A Topsy-Turvy Turmoil - So Many Recipes, So Little Time... Blog at Allrecipes.com - 180376

So Many Recipes, So Little Time...

A Topsy-Turvy Turmoil 
Jun. 13, 2010 10:20 am 
Updated: Jul. 22, 2010 3:50 am
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 fondant.
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 the coils.
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!
The cake that nearly did me in!
Photo Detail
Jun. 13, 2010 10:40 am
Wow Pam- Talk about a labor of love! I'm super impressed- a big challenge and I think you were VERY successful. Hope a wonderful birthday celebration was enjoyed by you both. Congrats on a work of art!!
Jun. 13, 2010 11:23 am
Wow! I am not that ambitious! Looks fantastic!
Jun. 13, 2010 11:33 am
That is truly amazing! How did you put the dowels through the cardboard? Maybe I'm not picturing it correctly.
Jun. 13, 2010 11:33 am
PS Happy birthday to you, too!
Jun. 13, 2010 3:27 pm
That is very cool!! You are way more determined than I am. Your son is one lucky kid!!
Jun. 13, 2010 4:11 pm
That looks about as close to perfect as I can imagine. Happy Birthday to you both and I hope he realizes what a great cake you made for him!
Jun. 13, 2010 5:17 pm
That is so cool- it looks like something you might see while walking around Disneyland. I love it!
Jun. 13, 2010 5:35 pm
Totally amazing. You're becoming a "Cake Boss" :)!
Jun. 13, 2010 6:19 pm
And another teen emerges. ;o) Great job on the cake. Get some rest.
Jun. 13, 2010 6:41 pm
Beautiful cake Pam, great blog! You should be selling cakes on the side, I mean it! I experimented with fondant for my Halloween cake, oh dear, I did many things wrong, long story. Ever since that I never attempted it again, but plan to try. Your son looks so happy, and that cake is gorgeous, you should be so proud. The topsy turvy thing going on, oh no, I would be scared..LOL...you did an exceptional job, such talent you have. Beautiful work you do :)
Jun. 13, 2010 7:16 pm
You did a great job...it must have been really frustrating when things started not working as planned. I wondered about the fridge thing...I'd have to get a new house before I could even attempt a project that big! (It's why I'm now obsessed with cupcakes...they fit in my kitchen!) Happy Birthday to your new teen *AND* to you!!
Jun. 14, 2010 12:44 am
"it isn't perfect"?????i heve not seen such an artistic creation in my life.You r an artist,and this is a "thing of beauty", and i so want to have a piece:(((
Jun. 14, 2010 9:05 pm
Thanks for sharing with us the process of such a huge project. That is a cake made with love. I bet your son loved it. What a Mom!! It might have been a 'trial' all along, but the end result looks spectacular. Never in my dreams could I even get close to making something like that.
Jun. 15, 2010 8:01 pm
A most excellent cake. I'm certainly proud for you! That's alot more patience than I would have had with it! I'd have been in the floor crying (because with my luck, it would have hit the floor)!
Jun. 17, 2010 6:48 am
You really did a beautiful job. This type is very challenging and you rose to the occasion! Your instructions are right on, this will be a Huge! help to people trying a cake like this. Great job, great blog. I love to visit your blog and see all the wonderful things you are creating!
Jun. 19, 2010 5:37 pm
Jun. 21, 2010 4:40 am
Wonderful looking cake, it is such a shame to have to cut into something so beautiful. I am impressed and inspired to try and make a cake with fondant icing. My daughters birthday was just on the 19th but she wanted an ice cream cake. My birthday is the next one in the family (next month), maybe I will make my own so that I can experiment no pressure it's for me. Thank you for the instructions and photos. Great Job.
Jul. 22, 2010 3:50 am
Just telling some of my regular readers that cheepchick explained that I could cut and paste my webite recipe on my blog. Now you will get it right at this website.
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About Me
I have three teenage sons who are picky eaters (especially the middle one). I try to cook things that they might enjoy trying, but they're not always willing to try new things. My husband started out a picky eater when we met back in 1986, but he's gotten much better and is willing to try ALMOST anything I make. In my spare time I teach second grade. I have introduced my students to cooking and/or new foods over the years.
My favorite things to cook
I love to try all sorts of new recipes, so I don't really have a favorite thing to cook. I enjoy using fresh ingredients from the garden and canning those ingredients to use year-round. I also enjoy baking treats for my second grade class. I'll try almost anything if I think my family will eat it. Of course, I've been known to try a recipe because I want to, whether they'll eat it or not.
My favorite family cooking traditions
I love making the pumpkin pies and other desserts for Thanksgiving. I always like to try one new dessert for each holiday. Baking Christmas cookies is a tradition that goes back as long as I can remember.
My cooking triumphs
I've made some pretty cool cakes for my boys' birthdays. They include a firetruck, baseball, football, and Pokeball. I've also used shaped pans to decorate everything from Barney and Elmo, Power Ranger, Jeff Gordon's #24 racecar, football helmet, a dog and dog house, a monkey, a giant cupcake, and a penguin. Some recent cakes have been a pizza, chef's hat, and Topsy-Turvy (Mad Hatter Cake.) The last one didn't collapse - that was a real triumph! One of my best triumphs has been teaching my boys to cook. They'll never go hungry.
My cooking tragedies
The first time I cooked a turkey I relied on my thermometer to tell when it was done. It wasn't.
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