String Swag Cake

Just as fabric can be draped to create a soft effect, so can icing. The delicate swags on our cake are royal icing piped with a round pastry tip. The bows are loops made with the same tip. They are added when dry as the final touch. The bottom tier is studded with tiny dots.

  • Yield: Serves 290

Source: Martha Stewart Weddings, Winter 2002

Ingredients

  • 3 recipes Egg-Free Royal Icing
  • 1 twenty-two-inch-diameter 1/2-inch-thick cake board
  • 1 eighteen-inch-diameter-by-2 1/2-inch-high round cake tier set on a corresponding-size 3/16-inch foam-board rounds
  • 1 each 6-, 9-, 12-, and 15-inch-by-3 1/2- inch-high petal-shaped cake layers, set on corresponding-size 3/16-inch foam-board rounds
  • Cornstarch for dusting
  • 21 pounds rolled fondant
  • 12 3 1/8-inch-long 1/4-inch-diameter wooden dowels
  • 24 4 1/8-inch-long 1/4-inch-diameter wooden dowels
  • 1 six-foot length of 1/2-inch-wide ribbon
  • Fondant amounts: 6-inch tier, 2 pounds; 9-inch tier, 3 pounds; 12-inch tier, 4 pounds; 15-inch tier, 5 pounds; 18-inch tier, 7 pounds.

Directions

  1. Prepare cake board: Make 1 recipe royal icing; thin by stirring in water, 1 teaspoon at a time, using a spatula, until a ribbon falling back into the bowl melts back into surface of icing in 5 to 7 seconds. Coat board by pouring a 2-inch-wide band of icing around edge. Working quickly with a small offset spatula, spread icing to meet edge of board, then smooth icing toward center, covering 4 inches; the center will be covered by bottom tier. Let board dry overnight on level countertop.

  2. Pipe loops for bows: Cover six baking sheets with waxed paper. Tape paper at edges to keep it from shifting. Prepare 1 recipe royal icing. Icing should be thick and hold its shape when piped through a pastry tip; use immediately so air bubbles don't form and cause piping to break. Using a pastry bag fitted with a coupler and a round tip (Ateco number 4), pipe the following: 50 loops 1˙ inches long, 300 loops 11/4 inches long, and 320 loops 1 inch long. Let dry 3 hours or overnight. Place remaining icing in an airtight container.

  3. Prepare tiers: Trim tiers so finished height of 18-inch tier is 3 inches, and 6-, 9-, 12-, and 15-inch tiers each measure 4 inches high. Thinly coat all tiers with frosting to seal in crumbs. Transfer tiers to refrigerator until frosting is firm.

  4. Cover tiers: On a clean work surface lightly dusted with cornstarch, roll enough fondant to cover the respective tiers (see fondant amounts, above). The fondant should be rolled into a large disk approximately 1/8 inch thick. Working quickly, lift fondant, center it over tier, and gently lay it on cake. Starting from center, smooth it onto the cake with your hands. Neatly trim excess fondant from bottom edges using a pizza cutter. (Excess may be reused as long as it is free of crumbs, filling, or icing.) Repeat until all tiers have been covered. Once covered with fondant, the tiers do not need to be refrigerated -- unless the filling used inside the tiers needs to be kept cold.

  5. Stack cake tiers: Smear 1 tablespoon thick royal icing on center of cake board. Center 18-inch tier on cake board. Insert twelve 3 1/8-inch dowels in this tier: eight in a 12-inch circle and four in a square within it. Smear icing in center of 18-inch tier, and place 15-inch tier, centered, on top. Insert ten 4 1/8-inch dowels in this tier: one in the center and nine in a circle 4 inches out. Smear icing in center of 15-inch tier. Place 12-inch tier, centered, on top. Insert eight 4 1/8-inch dowels in this tier in a 6-inch-diameter circle. Smear icing in center of 12-inch tier. Place 9-inch tier, centered, on top. Insert remaining six 4 1/8-inch dowels in a 4-inch circle. Smear icing in center of 9-inch tier. Place 6-inch tier, centered, on top.

  6. Decorate tiers: Prepare the last batches of royal icing, and combine with any leftover thick royal icing. Fit a pastry bag with a coupler and a round tip (Ateco number 4); fill halfway with icing. Beginning on the top of the tier, pipe a string of icing in a swag that starts at the indentation for a petal, hangs down about 2 to 2 1/2 inches from the top edge, and ends on the other side of the petal at the indentation. Repeat seven or eight times to make one full swag. Continue around each petal tier until all the petal tiers have full swags. From bottom edge of round 18-inch tier up to undersides of 15-inch tier's swags, pipe a small dotted- Swiss pattern. To create bows, change pastry tip to the star tip (Ateco number 27). If icing in bag has become soft, empty the bag and replace soft icing with freshly stirred icing. Using a palette knife or a small offset spatula, gently loosen all loops from waxed paper. One bow at a time, where each swag meets, pipe a generous star (about 1/4 to 1/2 inch in diameter). Quickly begin inserting the loops into the star to make a bow, starting from the outside and working your way in to the center. For each bow on the 15-inch and the 12-inch tiers, you will need twelve to fourteen 11/4-inch loops for the outside and five to seven 1-inch loops for the center. For the 9-inch tiers, you will need twenty-four 1-inch loops for each bow. For the large bow on the top of the 6-inch tier, you will need fifty 1 1/2-inch loops for the outside and sixty 1 1/4-inch loops for the center. To make this large bow, pipe a generous 2 1/2-inch circle on top of tier. Working quickly, before icing begins to dry, insert as many of the 1 1/2-inch loops as will fit. Then, within that circle, pipe a smaller circle, and use remaining 1 1/2-inch loops. Then pipe a large rosette within the last circle, and begin affixing 1 1/4-inch loops to create the center of the bow. The goal is to have a wide, beautifully rounded bow as the cake topper. Affix ribbon to edge of cake board using hot glue, starting and ending the ribbon at the back of the cake.

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