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Loose Petal Cake

Swiss meringue buttercream icing, piped through a petal tip with a slight wiggle of the wrist, is the medium for the squiggles enveloping the Loose Petal Cake. Buttercream is soft, free form, relaxed -- and very delicious. Each buoyant, cushiony tier of this peach-tinted powder puff of a cake is almost imperceptibly elevated above the preceding layer.

  • yield: Serves 285
Photography: Lisa Hubbard

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Ingredients

  • 1 each 6-, 8-, 10-, 12-, 14-, and 16-inch diameter- by-2 1/2-inch-high contoured round cake tiers, trimmed, split, and filled to a 3-inch height, each set on corresponding-size 3/16-inch-thick foam-board disk
  • 4 to 5 recipes Swiss Meringue Buttercream
  • One 1-ounce container peach food color paste
  • One 1-ounce container ivory food color paste
  • 1 each 4-, 6-, 8-, 10-, and 12-inch diameter-by-1/2-inch-thick foam-board disks
  • 1 each 4-, 6-, 8-, 10-, and 12-inch diameter-by-3/16-inch-thick foam-board disks
  • Forty 3-inch-long 1/4-inch-diameter wooden dowels
  • One 22-inch-diameter-by-1-inch-high cake board, painted cream or iced with cream-colored royal icing
  • Two 14 1/2-inch-long 1/4-inch-diameter wooden dowels, one end of each dowel cut at an angle
  • One 6-foot length of 1-inch-wide ribbon

Directions

  1. Step 1

    Thinly coat all tiers with buttercream to seal in crumbs. Chill in refrigerator.

  2. Step 2

    Using small amounts of food colors, tint remaining buttercream. Set aside.

  3. Step 3

    Prepare the separators: Hot-glue each 1/2-inch foam-board disk to the corresponding size 3/16-inch foam-board disk.

  4. Step 4

    Using an offset spatula, give each tier a light, smooth coat of peach-colored buttercream; return to refrigerator.

  5. Step 5

    Prepare tiers to be stacked: Remove prepared 16-inch tier from refrigerator. Trace 12-inch separator in center of tier. Place eight 3-inch dowels evenly just inside circle, and four more in 3-inch square in center. Using 1 to 2 tablespoons of buttercream, affix separator to top of reinforced 16-inch tier. With offset spatula, frost sides of separator to cover edges. Return tier to refrigerator until you are ready to stack it. Repeat with 14-, 12-, 10-, and 8-inch tiers and 4-inch-smaller prepared separators: Use ten dowels in 14-inch tier (place six in an 8-inch circle and four in a 2 1/2-inch square within the circle); eight dowels in 12-inch tier (place all eight in a 6-inch circle); six in 10-inch tier (place all six in a 4-inch circle); and four in 8-inch tier (place in a 2-inch square).

  6. Step 6

    Stack and decorate tiers: This cake is best stacked and decorated the day of the reception, because it is large and heavy. Place 16-inch tier, centered, on prepared cake board (secure tier to cake board with a few dots of hot glue, royal icing, or a rug mat). Fit 14-inch pastry bag with coupler and medium-size petal pastry tip (Ateco #104); fill bag halfway with freshly stirred peach buttercream (stir buttercream well before each refill, as it tends to get spongy when it sits). Hold bag so narrow end of tip is facing up. Beginning at bottom edge and working around tier, pipe loose "petals" onto tier. Pipe them close together, so cake underneath does not show. (Practice on waxed paper.) If you make a petal you don't like, remove with offset spatula. Cover entire tier, so petals just touch bottom edge of separator. Refill pastry bag as needed. Once tier is covered, place a dollop of buttercream on separator. Place next largest tier on separator. Repeat until first 4 tiers have been stacked and decorated.

  7. Step 7

    Secure first 4 tiers: To prevent first 4 tiers from shifting when cake is moved to the reception site, drive two 14 1/2-inch dowels through them, from top of 6-inch separator. Position each dowel over separator, angled end down, making sure it is perpendicular. Using a small hammer, gently pound dowel through each separator and cake tier until end of dowel is level with top separator. If possible, refrigerate cake until ready to transport; otherwise, place it on a sturdy table in an air-conditioned room.

  8. Step 8

    Finish cake: At the reception site, center cake on table. Fit pastry bag with coupler and petal tip; fill halfway with peach buttercream. Using glue gun, add a few dots of hot glue to center of 6-inch separator. Quickly, center the 8-inch tier on the 6-inch separator. Pipe loose petals onto this tier the same way as earlier. On 4-inch separator, add a few more dots of hot glue; center the 6-inch tier on it. Complete this last tier with same loose petals. Attach ribbon to sides of cake board, beginning and ending at the back.

Source
Martha Stewart Weddings, Winter 2002

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