At las year's ICES show in Sand Diego, decorator Carrie Biggers demonstrated her secret to topsy-turvy cake construction. When she would consult for topsy-turvy wedding cakes, she was finding herself running into a common problem: Topsy-turvy cake construction required layers of styrofoam...and many brides would decide that if the cake wasn't 100 percent edible, they should get a discount.

So, she found a solution that made the cake completely edible, and saved her some time in the process. She uses rice cereal treats to put the "topsy" into topsy-turvy cakes. Also, by not shaving the cake, it has more strength with its crust still in tact.

By leaving out the butter in the rice cereal treat recipe (she uses only rice cereal and melted marshmallow), the consistency is as strong as styrofoam. She simply puts the cereal treats into a cake pan, whose size corresponds to each cake layer, and presses down one side about an inch further than the other to create the wedge where the cake will sit.

How deep do you make the wedge? That depends on how crooked you want the cake. "It depends on how far the cake's going to go and how brave you are," Biggers says. "My customers have never complained about a topsy-turvy cake being not crooked enough. But they do complain if the cake tips over."

Here are some other tips she offers when using this technique to build a topsy-turvy cake:

  • Each layer of cake and rice cereal treat must have a piece of cardboard underneath.
  • Use "spackle" to smooth the rough texture of the rice cereal before adding the buttercream.
  • Use buttercream only to attach the fondant. Buttercream does not work on a topsy-turvy cake.
  • Use dowels to support each layer of just the cake. Dowels should all be the same size -- you don't shave the cake, so the cake portion of each layer is actually level (it's the cereal treats that are a wedge).
  • When the construction is complete, you'll want to press a few long dowels through the entire cak for support.