Topsy Turvy Terrible Trash

Decorating By notjustcakes Updated 8 Sep 2009 , 2:21pm by all4cake

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notjustcakes Posted 7 Sep 2009 , 12:22am
post #1 of 34

I have had three bad "cake jobs" in a row...This was by far the worst...I told my husband I am done with cakes..We fought all the way home. I cried and cried...Thinking I have lost something to mess up another cake yet again... I thought I'd ask by buddies on CC for info. I did a topsy turvy for a very affluent couple who are very fru fru...(you know what I mean...everything is perfect). Three tiers, 12, 8, 6, round.WASC. Key lime cheesecake filling made with super thick heavy cream and jello, so it was stabilized...Used about 1/4 inch or less filling...torted. Frosted in buttercream. The Da** bottom layer fell apart. I have done TT cakes before, using the method in Whimsical bakehouse book...No problem, transported fine, lasted at room temp fine...So I tried the method in the tutorial here, thinking it sounded more stable. When I transported, I literally watched the 2 inch perimeter around the bottom layer fall off...Did I use too many dowels...Maybe they weren't perfectly straight? Are my cake sizes wrong. Does my car need a tuneup because it vibrates too much...I'm at a loss...ANY advice tutorials. etc are welcome...I'm at a loss...Help...Before I decide to throw in the towel....

33 replies
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lthiele Posted 7 Sep 2009 , 1:20am
post #2 of 34

Oh lovely - I am of absolutely no use to you about advice for TT, but I know how it feels when something goes wrong. Doesn't matter what hubby says it's the wrong thing! Hopefully someone can give you a heads up, so it can be a learning experience for the next one. Get back on that horse - it's no party without cake! icon_wink.gif

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luvmysmoother Posted 7 Sep 2009 , 7:03am
post #3 of 34

Don't quit over this - topsy turvy cakes look really difficult. I've never even done one because it looks like way too much work myself. Just keep practicing and keep posting questions on cc - you'll keep learning and getting better trust meicon_smile.gif Good luck on the next cakeicon_smile.gificon_smile.gificon_smile.gif

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notjustcakes Posted 7 Sep 2009 , 1:22pm
post #4 of 34

Anybody?!! Please...What method do you use for Topsy turvy cakes....What did I do wrong?

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all4cake Posted 7 Sep 2009 , 1:39pm
post #5 of 34

I use the 'hole' technique. The only time I seen issues with that area you mentioned was when I didn't trim the above tier's base enough to fit into the hole without putting pressure on it.

I'm sorry you had a bad run of things. I know exactly how you feel though.

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miss_sweetstory Posted 7 Sep 2009 , 1:55pm
post #6 of 34

I also find torting to be an issue with TT cakes. I just think that there are too many parts that can move when torting a topsy turvy... particularly once I start trimming.

Hang in there... sometimes nothing works... but it will come together again. Really.

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memakim Posted 7 Sep 2009 , 2:11pm
post #7 of 34

I have made only one TT for my own b-day and if was a total disaster, top tier wouldn't stay on and part of the middle tier fell off durning the night. I was so glad it was for me. Not sure I will try a TT again. So I know how you feel

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emiyeric Posted 7 Sep 2009 , 2:15pm
post #8 of 34

So ... I'm afraid to ask, but whatever happened with the fru fru couple? Were you able to smooth things over enough to use the cake, or were they understanding? I'm so sorry you had to go through this, what a stressful situation.

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MLand Posted 7 Sep 2009 , 2:38pm
post #9 of 34

So sorry this happened to you. I have done 2 TT but I don't tort them since you have to put bc on the first layer and angle cut the second layer and put bc on the angle cut then crumb coat all that, I just don't tort the bottom layer of each tier. Don't know it that helps, but DON"T GIVE UP! And I will not promise I am doing it correct, but it has worked for me so far--I have had no problems or complaints.

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tonimarie Posted 7 Sep 2009 , 2:42pm
post #10 of 34

I'm NO expert on TT, but I thought I read somewhere that TT/or carved cakes weren't suppose to be torted and filled.....hope I'm not making that up, but I think it makes them unstable. TT should also be made with very dense cake. not sure if that will help or not, but sorry this happened to you--don't give up!

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SharonK1973 Posted 7 Sep 2009 , 2:48pm
post #11 of 34

Don't despair dears... It can be done! I'm away from
my computer right now and it's a pain to type on the iPhone! But as soon as I get to my computer I'll share my tips. And I'll have my husband photograph a tutorial next week. It's fairly easy once you have some basics down. I'll be back when I get to my computer later today.

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notjustcakes Posted 7 Sep 2009 , 3:36pm
post #12 of 34

Okay...In the whimsical bakehouse book they do torte and fill cakes, as long as the fillings are thick and heard you shouldnt fill them...As for what happened with the couple..Well I live where the avg. cost of a house is about $160,000. This couple goes to my church and many refer the wife as a diva. She is a dr. and he is a rocket scientist. Their house was just beautiful, perfectly decorated, spotless, and it was easily worth 5 million in this market. I met her at the door and was trying to not cry but I know the tears were squeezing out and my voice was breaking...I said, I am so sorry, I've done these cakes before and never had a problem, but the bottom layer collapsed on the way over here..I said I would by no means accept payment for the cake. (she was supposed to pay me $100). I said I would like to at least try to make it presentable.I had decorated the cake board in fondant in a matching design to what was on the sides of the cake. I removed the bottom layer,filled in the cracks on the sides of the other two cakes, re-smoothed and straightened the chocolate cutouts. I had made a little fondant curled sign that looked like a little antiqued scroll and I set that on the cake and put on a gumpaste "50" on the top and it was at least presentable. the guests began to arrive, many whom I know from church. Several came up to greet me and said "wow" and got the concept right away and didn't know anything was wrong until they saw my face. Then here comes the diva who said to me "make sure you clean up your mess before you leave and walked away..I was so humiliated. The thing is that this person has shown her claws on more than one occasion, so I should have just said no...She is bossy, and many times overbearing...I have always quietly and politely stood my ground in situations where we were both involved so I've never had a "blow out" with her. I have however seen her lay into others. I should have remembered who I was dealing with...
At church the next day, I went to her husband and said, "I really am sorry about your cake, E" He said, "that's okay, it tasted good"...

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all4cake Posted 7 Sep 2009 , 3:37pm
post #13 of 34

I don't know what steps you use to fill your's with something other than b/c but I use the same technique shared by many on CC (their names have escaped me).

Split layers (I use 3...the top one gets the angle cut and rotated)
Carve in the desired angle
Separate the layers(make sure you mark them so you know how to reassemble them)
Starting with the bottom layer, dam and fill until all layers are back together(don't apply too thick a filling layer)
Crumb coat
Allow to settle...if your filling will allow, on the counter.
Trim any rough areas...cut area for your next tier
Crumb coat (seems excessive but the first one was to help keep it from drying out while settling and also makes trimming less crumb-y)
Apply final coat
Add cake board cut to shape a lil' icing on that
Add the next tier

I also do it this way...!1D9F39B51204B240!380.entry

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erinalicia Posted 7 Sep 2009 , 4:05pm
post #14 of 34

I've done a few topsy turvy designs, but haven't been brave enough to do the tapered tiers yet. I just leave the sides straight and angle the top and use the cut out method shown here in the tutorials.

So sorry that you had problems and that you had to deal with such a witch.

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dtdonnahoo Posted 7 Sep 2009 , 6:06pm
post #15 of 34

I use a dense cake, with buttercream filling only. Each teir is only 2 layers. One each teir is put together I freeze them.
After frozen I take them out and shave the edges and cut down into the tops for the "holes". Dowel and plate. The frost!

Haven't had problems with them falling apart this way. I'm way on the conservative side with topsy turvy's.

PLEASE don't give it! I've so been there before icon_wink.gif

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Loucinda Posted 7 Sep 2009 , 6:40pm
post #16 of 34

I have made 2 TT cakes both from the tutorial on here. I am sure what happened to your bottom tier is that you didn't cut that hole quite big enough. (I did the same thing with my first one - that is how I know!) I was able to save mine and patch it - and recut the hole bigger. The pressure on the sides from the next tier pushing against it is what made it blow out. Easy fix - just cut the hold a tad bigger next time and you won't have that same problem!

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notjustcakes Posted 7 Sep 2009 , 7:07pm
post #17 of 34

You know, you are the second person on here who said that...I am now thinking back and my husband saying, those cakes don't look like they are going to fit in those holes and you can see the cakeboards how are you going to cover that....I was so distracted and running behind that I didn't think about it...I kinda forced them into the holes...Gosh I feel stupid...I think you are right...

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-K8memphis Posted 7 Sep 2009 , 7:08pm
post #18 of 34

I'm gobsmacked. $100 for a 3 tier topsy turvy? And for a person with a history like hers?? What have we taught you, young lady???!!! icon_biggrin.gif Just gently teasing you.

So I have made filled TT's before. So I am gathering that you used the hole method? If the hole is not exactly correct where it is bigger around at the top than it is at the bottom because the cake you are placing there is smaller at the bottom and gets bigger. So it fits without pressure on that whonking ledge edge of cake.

So the carving has to be spot on--if you squosh or push against that taller edge/ledge of the cake--bam. Has to be spot on or comfortabley larger even. Not snug.

Did you deliver chilled? I cannot over emphasize the importace of that invisible 'glue". Sylvia Weinstock delivers chilled cake. Most of the cakers on the challenges use friges.

Would stuff like that maybe be a factor?

And I'm so sorry that happened. Take a deep breath and take a little time off when you can. Give yourself a chance to regroup--rethink your prices--get happy again about doing it.

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notjustcakes Posted 7 Sep 2009 , 7:21pm
post #19 of 34

K8- Well at least she wasn't hanging out of her 5 mil. $ house yelling like a scalded hog caller....Oh man..I'll never forget that....hee hee...Just on a side note, there is a history here...she sings in the contemporary band at church as do I.....When she wasn't showing up for practice and off on her cruises to Alaska, etc for months at a time, they gave me the lead part in the band...It miffed her so terribly that when she got back and was told, she stomped of the stage in tears...45 min. into practice, she finally came back... I'm sure this situation was like salve to her wounded ego...
I think you're right, the holes were too small...I should have cut my cake boards smaller and holes bigger....The reason I say that is that the bottom tier literally fell apart around the perimeter of where I was pushing the next tier in...

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-K8memphis Posted 7 Sep 2009 , 7:29pm
post #20 of 34

And don't forget a long talk in the mirror about where your prices are headed in the not too distance future. icon_biggrin.gif all scalded hog calling aside. (That was one of Mom's expression I hadn't thought of in years)

And so you can see it was just a little design flaw--no reason to bail on the whole thing huh.

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lomikesa Posted 7 Sep 2009 , 7:40pm
post #21 of 34

Well at least she wasn't hanging out of her 5 mil. $ house yelling like a scalded hog caller....

all scalded hog calling aside. (That was one of Mom's expression I hadn't thought of in years)

I just laugh so much with that expression! LOL, I can't wait to use it!


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notjustcakes Posted 7 Sep 2009 , 7:42pm
post #22 of 34

Just wondering...for the visual, you the hog scalded or the caller....Don't they scald hogs before they....ooohhh...never

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-K8memphis Posted 7 Sep 2009 , 7:45pm
post #23 of 34

The caller got scalded--you eat boiled ham--you guys are making me laugh.

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SharonK1973 Posted 7 Sep 2009 , 8:00pm
post #24 of 34

OK... in front of a computer now. I haven't made ALOT of topsy turvies, but the few I've made have never fallen apart, and with each one, I've learned something that make it easier, and the last time time I took notes.
I also bought Sugarshack's video on topsy turvy cakes after my first two and did pick up some things from it...

First and foremost, good sturdy cake that is half-frozen to cold. I usually only use two layers of cake per tier for mine because, like Tonedna, I don't like mine too tall.

Next thing is to bear in mind that anything less than a 3 inch difference in tier sizes is begging for trouble ( i notice the difference between your top and middle tier was only two inches) If there is not a big enough difference, then there is only a very small ring of cake left after you cut the the hole, and that makes it very vulnerable to falling apart.

My last cake, I made each layer for a tier in graduating sized... bottom tier consisted of an 11" and a 10", top tier, 8" and 7". I noticed this save a lot of cake and gave me a good guide to carve the tapering.

I also use ganache for a crumbcoat. Trust me, once you use this you will never go back to buttercream for carved cakes. When the ganache firms up, it hardend well enough to keep everything in place. And then later when you are putting on your fondant, if it comes out bad and you need to start over, you can just peel off your fondant and there is not buttercream mess - the ganache remains on the cake intact and in shape!

So I cut out foamcore circles the size I want the bottom and top of the tier to be. (I use the cake pans to draw the circles to cut out.) At this point I also use the foamcore I cut for the bottom of the tier as a template to make a circle out of wax, parchment or even computer paper. I'll use that later as my guide to cute the hole on the top of the cake or to draw the circle to cut out.

OK... so now I torte the smaller of the two layers of the cake. I use that very stiff dam of icing on the outer edge and make it wider than if I were torting a regular cake, so that even when I carve, there will still be some dam left. Don't torte the bigger tier yet, just set in on the foamcore you cut to fit it. Next stack the smaller cake on top of the bigger one. Then adhere the foamcore that's the size you want the bottom part to be of top of the small tier with a generous dab of icing or ganache. So now, basically, you have a cake sanwich with foamcore as the "bread". Use the foamcores as your guide to carve the cakes. ( I usually put down a big plastic table cloth from the dollar store to catch all the crumbs, and that makes cleanup so much easier)

Once you are happy with the carving, use toothpick as marker beween the bigger layer and the smaller layer. Now, flip the whole sandwhich so that the smaller part is now the bottom where it is suppoed to be. You can now remove the layer that is at the top, making sure the toothpick is in place so that you can use it to align the cake when you put it back. So when you take of the bigger tier, you can then torte that at an angle to get your slope. Sometimes I flip the wedge over and layer it on to of the steep end to ass even more steepness, sometimes I don't. You can also clean up your slope by carving things into the shape you want them. You can now put the larger layer that is now sloped on top of the smaller one, glueing ii on with ganache. Use your toothpicks as your guide to make sure there are aligned properly. At this point you can decide whether you'll attach the cut of wedge to the slope or not. If you do, you can stick it on with more ganache. Whatever you do, at this point, clean up any rough parts with a smaller knife to get it at just the slope you want it to be.

Then, ganache the whole thing! A little bit of ganache goes a long way and it is waaaaay more easier to put on the cake than buttercream. Use a hot spatula and/or benchscraper to get the ganach as smooth as possible. Once it is all nice and smooth, let it sit for atleast 6 hours to allow the ganache time to firm up and harden.

Repeat all of this with all your tiers.

After that, you can brush the ganached cakes with simple syrup or piping gel and roll out your fondant and cover the cakes. You will notice immediately how much easier it is to have ganache under the fondant rather than buttercream.

When everything is fondanted, let those sit for about 4 hours minimum. Now for all the tiers, except the top one, get the paper circle you had cut out and center it on top of the cakes. I usually use a foodwriter to draw the circle on the fondant, using the paper as a guide. Put the paper aside, and using a smaller knife, cut out the hole, making the depth even with the lowest part of the slope where it meets with the circle. This way, you will be able to slide the top tier into place easier. Its also at this point on the cake where you can insert the knife to cut horizontally to make the platform. So cut out the whole and frost the exposed areas with ganache to seal in the freshness. Insert dowels into what would be the platform or the tier that will be on top. You can now slide in the top tiers. Because you let the fondant sit awhile, it will be firm enough now that you can gently tweak it into place with your cupped palms or with the aid of a fondant smoother, without damaging the fondant.

Once you've done this with all your tiers, pipe a string of frosting at all the bases and brush it smooth to seal the "joints" of each tier. Then drive one or two dowels down through the entire length of the cake. I use two, not too close together so that the cake can't rotate around a single dowel. The hole left by the dowel on top of the cake I usually fill with a plug of fondant.

That's it! You can now decorate as you wish. I also usually let my cakes sit at least overnight before I deliver them, so that everything has time to settle and firm up.

I know this is long, but all these steps have helped me to not have a topry turvy disaster, and I hope you can find it helpful, and that you will end up making one that will totally redeem you for the one that fell apart. And I hope the diva gets to hear about it! How rude, inconsiderate and uncompassionate of her! Sounds like she needs to pay more attention at church!

Above all, remember, you rule the cake, the cake doesn't rule you. And no matter how bad you mess up while trying out things, there is no cake police to come and arrest you and take you away. You will still have the freedom to start over, fix it or try another approach. You are the boss of the cake and you have to show it you are!

Hope this helps! I'll post my tutorial when its done.

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Loucinda Posted 7 Sep 2009 , 8:56pm
post #25 of 34

I do not freeze or refrigerate any cakes, and my TT worked out fine. (just an FYI - so you know it isn't a requirement)

Looking forward to the TT tutorial though!

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notjustcakes Posted 7 Sep 2009 , 9:34pm
post #26 of 34

Well, as much as I like ganache what if the customer doesn't want chocolate, (or fondant for that matter)..What if it is more of a white cake type flavor, like orange dreamsicle or in my case key lime ?cheesecake....Any alternatives to the ganache.

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erinalicia Posted 7 Sep 2009 , 10:02pm
post #27 of 34

You can make a white chocolate ganache that would go well with those flavors. You can do buttercream it's just a little more tricky to get the tiers in place without messing up your buttercream. You still use the same stacking and carving principles.

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notjustcakes Posted 7 Sep 2009 , 10:09pm
post #28 of 34

Are you talking about chocolate plastic or what some call chocolate candy clay? You know you make it by melting down white choc. candy melts like Wiltons and then add corn syrup to get a sort of play doh texture that is rolleable and malleable. Because that would get expensive really fast!

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shanasweets Posted 7 Sep 2009 , 10:27pm
post #29 of 34

I believe she is talking about making ganache with white chips instead of chocolate. I think the ratio of cream vs chocolate is a little different. It is more vanilla flavor than chocolate really. I don't know why you could not put buttercream over that instead of fondant for those who don't want fondant.

I also would stick to flavored buttercream for filling vs using less stiff fillings.

Sugarshack has a receipe for both types of ganache on her topsy turvey video. It really is worth having.

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SharonK1973 Posted 8 Sep 2009 , 12:51am
post #30 of 34

You can use either white chocolate or regular chocolate. Regular chocolate is a 1:2 ratio and white is anywhere from 1:3 or 4.

Personally, I make it known to customers that topsy turvies can only be done safely with certain fillings, to avoid any disasters.

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