pm
post #6 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by jenscreativity

I put a hole in the cardboards to put the dowel through them..so then what?




If you tried to put the plastic rod through the hole in the cardboard (rather than sliding the top tier onto a center pole), maybe the rod didn't go exactly into the center of the hole without hitting the edge of the hole which could have caused enough downward pressure on the cardboard to make the wooden support dowels to get displaced or knocked off from vertical.

Not sure that this possibility did happen, but I'll keep trying to help if I can.

ThreeLittleBlackbirds Posted 28 Jan 2011 , 5:34pm
post #7 of 32

Those large plastic dowels aren't really meant to be used as a center support for multiple tiers especially going top down because you have had no way to know if you were going to meet up with your pre cut center hole in the cardboard. Those dowels are also hollow so if you push it from the top down and you dont meet up exactly with your hole it could have displaced that extra cake down into your bottom tier and cause it to collapse. since you're only stacking two tiers, you could have used your plastic dowels, cut to size, under your top tier and not used the wooden rods at all. Hope that helps!

kpry Posted 28 Jan 2011 , 5:45pm
post #8 of 32

This happend to me in the summer on a three tier cake. First the frosting started to crack and then the cake. The bottom layer went first and then hours later the middle lay fell apart.

Some suggestions I received were that I used too many bubble tea straws, also that the area that I cut on the cakes for the next tier to sit on was too small causing the colapse.

I haven't tried one again yet, so I am not sure. Hope this helps you!

CWR41 Posted 28 Jan 2011 , 5:48pm
post #9 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by ThreeLittleBlackbirds

since you're only stacking two tiers, you could have used your plastic dowels, cut to size, under your top tier and not used the wooden rods at all. Hope that helps!




Or you could have eliminated the plastic rod completely. That's a huge rod to be used in a top tier that is carved down to 4" at the base. It wasn't needed--overkill. If you were transporting the cake, a simple skewer would have been enough to help prevent the top tier from sliding apart or sliding off. I also believe the plastic rods would be overkill to place 4 of them in the bottom tier in the space that the carved down 4" base comes into contact with--wooden dowels are more than enough support in this tiny space.

jenscreativity Posted 28 Jan 2011 , 5:57pm
post #10 of 32

Ok..so the top 2 tiers were not falling apart,,it was ONLY the bottom tier. So it looked like the tiers on top were too heavy for the bottom tier AND also, you are right on the plastic dowel through whole thing..that could have been too wide to cause all of the other little wooden dowels to move and break cake apart b/c when I took the cake apart to see the problem, the wooden dowel rods were moved out of place b/c of the moistness of the cake maybe?? As bottom was failing the top tiers were coming down but didn't part up like the bottom tier. So how shall I do this then? Do I NEED a dowel rod to come down through all 3 layers if they are doweled 3/4 x already, or no? Can you instruct me how to assemble this please b/c this is driving me crazy!

Thanks so much to all of you and please continue to help me.Cakes are baking to re-do this cake right now,,so I want to master this so no time is wasted on my sugar decos. Thanks again!

Jenifer

VaBelle Posted 28 Jan 2011 , 6:25pm
post #11 of 32

I was speaking to someone a few weeks ago far more advanced than I who said not to use wooden dowels. For one, as you've experienced, they can easily shift and cause your cake to collapse. Also, if you think about your trees after it rains, they absorb moisture. I imagine the wooden dowels do too. I don't know if this would negatively affect them or not. He said the plastic dowels were the best for the smaller cakes, meaning not requiring PVC and such.

CWR41 Posted 28 Jan 2011 , 6:37pm
post #12 of 32

Okay, which is it? You first said it was a two-tier cake (6" & 8"), now I'm hearing that it was a three-tier cake because there's a "top 2 tiers" and a "bottom tier". Forgive me if I'm misunderstanding the new story because "tiers on top were too heavy for the bottom tier" implies plural, more than one tier on top of the bottom tier.

Either way, I don't believe the top tier(s) can be too heavy for the bottom tier if it's supported correctly. I don't believe the plastic rod's width caused the dowels to move unless it was forced through the cardboard or a portion of the cardboard instead of the hole (like I previously mentioned). It's not from moist cake... cake can't move dowels. Even if dowels were vertical in jello, the jello wouldn't allow dowels to move but pressure at any angle other than straight down would. The top tier didn't "part up" because there wasn't anything forcing the dowels to rip sideways through the cake (even though I mentioned there's no reason to dowel a top tier... center pole or skewer, yes, but no support needed).

What does doweled 3/4 already mean? If each tier is 3 layers high, you need to dowel through the entire height of the tier, not just 3/4 of it.

jenscreativity Posted 28 Jan 2011 , 6:38pm
post #13 of 32

Ok, great on the wooden dowels info! SO does the plastic ones not move at then b/c they are fat OR do you think I should just await my bubble tea straws( SHOULD BE HERE TODAY..ERR icon_cry.gif ) and just use those and scratch out the wooden and plastic dowels altogether? ALso, if I'm doing the 8", 6" and 4" tiers, then do I really need a dowel rod to go through all layers even though the 6 and 8 are doweled? And what about needing the wooden dowel to go through WHOLE cake vs just the layers? Thanks so much for your continued help...I'm needing to do this later today..so all the help asap is greatly appreciated!

CWR41 Posted 28 Jan 2011 , 6:47pm
post #14 of 32

I think I understand that it is three tiers now... I thought you were describing how you carved a 6" tier down to 4" at the base, but maybe you aren't carving them to angle in at the base, perhaps they aren't angled at all. Are you setting it up with the ILLUSION that it's tilted, but it's actually sitting flat in the hole that's carved out to fit the above tiers?

jenscreativity Posted 28 Jan 2011 , 6:53pm
post #15 of 32

CWR41: Yes,,so I was tiering it this way,,(btm layer 8", middle layer 6", and top layer 4") So I wanted that tilted look like a topsy turvey. I followed the instructions to a tee on a youtube video on how to do this,,and it's great, and yes, I did put the angled holes in, to insert the top layer..So I angled btm layer to insert the 6" good..then I angled 6" to set the 4" into so it sits in for the illusion.

CWR41 Posted 28 Jan 2011 , 6:53pm
post #16 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by jenscreativity

then do I really need a dowel rod to go through all layers even though the 6 and 8 are doweled? And what about needing the wooden dowel to go through WHOLE cake vs just the layers?




This is the same question twice, right? Yes, you need a center dowel through all tiers if it's going to be transported.

jenscreativity Posted 28 Jan 2011 , 6:54pm
post #17 of 32

ok..sorry..so then what is the best way to master this you think? I"m re-doing this today..

pmarks0 Posted 28 Jan 2011 , 6:56pm
post #18 of 32

I made a three tiered topsy turvy cake for my birthday last year (my first one). I used bubble tea straws, but before I got those I used to use drinking straws from McDonalds but they're a bit smaller in diameter than bubble tea straws. The straws, because they're hollow, don't displace cake when they're placed in the tier and also being plastic don't absorb moisture as the wooden dowels do. I did a similar cake to yours in that i used gradually smaller layers in each tier to create the mad hatter style. (At least I think that's what you were describing.)

So I had a 6/5/4 top tier, a 8/7/6 middle tier, and a 10/9/8 bottom tier. I inset each tier by about 1" into the one below to make sure that they sat flat and level. I used a cake board the size of the bottom of each tier as a guide to get the size right. And then I placed the bubble tea straws within that cut out area. Because the straws were all the same height (due to the cut out area), the cake sat level and sturdy and relatively snug. You can't make the cut out too big or there's room for shifting. And don't put too many dowels in either or that will affect the integrity of the cake.

When I was done stacking, and finished off the decorating, I then took a sharpened wooden 1/4" dowel and hammered it down through the cake board and and into the drum board I was ussing. This was also the second or third time that I'd center doweled a cake but it worked like a charm. We had to drive 10 minutes to the restaurant after that for the party and there were no issues.

Hope that helps a bit.

ThreeLittleBlackbirds Posted 28 Jan 2011 , 6:58pm
post #19 of 32

now Im confused..."angled holes?" I cant picture this. Usually you cut down into the angled portion of the top of the cake to make a flat surface for the next tier to sit on. So you would cut a 6 inch diameter circle on the top of your 8 inch bottom tier for your middle 6 inch tier to sit on top of. You measure and cut your dowels to support your next layer and insert them into the cut area, but they aren't angled they need to all be the same size across to support the tier. Maybe i'm misunderstanding what you mean by angled holes

CWR41 Posted 28 Jan 2011 , 7:00pm
post #20 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by jenscreativity

CWR41: Yes,,so I was tiering it this way,,(btm layer 8", middle layer 6", and top layer 4") So I wanted that tilted look like a topsy turvey. I followed the instructions to a tee on a youtube video on how to do this,,and it's great, and yes, I did put the angled holes in, to insert the top layer..So I angled btm layer to insert the 6" good..then I angled 6" to set the 4" into so it sits in for the illusion.




Do you mean bottom TIER 8", middle TIER 6" and top TIER 4", or are you talking about three layers that make up only one tier?

What angled holes? The holes are dug out with a flat bottom surface. Can you provide the You Tube link that you are trying?

jenscreativity Posted 28 Jan 2011 , 7:06pm
post #21 of 32

pmarks0: Ok, so I did all of that actually but I noticed that I made the gaps maybe too big with less cake on teh side of it to tumble over..so,

should I assemble cake PRIOR to icing, doweling and decorating to be sure that it all fits snug? Why? Because I did this while decorated and ended up having to push cake in gap to be snug and flush to side of cake, messing up the side some, but fixable,,yet maybe with the pressure, the btm layer was shifted along with dowels to move and split open. So you think I should assemble cake altogether FIRST before everything else? (decor, dowel, icing)..do you think that will help me for now?

Also, did you leave cardboard under 2 and top layers for stacking or just placed ONLY the cake in?

jenscreativity Posted 28 Jan 2011 , 7:12pm
post #22 of 32

The angled cut outs to sit cake in properly,,that's what i meant..so sorry.

The link is :
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xHY_F53ClJ8

ThreeLittleBlackbirds Posted 28 Jan 2011 , 7:13pm
post #23 of 32

I would say:

1 carve each (angled top)
2 crumb coat each - fridge
3 carve hole on each using cardboard cake board of next tier up
4 dowel bottom tier
5 stack middle tier with cardboard underneath
6 dowel middle tier
7 stack top tier with cardboard underneath
8 measure total height of cake
9 sharpen end of wooden dowel and gently hammer top down until you reach the bottom cake board
10 final coat of buttercream
11 decorate

CWR41 Posted 28 Jan 2011 , 7:17pm
post #24 of 32

You can't assemble the cake prior to doweling, doweling has to be done AS you are assembling the cake, otherwise how are you going to get dowels into each tier separately after they are already stacked? I wouldn't dream of icing tiers after they are stacked. Yes, each tier is on its own board, otherwise the dowels below will pierce into the cake and there isn't any support! That would be like stacking tables, only none of the tables have tops--just legs! Sounds like you need to do more research on cake construction, stacking, and topsy turvy.

jenscreativity Posted 28 Jan 2011 , 7:22pm
post #25 of 32

Ok...great advices..I have done tiered cakes before, no problems with doweling,,but problem is this is topsy turvey style so I was trying to master this and I will! I"m going to do this today..following THREELITTLEBLACKBIRD"S recent instruction and hope it turns out ok. Thanks so much for everyone's advices. Greatly appreciate it..!!

ThreeLittleBlackbirds Posted 28 Jan 2011 , 7:38pm
post #26 of 32

Good luck, I'm sure it will be great! Post pics!

also make sure you don't dowel in the center of the bottom and middle tier so that when you hammer your wooden rod through the center of the whole cake, you wont hit any of the dowels you previously placed there.

jenscreativity Posted 28 Jan 2011 , 7:40pm
post #27 of 32

great tip! thank you also!!

CWR41 Posted 28 Jan 2011 , 7:47pm
post #28 of 32

Yay! At least you found out what happened to your topsy turvy! It didn't sound like a problem with doweling, just remember that each cake needs to be on its own board. If your previous stacked tiered cakes weren't on their own boards, you really got lucky if they didn't bulge or collapse.

Instances like this would be totally foolproof/failproof if using SPS... unless the plate was forgotten!

jenscreativity Posted 28 Jan 2011 , 7:52pm
post #29 of 32

thank you so much! Off to working on this and I have to just trust in god that all will work out this time around.. icon_smile.gif

pmarks0 Posted 28 Jan 2011 , 8:13pm
post #30 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by jenscreativity

pmarks0: Ok, so I did all of that actually but I noticed that I made the gaps maybe too big with less cake on teh side of it to tumble over..so,

should I assemble cake PRIOR to icing, doweling and decorating to be sure that it all fits snug? Why? Because I did this while decorated and ended up having to push cake in gap to be snug and flush to side of cake, messing up the side some, but fixable,,yet maybe with the pressure, the btm layer was shifted along with dowels to move and split open. So you think I should assemble cake altogether FIRST before everything else? (decor, dowel, icing)..do you think that will help me for now?

Also, did you leave cardboard under 2 and top layers for stacking or just placed ONLY the cake in?




As someone has already said, you can't assemble before icing. Mine was done in fondant, but I'd still do it similarly. Yes, every tier needs to be on it's own cake board. It's not just for stacking purposes, but makes it much easier to move the tier around. Some don't but I was taught to also put a cake board under my bottom tier, and then use some icing to "stick" it to my drum board. I would probably do the same thing order that ThreeLittleBlackBirds has said and do final icing assembled as could be harder to move an iced tier although I've done it when making a regular tiered cake. If you're comfortable moving an iced tier, then final ice before stacking. Do your decorating after it's stacked again because it's buttercream. If you look at my red, yellow and orange 50 cake, I covered each tier in fondant, carved out the piece for stacking purposes, decorated my bottom tier and also my middle tier because of their designs. I assembled the cake, put the dowel down the center and then final decorated the top tier covering up the hole that was made.

I used this as my guide. I found it extrememly helpful and has great pictures.

http://cakecentral.com/articles/6/how-to-make-a-topsy-turvy-whimsical-cake

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