Topsy Turvy Cake~ Video Tutorial

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I love the whimsical look of topsy turvy cakes!   With their wonky angles and tapered sides, they have such a fun and festive feel.  In this three part video tutorial, I am going to show you how to carve, cover with fondant, and decorate a three tiered topsy turvy cake.

Because of the length of the video, we divided this tutorial into three parts. We hope that you enjoy it!


Materials Used:  (This is a comprehensive list for all three Parts of the Tutorial)

In this video, we are using 10"/8"/6" tiers, which are tapered around the sides.  The 10" is tapered to an 8" width at the base of the tier.  The 8" cake is tapered to a 6" at the base.  The 6" (which had actually shrunk to 5.5" once baked) was tapered to 4".

*You must use a dense cake if tapering the sides.  My cake was the "Durable Cake" listed in our recipes section.  Pound cake would work well also.


White Chocolate Ganache as described in our "Simple Spreadable Ganache" recipe in the recipes section.  It's a 3:1 ratio of chocolate to cream.  (We used 55 oz or 1559g) which is five 11 oz bags Ghirardelli White Baking Chips to 18 oz (530g) or 2 ¼ c. heavy cream.)

Elizabeth Marek's Fondant (or your preferred brand/recipe)  *I added a little tylose powder when it was time to do the bow and numbers.  Fondant amounts:  (Green 10" tapered bottom tier:  40 oz (1124g),  White 8" tapered center tier, 36 oz (1020g), and pink 6" tapered top tier: 24 oz (680 g)

Cardboard Cake Circles (I used 2 for each tier, cut to the size of the cake).  Also 5 cake boards stacked for the cake base.

Bubble tea straws or your supports of choice

Sharp knife for carving the cake (I prefer serrated).

Bucket or bowl to elevate the cake (Optional but I find this really helpful)   If you buy pre-made fondant, this is often a good sized bucket!

Coloring Gels:  I used Americolor Deep Pink & Americolor Electric Green

Parchment Paper- I used when making the templates for our wells

Piping Tips- I used Wilton small round tips for piping paisleys (Tip 2),  and tip 12 for the small polka dots on the top tier

FMM Multi-Ribbon Cutter- for my fondant strips on the bow

Royal Icing for piping the decorations

Lollipop Sticks- For the cake topper

Small Paint Brushes--Miscellaneous

Buttercream--We had our Fluffy Vanilla Buttercream on hand for "gluing" tiers together, etc.

Candy Melts- We glued our cake to the cake base with candy melts

Cake stand/base- We used a plastic tablecloth to wrap around the cake base (five 12" cake cardboards), and then secured ribbon.

Fondant Smoothing paddles or thick acetate (optional) for smoothing your fondant onto the cake

Miscellaneous:  Plastic Wrap, Scissors, Sharp Knifes, rolling pin for fondant, vegetable shortening (optional), sugar glue or piping gel, small paint brushes (optional), offset spatula for frosting/ganaching


A Few Notes: 

Just a reminder that you do not have to taper the sides of your cake.  I've seen some beautiful topsy turvy cakes where there is no taper at all...just angled tops. This is especially a good idea if you are not working with a very dense cake.

*If you don't taper the sides of your cake, I would make sure that there is at least a 3 inch difference in tier size as you move from tier to tier.  For instance, I wouldn't do an 8"/6" non-tapered topsy turvy.  I would do 9"/6".

For tapered tiers, it is fine if you begin with a two inch difference between tiers (we used 6/8/10") because by the time that you stack the cake, the bottom of each tier will have been tapered.

**As I mention in the video, make sure that you give your tiers a little wiggle room within their wells.  If you don't, and the fit is very snug, they will put too much pressure on the cake surrounding the well and could cause a split.  This is why I chill my tiers before assembling...because there is a good chance that you will need to make some adjustments to the well size before the tiers fit perfectly.


PART ONE: Part One of our video tutorial deals with assembling the individual tiers, tapering the sides, ganaching, and the start of covering with fondant.


PART TWO: In this video, I demonstrate making our bow, I finish covering the tiers with fondant,  demonstrate how to cut the wells, stack the tiers, and hammer a sharpened dowel through all three tiers.


PART THREE: This video deals with decorating the three tiers-- Paisleys piped in royal icing, attaching the bow to the middle tier, polka dots for the top tier, and a "16" cake topper!



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  1. Hi Peggy, we don't live in an extremely humid area and so I can't speak from experience. However, I would try reducing the amount of water in the recipe by a small amount. If you google MMF in humid areas, this often comes up as a recommendation.

    When calculating servings for a tapered tier, (for instance an 8" tapered to a 6"), I consider the number of servings that an 8" serves as well as a 6" and then estimate that the number of servings for that tapered tier would be somewhere in the middle. I understand your point that these tiers are a little taller...but we also do cut away a bit of the cake to create the "wells" for the tiers. So, in the end, I still feel that this way of calculating is a good way to go. I hope this helps!

  2. What is the length of your longest knife you used? And where can I buy one? Thank you so much for all you wonderful tortorials!

  3. I made the white ganache and for some reason it didn't turn out. I seem to always have problems with my white chocolate. I used the same measurements you provided and mine was hard not thin or smooth within 45 minutes. We are a high humidity area even though it spring in the Midwest. Would that cause a difference? It looks like it separated a little too. Wish I could show u a there a way to save it?

  4. Hi Adrienne, I am sorry you had a problem. If it was hard within that short time it sounds like it might have seized. Could it have come into contact with water, even a tiny bit of water could cause it to seize. If it did seize I don't think there is a way to save it. If it was just broken you could heat some milk (do not boil) and slowly add it a very small amount at a time while stirring and it should come back together.

  5. Hi,
    I was planning on trying this cake and wanted to know were all the cake tiers made with 3 layers each?
    Also wanted to know can you do this cake with just 2 tapered sides using an 8/4.... I only have even size pans....or should I just taper and use the 8/6? Please advise. AWESOME VIDEO!

  6. Hi Shavon- I'm glad that you are making this! My tiers are 3 layers. The top layer is the one that was carved into a slant. 8/4 without the taper would be very cute and less time consuming. However, if you'd like to go with the taper, just make sure that you are working with a nice, dense cake. The 8/6 would work just fine with the tapered design. Good luck!

  7. Hi, Melissa, I loved your video. If possible, can you tell me where you purchased both of your carving knives? I had a great knife that I used all the time, but I must have thrown it away accidentally when cleaning up all the crumbs because it disappeared. Since then I have purchased 3 different knives, but I'm not happy with any of them. Many thanks.

  8. HI Dolores, We have had the white handle knife in the video a very long time. It was bought at the Great Harvest Bread Co (a chain bakery that used to be in our city). Here is a link to one I found online, The other very long knife is a LamsonSharp , it has a 16 1/2 inch blade. We bought it over 10 years ago. I checked Amazon and it was $272. I was shocked at the price . Do a Google search and check for a better price. Instead of the 16" knife you might prefer to buy the Agbay. It is a good product for leveling cakes.