Tips For Recreating This 50 Year Old Wedding Cake?

Decorating By Danilou Updated 1 Apr 2014 , 7:02am by Danilou

Danilou Posted 31 Mar 2014 , 12:24am
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I've been asked to recreate this white wedding cake for a "Surprise" 50th Wedding Anniversary. I apologize for the quality. The last week I've been muddling over how to do this cake and have everything worked out (i.e how to do and long would it take) before I give a quote, so far I've figured out;


1. The corners are lace extension work, with pre-made lace 'thingies'. Do you think it would be best to do the shell border on the bottom first and then do a small, gradual and low scollop.


2. An open rose 2-3 on top of cake,  1 on top tier, 2 on 2nd tier and 3 on 3rd tier. The daughter wants touches of gold so I thought I would do gold stamens and brush gold on the tips of the petals. I thought I would just do them on the front of the cake.


3. The ribbon on top and sides, well the Mum was adamant that they were all edible, but I think it's just very fine dotted tulle ribbon that has been piped just on the sides. Do you agree? Any tips on how I would do this and what tip would be great!!!


4. The daughter in law claimed the original sepia photo (the one and only photo available) had very tiny and very close together white dots. I'm going to suggest that we don't do the dots due to time restraints or do them in the corners. Any suggestions?


5. The piping either side of the ribbon has got me stuck, in some places it looks slightly raised?? It looks like there is a bit of a criss-cross  under and over the top. The daughter in law suggested gold ribbon, but I suggested maybe go with gold highlights over the cake decorations so it doesn't look 'too much'.


6. What are the best pillars to use?



7. The top two tiers at this stage are going to be fruit cake, I thought I'd use Delia Smith's recipe, and chocolate on the bottom. I need to make sure the dowels in the fruit cake will hold all this weight. I'm doing 6", 8" and 10" size cakes.


8. I normally use fat Daddio cake pans, their corners aren't quite as square edge as some others, do you think they'll be okay for fruit cake?


9. I assume I would have to have each cake on a think cardboard square, then another covered square maybe an inch bigger than the cake it's under????


10. I've been researching how to do lace extension work and I intend to practise soon, There is a clip on youtube  

and craftsy have a decorating class as well which I'll have to wait until it gets cheaper. At $60 it's not in my budget. Not sure if it will have anything different to offer than the you tube clip.



Sorry to bombard you but I need some advice as this is a huge undertaking for me and want to do my research before I jump in. I've found some books from the library as well as looking up the net. I would appreciate any help you can give me.



11 replies
Danilou Posted 31 Mar 2014 , 3:03am
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TheNerdyBaker Posted 31 Mar 2014 , 3:47am
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Ok lemmie break it down for ya.


1 - Because of the quality of the picture, I can hardly tell there was any extension work at all.  Elaborate a little more on what you plan to do here, not quite 100% sure what you are planning.


2 - Always ask how the cake is going to be displayed.  If it is going on a table in the center of a room where it can be seen from a full 360* then plan accordingly otherwise just the front is fine if you so choose.  The gold touches you talked about are good.


3 - I think you should have a firm talking to with the mother as I don't think the ribbon or the dotted stringy lace are edible.  You are the baking professional, and you are allowed to corral your guest in to a design that both fits their budget and design dream while preserving your sanity.


4 - Personally I would skip them entirely.  Assuming you do everything else this cake calls for (the flowers, the beaded lace, the extension work, the ribbon, the pillars) it will be MORE than enough.


5 - It looks like a typical colored ribbon weaved periodically through the beaded lace ribbon that they used for all the loopy bows.  The key to recreating this cake will be finding that beaded lace ribbon.


6 & 7 - Use SPS.  It's a miracle.  Do a forum search for purchase info and usage info.


8 - Not quite sure why not.  A pan is a pan for the most part.  If you are worried about sharper corners, go grab a new pan for this project.  I always tend to cave in to my instincts.  If I even have a slight tickle that something will go amiss, I take steps to prevent it.


9 - Don't use cardboard, it looks trashy.  Go to an actual cake supply store, or even Amazon for that matter and buy actual cake drums in whatever color you want in a size that is up to 4" wider than the cake ( anywhere from a 6" to 10" for a 6" tier, depending on how much room you need on all sides of the cake to do all the border work).  You can either stack and frost directly on these cake drums, or it you use the cake scraper method for frosting a cake also buy thin cardboard cake boards in the size of each of your tiers (6' for a 6" tier and so forth)


10 - I can barely see it in the picture, so I can't really comment on what it has or what you should do there.  The video is a good reference though.

Danilou Posted 31 Mar 2014 , 4:05am
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AThank you so much Nerdy baker. You were a great help! Yes, it is a crap photo but all I've got unfortunately. You might br right that the thinner ribbon is threaded through the lacy ribbon. So you don't think there is any piping on any of this ribbon. I guess my goal is to get as close to the original as I can. The mother knows nothing as it's a surprise.

TheNerdyBaker Posted 31 Mar 2014 , 4:17am
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Nope, I don't think there is any piping other than the string work and possibly the small little square of squiggles on the top center of the bottom two tiers (those look like small piped royal icing appliques like you saw in the video.)


You are already putting a twist on the cake by doing the gold accents, so I wouldn't pull my hair out over every little detail.  Do what feels right with the information and supplies that you can get your hands on.


The goal with recreations, in my opinion at least, is to recreate the feeling and the memory the bride has of the cake not necessarily the cake itself if that makes sense.  She has an elaborate memory of the cake and the part it played in her wedding day, even though the design may be simple or the cake poorly made (not saying this one was, this is just a blanket statement) the bride built up that cake in her mind to be the absolute greatest thing she has ever seen.  As long as you are hitting all the right nostalgia notes, but making them your own or solidifying the design, the bride will absolutely love it.

Danilou Posted 31 Mar 2014 , 4:21am
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AYou have a very clever and thoughtful way of putting things across. Thankyou.

Cakechick123 Posted 31 Mar 2014 , 5:59am
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I think the ribbon is a combination of real ribbon and piping. This technique was very popular around that time, I have seen several old  cake books that uses that.

This is a link to show you the effect. Click on the small picture on the top right and you will see a close up. 


they used to insert real/gum paste ribbon this way and then piped around it to give the lacy effect. I think yours is real as the ribbon shines in that pic. They didn't have lustre dust 50yr ago, so that's why Im sure it satin ribbon.


As for the boards, I like to use a thick cake board when doing pillars, but you have the right idea with an inch bigger board. The dowels will hold the weight of the cakes, just measure them to go all the way into the cake plus the height of your pillars. I use the hollow pillars, so they basically just disguises the dowels. don't know if you can get those where you are.


I would pipe the side pieces on tulle before placing them on the cake. Those are very fragile, so make loads of spares. The same with the lace points on the inside, for each one you place on the cake, you break 3 :)


good luck with this!!!!

Danilou Posted 31 Mar 2014 , 6:01am
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AThankyou very much

DaysCakes Posted 31 Mar 2014 , 9:39am
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I agree with Nerdybaker and Cakechick - in fact, this is where I began my ********** life (not quite 50 years ago though lol!).  I instantly recognised an early nemesis of mine - the tiny individually piped lace pieces in the centre - somewhere I had a template with a whole A4 page of the little blighters.  Get your icing consistency right since you will probably need to use a '0' tube.  If you can get away with a '1' that would be better for you.  They break easily so be warned and do loads.  I also do not believe edible lace was around then - not even 30 years ago when I did my course.  Ribbon inserting is very simple - it is a trick of the eye and you just cut pieces of ribbon and push them in precut slots - leaving a gap so it looks like the ribbon passes underneath.  However - this is quite wide ribbon - so not really sure if that's what the picture looks like as the quality of the photo is not great.  Tulle is a difficult thing to work with - good advice above.

Danilou Posted 31 Mar 2014 , 9:06pm
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AThankyou everybody. I was wondering if it was ribbon inserted into lace and not the cake? Or still inserted into the cake but using the special lace or ribbon that has the slots already for ribbon insertion.

auzzi Posted 1 Apr 2014 , 6:50am
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50 years ... Looking at the cake and casting the memory back ..


The lace extension work is piped directly onto the cake, with piped lace points glued on individually. 

The border on the bottom is piped first.
The pattern for the extension work is pin-pricked or indented from the bottom of the side-centre up to the selected place on the side edge and then down to the centre of the adjacent side. It may be a scollop, or just a straight run.
Bridgework to support the extension work is made by overpiping. 
Extension work was done using size 0, 00 or 000 nozzle.
50 years ago [1964-ish] no ribbon on cake was edible.

The dotty bows are sugar-stiffened cotton tulle loops, dot piped when dry, anchored behind the flowers..
The dots on the tulle are piped with 1 or 0 nozzle.
There were probably dots in the space between the four ribbons and the outside edge of the "medallion" between the pillars.
The ribbon over the corners would be glued into position.
The piping either side of the ribbon is a zigzag version of a "snail's trail". 
The area between it and the ribbon would be dotted or filled with cornelli work.
Two or three piped lines [bands] would be spaced all along the ribbon to appear to "hold" it in position.


You miss the point - wedding cake decorations of the period were absolutely meant to be 'too much'.
Each cake is on a covered masonite-board to support the weight of each cake.

The cake sits directly on the covered board. The board is 2-3 cm larger than the cake.


Buy the pillars from any cake decorating supplier.
The pillars are hollow.
The cake would have had 4 hardwood butchers skewers inserted into the cake, through the pillars and trimmed to size.
Each cake and board rests on the hardwood skewers of the cake below - not the pillar. The pillar covers the skewer and looks pretty.
Fruitcake corners are rounded when covererd with rolled fondant. For sharp corners, the cake would be Royal Iced.

Fruitcake is 7-8 cm deep, covered with 6mm marzipan then 12 mm rolled fondant. To serve, it is cut into fingers 25mm x 25mm in size.


Extension work and lace point piping takes a lot of practise. 


Decorators of the time took 3-6 months to make and decorate the cake.

Danilou Posted 1 Apr 2014 , 7:02am
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AThankyou auzzi. So you beleive it's all piping around the satin ribbon? And no ribbon insertion and wider ribbon underneath? Apparently this cake took months to decorate and it won prizes in some big show.

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