My Other Blog

What's a Wreck?

A Cake Wreck is any cake that is unintentionally sad, silly, creepy, inappropriate - you name it. A Wreck is not necessarily a poorly-made cake; it's simply one I find funny, for any of a number of reasons. Anyone who has ever smeared frosting on a baked good has made a Wreck at one time or another, so I'm not here to vilify decorators: Cake Wrecks is just about finding the funny in unexpected, sugar-filled places.

Now, don't you have a photo you want to send me? ;)

- Jen

Defying Gravity

Hi, all. John here with your weekly dose of Sunday Sweets. This week, we'll be looking at the design staple of bakeries everywhere: the topsy-turvy.

This one's from Design Me a Cake, and is one of Jen's all-time favorites.

I remember going to the ICES convention at Disney and drooling over the topsy-turvy pans. Sadly, they were like a thousand bucks* so we ended us getting the super-ultra-mini-version for like half a thousand bucks.** It's kind of hard to ice a top tier that's only two inches across, though, so we haven't had much success with it.

Check out this funky example:

(By Sharon of Sharon's Cake Art)

Topsy Turvies are most impressive when it looks like the cake is juuuust about to fall:

And then there are the ones that really do seem to break the laws of physics:

This "Moulin Rouge meets Tim Burton" beauty is by Gabrielle of Cake Coquette, and is "nearly" fondant-free, too. (According to Rachel R., only the swags and swirls were made from fondant - which means that is some shiiiiny buttercream.)

I wanted to show you the nifty cake Bronwen Weber did on that Food Network Challenge last month, but this was the best photo I could find:

That sidepiece was the only thing supporting the cakes. Crazy.

Just goes to show: If the folks at your party have the uncontrollable urge to run forward to try to save the cake, then you have done your job well.

And finally, for you Dr. Seuss fans...

So. Cool.

Jen thinks this was the winner - or at least one of the winners - of a Dr. Seuss themed contest over on Cake Central. It was made by The People's Cake.

Thanks to, ah, Jen for finding most of these beauties. You're a real trooper.

* I'm probably exaggerating here.
** and here.

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Reader Comments (92)

Nice! Those are awesome although I think the red and black one looks like a wreck kinda- like it's not supposed to be tipping over.

May 24, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJulieAnn

It had never occurred to me that they baked the cake that shape - I just thought it was a big sponge trimmed to shape.

Learning? On a Sunday? Maybe just this once.

May 24, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterGlory von Hathor

I love Bronwen Weber and I loved that cake. That Food Network Challenge thing they had going on for like a week was pretty cool to watch.

May 24, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAllie

The third one that a Candy Land cake?? First thing I thought of. That would be awesome.

Bronwen's cake is truly amazing, I haven't seen that FTV challenge yet but they rerun them so many times I'm sure I will.

May 24, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterLilly

Beyond fabulous. A nice reminder to me about what I'm not capable of doing.

May 24, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterBeth

Oh that dr Seuss cake is so awesome :D all of them r awesome but woo! Dr Seuss :D

May 24, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterBilby P. Dalgyte

All I can say is WOW!!!

May 24, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterNandi

Pretty, wacky cakes!
But slicing them evenly?
How do they manage?

May 24, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterHaiku Joy

Those are spectacular. Made me smile just looking at them. I think some of those cake stacker/decorators could cross over into engineering with no problem.

God bless!

May 24, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterDorci

I was at the taping of that Challenge Bronwen did, but we were all told we couldn't take pictures. Great catch!!

May 24, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterTammy Jo

I love topsy turvy cakes...especially that Dr Suess one!

May 24, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterRebecca Welch

Luv topsy-turvy cakes! The mystery cake (2nd photo) is from

May 24, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterFabelicious

I wish I was getting married and could have a topsy-turvy cake! Ah well.

...On an unrelated note, I liked the Sweet Tweets. It's fun to have lots of things to read.

May 24, 2009 | Unregistered Commenteraimlessambition

they have topsy turvy pans?

Heh, I do too, it's called a severely unleveled kitchen! Hurr!

Really, everything I bake comes out at funny angles. Renting sucks.

Seriously though, I've never heard of the pans. It would seem that most people trim the tiers after baking, then carve a hole in the top so the tier resting above sits level but LOOKS like it's not.

May 24, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

I didn't know they had pans for this. I made one by trimming and shaping and wish I'd remembered to get pix of it--I remember that even though I had made it, *I* kept being convinced it was going to fall over! But it was all an illusion...which I wouldn't be surprised to find out the Moulin Rouge one is made that way, too.

May 24, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterVarika

Cake #1: Gor. Geous.

May 24, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterjanet2buns

Wow the first one is the prettiest cake I've ever seen!!!

My all time favorite toO!

I hope one day I can decorate cakes like that! Hats off!!!!

Raychel from

May 24, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterRaychel

This is not helping my cake addiction at all -- LOL.
Thanks for posting -- I am also a fan of Bronwen and all cake challenges. That was a good challenge -- really good!!!

May 24, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJoanne

haha, was I the only one expecting to see "Wicked" cakes? ;)
they're awesome though... i want a pan like that!

May 24, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterSam

Great pictures!! To those who asked, no, there are not pans for this. We decorators trim the cakes to that shape and size to make these cakes.

May 24, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterHeather

The third cake (Dr. Seuss) is from Too Nice To Slice, a baker in Kitchener, Ontario. I recognized the picture because Chrissy (the owner) made my friend's wedding cake in the shape of the building where they met, and this Dr. Seuss cake is on her main page. (

May 24, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterdkchisho

I'm with Heather, I've never seen tilty pans, we cut the cake on an angle and then secure it with a center pole going thru all the cakes. I don't think we have many posted, but we've done a lot (


May 24, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJennifer Luxmoore

the only thing i wanted for my wedding was a specific Topsy Turvy cake. I have never found a photo like it . We ended up making the top 3 layers of foam. it was perfect!! thank you for these!

May 24, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterBunny

These cakes are all super gorgeous! I was curious, so I typed in "topsy turvy cake pans" into Google and I ended up finding this gem:

It's a step by step illustrated guide to building a topsy turvy cake. Sweet!

May 24, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJay Jay Stroup

i love these. my sister had multiple cakes like this at her wedding. her baker called them "mad hatter cakes." if i can find the jpegs (from my old, crashed pc) I'll send 'em along!

May 24, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterEtiquette Bitch

For Heather, who sniffed that "we decorators trim the cakes..", try these:

Might help making those cakes a little easier, and less waste. :)

May 24, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

I love this style. fun! Whimsical! The first pink and zebra one rocks. But i also really love the red one that has alomst no fondant. That is amazing and yummy!!

May 24, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterPrincess MAR

Sweet! I love the red and black one. Nice.
~Amy B

May 24, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAmy

I am so glad to see Bronwen's cake on here. I love her on Food Network and she makes some great cakes!

Those topsy turvy cakes are really fun. When I read the title, though, I was so excited because I thought these were going to be Wicked-themed cakes! Can there be an upcoming Wicked wrecks or Wicked sweets post?

May 24, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

Awesome cakes!

May 24, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAmy

Anonymous-those are flat cakes that are decorated to look topsy-turvy.
And while Browyn's cake was spectacular, each of the cakes sat on a wooden base which was screwed onto the curvy board. She had some trouble getting the boards foe one of them to attach properly.
For the baker wanting to try one of these- First bake plenty of layers, and a bottle of rum. Each tier starts with three layers, iced to stick together. Then cut the tops and bottoms to unequal angles and try stacking them. Then get a piece of metal pipe (if the cake curves) or a dowel about 1/2" in diameter (If the cake is straight up and down) and run it through your tiers. This helps them stay in place better than the friction coefficient of fondant-which is pretty high.
Then decorate as desired.
I think the technical challenge of these cakes is amazing, but some how don't really like them. Just a contrarian I guess

May 24, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterBecky

To Heather and Jennifer,

I never knew that they made pans either until I went to the ICES convention. They had all sizes, square and round. They actually put the angled part at the bottom with a support bracket so that the cake can be sliced evenly at the top and flipped.

To those referring to the Wicked line, I wanted to put a bunch in here but it's pretty difficult. And I can sing every song from memory. Ah well.


Thank god for Sunday Sweets! A week of those wrecks were turning me into a cake hater. Who can view all those wrecks and still want a slice of cake? Really?

May 24, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

I have been meaning forever to dig up the photos of my gravity-defying wedding cake and the wreck that resulted when someone tried to copy it. This is from way back in 2001. I know I have the pix somewhere!

May 24, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterWendyB

Those are so gorgeous!
If I wasn't worried about my butt getting fat I'd totally eat them all.

May 24, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterMeagan

In addition to the Wilton 3 layer topsy turvy pan, there's also this great 5 layer set over at suppliesforcakes:

I want cake now...

May 24, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

P.S. Here's my cake, still need to find the wreck picture.

May 24, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterWendyB

Bronwen Weber is a cake goddess!

Though I am getting tired of topsy turvy cakes. I think they've had their run.

May 24, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterwildmaven

I love wonky cakes - so much so that I'm having one for my wedding cake :) Thanks for posting these - should give my baker some inspiration (and if not, I'll be sending pictures of the resulting wreckage!)

May 24, 2009 | Unregistered Commenternewbie

Topsy-turvy is a design staple? Funny, I've only ever seen them here.

May 24, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

Quoting AnonymousII
"For Heather, who sniffed that "we decorators trim the cakes..", try these:"

Those aren't to make a vertical topsy turvy, but a horizontal one. Look at the ad again. They're a single layer pan.

WV vitioust- cleaning out one's medicine cabinet out old vitamins.

May 24, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterfrigglesnitz

Not to be silly but why can't these be baked with wedges under one side of the cake pan to get the right angle?

Is there something truly special about the pans?

They're great visual statements and and have a sense of whimsy. Well done.

May 24, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterMrsPost

Yeah, the topsy from DesignMeACake is my all-time favorite, too. She is fantastic!

May 24, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

I made a cake like those once, not intentionally... it was a stacked 3-tier wedding cake and had a rough ride to the reception. The tiers had shifted slightly so the hotel propped up one side. About half way through the reception folks were taking bets on how long until it toppled. Once we pulled the shim out from under it, it leveled itself and all was well. Good thing... I don't think my sister would have forgiven me! (I was 18 when I made it.)

May 24, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterValerie

These cakes were really cool!

You've inspired us this morning. My 2 year old and I are ditching cookies and we're making a cake. It will probably be an unintentional topsy-turvy, and so will likely end up as a wreck on tomorrow's post!

May 24, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterNatalie

I love watching Bronwen on the Cake challenges, she's really good! I was rooting for her on Last Cake Standing...but 2nd is still pretty good too. :)

Ya should find more Bronwen cakes for Sunday Sweets...or even cakes from any baker who's been on a Food Network cake challenge, I get envious because I can't even do a frosting rose LOL

May 24, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterDonna

Topsy Turvy Awesomeness!!

Love the colors in the first.
Love the Dr. Seuss one.

Amazing talent out there....

May 24, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterCALpumper

That 2nd one looks like it was designed by Betsy Johnson. Very cool cakes guys!

May 24, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAutumnJade

Oooh... these are beautiful. I've always wanted a topsy-turvy Alice-in-Wonderland style cake. Maybe I am a complete idiot when it comes to baking (actually EATING I do all right in.) but I didn't know you could buy pans for them!! One more item for the wishlist.

May 24, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterShawty

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