Updated: September 20, 2018

There's a reason they call it "the icing on the cake." Your menu's grand finale will certainly be delicious, but the way your wedding cake looks is what will elevate it beyond mere dessert. What you may not know is that it doesn't always have to be icing on the cake. Take a look at the stenciled chocolate cakes here, in which powdered cocoa forms a monogram on each glazed surface. While classic techniques still have their place, contributing editor Wendy Kromer, who made some of the confections shown here, says, "It's not just about a piping bag and tips anymore." Cake decorating is an art, with a plethora of tools both new and repurposed -- and materials of many types. Other options include fondant cutouts made with tiny cookie cutters, medallions shaped with springerle molds, and sheets of fondant embossed with ribs using a tool found in an unlikely place -- the hobby shop. That source isn't as surprising as it sounds. There's something playful as well as beautiful about the results of all this ingenuity. You might say it has taken the tiered wedding treat to a whole new level.

Stenciled Monograms

Sometimes the simplest techniques produce the most striking effects, as is the case with these single tiers topped by cocoa-powder initials (his, hers, and theirs). Using a fairly dense cake, such as a pound cake or vegetable-oil-based cake, works best to provide an even surface to stencil, as does turning the flat bottom of the cake top-side. We glazed our

Chocolate-Cherry-Stout Cake with a cornstarch-based chocolate glaze. Once the glaze hardened, the stencils (available from Designer Stencils) were applied, and cocoa powder dusted on.

Cutout Flags

The paper picado flags typically found at Mexican celebrations serve as inspiration for this whimsical cake. Here they're fashioned from fondant, which was tinted in a variety of hues, then cut using eyelet and petit-four cutters. The flags were placed over baker's twine and attached with stiff royal icing. Some were propped away from the cake with paper towels while drying so they'd look as though they're fluttering joyfully in the breeze.

Molded Medallions

Highly detailed wooden springerle molds are traditionally used in cookie making; here a selection of botanically themed ones were pressed into white fondant, which was then cut to the right size with cookie cutters. The resulting plaques were attached to the fondant bands on the tiers with royal icing. The bands themselves were attached to the cake with gum glue; royal icing created a picot edge. As a final flourish, delicate vines, leaves, and berries were piped onto the tiers in royal icing.

Embossed Fondant

A classic pastry, the charlotte, sparked this design, but a rather unusual tool made it possible. Kromer molded the fondant coating with a sheet of ribbed plastic used by model makers. She trimmed the top edge with a scalloped cutter to resemble the lady fingers that would encircle a charlotte. A ribbon around each tier completes the theme, and sanding sugar glitters atop pink fondant. The plaque, also made from fondant, was embossed with a custom rubber stamp and attached with royal icing.

Piped Buttercream

Perhaps the most classic of cake finishes, buttercream always looks (and tastes) luscious. Kromer covered each tier of the cake in Swiss meringue buttercream, then created a repeated flourish with a petal tip. Half-circles traced on each tier provided a guide within which to pipe the fan shapes, done in plain and pink-tinted buttercream. This design relies on a single pastry tip, but because bakers have a large assortment from which to choose, piping can achieve a wide range of effects.

Cakes by Wendy Kromer and Avery Wittkamp

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Comments (23)

Anonymous
February 19, 2009
The description says "petal tip"
Anonymous
September 22, 2008
Does anyone know what tip is used in the piped buttercream cake by Wendy Kromer and Avery Wittkamp?
Anonymous
September 22, 2008
Does anyone know what tip is used in the piped buttercream cake by Wendy Kromer and Avery Wittkamp?
Anonymous
August 28, 2008
Where could I find a cake plate/stand like the one pictured here?
ssondel711
April 19, 2008
Thanks so much for the recipe posting. Much appreciated!
Anonymous
March 15, 2008
Moist Chocolate Cherry Stout Cake with Dark Chocolate Glaze: Makes one 14-inch or two 10-inch cakes The batter produces an extremely moist cake that can be stored for a few days without getting dry. Glaze the cake the day before you serve it so that the coating will be completely hard before you apply the stencil and cocoa powder. Whipped cream and cherry compote or preserves are delicious on the side.
Anonymous
March 15, 2008
For the cake: -unsalted butter, for pans -4 cups all-purpose flour -1 tbsp baking soda -2 tsp coarse salt -2 bottles (12 oz each) dark stout, such as Guinness -3/4 unsulfured molasses -12 ounces dried cherries (about 2 1/2 cups) -1 3/4 cups unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder, sifted, plus more for stenciling -4 large eggs, room temp. -2 cups granulated sugar -1 cup packed dark brown sugar -2 cups vegetable oil -1 tbsp pure vanilla extract -1 1/2 cups sour cream
Anonymous
March 15, 2008
for the glaze: -1/4 cup plus 2 tbsp granulated sugar -4 1/2 tsp cornstarch -1/2 cup plus 2 tbsp water, and more if needed -11 oz. bittersweet chocolate (pref. 61% cacao), finely chopped
Anonymous
March 15, 2008
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter cake pans. Line with parchment paper cut to fit, and butter parchment paper. Whisk together flour, baking soda, and salt.
Anonymous
March 15, 2008
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter cake pans. Line with parchment paper cut to fit, and butter parchment paper. Whisk together flour, baking soda, and salt.
Anonymous
March 15, 2008
2. Simmer stout, molasses, and cherries in a saucepan, stirring occasionally, until cherries are plump, about 5 minutes. Strain, reserving liquid. Let cherries cool completely. Return liquid to pan, and bring to a boil. Remove from heat and whisk in 1 1/2 cups cocoa powder until smooth. Transfer to a bowl, and let cool slightly.
Anonymous
March 15, 2008
3. Beat eggs and sugars with a mixer on medium-high speed until combined, 2 to 3 minutes. Reduce speed to low. Gradually beat in stout mixture. Raise speed to medium, and beat until combined. Reduce speed to low again, and beat in oil and vanilla. Add flour mixture in three additions, alternating with the sour cream, and beat until combined.
Anonymous
March 15, 2008
4. Toss cherries with remaining n n n n cup cocoa, and gently fold into batter. Pour batter into prepared pan. Gently tap pan on counter to eliminate some of the air bubbles (batter will still look bubbly).
Anonymous
March 15, 2008
5. Bake cake until tester inserted in middle comes out clean, 60 to 65 minutes for 14-inch pan and 50 to 55 minutes for 10-inch pans. Let cool in pan on a wire rack for 20 minutes. Run a knife around edges of pan to loosen, and invert cake onto rack to cool completely. Carefully remove parchment, and turn cake right side up. Using a serrated knife, trim top of rounded cake to create a flat surface. Transfer cake, cut side down, to a wire rack set over a baking sheet.
Anonymous
March 15, 2008
6. Make the glaze: Heat sugar, cornstarch, and the water in a large saucepan over medium heat, whisking until sugar has dissolved. Add chocolate, and bring mixture to a simmer, whisking constantly and scraping the sides of pan as needed. Cook until smooth and thick, about 8 minutes. Remove from heat. Whisk in more water, a teaspoon at a time, until glaze is thick and pourable.
Anonymous
March 15, 2008
7. Using a ladle, spoon glaze onto center of cake (2 cups glaze for 14-inch cake and 1 cup glaze for each 10-inch cake). Spread to the edge with an offset spatula, but do not allow glaze to drip down sides. Let stand, uncovered, at room temperature overnight to allow glaze to harden. Place a stencil on top of cake, and sift cocoa over top. Carefully remove stencil. Hope this helps everyone!
Anonymous
March 15, 2008
Here's the recipe as it appeared in Martha Stewart Weddings. I'll add it in a few comments to make sure it fits.
ssondel711
March 14, 2008
Does anyone have the cake recipe to post as a "comment" since the website personnel hasven't responded to the several request for a working recipe link?
Anonymous
March 4, 2008
3-4-08 Still can't get into the cake recipe
Anonymous
February 21, 2008
FYI - the Chocolate-Cherry-Stout Cake recipe link still isn't working. Thanks to anyone in IT who will fix it. :-)
ssondel711
January 31, 2008
I have been trying for several days now to get the recipe for the Chocolate-Cherry-Stout cake but the link displays "...try again later...". Can anyone post the recipe via comments, please?. Thanks in advance.
Anonymous
January 19, 2008
Simple and yet sophisticated! I like it!
Anonymous
January 18, 2008
Too simple for a wedding cake!Nothing exciting about it.Looks too ordinary!