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Demo: Mad Hatter or slanted cake

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26 replies to this topic

#1 sugarseattle

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Posted 01 July 2008 - 10:55 AM

We're building our first mad hatter cake. Four Layers of butter cake (6-8-10-12). when we usually do a stacked cake, we usually have the cake boards in between each tier. I've seen photos where you cut out a portion of the bottom tier to make it "straight" so that you can inset the upper tier into it with plastic supports. This seems a little like overkill.

I have always relied on the strength of our sturdy drinking straws for support between tiers. My question is what if we remove the cake boards between the tiers and have the straws poking up between the bottom and top tiers?

Hope you can get the visual.
Stephanie Crocker
Sugar Bakery + Cafe

#2 JeanneCake

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Posted 01 July 2008 - 12:50 PM

I am having trouble with the visual, sorry! But I can describe how I build a mad hatter cake and maybe that will help?

For virtually all of my cakes, I use bubble tea straws (thanks to Annie) for support. For larger or especially heavy tiers, I use the plastic dowels that can be cut with a knife - they are a little larger than the bubble tea straws.

As for topsy-turvy cakes, I started out doing the "cut a flat part in the bottom cake for the next one to fit in straight". That takes too long for me to do now that I have a lot more experience with this sort of design. (But if I were doing an especially large cake like that, I might do the bottom two tiers that way.) But again thanks to Annie, I have a more efficient way to assemble these, and I'm doing one a weekend now that we're in the throes of wedding season.

This weekend I am doing one for a July 4 birthday. The bottom tier is a 10 and 11" round; the 10" is torted in half, the 11" is split at an angle. I will build them just like Annie does in the Baby Shower cake demo (larger one on the bottom, smaller on top, then flip them). The middle is an 8" and 9", the top is a 6" and 5". Once the cakes are assembled (before the crumb coat) I will carve it so the bottom is more narrow and smooth out the angle between the two cakes. I think with a topsy-turvy design, the bottom of the cake needs to be more narrow than the top, all the way around.

Then, I crumb coat, and cover with fondant as usual. Then I put the straws in, and use melted chocolate in the middle and put the next tier on top; the chocolate sets up almost immediately and holds everything in place. Then I use three bamboo skewers through the two tiers. The top tier goes on just like the middle one.

Some bakers use styro wedges to get the topsy turvy look, and this is pretty stable; they cover the wedge with flowers or make it the bottom of the cake and cover both the cake and the wedge with the fondant. But I'm not nearly so organized as that to have styro wedges made in advance :wink:

#3 Kayakado

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Posted 01 July 2008 - 02:00 PM

We're building our first mad hatter cake. Four Layers of butter cake (6-8-10-12). when we usually do a stacked cake, we usually have the cake boards in between each tier. I've seen photos where you cut out a portion of the bottom tier to make it "straight" so that you can inset the upper tier into it with plastic supports. This seems a little like overkill.

I have always relied on the strength of our sturdy drinking straws for support between tiers. My question is what if we remove the cake boards between the tiers and have the straws poking up between the bottom and top tiers?

Hope you can get the visual.

View Post

You can check here I think they have a tutorial

www.cake.central.com

or go to the bookstore and look at any cake book by Collete Peters

#4 alanamoana

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Posted 01 July 2008 - 02:13 PM

there's also a tutorial here on eG somewhere...

anyone?

edited to add: the link to the tutorial

but i'm sure you'll find as many methods as there are bakers making this kind of cake

Edited by alanamoana, 01 July 2008 - 02:14 PM.


#5 chefpeon

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Posted 01 July 2008 - 08:26 PM

BKeith's method, as linked to by alanamoana, works, but it's overly complicated, and actually not necessary. It was the method previously used by Jeannecake, but she switched over to my method as she described, because, it's so much easier, and quicker. It's also VERY stable. :wink:

#6 racheld

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Posted 01 July 2008 - 08:31 PM

That was FUN looking at that again!! :wub:
Fairy tea has its own magic, for it never does run out;
And the flavour you imagine will come streaming from the spout.
Fairy Tea

My Blog--Thanksgiving and Goodwill

LAWN TEA

#7 alanamoana

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Posted 01 July 2008 - 10:02 PM

here's the link to Annie's demo: chefpeon demo

#8 sugarseattle

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Posted 04 July 2008 - 11:06 AM

ok. trying to describe the visual again...so when i build a tiered cake, i insert straws into the bottom tier, then trim them to the height of that tier. I then put the next tier, WITH its cake board, on top of the bottom tier. Then I put straws into the second tier and repeat.

What I am thinking is INSTEAD of trimming the straws, I let them poke up so when I put the second tier on WITHOUT a cake board, the straws pierce through the bottom of the second tier. It's sort of like dowels in wood joinery...one dowel is in between the two pieces of wood thereby joining them together.
Stephanie Crocker
Sugar Bakery + Cafe

#9 JeanneCake

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Posted 04 July 2008 - 11:48 AM

You know, at first, I wondered if that was what you meant!

You need the boards to support the weight of the cake tiers above. Otherwise you'll have a collapsing cake on your hands

If you have a recent Colette Peters book, it has some diagrams and illustrations which will be helpful - but the Annie Method has served me very well over the last year.

Especially through today's adventure - lots of Boston roads are closed due to the concert today, and my three tier Mad Hatter Birthday got bounced around pretty well on those cow paths we call streets .... :wacko:

#10 chefpeon

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Posted 04 July 2008 - 08:58 PM

You need the boards to support the weight of the cake tiers above. Otherwise you'll have a collapsing cake on your hands.

Absolutely. DO NOT forego the cardboard between tiers!!!!! :shock:

Giant day at work today. I'm busted. Too tired to watch fireworks even. :sad:

I saved my sketches that I sent to Jeanne on how to construct a "mad hatter". I will post them tomorrow, along with basic instructions.

til then.......zzzzzzzzzzzzzz

#11 chefpeon

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Posted 05 July 2008 - 04:04 PM

Ok, I'm still draggin' but not enough to sit my butt down in front of the computer and type a little. With lots of coffee. Lots and lots of coffee.

Here's my little demo on how to construct a "mad hatter" cake the easy way. I've done hundreds of these things and this method has NEVER failed me.

As a cake artist, I also believe in giving credit where credit is due. I've always called them "Polly Cakes" after the woman who originated the design, Polly Schoonmaker.

I don't know if this method is the way Polly does them, but it works and it's easier than any other method I've come across. I was quite surprised to see that in Colette Peters' book, her way was also a bit overly complicated. It doesn't have to be that hard. Trust me.

These sketches are very quickly and crudely drawn, because my friend Jeanne needed some quickie instructions at the time, so I made quickie sketches. They may be crude but they do get the point across. Nothing like a visual to demonstrate a technique, eh?

Let's say you're going to do a three tier Polly. The largest tier (the bottom tier) needs to sit directly on a covered plywood, foamcore, or particle board. I don't trust foamcore for the bottom myself, I use only plywood or particle board and cover it with Polyfoil, which I find at floral supply stores.

These cakes need to be somewhat tall, so I always use two cakes per tier, and split each cake. The first one is always split normally, as such:
Posted Image

The second cake is split on the bias, like so:
Posted Image

The reason I only split one cake on the bias is so the cake tilts, but doesn't tilt too much, because there is such a thing as tilting too much. :wink:

You then stack your cakes as follows, with filling of your choice in between each layer. I like to stay away from slippy slidy fillings like curds, for instance, in these types of cakes. If you must use a slippy slidy filling, don't forget to put a buttercream dam on the outside edge of each layer before you spread the filling on the top of the layer. Notice that the cake layer that is cut on the bias gets put together so that the two thick edges and the two thin edges match up, creating the "tilt".
Posted Image
Each cake sits on it's own cardboard! Except for the bottom one that sits directly on the plywood board of course. This is very important for support purposes!
Where I have drawn the dotted lines is where you carve the cake to be narrower at the bottom than the top. Don't be TOO severe in the way you carve it down, or you will possibly have a cake that just might be a little TOO narrow at the bottom, and besides, you don't want to cut away servings. On that note, be sure to remember to down your serving numbers from that of a normally iced tiered cake.
Once I have carved the cake, I cut the cardboard at the bottom of the cake to be flush with the new narrower bottom size. I've used both a cardboard cutting knife and scissors. Whatever works for you.

Once you have all your tiers split, filled, tilted and carved, give 'em all a nice crumb coat with buttercream and chill 'em down. Once chilled, cover each tier with fondant. Depending on your experience this may or may not be an easy job. Next to covering a square cake, I hate covering Pollys with fondant the most. Gotta work fast, and the fondant always has a tendency to crack or break right at the top edge. And it can be tricky to work out folds and creases at the bottom of the narrow part (this is another reason you don't want the narrower part to be too narrow). Make sure your fondant is fresh! Old fondant or fondant that is on the dry side is a major pain in the butt. Really. Another tip is to give your top cake edges a rounded look....it's much easier to work the fondant over a rounded edge than a sharp one.
Posted Image

Once all your tiers are covered with fondant, stick the ones you aren't working with at the moment back in the fridge to stay cold. Starting with the bottom tier (duh), stick bubble tea straws in the cake, straight down til you feel the straw hit the board. Stay within the diameter of the tier of the cake that will be placed on top! How many straws you use is up to you; you need enough to support the weight of the cake, but not so many that it's a nightmare for a cake server to cut. That's why I LOVE bubble tea straws! They are stronger and you can use less. If all you have is bar straws, they work fine too.....you just have to use more of them.
Posted Image

Next, cut the straws with sharp scissors as flush as you can to the surface of the cake like this:
Posted Image
It's ok if the straws stick out a tiny bit. Now here's why the cakes need to stay cold for this process: Melt some white chocolate (you can use dark chocolate too, but white sets up faster).
White chocolate burns really easy, so be careful. Pour a little puddle of it on top of the cut straws. Go get your next tier. Place it on top of the bottom tier and position it how you like. Hold it there for a few seconds til the chocolate sets up enough to hold it on its own. When your cakes are cold, the chocolate sets up fast and easy.


Next, use about 3-4 long bamboo skewers and using the side of a pair of needlenose pliers, hammer the skewers down through the center of the topmost tier down through it's cardboard, and all the way down to the bottom board. The thinness of the skewers and their sharp points allow them to pierce the cardboard very easily. I place about 4 skewers fairly close together in the center of the cake.
Posted Image

A portion of the skewer should still be sticking up out of the top of the cake. Using your pliers, lift up on the skewer a bit to bring it out a little, then cut it off using the cutting part of your pliers. Then place the cut-off part of the skewer on top of the skewer you just cut (get it?), and again, using the side of your pliers, hammer the cut skewer down so you feel it touch the bottom board again and the skewer should now be below the surface of the cake. See? If it's not, pull it out with your pliers and cut it again, and repeat.
Both the strength of the white chocolate and the stabilization the skewers provide make for a very stable cake.
Posted Image

Here is an illustration of what all the skewers would look like in the cake if you had x-ray vision.
Posted Image

All you have to do with the remaining tiers is repeat the process with inserting the straws, cutting them, putting the white chocolate on, placing your next tier on, holding it til set, then inserting and cutting your skewers. For the topmost tier, I don't worry about the holes that the skewers make because there's usually something that goes on top that will cover them, like a cake topper or flowers or some deal-o. If there is no deal-o, then you can insert tiny pieces of matching fondant into the top holes, moisten your finger, and blend them in.

Hope this helps!!!!
Questions? Ask them here so everybody can see the info! :smile:

Cheers.....Annie

#12 lilthorner

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Posted 05 July 2008 - 05:19 PM

thank you annie! i rather enjoyed your drawings..

#13 K8memphis

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Posted 05 July 2008 - 06:49 PM

So the chocolate glue is holding the second tier onto the uneven cut straws and bamboo skewers are keeping everything from sliding.

In my brain it throws off the angle of the second tier too much. So the second tier is angle cut on the sides and also it's base is sitting on the angle of the top of tier one.

Don't you need to compensate for the extra wonkiness of the angles on the second tier?

My brain ain't getting it.

I mean is the bottom of the second tier cut at an angle?

#14 chefpeon

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Posted 05 July 2008 - 09:29 PM

I mean is the bottom of the second tier cut at an angle?


Nope! It looks like it is, but it's an illusion.
Click on my blog link below, and you will see some pics of "Pollys" that I have done.
The cake in the middle is stacked so that all of the tall sides are on the same sides to give the cake the leaning look. The last cake picture (Cake De-Luxe) has the tall and short sides opposite each other so that it looks crooked......yet straight.

#15 racheld

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Posted 05 July 2008 - 10:47 PM

:wub: Oh, Annie!!! I heart you BIGTIME!!!


I followed the "confessions" link to the unfortunate cakes, and just couldn't stop laughing. I hope Chris' computer chair dries before morning.

rachel
Fairy tea has its own magic, for it never does run out;
And the flavour you imagine will come streaming from the spout.
Fairy Tea

My Blog--Thanksgiving and Goodwill

LAWN TEA

#16 JeanneCake

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Posted 06 July 2008 - 04:17 AM

So the chocolate glue is holding the second tier onto the uneven cut straws and bamboo skewers are keeping everything from sliding.

View Post


the straws are cut with the angle of the cake, they don't really stick up. Annie was in a hurry to draw the pics because I was just about to build the cake (as in, it's Friday night and this is going out the door on Saturday).

When you assemble the tiers, you watch for the angle when you're putting the next tier on top. This is where I find that the narrow bottom helps with the overall illusion - if you don't narrow the bottom, it looks odd (to me at least).

I have been doing it this way for the last year, and this is very, very stable. I like building it this way because it's faster and just as stable as the other methods (BKeith's and Colette's use of styro)

#17 Tri2Cook

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Posted 06 July 2008 - 05:48 AM

I followed the "confessions" link to the unfortunate cakes, and just couldn't stop laughing.  I hope Chris' computer chair dries before morning.

rachel

View Post


Yeah, I followed that link too. It's hilarious (other than knowing that I've made a cake or three that would belong there if I were a professional and sold cakes).

"And what kind of ocassion calls for a "naked babies riding carrots" decor, anyway?" :laugh: :laugh: :laugh:
It's kinda like wrestling a gorilla... you don't stop when you're tired, you stop when the gorilla is tired.

#18 sugarseattle

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Posted 06 July 2008 - 10:03 AM

Posted Image
i think this is the right way to post images. anyhow, here's the pic of the final cake that my assistant pastry chef whipped up...i think it's more like a guggenheim cake since it's not that topsy turvy and looks rather refined in a way, much like the formal wedding it was for.
Stephanie Crocker
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#19 racheld

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Posted 06 July 2008 - 02:18 PM

Gorgeous!! I've always wondered why some artistic couple didn't sport a Gug cake for their wedding reception.

Graceful and tasteful and SMOOOOTH. :wub:
Fairy tea has its own magic, for it never does run out;
And the flavour you imagine will come streaming from the spout.
Fairy Tea

My Blog--Thanksgiving and Goodwill

LAWN TEA

#20 K8memphis

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Posted 06 July 2008 - 03:11 PM

Refer back to my previous post and the previous diagram because the light didn't come on yet. So the second tier from the bottom is sitting at such an angle so that it is actually at an angle to way it baked. It baked straight up and down but it is now sitting at an angle to it's bakage (I just made that word up) because it is resting at an angle on the cake below. Yes?

Edited by K8memphis, 06 July 2008 - 03:11 PM.


#21 chefpeon

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Posted 06 July 2008 - 03:27 PM

Refer back to my previous post and the previous diagram because the light didn't come on yet. So the second tier from the bottom is sitting at such an angle so that it is actually at an angle to way it baked. It baked straight up and down but it is now sitting at an angle to it's bakage (I just made that word up) because it is resting at an angle on the cake below. Yes?


Uh.....I actually have no idea what you're saying. :blink:
All I can say is that the cakes are tilted and carved exactly the same way.
Depending on how you stack them, you can make the cake look like it is leaning over, or that
each tier is off-kilter.
If you stack it so that all the tall sides match up, the cake leans over.
If you stack it so that you match up a short side with a tall side, then the angle of each cake compensates for the tilt of the one below it.

#22 Mary Elizabeth

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Posted 10 July 2008 - 02:15 PM

Chefpeon--Thank you for the unfortunate cakes link!

#23 Spring

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Posted 10 July 2008 - 03:47 PM

[quote=chefpeon,Jul 5 2008, 09:29 PM
Click on my blog link below, and you will see some pics of "Pollys" that I have done. ]

I just want to thank you from the bottom of my heart for this, I dont remember the last time I laughed so much.
Id also like to say HI to everyone. Im new (blush blush)

Edited by Spring, 10 July 2008 - 03:52 PM.


#24 John DePaula

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Posted 10 July 2008 - 06:05 PM

Several years ago, I attended a wedding and the grooms chose a style of cake that I'd never seen before; it just blew me away:

Posted Image

Isn't that fantastic!
John DePaula
DePaula Confections
Hand-crafted artisanal chocolates & gourmet confections - …Because Pleasure Matters…
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When asked “What are the secrets of good cooking? Escoffier replied, “There are three: butter, butter and butter.”

#25 chefpeon

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Posted 10 July 2008 - 07:48 PM

Several years ago, I attended a wedding and the grooms chose a style of cake that I'd never seen before; it just blew me away:


Perhaps that was an original Polly Schoonmaker cake? She's based in Oregon you know. :smile:

#26 John DePaula

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Posted 10 July 2008 - 09:06 PM

Several years ago, I attended a wedding and the grooms chose a style of cake that I'd never seen before; it just blew me away:


Perhaps that was an original Polly Schoonmaker cake? She's based in Oregon you know. :smile:

View Post

Wedding was in Seattle and I think it was someone local who made the cake. Great work, eh?
John DePaula
DePaula Confections
Hand-crafted artisanal chocolates & gourmet confections - …Because Pleasure Matters…
--------------------
When asked “What are the secrets of good cooking? Escoffier replied, “There are three: butter, butter and butter.”

#27 Laura Michelle

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Posted 20 February 2009 - 10:01 PM

I found Annie's (chefpeon's) description of how to create the polly cake intriguing. I have been mulling it over in my head the past couple of days and wanted to ask a few questions?

First, do you think this could be done with buttercream icing and not the fondant overlay? Especially if the cake sides were not sloped inward and relied on positioning each tier on top of a slanted top to create the slanted sides look. I have a bride who would like me to do this in buttercream only.

Also, I was wondering if you cover your cardboards to protect them from grease deteriorating them? Or do you simply use the wax covered boards?

On a three tiered cake, would you dowel the middle tier with the bubble tea straws before placing the tier on the cake or after? I was wondering if placing them in the cake straight up and down prior would make the support slanted once one tier is placed on another and the cake is nolonger resting on a flat surface.

Does the chocolate between layers create any difficulty when disassembling the cake at the reception? Or do you recommend cutting while the cake is still assembled and starting from the top?

If I were to do a 6-9-12 round polly cake, about how many bubble straws would you recommend in the 9" and 12" rounds for support?

Sorry for so many questions, this polly styled cake has been on my brain for weeks and your directions are so detailed I am actually getting excited about doing this cake!

Thank you!





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