You will need a pastry wheel, a pasta rolling machine, a gum-paste perforation wheel, a gum-paste foam pad, and a metal ball tool to make the gum-paste elements that decorate this cake.



Ingredient Checklist


Instructions Checklist
  • Trim cake layers to 1 inch. Set one 14-inch cake layer on cake board. Brush a generous amount of simple syrup over top, soaking cake. Using an offset spatula, spread a thin layer (1/4 inch) of buttercream over top. Repeat, stacking and filling remaining two 14-inch layers on top of first layer. Spread a thin layer of buttercream over top and sides of tier. Refrigerate until buttercream is firm, 30 minutes to 1 hour. Repeat with remaining layers, simple syrup, and buttercream, placing the bottom layer of each tier on corresponding-size foam board.

  • Cover tiers (see note below for fondant amounts): For each tier, roll out fondant to 1/8-inch thickness. Drape fondant over a rolling pin; center and place it on the tier. Starting at the top, smooth fondant onto cake with your hands. Cut away excess with a pastry wheel. Tiers can be stored in the refrigerator up to 24 hours.

  • Assemble the cake tiers: Insert 7 wooden dowels into the 14-inch tier, arranging 1 in the center and the rest evenly spaced about 2 inches from the edge. Mark top of cake on the dowels; remove, trim, and reinsert. Repeat for all tiers, inserting 5 dowels in the 12-inch tier, 5 dowels in the 10-inch tier, 4 dowels in the 8-inch tier, and 4 dowels in the 6-inch tier (1 in the center and the rest evenly spaced, about 1 1/2 inches from the edge). Stack tiers largest to smallest.

  • Mark the tier: Using a pin, mark a center line around side. From the top, measure down 3/8 inch, and mark a line around tier for the top edge of top pleat. From the bottom, measure up 3/8 inch, and mark a line for the bottom edge of bottom pleat.

  • Make the pin tucks: Using a pasta rolling machine, roll a piece of gum paste into a long band, about half the circumference of the tier, rolling band through the pasta machine until it is almost paper-thin (setting 5). Cut into 1-inch-wide strips. Using a fine-bristle paintbrush, paint a thin line of glue gum along the side of 1 strip. Fold over opposite edge of strip (do not crease the fold); gently press to adhere. Immediately attach to cake (step 6).

  • Attach the pin tucks: Attach a pin tuck to the front side of tier with the glue gum so that the folded edge faces up and just covers the top marking. Attach another pin tuck to back of tier in the same manner. Repeat, working down toward the center line, layering remaining 2 rows of pin tucks so that they overlap about 3/8 inch.

  • When top half is finished, work upward from bottom marking of tier, with folded edges facing down, until you have 3 rows.

  • Make the ruffles: Using the pasta rolling machine, roll out a paper-thin band of gum paste, about 16 inches long and 1 1/2 inches wide. Using a pastry wheel, cut band into two 1/2-inch-wide, 16-inch-long strips.

  • Working quickly (gum paste dries quickly), lay one strip on a gum-paste foam pad. Using a metal ball tool, gently thin one edge of the strip by rolling the large ball over it lengthwise (tool must be positioned half on and half off edge). Turn tool over to the small ball, and rub it over the edge again (this will help to curl the edge). Repeat with remaining strip.

  • Attach the ruffles: Paint a line of glue gum along the center line of tier. Carefully attach top ruffle, curled edge facing up, gently gathering into a ruffle as you work and gently pressing and smoothing the bottom edge of ruffle along the center line. Repeat to create bottom ruffle, with curled edge facing down. (There should be a seam where the two ruffles meet in the center.) Repeat to finish all tiers.

  • Make the center band: Using the pasta machine, roll gum paste into a 1/2-inch-wide strip, about half the circumference of the tier. Cut lengthwise into two 1/4-inch-wide strips. Attach to center seam with glue gum. Using a gum-paste perforation wheel to make a stitch pattern, gently and evenly roll the wheel along both edges of band.

  • Make the buttons: Roll gum paste into 3/16-inch balls. Let dry, about 30 minutes. Using glue gum and a paint brush, attach buttons to center band, 1 inch apart.

Fondant amounts for each tier
  • 4-inch, 1 pound; 6-inch, 1 1/2 pounds; 8-inch, 2 pounds; 10-inch, 2 1/2 pounds; 12-inch, 3 pounds; 14-inch, 4 pounds

Cook's Notes

The gum paste dries quickly and becomes unworkable, so make the pin tucks and ruffles two at a time and attach them to the tiers as you work. Keep extra pieces between pieces of plastic wrap until you're ready to work with them. Decorate each tier in turn, following these directions.