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Corinthian Cake

The visual elements of this cake are a fanciful reinterpretation of a Corinthian column, an element first seen in Greece during the fifth century B.C. Acanthus leaves made of fondant bring an organic touch to the gently graduated tiers, preventing the marble-white finish from becoming too austere. The column's fluting is created by carefully pressing an offset spatula into the fondant.

  • Servings: 135

Photography: Jose Picayo

Source: Martha Stewart Weddings, Summer 2001

Ingredients

  • 1 each 7- and 10-inch-diameter round cake tier, each 4 inches high, set on corresponding-size 3/16-inch-thick foam-board rounds
  • 1 8-inch-diameter round cake tier, 3 inches high, set on corresponding-size 3/16-inch-thick foam-board rounds
  • 1 9-inch-diameter round cake tier, 6 inches high, set on corresponding size 3/16-inch-thick foam-board round
  • Cornstarch for rolling fondant and molding leaves
  • 1 8-inch-diameter, 1 3/4-inch-long acrylic tube
  • 1 12-inch-square piece of Styrofoam, 3 inches thick
  • 1 12-inch-diameter Styrofoam wreath, 1 3/4 inches thick
  • 21 pounds rolled fondant
  • 1 recipe Royal Icing
  • 5 3-inch-long 1/4-inch diameter wooden dowels
  • 6 6-inch-long, 1/4-inch diameter wooden dowels
  • 8 4-inch-long, 1/4-inch diameter wooden dowels

Directions

  1. Prepare the tiers: Fill as desired. Trim tiers to be level, so 7- and 10-inch tiers are 4 inches high; 8-inch tier, 3 inches high; and 9-inch tier, 6 inches high. Coat with thin layer of frosting to seal in crumbs.

  2. Cover 7- and 9-inch tiers, Styrofoam wreath, and square Styrofoam base: On a clean work surface lightly dusted with cornstarch, roll each batch of fondant (see Fondant Amounts, below) into a 3/16 inch-thick disk large enough to cover top and sides with some excess. Working quickly, lift and center fondant; smooth it over surface. Trim any excess fondant with a pizza wheel (excess can be reused if not dried out). When covering Styrofoam, dampen tops and sides lightly with water using your hands. Store covered tiers and Styrofoam pieces in a cool place.

  3. Cover 8- and 10-inch tiers: Work on one tier at a time so fondant does not dry out before you imprint the vertical lines. On a clean work surface lightly dusted with cornstarch, roll each batch of fondant (see Fondant Amounts, below) into a 3/16-inch-thick disk large enough to cover top and sides with some excess. Working quickly, lift fondant, center it over the 10-inch tier, and smooth it over the surface. Trim any excess fondant with a pizza wheel. Place tier on turntable, and steady top of tier with one hand. With other hand, using a 1-inch-wide offset metal spatula with tip pointing down, press spatula into fondant, and carefully rock from side to side and top to bottom to ensure a complete impression. Continue making impressions spaced 1/2 inch apart. Repeat process with 8-inch tier, but place the tip of spatula pointing upward. Store covered tiers in a cool place.

  4. Make the 16 open-center leaves: Lightly dust a silicone open-center leaf mold with cornstarch using a dry pastry brush. Use about 1/2 ounce fondant (about a 1-inch ball) per leaf: Roll each piece of fondant into an elongated piece the length of the mold; brush with cornstarch. Press the fondant into the mold; use gum-paste rolling pin to smooth top surface and to thin leaf by pushing excess fondant out of mold. Using palette knife, trim away excess fondant by firmly pressing away from outer edge of mold. (Excess fondant can be rerolled and used to make next leaf.) Keep a damp cloth nearby to periodically wipe knife clean. Gently bend mold to coax leaf out. If necessary, trim more fondant with a paring knife. Attach the 16 leaves to the top perimeter of 7-inch tier using thick royal icing. Create a curved effect by attaching leaves at random points using royal icing. Repeat molding technique for 40 mediumsize leaves. Attach the leaves to outside edges of fondant-covered wreath using royal icing. Center wreath over square, and attach using a dollop of royal icing.

  5. Make straight leaves: On a clean work surface lightly dusted with cornstarch, roll approximately 6 ounces fondant 1/16 inch thick. Working quickly, cut out 30 leaves with a straight-leaf cutter; carefully press a center vein into each leaf with the back of a paring knife. Place each leaf on a rimmed baking sheet, and push top of leaf toward side of pan to form a slight curve. Loosely drape plastic wrap over them. Starting at top of 9-inch tier, attach a row of leaves using a dab of thick royal icing under each. Attach second row of leaves, alternating placement with first row. Repeat process for making and attaching leaves until tier is completely covered with about 90 leaves.

  6. Assemble the tiers: Place acrylic tube in center of wreath; secure tube to square with a line of royal icing. In 10-inch tier, place one 4-inch dowel in center and seven 4-inch dowels in an evenly spaced circle halfway between center and edge, making sure tops of dowels are flush with top of cake tier. In 9-inch tier, place one 6-inch dowel in center and five 6-inch dowels in an evenly spaced circle halfway between center and edge. In 8-inch tier, place one 3-inch dowel in center and four 3-inch dowels in an evenly spaced circle halfway between center and edge. Center and stack tiers graduating in size from largest to smallest, and placing largest tier on tube and wreath.

  7. Fondant Amounts: 7-inch tier, 2 pounds; 9-inch tier, 6 pounds; 12-inch Styrofoam wreath, 2 pounds; 12-inch square Styrofoam base, 4 pounds; 8-inch tier, 2 pounds; 10-inch tier, 3 pounds. You will need about 2 pounds of fondant to make the three types of leaves.

Cook's Notes

Because of its height, assemble the decorated tiers on the cake table at the reception. You will need two special leaf molds, a leaf-shape cutter, a gum-paste rolling pin, and a small artists' palette knife.

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