Topsy Turvy Lessons Learned

Decorating By albumangel Updated 26 Apr 2007 , 9:39pm by bakeyclacker

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albumangel Posted 22 Apr 2007 , 4:09am
post #1 of 18

Did my first topsy-turvy cake for a tea party today at a mansion on Mulholland Drive (a church function). Learned a few lessons and have a few questions.

I followed the instructions here on CC (AWESOME INSTRUCTIONS!!) but took a few deviations that I regret. First, I wanted to make the top tier a teacup, and I own the sportsball pans- so thought that half a sportsball plus a 6" cake would make a great teacup!

The base of the teacup was only 4" and my local cake supply place didn't have a plate that was only 4" so I put it on a 4" cardboard cakeboard and I used dowels - 4 just supporting the top tier and one that went down thru both of the top 2 tiers- supported on top of the plate and pillars that went thru the first tier to the base. All the fondant buckeled when I stacked the tiers together. I know that could be for several reasons, but-- Does anyone know a place that provides plates and pillars for cakes with a base smaller than 6 inches? My local place didn't have any!

So, I kept going and chalked it up to learning. But, on the way up the steep, windy road to the mansion, the top tier actually fell off, taking a good portion of the middle tier with it, since the dowel came crashing through that layer as well. I swear I was driving VERY slowly and VERY carefully- but it was a 40 minute drive on windy roads. Do you always use plate-and-pillar in this situation, or can dowels really work?

I'm attaching before-and-after pictures. Any advice for constructing and delivering this kind of cake would be greatly appreciated!

17 replies
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Monica0271 Posted 22 Apr 2007 , 4:13am
post #2 of 18

I have no answers to you questions. I just wanted to say your cake is beautiful thumbs_up.gif

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marthajo1 Posted 22 Apr 2007 , 4:13am
post #3 of 18

aww- It was so pretty! I love the jelly tea! Very nice! I can't help though sorry !

Heres your bump though!

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albumangel Posted 22 Apr 2007 , 4:35am
post #4 of 18

Thanks guys!! I've only been decorating since January, and I was pretty proud of this until it buckled and then fell. All my research & planning can't make up for lack of experience, I guess.

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qtcakes Posted 22 Apr 2007 , 8:20pm
post #5 of 18

i think that you should have hammered a bamboo skewer thru the top 2 layers, you said the top plate was card board. i probably would have used 2 of them. then the top wouldnt have fell or rolled off. and did you have enough supports under the top one for the weight distribution?

the cake looked great. nice work.

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albumangel Posted 23 Apr 2007 , 2:55pm
post #6 of 18

Thanks! I did hammer a dowel thru the top 2 tiers, and had 4 dowels supporting the top tier. But I like your idea about using two cakeboards.

The more I think about it the more I'm convinced that my top tier was just plain too big and heavy for that cake. I'm still looking for plate-and-pillar that will support a layer with a base smaller than 6" for the future.

And, I thought of another lesson that I could use help with- I got advice here to start with frozen cakes. I had never torted frozen cakes before, but always heard it would be better/easier. My Wilton leveler wouldn't work, and my sharpest knife still had lots of problems getting thru the middle, so my torting was very uneven. Any tips for torting frozen cakes?

Thanks again!

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thecakemaven Posted 23 Apr 2007 , 3:06pm
post #7 of 18

I stack mine ON SITE and add borders there... it's just not worth the risk... because even if you drive carefully, you never know when some crazy driver will cause you to have to hit the breaks or something. So I always construct on site.

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berryblondeboys Posted 23 Apr 2007 , 3:09pm
post #8 of 18

Now, I've never made one of these, so I'm no expert, but... it seems by looking that the cake wasn't balanced and most topsy turvy cakes I've seen have a center of balance over the center of the cake, whereas yours seems to be a flat bottom layer, a topsy turvy second layer with the third layer still leaning too much like the second layer. Gravity was tugging and tugging on that top layer and with the weight of fondant, it has that much more force acting on it.

I think if you would have made sure that top layer was straight or even leaning the other way, it would have been more balanced and therefore, not as susceptible to crashing on you.

I really don't think another cake plate or the correct sizes of cake plates would have mattered any - maybe only some doweling that would have brought the center of gravity more to the center, but even then, cakes can slip past dowels if enough gravity works against them.


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all4cake Posted 23 Apr 2007 , 3:16pm
post #9 of 18

Your cake is adorable.

I would've thrown up had I heard a thud from the back of the vehicle.

I'm sorry this happened to you.

Can't tell exactly but making a guess from what I see, I say it was construction supports that was at fault with your disaster.

Looks as if even the bottom tier was trying to support the weight of the upper tiers instead of the bottom tiers' doweling.

The center dowel, I would've hammered through all 3 tiers...straight into the base board until the sharpened dowel hit my counter.

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czyadgrl Posted 23 Apr 2007 , 3:18pm
post #10 of 18
Originally Posted by albumangel

All my research & planning can't make up for lack of experience, I guess.

I have found this to be so so true lately as well.

I LOVE your cake!

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mcalhoun Posted 23 Apr 2007 , 3:24pm
post #11 of 18

Did you cover your cake board so it would not soak up the Crisco from you buttercream? Maybe the board just collapsed? The cake was soooo cute! I hate this happened. When I made mine we put lots of dowels between the layers then one dowell went thru all 3 tiers and into the cake drum. Next time if you have to go up really steep hills and what not I agree assemble on site.
Melissa icon_smile.gif

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heyjules Posted 23 Apr 2007 , 8:10pm
post #12 of 18

YOur cake is beautiful. The mini wondermold pan makes great teacups I guess they wouldn't really work on top of that cuz they're not big enough. But I made a cake with six teacups around an 8" cake that looked like a teapot and it came out great.

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leni Posted 25 Apr 2007 , 2:51pm
post #13 of 18

did you have any supports for the bottom tier - I can't find them from looking and it seems to me from the pictures that the bottom cake collapsed which caused the top two to fall?

Here in the UK they sell 4" cake boards

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albumangel Posted 25 Apr 2007 , 4:31pm
post #14 of 18

I used plate & pillars on the bottom tier. I thought I measured the pillars precisely, but there was some buckling of the fondant when I first stacked them.

Thanks so much! I've got lots of things to try next time I do a topsy-turvy!

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najat Posted 25 Apr 2007 , 8:05pm
post #15 of 18

nice cake!

don't you have a handy man nearby that can cut the plate and standards to useful sizes?

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Narie Posted 26 Apr 2007 , 1:19pm
post #16 of 18

I suspect that berryblondeboys has spotted the problem. The cakes should slant the opposite direction of the tier below it. Your tea cup slants the same direction as the second tier and may not have actually had a level surface to sit on- so the center of gravity was off. If you did not carve a slant on the top of your tea cup, it should have been absolutely level and it isn't. The whole idea of a topsy turvy cake is illusion. None of the tiers should be sitting on a anything but a level surface.

OK, let me try to explain this again. I suspect that the third tier was not placed on a level surface. That the hole? well? you carved for it was actually slanted. The cake slid off in that direction.

Also while I don't do tiers, I have read here often that it isn't wise to stack more than two tiers for transport. (I have had a one tier cake decide to slide around its board in transport. I was in a hurry and forgot to 'glue' it to the board with frosting.)

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meancat Posted 26 Apr 2007 , 9:11pm
post #17 of 18

Did you make the cake from a box mix or scratch - if you used boxed, I bet you that is what caused it to settle. That is why most professionals use scratch cakes - they hold up alot better. I used to have the same problem when I would do my purse cakes, but ever since I started making everything from scratch, everthing stays where it should and turns out great.

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bakeyclacker Posted 26 Apr 2007 , 9:39pm
post #18 of 18

As far as finding a 4" circle: One of the lovely ladies here at CC recommended to me that you cut out your own cardboard circle (with a circle cutter from a craft store, or, if it'll be totally covered, by hand) and cover it with that plastic sticky paper that you line your cupboards with. Its a much less costly way of doing it and you can choose the weight of your cardboard. Good luck!

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