This terraced garden with scalloped tiers is in full bloom with spring's first flowers: hyacinths, tulips, daffodils, and muscari. The tiny blue muscari blossoms are piped in royal icing; all the other flowers and leaves are rendered in gum paste. We had a board custom-cut to the same scalloped oval shape as the cake; you could use an oval or rectangular board as well.
- Yield: Serves 220
Photography: Dana Gallagher
Source: Martha Stewart Weddings, Spring 2002
- Cornstarch for rolling
- 16 pounds rolled fondant
- 1 each 8-by-5-inch, 10 1/2-by-7-inch, 13-by-9-inch, 16-by-11-inch, and 19-by-13-inch cake tiers, each set on corresponding size 3/16-inch-thick foam board, trimmed, split, and filled to a 4-inch height
- 1 recipe Egg-Free Royal Icing
- 1 painted, scalloped oval cake board, 1 inch thick, 21 inches long, and 16 inches wide
- Forty-two 4 1/8-inch-long 1/4-inch-diameter wooden dowels
- 1 pound gum paste
- One container moss-green food-color paste (1 ounce)
- 12 gum-paste pink tulips, on wires
- 18 to 24 royal-icing muscari blossoms, on wires
- 30 gum-paste white daffodils, 6 on wires
- 30 gum-paste yellow daffodils
- 8 to 12 pink gum-paste hyacinth clusters, on wires
- One 6-foot length of 1/2-inch-wide ribbon
- Fondant amounts (approximate): For the 8-by-5-inch tier, 1 1/2 pounds; 10-by-7-inch tier, 2 pounds; 13-by-9-inch tier, 3 pounds; 16-by-11-inch tier, 4 pounds; 19-by-13-inch tier, 6 pounds.
Cover tiers: On a clean work surface lightly dusted with cornstarch, roll enough fondant to cover the respective tiers (see fondant amounts, above; work with one tier at a time) 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 the center, smooth it onto cake with your hands. Trim excess fondant from bottom edges using a pizza wheel. (Excess may be reused if it is free of crumbs, filling, or icing.) Repeat, covering all five tiers. Covered tiers do not need to be refrigerated unless filling must be chilled.
Stack tiers: Smear 2 tablespoons royal icing on center of cake board; center and place 19-by-13-inch tier on top. Insert 16 wooden dowels into tier: 12 in an oval 4 inches from the edge and 4 within the oval. Smear a tablespoon of icing on center of tier; center and place 16-by-11-inch tier on top. Insert 14 dowels into tier: 10 in an oval 4 inches from the edge and 4 within the oval. Smear a tablespoon of icing on center of tier; center and place 13-by-9-inch tier on top. Insert 8 dowels in an oval 3 inches from the edge. Smear a tablespoon of icing on center of tier; center and place 10 1/2-by-7-inch tier on top. Insert remaining four dowels in a diamond 2 to 3 inches from the edge. Smear a tablespoon of icing on center of tier; center and place 8-by-5-inch tier on top.
Make leaves: Tint gum paste moss green. On a clean work surface lightly dusted with cornstarch, roll out half the tinted gum paste until it is the thickness of heavy card stock. Use a pizza wheel to cut out leaf shapes, 2 to 3 1/2 inches long and 1/2 to 3/4 inch wide. Scraps may be kneaded into the remaining gum paste and rerolled. Place leaves on a sheet pan; cover with plastic wrap so they remain pliable. If they appear to be drying out, transfer to an airtight container.
Pipe borders: Fit a 12-inch pastry bag with an Ateco #4 round tip. Fill halfway with royal icing; pipe an elongated pearl border around bottom edge of each tier.
Decorate cake: Using a small paintbrush dampened with water, and beginning at the top tier, affix a few leaves to the fondant in each of the 4 scalloped indentations on each of the tiers, except for the tiers with daffodils. Arrange 3 tulips with each group of leaves, pushing stems about 1 inch into cake. Affix more leaves around stems to create clusters. Repeat process with muscari blossoms. For daffodils, place two clusters between indentations for a staggered effect. Using royal icing, affix remaining daffodils to border of tier and sides of 10 1/2-inch tier. For hyacinths, you may need to use a 2-inch 32-gauge white-cloth-covered wire bent in half to secure blossoms to sides of cake. Cover wire with more gum-paste leaves.
Using hot glue, attach ribbon to cake board with the seam at the back.