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.


  1. Elizabeth says

    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!

      • Gretchen Price says

        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

  2. Rayane says

    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 says

      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

  3. Michele Brown says

    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!

      • sharon says

        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

  4. Felicity says

    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

  5. Stella says

    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?

  6. Inge says

    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 says

      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 says

        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.

  7. Sheila says

    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.

  8. Terri Bruch says

    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?

  9. Michelle says

    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 says

      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 says

        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

  10. Adelenne says

    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.

  11. Janice Fay Mitchell says

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

  12. Amber says

    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 says

      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.

  13. Lisa says

    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 says

      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)

  14. maria says

    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

  15. Dimy Ssg says

    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.

  16. Dimy Ssg says

    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 says

      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.

  17. Karen O. says

    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 says

      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 says

        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

  18. Yuka says

    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!

  19. says

    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!

  20. Erin says

    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! :)

  21. Ralch says

    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 says

      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

  22. says

    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.

  23. jaylean says

    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!

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