How to Make a Topsy Turvy Cake


Ok, so YES this happens to be a Christmas decorated cake, but the building of a Topsy Turvy cake is the same no matter what the occasion, so follow along step by step with this very detailed video tutorial below and feel free to decorate as you wish!
At the start of this video I show you my sketch of how I intended my cake to look.
I always recommend to draw up some “blueprints” of your vision for these elaborate cakes before you begin.
This way you can “Plan your work, and then work your plan!”

In this video I used my Golden Vanilla Cake prepared 2 times to make 3 8″ layers and 3 5″ layers.
I also made 1 recipe of the Swiss Vanilla Buttercream for the filling and icing.
I always use purchased fondant for my cakes and the brand I prefer is Satin Ice

Be sure to make your modeling chocolate for all of the decorations too! This part can be prepared days ahead of time.

  • Caroline Wade

    Thank you so much for your concise video and instructions for the Topsy Turvy Cake. My husband and son will celebrate birthdays next week and I plan to make one for them. They’ll think I’m a genius but I will ‘fess up Gretchen and say I owe it all to you! I can’t wait to dazzle them and our guests. Many thanks again. I love being a Woodie Insider! Love you too for your continued inspiration that makes us, your viewers, better bakers and cake designers.

  • nathan

    I have been told never to put a fondant cake into the refrigerator because the fondant will disintegrate due to the fondant getting damp or wet this will the disolve the icing

  • Elizabeth

    Hi Gretchen!
    Thank you so much for your recipes and ideas! I was wondering whether it was possible to use fondant to make the bow instead of modelling chocolate/paste?
    Thanks in advance!

    • Elizabeth

      Sorry I just saw that you’re allowed to. How much tylose do you normally add to make the fondant stiffer?

      • Gretchen Price

        I use Satin Ice so it will be about 1 teaspoon per lb and 1/2 teaspoon per lb for other brands
        for a Fondant that is chocolate or candy melt based: (Like Duff brand) it doesn’t work well because of all of the oil and milk solids

  • Rayane

    Hi Gretchen, thank you sooooo much for all your posts, you are really god sent! I use your blog and your Youtube channel to do all my baking. I bake my kids’ birthday cake, i’m not a professional baker :) But i just looove baking. My last cake was the rainbow cake and it was great thanks to YOU!! Just a question, I want to attempt the topsy turvy cake for my 11 year old’s birthday next month. You said we are supposed to use the golden vanilla cake or the moist chocolate cake, well my question is: can I do a checkered cake topsy turvey ?? Can it actually hold and work well???

    • Gretchen Price

      Hi There! Great and THANKS!
      I would not recommend the checkerboard for topsy turvy since you have to carve out portions of it.
      It will start to fall apart on you.
      But you can use a combination of chocolate and vanilla in one cake that would be similar

  • Jane

    LUV it

  • Michele Brown

    I am planning to attempt my first topsy turvey cake for my daughters 5th birthday in November and I wanted to watch a tutorial to help me-yours is the best I have seen.Your instructions and demonstrations are very clear and I love your sense of humor!I am feeling more confident now attempting this-thank you for a great tutorial!

    • Gretchen Price

      great I cant wait to hear how it goes!

  • sharon

    Hi gretchen can I use a red velvet cake with a cream cheese icing to make a topsy turvy cake. Thanks

    • Gretchen Price

      yes sure!

      • sharon

        Hi GRETCHEN. I want to try to make a topsy turvy cake for a reunion, but our reunion is approx. 5 hours away from where I stay and would like to know if I could prepare the layers just like you have with icing not so sure with cream cheese icing though, and cover with fondant and layer it when I get to my destination. I thought of wrapping them individually with plastic wrap and packing them securely in a cooler box for travel. Before I attempt it I would like to know if it would work or not. I am not sure if the fondant would melt or spoil. Please advise. Thanks

        • Gretchen Price

          I think if you do everything you said here, you will be fine

          • sharon

            Thank you very much.

  • Felicity

    Hi Gretchen,
    Do you think PVC plastic sheet would work the same as your fondant mat? We can’t purchase the fondant mat here in Australia

    • Gretchen Price

      really? Why? You can get it through Amazon

  • Stella

    Hello gretchen!
    I live in Singapore where it is extremely hot and humid. I’m keen on making fondant cakes but I’m afraid of the fondant sweating and turning wet and sticky after being in the fridge. What should I do? I also do not have a air-conditioned kitchen to work in.
    Another question is, are commercial fridge different from those in homes? Your buttercream always look soft and creamy but my buttercream (not your recipe) becomes solid hard (I used 50% butter 50% shortening) after being in the fridge and I have to let it sit out for minutes before I can eat. Is it the recipe or the fridge’s problem?

  • Inge

    Haai, love your recipes but I have a question About this cake, when you wrote 3 8 inch layers, did you mean the two big ones cut up in four layers, and then 3 of them, or three big ones ? Hope you understand what I mean, and I hope you will clarify this for me. I hope to make this for my dads birthday in two weeks time.

    • Gretchen Price

      Since wedding cakes are typically 3 layers of cake, I use 3 layers of cake. I bake giant batches at the bakery so I cut each of the rounds horizontally creating 2 layers per pan.
      But you can do this by just using 3 separate pans and diving the recipe between those pans.

      Of course you don’t have to do 3 layers of cake either, you can pretty much do whatever you like, I was just showing you the way I do it

      • Inge

        Thans for your awnser, I think I will bake two big ones and the fourth layer I wil just put in the freeser for an other time. Another thing, if I would fill this cake with strawberry buttercream, witch I would asume is firm enough, how mutch would in need, I was thinken perhaps one recipe of it and then more to do a crumb coat. Or do you think with the strawberry buttercream I could also do a crumb coat. I apriciate you taking the time to awnser my questions.

        • Gretchen Price

          I think you may need 2 recipes for a big cake like that

  • Sheila

    Here in the UK a great many of our celebration cakes are made using rich fruit cakes as the base cakes, we therefore almond ice as a base to the fondant icing and so we do not need to place them in a fridge as we would if using buttercream. I hope that clears that question for you.
    Love your demonstration and your clarity.

  • Terri Bruch

    Help!!! I hope you get this in time to reply! I loveee your videos and your Woodie tips I am planning on making a topsy turvey cake for my nephews graduation. I can either cover the pieces in fondant and travel 7 hours in the car – assemble it 3 days before party or not have it in fondant ( wont have time or space to cover once there) and just do it in buttercream. What do you think? I also bought a topsy turvey 12 inch styrofoam for bottom, going to do cakes in 10 inch and 8 inch then got styrofoam for top DO I do dowels all the way through?

  • kim

    Where can I get the fondant rolling mat?

  • Michelle

    I’ve been asked to do a fondant wedding cake and normally I’d put it in the fridge after crumb coating it but it’s a pretty large cake so I don’t think I can fit the layers in my fridge. Would it be okay to put it in my deep freezer for a couple of days with the filling and crumb coat before I assemble it? If that would still work how long would I have to let it sit before I place the fondant?

    • Gretchen Price

      Yes it would work, but whether it is crumb coat or fully iced, buttercream is buttercream and you will experience condensation, just dab it off with a paper towela nd proceed to ice it final when you are ready

      • Tammy

        Hi Gretchen, I am wondering if you have any tips on” hot hands” my icing, fondant, etc. Gets to hot because of my hands what can I do.. Any help is greatly appreciated. Thank you. Love your videos

        • Gretchen Price

          I sometimes use gardening gloves when my hands are extremely hot

  • Adelenne

    Hi Gretchen, just wondering. How do you pack a cake like that when someone orders? I’ve made a rainbow cake before that was over 8 inch tall for my son’s birthday which we had it at home so don’t need a box. I have friends who orders cakes from me but always recommend like a three layer color cake so it fits into a 5 inch box, nothing higher. So I’m just wondering how you pack a cake like that. Thanks.

    • Gretchen Price

      I have a 2 ft tall box for any cake with a 12″ diameter base

      • rogiero

        Or you can make your own box there is a video on YouTube . if you search caljava you’ll be able to find the video

  • Janice Fay Mitchell

    Wow, I love this design. Your awesome Ms. Gretchen! :) I recently been taking classes. You have taught me so much more. Thank you!

    • Gretchen Price


  • Amber

    How long do you leave covered cakes In the fridge? I have always been told not to so I just haven’t but I have also been only making cakes for a year now and I now know why I have been battling huge air bubble problems.

    • Sharon

      following! I would love to read response on this one too. I know the ideal thing would be to put cake in the fridge but, I live in the Caribbean, with LOVELY :( hot and somewhat humid weather, and as the cake goes to room temp, I get HUGE bubbles, even though I leave the cake to “settle” for a couple of hours. before placing the fondant.

  • Lisa

    Hi there,

    I am just starting out with my passion for decorating cakes. I am wondering have you ever used your pasta attachment on your Kitchenaid to cut fondant? I was thinking of making the “picket fence” design cake and I thought it might be easier to cut the fondant that way. I would also like to say that you have the best website and have only fueled my passion for learning this craft! You are amazing!

    Thank you, thank you, thank you!


    • Gretchen Price

      HI Lisa Thanks!
      I actually use the dough sheeter (that giant machine that is on the other side of my table you see me always working on)

  • maria

    Hi Gretchen your videos are amazing and very helpful. I was wondering if you had a good crusting buttercream recipe that you like to share . Thank you

    • Gretchen Price

      Thanks, but I do not use crusting buttercreams

  • Dimy Ssg

    Thanks Gretchen you were of help, found a couple of charts – a Wilton one and one in Australia already converted for me! :) thanks for leading me in the right direction.

  • Dimy Ssg

    Is there a guide to the amount of fondant to use ( weight ) for individual cake sizes? So you’re not left short or have too much excess please.

    • Gretchen Price

      I have not seen one, but I betcha Wilton will have some recommendations, but I think it depends first of all on what brand fondant you are using or if you are making your own. Some people roll thicker and some people roll thinner, I have just developed a sort of guestimated knowing over the years! If that is even possible! Sorry I am not of better help.

  • Karen O.

    Hey Gretchen!

    I am a little confused about the process of creating a topsy turvy cake like this one…
    I want to know if you refrigerate the cake after each step
    for example do you fill and crumb coat the cake, refrigerate it, then take it out all before cutting the angle and then re-crumb coat it and put it back into the fridge.. or do you just fill the cake, cut the angle, crumb coat it and then into the fridge..

    Also, I need to store the cake that I’m making in the fridge for a few days… is this a good idea? how long can a fondant covered cake stay in the fridge?

    • Gretchen Price

      Not too much got cut out of this video in the way of editing. I did not cut out any info that was important.
      I do refrigerate each tier in between making the next, I also do the same as I am carving one to the other.
      SO yes, I basically put in the fridge whenever the conditions in my kitchen seem to tell me it is necessary, once the cake and the icing gets difficult to work with and too soft, yes to fridge.

      (unless of course you are making homemade MARSHMALLOW FONDANT? because many have told me NOT to refridge this fondant, I do not make my own though

      • rogiero

        Not all fondant brands and recipes melt in the fridge. Depends on the ingredients .sugar melts in water so you have to put other ingredients that will keep it from melting

  • Yuka

    Hi Gretchen,
    I am always amazed how QUICKLY you can put them all together!!!!
    Thank you for clearing the myth of fondant. Now I have a question on gum paste! If I decorated a cake iced with your world’s best buttercream and decorated with some gum paste flowers or leaves, can they go in the fridge? How long is safe? If I paint the gum paste, would the color run?

    Thank you again for taking your time for us, as always!

    • Gretchen Price

      I have not had good experience with gumpaste in the fridge, it will dissolve, yes the color runs and be a mess
      Put the gum paste on the cake at the very last minute

      • Yuka

        Thank you, as always!!

  • Narine

    They say dont put fondant in the fridge because they are afraid of condensation. I was scared at first too, but it eventually evaporates and looks great!

  • Erin

    I would like to say first that you are amazing I love your blog page every video is helpful you explain so much, thank you :). The mat that you are using for the fondant, what exactly is it or where can I purchase one? Thank you again! :)

  • Ralch

    Hi Gretchen,

    I recently baked a topsy turvy cake and the bottom layer collapsed on me. bottom layer was 11-10 while top layer was 10-8. I used pouond cake recepee.. I dowelled d cakes yet the head od the “couch” came apart. Have you any idea what could have caused this?

    • Gretchen Price

      Sounds like the head of the “couch” may have been too thin??
      Im not sure what you mean by “bottom layer was 11-10 while top layer was 10-8″
      Do you mean the bottom layer was 11″ in diameter? and the top tier was 10″ in diameter??
      If YES- then I will suggest that those two cakes are too similar in size to be stacked. You need about 3-4 inches difference in diameter for each tier as it graduates up.
      See my video for How to Build 3 tier cake and I talk about the sizing of each tier.

      But anyway- I am thinking the 1 inch difference between each tier was just not enough space to support

  • jazzy

    Do you know who Cake Boss is and do you like his show ?

    • Gretchen Price

      yes I do know, and I think he is a fabulous artist of cakes. One of the best

      • Sandra Ruiz

        LMAO>>>>>>>>>>>>>> GRETCHEN PRICE YOU CRACK ME UP!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! :’)

  • Riciê Vasconcelos

    Hi, Gretchen!
    Well, here in Rio de Janeiro – Brasil, we usually recommend to not put the fondant covered cake in the refrigerator because the temperature are always changing about 25-40ºC and the relative humidity here is over 60-65% (when it’s minimum). So, the problem that happens here (by experience) is not to put the cake to cool, but when you get it off – all that humidity in the air condenses to fast on the cake covering and it just makes the fondant “melts”.
    I don’t know how is the relative humidity in New Jersey, but that was the only good explanation for what happens to my cakes here.

  • Nina

    Can I make this cake with just buttercream frosting, instead of fondant?

    • Gretchen Price

      yes of course!

  • jaylean

    I’m glad you mentioned about putting the cake with the fondant in the ice box cause I was told if I did that the fondant would get to hard to eat so I always tried to decorate the same day of delivery. Learn something new everyday :-) thanks for everything!