1. To create the bushel basket of pumpkins, begin by rolling out dark chocolate or brown fondant mixed with white fondant for a variegated look.
2. Cover the sides of a 4-in. round cake. Create the slats of the basket using a sharp edge, such as the back of a knife.
3. Use sculpting and ball tools to create the bark and knot holes in the basket.
4. Roll the remaining variegated brown fondant into to two long ropes, and twist them. Then loop them, one on each side, to create the basket handles.
5. Dollop white icing on top of the basket, and airbrush the icing green. The airbrush color won’t discolor the brown fondant of the basket.
6. Create different-sized pumpkins by rolling balls of orange fondant into various sizes. Use a star tool to mark the top of each pumpkin, and then use a knife tool to extend the indentation down the sides of the pumpkins.
7. Roll thin strips of green fondant to create the pumpkin stems. Attach them to the tops of the pumpkins, and use a veining tool to mark small indentations into the base of each stem.
8. Place the pumpkins on top of the basket, positioning the larger pumpkins first and filling in the space with the smaller pumpkins.
9. Use leaf stencils to cut various types of leaves or purchase ready-made gumpaste leaves from suppliers. Airbrush both sides of the leaves using several colors, such as green, tan, orange and brown.
10. Insert the leaves into the basket in between the pumpkins.
11. Ice an 8-in. round cake with white icing. Smooth the icing using a paper towel and a palette knife to achieve a fondant look.
12. Airbrush a green bottom border.
13. Place the basket of pumpkins in the center of the cake, and then use tip No. 7 to pipe a white bubble border around the base of the cake.
14. Pipe a dollop of icing at the base of the cake to hold a bunch of pumpkins.
15. Add two more bunches of pumpkins at the base of the basket, and place leaves among them.
16. Cut a plaque out of white gumpaste and airbrush the edges gold.
17. Place the plaque at the front center of the cake, and use tweezers to place edible pearls on the top and sides of the cake.
18. Finish the cake board with a matching ribbon.
19. For a monochromatic, sophisticated look, airbrush the entire cake gold, and add gold sugar crystals to cover the cake board.
Ashley Vicos - Like many girls of her generation, Ashley Vicos’ love of baking began at age 5 with an Easy-Bake Oven. That love has become her career as she now owns Atlanta-based Sweet Ashley’s, a commercially licensed cake studio, where she creates custom cakes and teaches cake decorating classes. Vicos has competed in several decorating challenges on TLC and the Food Network and has been seen on NBC and CBS.
This basket design makes a great Thanksgiving centerpiece, both in its colorful version or as a monochromatic gold cake. The basket theme also can be used for apples, peaches or any type of fruit or vegetable.