For each tier:

  • Trim tops of cooled cakes to be level, and cut in half horizontally to make 4 layers. Stack all layers, spreading buttercream between (see amounts, below). Cover top and sides with buttercream. Refrigerate to set frosting or until ready to cover with fondant.

  • Cover with fondant: Knead food coloring into the fondant for each tier, adding tiny amounts at a time.

Buttercream and fondant for each tier:

  • Buttercream and fondant amounts for each tier
    6-inch: 3 cups buttercream (1/2 cup between layers; remainder for top and sides); 1 1/2 pounds fondant
    8-inch: 5 cups (1 cup between layers; remainder for top and sides); 2 pounds fondant
    10-inch: 7 1/2 cups (1 1/2 cups between layers; remainder for top and sides); 2 1/2 pounds fondant

  • Roll out fondant to 1/8 inch thick on a work surface dusted with cornstarch. Use a rolling pin to transfer to cake. Smooth fondant onto cake. Cut away excess with a pastry wheel. Lay a stencil against front of tier; spread royal icing over it with an offset spatula, and remove stencil. Continue around tier. Store at cool room temperature up to 24 hours.

To assemble cake:

  • Insert 6 dowels in the largest tier (1 in the center, 5 in a ring 2 inches from the edge) and 5 dowels in the medium tier (1 in the center, 4 in a ring). Stack tiers on a cake stand, and attach fondant plaques to ribbon and to cake with royal icing.