Several people have asked for a step-by-step of the Topsy Turvy or Mad Hatter Cake I baked for my son's 13th birthday. I'll give my version, then add a couple of links I used to help me get started.
I started by baking 6 layers and yes, I used box mixes.
I baked two 10" layers of French vanilla for the bottom of the cake. Each took one mix.
The middle tier was made of two 8" chocolate fudge layers (these would prove to be the problem child here).
The top tier was made of two 6" French vanilla layers. Each tier sat on a cardboard cake circle. I buy these cheap at my local "Don't blink or you'll miss it" cake and
candy supply store, Shearers.
To start, I stacked the layers to form tiers. I used Rick's Special Buttercream Frosting on the bottom two tiers, and Chocolate Butter Cream II on the top layer (this was MY layer -
it was my birthday too, after all.) I leveled the tops. (I had done a little experiment and baked half the tiers with the "Flower Nail" method and half without. Baking with a flower nail in place definiately makes flatter layers! Look at the end for the link.)
I chilled the tiers at this point, but realized the chocolate layers were still soft - into the freezer they went.
After chilling thoroughly, I cut an angled slice from the cake, gave it a half-turn, and glued it back on with more frosting.
I chilled the tiers again at this point - refreezing the chocolate layer (still a little soft - see the potential for disaster?) I'm only showing one tier for each step, but the process is the same.)
The next step was to carve the sides of each tier. I used a big bread knife (the same one I used to cut the layers earlier). A turntable is really helpful for this. After carving, I trimmed the cake
circles under the two TOP layers to just slightly larger than the cakes.
Yes, there's an extra layer of buttercream in there on the bottom layer. I was trying a different method, but changed my mind and glued it back together.
Next, I needed to cut out a hole in the top of the two bottom layers. I used a parchment paper circle cut just a little larger than than the base of the cake.
(Started the next step before I remembered to snap a picture. It was very warm and humid so I was trying to work quickly. Plus, DH was being a butthead
and didn't want the air on.)
Next, I put a crumb-coat on each layer, then re-chilled the cakes, re-frosted, chilled again, and smoothed. Extremely clean, wet hands work well for
smoothing chilled frosting.
Next was the fondant. I had made this earlier and chilled it, then let it come to room temperature before rolling out. I used two batches of Marshmallow Fondant from Allrecipes.
My son's color choices were blue, orange, and teal.
Again, the weather wasn't cooperating. I dusted my silicone pastry mat with a combination of cornstarch and powdered sugar, but the teal stuck and had
to be re-rolled.
Next, was the tricky prodess of getting the fondant onto each cake. Fortunately my kids were in bed for the night. The language was as colorful as the
I smoothed it and trimmed the bottom. The top layer gave me trouble - I don't think I rolled the fondant thin enough. It wrinkled and tore, but I was planning to add decorations, so I kept going. You can see the
orange fondant looks slick and shiny. It must have been the humidity. Every time it came out of the fridge it got shiny. I've used MM Fondant several times before without this problem.
Next I had to stack the layers. I stuck dowel rods, cut to the height of the layer, into the each of the two bottom layers to support the weight of the upper layers. Each layer was then placed into the
"hole" of the layer below.
Here's where I made my next mistake. I should have chilled the whole thing. I didn't.
I started cutting out stars and circles, painting the backs with a little water, and sticking them into place on the cake. It was around 1 AM when I started decorating, so I guess I wasn't thinking too clearly. Out
of the corner of my eye, I noticed a problem. Of course, my first thought was "GET A PICTURE BEFORE IT FALLS!"
It was about to go. I hurried to remove the top layer and added more dowels, then threw the bottom two layers in the fridge. I might add that I was using a fridge in my basement for this purpose, so I got a workout.
I decorated the top layer and left refrigerated it separately from the rest of the cake - overnight. It was already 2:30 AM.
I was also using wire to give the cake an even MORE whimsical look. I used jewelry tools and dowel rod to form the different coils and spirals for the cake top. I made fondant balls and the numbers "1" and "3" and stuck those onto
I stuck the wires in after replacing the top layer and just before taking pictures and putting the whole thing back in the fridge. Oh, I also added more dowels before putting the top layer on. The cake circle had
stayed behind when I removed the top layer. I cut dowels taller than the two bottom layers and sharpened the dowels, then pushed them through the cake - cardboard and all - to hold the whole thing together.
So, as you can see, it isn't perfect, but it didn't come down until I took it down.
Thanks for dropping by!