These creative wedding cakes enlist traditional quilting techniques to impress guests. Fondant doubles as fabric, and piped icing stands in for stitches. The result? An heirloom that's too delicious to pass down.
Here, fondant-covered squares are adorned with edible embroidery -- made of piped royal icing -- to resemble patchwork pieces. And though they might look like the perfect mouthful, each four-inch sweet is sized for sharing. "Mini cakes make a great display, but they're a little more costly, so plan for people to split them," says Wendy Kromer, a Martha Stewart Weddings contributing editor and owner of City Bake Shop in Sandusky, Ohio.
Handmade "double wedding ring" quilts (a popular matrimony gift) have been keeping newlyweds warm since the 1930s. The interlocking-circle motif is perhaps a take on 16th-century European gimmal rings -- engagement bands worn by both men and women. Once the couple wed, the rings were fitted together for the bride to wear as one. This cake captures the symbolic pattern with overlapping circles of pale-green and ivory buttercream.
Here, the buttercream trimmings are modeled after the "crazy quilts" of the late 19th century, in which women used intricate stitching techniques (changing up the patterns to flaunt their needlework skills) to sew together scraps of fabric and bits of beloved garments. This cake, though, could be created even by a novice. "Short lines don't require much control, which makes them easier to pipe," says Kromer. She suggests baking square layers, then cutting off the corners to form octagons. That way, you'll end up with twice as many sides for displaying your handiwork.
When it comes to America's most quintessential quilting pattern, the star -- think of the Native American morning star, Texas's lone star, and the Amish star -- takes the cake. And though the motif started showing up in the States around the 1700s, this confectionery version doesn't look the least bit old-fashioned. "It would stand out at a contemporary wedding," says Kromer, who arranged fondant diamonds in three shades to achieve the shape. Because the 3-D design looks best at eye level, consider elevating the creation on a pedestal.
BellaTerra large double truffle boxes.
The royal-icing details on these cakes mimic Japanese "sashiko" stitching. Originally developed to reinforce weak fabric, sashiko resulted in designs that were as gorgeous as they were functional, and today it's considered an art form. To incorporate it into a modern sweets spread, keep your cakes small -- the tallest here is nine inches -- and add other treats to play off the shades and shapes of the piped threadwork.
Who knew palm trees and coconuts could be so chic? This beauty takes its cues from Hawaiian breadfruit quilts, which showcase bold botanical silhouettes inspired by the shadows cast by trees -- legend has it that anyone who crafts such a quilt will lead a fruitful life. Kromer covered the cake with mocha fondant, then spread white royal icing over stencils for a contrasting effect. To get the levitating-layers look, hide ribbon-covered boards between the tiers.
Designer Stencils Hawaiian stencils.
"This cake feels so French -- elegant and sophisticated, but not over-the-top," says Kromer. It borrows its look from "boutis," a type of whole-cloth quilting from the French region of Provence, the tradition of which began more than 200 years ago and was a hobby of accomplished seamstresses. They used advanced sewing techniques to bind together exquisitely two swaths of fine fabric with batting in between (or sometimes to intricately adorn items in a bride's trousseau). Here, patterns stamped onto the fondant are made to look like delicate stitching, while vivid leaves and blossoms piped from royal icing resemble embroidery. The stamps we used can be ordered from StampWorx 2000.