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Recipe

Ribbon Rose Hobnail Wedding Cake

Mark Davidson

This cake is a good place to start if you’ve never made a multi-tiered cake or worked with fondant before. The decorations are fairly simple, which lets you focus on the basic techniques of stacking the tiers and creating a smooth fondant finish. The design was inspired by vintage hobnail glass and the soft, snuggly, nubby chenille blankets that can be found tucked into a newborn’s crib—perfect for a baby shower. Or stick with an all-white palette to turn it into a simple wedding cake, or use deeper or brighter colors for a sweet birthday cake.

Ingredients

For the cake and filling

For the decoration

  • 4-1/2 lb. white fondant
  • 2 lb. pale blue fondant
  • 2 oz. leaf green fondant
  • One 4-oz. container of 6-mm edible white pearls
  • Piping gel, for attaching decorations

Tools

  • 6- and 8-inch round cake boards
  • Long serrated knife
  • Ruler (preferably metal)
  • Level
  • Large offset spatula
  • X-ACTO knife or scalpel
  • Plastic fondant rolling pin
  • 4 dowels, 1/2 inch in diameter, at least 6 inches long
  • Fondant smoothers
  • Cake turntable
  • 3-1/2-inch round cookie cutter
  • Extruder (optional)
  • Small paintbrush

Preparation

Split and fill the cake layers

  • Apply a small smear of buttercream (about the size of a half dollar) to the 6-inch cake board. Place one of the 6-inch cakes on the board. Turn the cake pan upside down and place it next to the baked cake. Use the pan as your guide and run a serrated knife across the domed top of the cake to cut it level.
  • Once the cake is leveled, use a ruler to find the center point around the outside of the cake, and mark it by lightly scoring the cake with a knife.
  • With the knife in one hand and your other hand flat on top of the cake to keep it steady, use a smooth sawing motion to slowly cut around the cake from the outside edges toward the center until the knife is all the way through. Level and split the other 6-inch round cake in the same manner.
  • Spread 1-1/2 cups of the buttercream on top of one 6-inch layer, leaving a 1/4-inch border around the edge of the cake. Place a second cake layer on top, pressing down at the center and smoothing your hands out to the sides; this forces the buttercream to fill in the space without going over the edge.
  • Repeat with the remaining 2 6-inch cake layers and another 1-1/2 cups of buttercream between each. Use the level to check that the top and sides of your cake are straight.
  • Split, fill, and layer the 8-inch cake rounds in the same manner, using the 8-inch cake cardboard and about 2 cups of buttercream between each layer.
  • Refrigerate both the 6-inch and 8-inch cake tiers for at least 2 hours (or up to overnight) before continuing.

Make the fondant bow cake topper

  • Roll out two pieces of the blue fondant to 1/8 inch thick. Cut two ribbons 6 inches long and 3 inches wide.
  • Pinch the corners at the end of one strip, then press both corners in toward the center pinched point. Repeat at the opposite end, and do the same for the second strip. To create the bow loops, fold the pinched ends of each strip together. Help the bow keep its shape by inserting a parchment paper tube into each loop to let the loops dry open. Allow the bow to dry for at least 1 day.
  • To assemble the bow topper, place the two loops end to end. Roll out a small strip of fondant and cut it into a strip that’s long enough to wrap around the ends to hold them together. Wrap the strip around the loops and pinch together until it’s adhered. Allow the bow to dry overnight before using.

Crumb-coat the tiers

  • Using a large, smooth basketweave tip, pipe horizontal strips of frosting around the sides of the 6-inch cake tier until it’s covered. Cover the top of the cake by piping circles, starting at the outer edge and working your way to the middle.
  • Use a metal spatula to smooth the sides of the cake, then hold the spatula horizontally and pull the ridge of frosting from the outside edge across the top of the cake. Pull up slightly with the spatula to remove the excess buttercream.
  • Crumb-coat the 8-inch cake tier in the same manner. Return both tiers to the refrigerator and allow them to set for at least half an hour before continuing.

Cover the cakes with fondant and stack the tiers

  • Using a smooth plastic rolling pin, roll 1-1/2 lb. of the white fondant into a rough circle at least 16 inches in diameter and about 1/4 inch thick.
  • Roll the fondant around your rolling pin, then unroll it to drape the fondant over the 6-inch cake tier. Smooth the fondant over the top and sides of the cake. Using an X-ACTO knife or scalpel, trim away the excess fondant around the base of the cake. Use the fondant smoothers to smooth the surface.
  • Cover the 8-inch cake tier in the same manner, using 2 lb. of the white fondant, and rolling it to a circle at least 18 inches in diameter.
  • Insert a dowel into the center of the 8-inch tier and mark it where it starts to stick out of the cake. Remove the dowel and cut it at the mark. Cut three more dowels the same length. Return one dowel to the center hole, and insert the remaining three dowels, evenly spacing them around the center. Make sure they’re placed within the diameter of where the 6-inch tier will sit above them.
  • Spread a thin layer of buttercream over the four dowels, and place the 6-inch tier on top of the buttercream. Return the stacked cake to the refrigerator for at least an hour to make sure it’s secure.

To decorate the cake

  • Roll out the pale blue fondant to a strip 26 inches long by 3 inches wide and 1/4 inch thick. It should be long enough to wrap around the bottom tier.
  • Create a scalloped edge on one side of the pale blue strip by placing the 3-1/2-inch cutter half on the edge of the strip and half off—in other words, the fondant edge bisects the circle. Once the first semicircle is cut, begin the next one at its edge, creating a peak between each half circle.
  • Roll up the strip like a spool and unroll it around the bottom of the cake. Brush the cake with a small amount of water to help it adhere, if necessary. The seam will be covered later with a row of pearls.
  • Roll about 1/4 lb. of white fondant into a rope that’s 1/4 inch in diameter and about 26 inches long. You can use your hands or an extruder. Brush a small amount of water onto the cake along the scalloped edge of the blue ribbon and apply the rope. Start at the seam on the blue ribbon (this is so both seams match), and gently press the rope into place along the scalloped line.
  • To make tiny ribbon roses, pinch off a marble-sized piece of blue fondant from the remaining fondant and roll tiny ropes (about the thickness of a piece of yarn). Coil the rope into a spiral rose shape, aiming for roses about the same size as the pearls. Set the roses aside on a parchment-paper-lined cookie sheet until you’re ready to place them on the cake.
  • To make the tiny leaves for behind the ribbon roses, pinch off a very small amount of green fondant—about half the size of the ribbon rose. Use your fingers to roll the little bit of fondant into a teardrop shape. Press the teardrop between your fingers to flatten it into a leaf shape. Place the leaves alongside the ribbon roses on the cookie sheet and set aside to dry.

  • To create the pearl and rose pattern on the cake, start on the bottom tier and place a pearl or a rose onto the cake about 1/4 inch above each scallop peak. Brush on a small amount of water or piping gel to help the pearl or rose adhere. If you are applying a rose, place the leaf with the rounded end under the rose, allowing the pointed end to stick out from behind it.
  • Next place a pearl or a rose about 1/4 inch above the middle of each scallop. Use these two lines that you’ve created as a guide to apply the pearls and roses up the rest of the cake and space them about 1-1/2 inches apart. To mimic the pattern pictured here, use more pearls than roses. Place roses after every one or two pearls. Try to space the roses out evenly around the cake.
  • To finish the design, brush a thin line of water around the bottom edge of the cake and line the edge with pearls. Brush the seam of the blue ribbon and cover it with pearls, too.
  • Apply the bow topper to the cake using piping gel to hold it in place.

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