Crisp Meringue Panels
Heat oven to 200 degrees. Line ten 11-by-17-inch baking sheets with parchment. With a ruler, draw a rectangle to correspond with each of the 4 sides of all the cake tiers. Turn parchment over so drawing won't mark the panels during baking. Very lightly oil the parchment. Fill a pastry bag, fitted with desired pastry tip, with meringue. (For the 18-by-16-inch tier, we used a #10 tip; for the 15-by-13-inch tier, #352 and #199; for the 12-by-10-inch, #30; for the 9-by-7-inch, #10; and for the 6-by-4-inch, #59 and #5.) Pipe the desired designs, using the rectangles as a guide. It is important to pipe the panels with as much overlap in the design as possible to create a more stable panel.Advertisement
Bake meringue panels until crisp but not brown, about 30 minutes. If your oven cannot accommodate all of the panels at once, pipe and bake them in batches (since the meringue must be used immediately, you will need to make it in batches, too). Transfer the baking sheets to a wire rack to let the meringue cool. Remove the cooled, crisp panels from the parchment carefully using a small offset spatula.
These panels are very fragile, so it is best to make extras in case of breakage. You may substitute Royal Icing for the Swiss Meringue to create the strongest panels. If the panel size is too large to fit in your oven, make the panel in two pieces, making sure the design will match up when the two halves are joined on the cake.