Help With First 3-Tier Cake With Fondant Accents

Decorating By indiesmom Updated 12 Oct 2011 , 4:42pm by indiesmom

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indiesmom Posted 11 Oct 2011 , 10:07pm
post #1 of 6

Hi everyone. I'm new here and fairly new to cake decorating and I am making my brother's 3-tiered wedding cake for this Saturday. I could use some advice and any suggestions/tips/tricks will be much appreciated!

They are having a semi-rustic yet elegant fall theme. They love this cake but don't want the birds or flowers. Their centerpieces are grapevine spray wreathes with small fall colored berries (oranges, purples, golds and greens.) And they want the little twigs and berries. This is a similar cake by the same artist

They want a 3-tier round. I was thinking I would do a 12 inch, a 9 inch and a 6 inch. It doesn't matter how many it "serves" (they are only having 60 or so people) but will those sizes look right stacked?

Any tips for stacking? All I've done to this point is a small circle on top of a big square. I've got Masonite boards (that will have to be covered in foil) for each cake and those plastic dowels for supports. Will that be enough? I don't want the board to show at all, so I hope it won't.

They want the icing to be BC and messy/rough textured (they love this texture , but it would be too much with the sticks.) I told them it will be smoother than this, but not really smooth. Any tips on making it look "neatly messy" (if that makes sense!)?

I'm "cheating" and using DH chocolate icing because I'm having consistency issues with my homemade BC and don't have time to test new recipes. From reading on here I think my issue is probably the shortening - my icing keeps separating.

They want the cake dark brown and the sticks very light brown. I thought I would make the sticks from fondant (maybe fondant mixed with gumpaste?) and gum glue the berries to them. I want it all to be edible (no wires), if not, I might as well use the berry garlands they purchased for decorations.
I thought about using the Wilton cherry blossom branch mold if the branches don't look too fat.

Will the gum glue (gumpaste dissolved in water) hold the fondant sticks to the BC?

Any other ideas to jazz this thing up?

Sorry this is so long and question filled. I really appreciate any help/ideas you guys have!

5 replies
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Torimomma Posted 11 Oct 2011 , 11:55pm
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I can't with most of this but for your frosting issue do you add meringue powder to it? I have never had a separation issue with my BC and I believe it is because of the meringue along with using trans fat shortening.

Whatever you come up with, good luck and please post pics!

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cupadeecakes Posted 12 Oct 2011 , 12:01am
post #3 of 6

Best of luck to you with your cake. I will give you my opinion on some of these questions...

A 6 / 9 12 will look fine, scale-wise.

Stacking? I use standard cardboard rounds (maybe double thick) for the second and third tier. Cut them the size of your cakes and they will not show. The bottom tier should be something substantial, like a cake drum or hard board, or masonite. You will need to support tiers 2 & 3. I use drinking straws cut to length, but wooden dowels are OK too. Just don't put any wooden dowels near the center of your cakes, because you should run a sharpened wooden dowel through the center of the cake and all 3 tiers.

Messy buttercream tips: I get a good coating on frosting on my cake and just use my spatula to swirl and lift. You shouldn't have too much trouble with this one.

For your "branches", I recommend an extruder (even a cheapie clay extruder from Wal Mart will work). You can use some gumpaste or tylose in your fondant to make them hold their shape better, but unless they're huge that should stick to the buttercream without any problems.

I think that gets you started with most of your questions. I hope this helped and I wish you the best of luck!

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carmijok Posted 12 Oct 2011 , 12:36am
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Saturday? Really? That's mighty close to be doing everything you're planning on doing. And really how many cans of icing are you going to have to use to cover 3 tiers? That frosting does not crust and it would be cheaper to make your own. Use real butter instead of shortening and I don't think you'll have separation issues.

Google search how to stack a tiered cake and find some YouTube tutorial videos. Seeing someone do it really helps. I would use Wilton plastic dowels instead of wood or straws.

Practice makings some twigs. Ordinarily I would agree to the clay extruder, goodness knows I use it enough...except twigs have thick and thin aspects about them and you can roll and shape those pretty easily. just roll like you would a play dough snake and cut off and shape what you need, and you'll need more than you think! Keep any other decor simple...the small berries would be pretty colors can make a big impact. It's good you're going with the rustic icing. Covers up a multitude of sins! I don't think it would look 'too messy' with the twigs. Don't be afraid to use their vine decor if all else fails. It's just going to be removed before cutting anyway and might be a nice tie-in.

When you deliver, make sure it's on a flat surface in your car and the cake is cold. Put a mesh rubber shelf liner under it so it won't slide around. Good luck!

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mo_gateaux Posted 12 Oct 2011 , 1:17am
post #5 of 6

Just to add to the advice already given, I've never used gum glue to stick anything to buttercream. I imagine that your icing will be put on thick enough that if you just push your branches in a bit before the icing has crusted, that they won't move. If you use gum glue on buttercream i think it'll only be adding liquid on top of your frosting. the gum glue will obviously work to stick the berries to the twigs though.

Also, i know you said that you don't have time to test frostings, but this one is from the Hershey's site, and i find it tastes very fudgey. probably similar to a canned icing's sweetness, but you could make it in large quantities. Only tip i have is use real butter:


1/2 cup (1 stick) butter or margarine
2/3 cup HERSHEY'S Cocoa
3 cups powdered sugar
1/3 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Melt butter. Stir in cocoa. Alternately add powdered sugar and milk, beating to spreading consistency.
Add small amount additional milk, if needed. Stir in vanilla. About 2 cups frosting.

good luck!

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indiesmom Posted 12 Oct 2011 , 4:42pm
post #6 of 6

Thanks for the tips everyone!

I planned on stacking the cake on site, not trying to transport it stacked. Do I definitely need a dowel trough the whole thing if I do that?

My masonite boards don't have holes in them (yet) and I don't really have a way of doing that before Saturday. They are the exact size of the cakes, so hopefully they won't show. I have the Wilton plastic dowels to stack with.

As for my icing issues, I don't really understand what's causing the problem. I use the Wilton recipe, which uses meringue powder and Crisco. I'm thinking the problem is the Crisco. The weird thing is, everyone in the classes I took used the same recipe and didn't have the issues I have.

This image kind of shows what happens (see around the bottom?). I also get little specks of white, like the shortening doesn't mix together right.

You guys have be doubting using the canned stuff now. I could maybe try that Hershey recipe tonight. How dark is the color of it?

Would icing made with butter and milk not need to be refrigerated?

Does anyone have better luck with a certain brand of shortening?
I don't have too many store options (I live in a more rural area).

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