The hexagonal and rectangular tiers of this cake were inspired by the architecture of Spain that incorporates a blend of motifs from various cultures, Middle Eastern as well as European. The applied ornament is influenced by the dense and brilliant tile work of the Arab world, with parapets of exotic curved crenelations constructed of gum paste.



Ingredient Checklist


Instructions Checklist
  • Prepare tiers: Trim cake tiers to be level; fill as desired so square tiers are 3 inches high and hexagonal tiers are 4 inches high. Coat tiers with a thin layer of frosting to seal in crumbs.

  • Prepare cake board: Thin a batch of royal icing to flooding consistency. Cover 16-inch-square foam board with it: Pour a 2-inch-wide band of icing near the edge. Using a small offset spatula, gently and quickly spread icing to meet edge of board, then smooth in toward center. Let dry.

  • Cover tiers and Styrofoam ball: Dust a clean surface lightly with cornstarch. Working with one tier at a time, roll out each batch of marzipan (see Marzipan Amounts, below) into 1/4-inch-thick disk large enough to cover tops and sides with some excess. Lift marzipan, center it, and smooth it over the surface. Trim excess with a pizza wheel. Cover each marzipan-covered tier with plastic wrap to keep from drying out. Using a serrated knife, cut off about 1/4 inch from bottom of Styrofoam ball so it sits level; use hands to dampen surface lightly with water so the marzipan will adhere, then cover with marzipan. Store in a cool place, wrapped with plastic wrap.

  • Stack the tiers: In the 14-inch tier, place one 3-inch dowel in the center, and sixteen 3-inch dowels in an evenly spaced square halfway between center and edge. In the 12-inch tier, place one 3-inch dowel in center and twelve 3-inch dowels in an evenly spaced square halfway between center and edge. In 10-inch tier, place one 3-inch dowel in center and six 3-inch dowels in a circle halfway between center and edge. In 8-inch tier, place one 4-inch dowel in the center and four 4-inch dowels in an evenly spaced circle halfway between center and edge. Center and stack tiers from largest to smallest.

  • Make gum-paste flowers and diamonds: To make the 75 small (about 3/4 inch), 85 medium (about 7/8 inch), and 275 large (about 1 1/2 inch) daphne gum-paste flowers and the 50 diamonds, you will need about 1 pound of gum paste. On a clean surface dusted with cornstarch, roll gum paste out 1/16 inch thick. Cut 50 diamonds, and 75 small, 85 medium, and 125 large daphne flowers; place on a flat surface lined with parchment, draping with plastic wrap to prevent drying out. Cut remaining 150 large daphne flowers. Place these 150 flowers, one at a time, on gum-paste foam pad. Starting in center of flower, press in a circular motion with ball tool until leaves curl inward. Let dry.

  • Decorate 6- and 8-inch tiers: Make a batch of royal icing; set aside. For 6-inch tier, with gum-paste roller or a pasta machine, roll gum paste 1/16 inch thick. Using a ruler to measure and a frill cutter to create top edge, cut 6 panels 4 1/2 inches high by 3 1/8 inches wide. Using smallest flower cutter, cut 4 flowers in a diamond pattern from center of 3 panels, reserving cutouts. Fit a 12-inch pastry bag with a coupler and a #2 tip; fill bag one-half full with royal icing. Use icing to attach cutouts on center of remaining 3 panels in a matching pattern. Cut 6 additional middle edge panels, 3/4 inch high by 2 1/4 inches wide, shaping top edge with frill cutter so pattern will be staggered from panel in front of it. Cut 6 additional back edge panels 3/4 inch high by 1 1/2 inches wide, again shaping top edge with frill cutter to stagger the pattern. Attach front panels to cake using royal icing. Attach middle and back edge panels to back side of front panels at top edge. For 8-inch tier, repeat, using diamond cutter for cutouts, and using following measurements: front panels, 4 3/4 inches high by 4 3/4 inches wide; back edge panels, 1 1/8 inches high by 3 5/8 inches wide.

  • Decorate 10-, 12-, and 14-inch tiers: For 10-inch tier, starting at bottom, pipe royal icing to attach large flat flowers in single row. Position second row, alternating placement with first. Continue, covering all sides. For the 12-inch tier, roll gum paste 1/16 inch thick; using frill cutter for top edges, cut 4 bottom panels 2 inches high by 12 1/2 inches wide. Use frill cutter to cut 4 top panels 3/4 inch high by 12 1/2 inches wide. Pipe royal icing to attach bottom panels, and then attach small flowers at each point. Finally, attach top panels. Repeat process for the 14-inch tier with bottom panels 1 3/4 inches high and 14 1/4 inches wide, and top panels 1 1/4 inches high and 14 1/4 inches wide. Pipe royal icing to attach both pieces, placing the diamonds between.

  • Change tip on pastry bag to a #6 plain round tip. Pipe dotted border around bottom and sides of panels on each tier.

  • Apply gold trim: Lemon extract evaporates rapidly, so work in small quantities. In small bowl, stir 1/2 teaspoon Gold Luster Dust with 1 teaspoon lemon extract. Using small paintbrush, outline outer edge of 150 large, curled flowers; let dry. For each tier, starting at top, paint the top edges of all the gum-paste panels, and the outside of diamonds and small flowers on the hexagonal tiers.

  • Pipe royal icing to attach large, curled flowers to ball, covering entire surface except for flat bottom.

  • Tint 1/4 cup royal icing with teal food coloring. Change the tip on the pastry bag to a #2 tip; fill bag with tinted icing. Pipe dots in center of curled flowers, the designs on hexagonal panels, the large flowers, small flowers, diamonds, and medium flowers not yet attached.

  • Once cake is in place, pipe thick royal icing to attach medium flowers around perimeter of board. Attach ball to top of 6-inch tier with a dollop of royal icing.

  • Marzipan Amounts: 6-inch tier, 1 3/4 pounds; 8-inch tier, 2 1/2 pounds; 10-inch tier, 3 pounds; 12-inch tier, 4 pounds; 14-inch tier, 5 pounds; 4-inch Styrofoam ball, 1 pound. Trimmings may be reused if free of crumbs and frosting.

Cook's Notes

A pasta machine works well for rolling out the gum paste needed for this cake, saving time and producing sheets with consistently even thickness. Roll out the gum paste to a thick rectangle, and brush it with cornstarch. Starting with the thickest setting, feed the paste through the machine several times, decreasing the thickness each time until desired thickness is achieved. You will also need a rolling pin; gum-paste or aspic cutters in the shape of diamonds and three sizes of daphne flower cutters; a foam pad for shaping gum paste; a set of straight frill cutters, and a gum-paste balling tool.