If you’ve ever visited my tiny flat you will quickly realise that there is very little room to turn around never mind ice, stack and store 5 tiers of fruit cake. Thankfully I have a wonderful friend called Cake Poppins who kindly offered to spend the day with me in her amazing kitchen complete with all of her expertise and wonderful non stick cake decorating equipment. I cannot thank Kate enough for her help and guidance. If you haven’t checked out Kate’s blog I thoroughly recommend it !
Never before have I attempted any sort of technical cake assemblage that requires dowling. I have attempted rather slap dash icing of cakes with layers of marzipan and fondant icing. My results have been passable, but on my wedding cake passable would not suffice. It needed to be perfect. No pressure there then.
Before the cakes could even go near any icing a great deal of planning and shopping was required. I packed up a car full of cake and sugar based goods and headed round to Kate’s. The fumes eminating from the cakes made for a very happy journey.
To start with you need to purchase drum style cake boards (the ones that are half an inch thick to add extra height to the cakes). Each board needs to be exactly the same size as the cake. I purchased a 4, 6, 8 10, and 12 inch round boards. The 4 inch was pretty difficult to find but you can definitely buy them online.
I have absolutely no idea how much marzipan and fondant icing we went through and so engrossed was I in mastering the kneading, rolling and enveloping the cakes in icing I forgot to take any photos along the way. (sorry!) My guess is that about 6 packets of marzipan disappeared in the process, which would be around 6 x 500g = 3 kg of marzipan. As a rough guess the same amount of fondant ivory icing was used to cover the 5 cakes.
A slosh of vodka was required (not for me) but to sterilise the cake boards.
3 jars of apricot jam were used to coat the cakes and the boards prior to the application of the marzipan. This helps to stick the marzipan to the cake and the cake to the board.
There was a lot of tea, cake and rolling going on that Sunday afternoon. Gaps in the cake need to be filled with marzipan, a bit like smoothing putty into cracks in a wall before you paint it. You can even add a sausage of marzipan around the edge of the cake to fit it neatly to the board, if there’s a gap. I learnt so many brillliant tips.
Kate introduced me to cake spacers. A truly wonderful invention. They consist of 2 equally thick pieces of wood (rather ruler shaped) which you place on either side of your marzipan or fondant. You then place the rolling pin onto the rulers and roll away from you (preferably on a non stick board). Turning the fondant at regular intervals so it doesn’t stick. This means you get evenly flattened fondant, giving a smooth and much less holey finish than I often achieve. You have to press with all your weight rolling from your hands all the way up to your elbows evenly. If like me your a rolling novice you then get equally spaced bruises up your arms too. Kate’s an absolute pro!
Once the marzipan layer is on the cake, it’s best to get the layer of fondant on whilst it’s still tacky so it all sticks together. The less you touch the final fondant layer the better finish you get. Only touch the fondant covered cake with the backs of your hands to avoid leaving any fingers prints please. Smoothing the edges down with a plastic cake smoother, pushing the excess fondant down and squeezing it out in to the bottom of the skirt of the cake. Which can then be trimmed away with a lovely sharp palette knife, being careful not to cut into the cake (!)
Once all 5 cakes have a double coat of icing you carefully wrap a thin ribbon around the bottom of each cake. Double sided sticky tape is useful to stick the ribbon together. This gives a really professional looking image. I chose ivory ribbon to blend into the fondant and give a really sleek finish.
Icing the 5 cakes took around about 5 hours. Then Kate showed me how to make sure the cakes are level, how to cut the dowels to size, where to insert dowels (plastic rods) to hold the weight of the cake above and how to stack the 5 tiers together.
Using a spirit level, a hack saw, a dowling guide template and a marker pen we forced the plastic dowels strategically into all 4 iced cakes, all in the right places so you can’t see any plastic dowels on the finished cake! The top tier didn’t need any dowels to as there was no other cake to support above it.
The final result was very impressive! Seeing all 5 tiers stacked up in their smooth white finish was worth all of the effort! Then all we had to do was carefully take it apart again, box the cake and manouvere it all back into my car. Then the task of finding a suitable storaged place in my tiny flat to rest the cakes whilst the fondant set.
There was still a month to spare before the wedding and I still had to glue all of the hydrangea flowers to the cake, box it back up again, transport it to Jesmond Dene House AND stack the entire cake, glueing each tier together. And then to eat it! So close and yet still so far to go…
This is part 3 of the 4 stages of wedding cake baking! You can read more about my epic wedding cake adventures here…
Part 1 – My 5 tiers of fruit wedding cake – My biggest booziest cake yet
Part 2 – How many sugar flowers does it take to make a wedding cake?
Part 3 – Where to start icing a 5 tier wedding cake?
Part 4 -The Final Frontier – Decorating & assembling my 5 Tier wedding cake
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WOW!!!! That is an AMAZING looking cake! Those flowers are just gorgeous and the ribbon IS so sleek and professional looking. Fantastic job!!!
Thank you so much Erika. I was pretty pleased with it myself too. Exactly how I had imagined it and hoped it would turn out. Thank goodness for wonderful friends like Kate!
Very informative! Though this confirms my thought that I’m not quite ready to venture into the world of fondant icing yet. 🙂
Thank you! Yes it was quite an epic creation. I’m so pleased that I did it, It’s the best feeling to have made it yourself but it is rather exhausting thinking about how much work went into making it! 🙂
What a lot of work, Lauren! But the results are beautiful and it is interesting to know how professionals do things.
Thank you Sharyn. Very much appreciated. Kate is a true professional and very talented. I couldn’t have done it without her!
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Wow, This cake is stunning. I’ve recently started making cakes for friends and family special occasions. I was really struggling to get the professional look though, I came across a site called bakingit through a google search and it has been a huge help. http://www.bakingit.com. Might be worth taking a look. It’s been a great time saver when I’ve been trying to figure out measurments etc.
Thanks so much for stopping by Kate! You’re very kind. Oh yes, I’ve used the cake calculators before, very handy! Thanks again!
Hi, you wedding cakes look great! Can I just ask did u put two layers of icing on as well as the marzipan or just marzipan and one layer of icing. I’m making a wedding cake and I would love to get a similar result to yours! Thanks
Hello Kathryn thank you so much for reading my blog and for your very kind comments! I used one layer of marzipan and one of icing. It worked well to get the clean smooth edges but you could use 2 layers of icing if you want to go all out! I would love to see your cake! Good luck and hope you enjoy making your cake! Xx
You are very talented. I can’t believe you are so thin !
You’re too kind Anne. Thanks so much for reading!
im reading your post and im loving it!! very instructive im learning a lot lol best wishes and huges from ecuador south america, im learning with you
Hello Silvia, Wow! Thank you so much for your very kind comment! I’m so pleased that you’re enjoying my blog and hope that you continue to join me in my adventure. Sending much love to you in Ecuador and if you have any recipes that you could suggest to me as part of my around the world in 80 bakes challenge please do share them with me. I would love to bake something from Ecuador and learn from you
Wow! That’s looks amazing..the flowers are so beautiful..Thanks for sharing
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