Mark a strip of fondant at 2-in. intervals. Use a ruler to cut diagonally from the top left corner to the second 2-in. mark. Continue down the length of the fondant, and then cut diagonally in the opposite direction.
Place fondant triangles along the top and bottom of a 16-in. round tier. The points of the triangles should meet.
Mark each side of a 10-in. hexagon cake into four equal parts. Use a plastic triangle to guide a tracing wheel from each mark to the bottom of the cake. Do the same in the opposite direction.
Roll strips of fondant to a 1 /4-in. thickness. Place the borders around the bottom of the 6-in. top tier and 10-in. hexagon. Use a crimper to add texture to the borders.
Use a cut parchment tube to pipe royal icing Swiss dots. Create Swiss dots by piping three dots of icing in the shape of a triangle.
After the cake is assembled on a presentation board, finish the design by simply placing a bouquet of flowers on top of the cake.
A new breed of wedding cake has emerged in the last five years, and the evolution is changing the art of wedding cake making. No longer is the cake simply a necessary incidental. Couples are making it the grand finale to their special day and another opportunity for them to express their own personal style through unique designs.
Ordering from a book of photographs and choosing from limited flavors has gone by the wayside. Couples are looking for a wider range of cake flavors, asking bakers to expand beyond the ubiquitous white cake, yellow cake or chocolate cake. By offering fun and exciting textures and flavors, bakers will be sure to leave a lasting impression.
Some couples are choosing to express their style through off-kilter or "Mad Hatter" cakes with fanciful designs and colors. Stacked cakes also are becoming increasingly popular, and couples are trending away from cakes with plastic columns.
Another popular trend is coordinating the cake with the bridal gown by matching beading, lace, colors, trims and buttons. Some decorators also take inspiration for a cake design from a pattern on the wedding invitation. Gum paste flowers, fresh flowers or "cake jewelry" are replacing cake toppers, such as the proverbial bride and groom.
Color combinations also are becoming more diverse, from tone on tone to pink and apple green. Cake designs are only limited by your imagination and the couple's budget.
Couples also are reviving the dessert table, which features a smaller main cake and a variety of petite sweets. Anything from artisan lollipops and bonbons to mini ice cream cones are frequent requests for the dessert table.
The integrity of wedding cakes is evolving as well.
Quality is paramount. A cake really can taste as good as it looks, and couples are demanding that it does.
This featured four-tier wedding cake combines various fondant patterns, which require different techniques.
This particular design is monochromatic, so the patterns add texture, but are not distracting. You may want to use color to create a more fanciful effect. Tint the fondant used for the base of the design a pale cream. This creates a slight distinction between the base and the white overlays.
Mixing fondant techniques
Start all of the designs at the back of the cake and work around. This allows you to adjust the design where it will be least noticed. When stacking the tiers, align the backs of the tiers.
For the bottom tier, cover a 16-in. round cake with cream fondant, and place it on a prepared presentation board. Refrigerate the tier while you prepare the harlequin overlay.
To begin the harlequin pattern, roll a sheet of white fondant until it is about 10 ins. wide and 32 ins. long and about 1 /8-in. thick. Trim the top of the strip to create a straight edge. Cut the fondant lengthwise into two 4-in. strips. If you want to add a dragée or a dot to your harlequin overlay, cut the strips a little shorter to accommodate the additional decoration.
Square off the left side of the strip. Use a toothpick to lightly mark the fondant at 2-in. intervals along the top and bottom. Start at the top left hand corner, and use a ruler to cut diagonally from the corner to the second 2-in. mark on the bottom. Move the ruler over to the next mark, and continue cutting diagonally down the strip. Then, make diagonal cuts in the opposite direction. Start at the lower left-hand corner, and cut to the second 2-in. mark at the top of the strip.
Pull out the diamonds since you will only need the triangles. Conversely, if want to design with diamonds, take away the triangles. Allow the triangles to air dry for 10 to 15 minutes. This eliminates shape distortion when applying them to the cake.
Attach the triangles using a little water starting at the back of the cake. Align the bottom of the triangles with the top edge of the tier. Do the same along the bottom of the tier. The tips of the top and bottom triangles should meet. Work your way around the cake, and if you were off in your measurements you may need to trim the last set of triangles in the back. Place the cake in the refrigerator.
Quilting adds texture
Use a 10-in. hexagon cake for the next tier of the cake. Enrobe it in cream fondant, and add the quilting while the fondant is still fresh and has not developed a skin. Use a tracing wheel to create the quilted effect. Tracing wheels are available in fabric or crafting stores. You also will need a plastic 45° triangle and a flexible metal ruler, which are available in art supply stores.
At the top edge of the cake, use a toothpick to light-ly mark each side of the hexagon into four equal spaces. Align the slanted side of the plastic triangle with the first mark. Applying medium pressure, run the tracing wheel down the edge of the triangle. Move the triangle over to the next mark, and continue quilting. You will need to add a few quilted lines under the first line. Reverse the triangle, and continue quilting in the opposite direction. Work your way around all six sides of the hexagon. Place the tier in the refrigerator when complete.
Cover an 8-in. round tier with cream fondant. At this point, assemble the bottom three tiers of your cake, making sure that each tier is properly supported. It is best to stack the cakes before you place stripes of fondant on the 8-in. tier. This prevents a gap between the two tiers.
Roll a strip of white fondant to 6 ins. wide by 16 ins. long. Trim the strip to the height of the cake, usually about 4 ins. Using a ruler, cut the fondant into 1 /2-in. to 1-in. strips, depending on the look you want. When making geometric patterns, accuracy is paramount. Any inconsistency will be evident from far away. Use a small straight edge ruler to keep things straight and neat.
Allow the strips to air dry for 10 to 15 minutes before placing them on the cake. Mark the tier into 1 /2-in. to 1-in. spaces, depending on the size of the strip you are using. Starting in the back, use water to attach the strips to the cake, taking care not to stretch or distort them. As you apply the strips of fondant, use as little pressure as possible so you do not leave fingerprints. If you do get prints on the fondant, rub them out carefully with a fondant smoother.
Top with Swiss dots
Cover a 6-in. round with cream fondant. Stack it on top of the other three tiers, and run a sharpened wooden dowel down the middle to secure the cake.
To finish the 6-in. round and 10-in. hexagon with borders, roll out a length of fondant of even 1 /4-in. thickness. Attach the fondant rope with a small amount of water around the base of each tier. Then, use a crimper to crimp each border. I chose to use an open scallop and open "V" crimper. Crimpers are available from cake specialty suppliers. The ones with O-rings allow you to control the size of the opening, and they are available in different patterns for a range of effects.
After crimping the borders, finish the top tier. Use white royal icing and a cut parchment tube to pipe a Swiss dot pattern on the top tier. A Swiss dot consists of three dots in a triangular configuration.
Starting at the back of the cake, pipe a row of Swiss dots along the top edge of the cake, and add another one along the bottom of the cake. Then, pipe one in the middle of the cake between the top and bottom dots. You may want to mark your pattern of dots before you start piping. With practice, the Swiss dot pattern can be done without marking.
Next, pipe a royal icing dot at all the intersecting points on the quilted hexagon. To finish the wedding cake, decorate it with fresh or gum paste flowers.
|Condra Easley is the co-owner and pastry chef of Pâtisserie Angelica, Sebastopol, Calif. Chef Easley received her formal training at several prestigious pastry shops in Paris, France as well as studying at Cacao Barry School in France and Callebaut College in Belgium. She also is a certified culinary educator, and currently teaches wedding cake decorating at the Culinary Institute of America at Greystone in St. Helena, Calif.|