I f you've decided to make a wedding cake at home, congratulations on your bravery! Now, relax: Melissa Murphy, owner of the Sweet Melissa Patisseries in Brooklyn, New York, has designed an elegant three-tiered cake decorated with delicate rosebuds and filled with luscious lemon curd and fresh raspberries.
To help you reproduce it successfully, here is a do-it-yourself guide has multiple parts:
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Setup1 day ahead:
Use Murphy's recipes to bake the cakes and assemble and frost each tier separately. (There will be one 12-inch, one 9-inch, and one 6-inch tier.)
Chill the tiers for 24 hours to firm them up.
Either 1 day ahead or on the day of decorating:
Make the third batch of buttercream and tint as follows: 2 1/2 cups pale-yellow for swag, 1 1/2 cups sage-green for leaves, 2 cups bright-yellow for roses, and 1 cup raspberry-pink for roses.
This leaves 2 cups of white buttercream, which will be used to finish the seams on the cake.
Measure the tiers for even positioningStarting with the 12-inch tier, measure 1 1/2 inches from the cake's edge and make a discreet but noticeable mark with a toothpick. Think of this as the 12 o'clock position and repeat at the 9 o'clock position. Measure and mark the 9-inch cake in the same way.
Mark the tiers for even positioningCenter an empty 9-inch cake pan over the 12-inch tier, lining it up with the toothpick marks, then gently press pan into the surface. Use an empty 6-inch cake pan to mark the 9-inch cake in the same way.
Insert dowels for supportStarting with the 12-inch tier, hold a dowel above the tier 3 inches from the edge and at the 12 o'clock position.
Insert the dowel downward all the way into the tier and use a pen to mark where the cake meets the dowel.
Carefully remove the dowel and cut 1/8 inch below the mark so that the dowel is just shorter than the height of the cake.
Wipe the dowel clean and insert it back into the 12-inch tier.
Repeat 3 more times, placing dowels in the 3 o'clock, 6 o'clock, and 9 o'clock positions, making sure to keep each dowel 3 inches from the edge.
Repeat on the 9-inch tier, using only 3 dowels, positioning them 2 1/2 inches from the tier's edge, and placing them at the 12 o'clock, 4 o'clock, and 8 o'clock positions.
Use buttercream to fill in any holes and smooth any surfaces.
Assemble the tiersFor best results, place your base or platter on a cake turntable.
Spoon 1 tablespoon of buttercream onto the base and center the 12-inch tier on top.
Spoon 1 tablespoon of buttercream onto the top center of both the 12-inch and 9-inch tiers.
This will help glue the tiers together. Have an offset spatula ready nearby.
Using both hands, hold the 9-inch tier, centered, 1 inch above the 12-inch tier.
Carefully removing one hand, allow one edge of the 9-inch tier to gently drop and rest on the 12-inch tier.
With the other hand, pick up the offset spatula, slip it under the 9-inch tier next to where you're holding it, and carefully remove your other hand.
Using the spatula, slowly lower the tier, quickly sliding the spatula out from underneath at the last moment. Use the same method to place the 6-inch tier on the 9-inch tier.
Finish the seamsFit a pastry bag with a #6 round tip and fill the bag with white buttercream.
Pipe small dots along the seams between the cake tiers and along the seam where the bottom tier meets the base.
Try to keep the dots uniform in size and shape, and pipe dots as close together as possible so there are no gaps.
Mark the tops of the swagsFit a pastry bag with a # 4 round tip and fill the bag with pale-yellow butter cream.
Starting with the 6-inch tier, pipe a small dot on the top of the tier, right at the edge.
Think of this as the 6 o'clock position, then rotate the cake a 1/4 turn and pipe a second dot at the top edge at the 3 o'clock position.
Repeat at the 12 o'clock and 9 o'clock positions.
Repeat on the 9-inch tier, centering the dots in between the dots on the 6-inch tier, then repeat on the 12-inch tier, placing the dots in between the dots on the 9-inch tier (and therefore aligned with the dots on the 6-inch tier).
These dots are the tops of each swag, and indicate where the roses will be placed.
Pipe the swagsPosition the pastry bag at the seam between the 6-inch and 9-inch tiers, directly above one of the dots for the tops of the swag on the 9-inch tier.
Use the top part of your thumb to measure the distance up from the bottom of the 6-inch tier and pipe a dot there.
This will be the bottommost point of one swag on the 6-inch tier — the tops of this swag will be the two dots at the top edge of the 6-inch tier on either side of this bottom dot.
Create the swag by piping dots, spaced about 5/8 inch apart, in a gentle curving line connecting the bottom dot to both top dots.
Repeat to create the remaining swags on each tier, being sure to first mark the bottom of each swag.
Pipe the leavesFit a pastry bag with a #352 leaf tip and fill the bag with sage-green buttercream.
Hold the bag at the edge of the top of the 6-inch tier, at the top of one of the swags.
Hold the bag so that it's at a 65-degree angle from vertical.
Position the decorating tip so that the slit is parallel to the top of the tier and points toward 1 o'clock (if 12 o'clock is the center of the cake).
Briefly apply gentle pressure and pull the bag diagonally away from the edge of the tier.
Stop applying pressure, then pull away quickly in the same direction to create the tip of the leaf.
The leaf should lie neither horizontal nor vertically but should straddle the edge of the tier between the top and sides.
Repeat to make a second leaf, starting from the same middle point, but extending along the edge of the tier to the left.
Repeat to make two leaves at the top of each swag. Chill the cake for 20 minutes before adding the roses.
Prepare the pastry bag to create two-toned rosesFit a pastry bag with a #104 rose tip. Using a small spatula or knife, paint a narrow stripe of raspberry-pink buttercream on the inside of the bag, aligning it with the narrow end of the rose tip.
Fill the rest of the bag with bright-yellow buttercream.
Hold the pastry bag so that the color-striped edge faces up and the narrow part of the tip is at the top. The color stripe will not be perfect at first.
Pipe some buttercream onto parchment until the desired color stripe is achieved.
Pipe the first part of one roseHold the bag at the top edge of the 6-inch tier, between two leaves.
Position the bag so the narrow part of the tip is pointing upward and the bag is pointing toward 6 o'clock at a 45-degree angle from vertical.
To create the central rose petal, pipe a small letter "c" by applying gentle pressure while moving the bag to the left, then toward you.
Stop applying pressure, touch the bottom of the tip to the surface of the cake, then pull away. Wipe the tip clean before moving on to the next step.
Pipe the second and third petalsHold the bag so that the narrow part of the tip is pointing upward and the bag is pointing toward 6 o'clock at a 45-degree angle from vertical.
Position the tip just to the right of the central petal, tucked into the middle of the "c."
Pipe a backward "c" that wraps around the bottom of the first "c" by applying gentle pressure while moving the bag to the right, then toward you.
Stop applying pressure, touch the bottom of the tip to the surface of the cake, then pull away. Wipe the tip clean before piping the last petal.
To pipe the last petal, again hold the bag so that the narrow part of the tip is pointing upward and the bag is pointing toward 6 o'clock at a 45-degree angle from vertical.
Position the tip just to the left of the central petal, in the middle of the first "c."
Pipe another forward-facing "c" that wraps around the bottom half of the first by applying gentle pressure while moving the bag to the left, then toward you.
Tuck the bottom of this "c" between the bottoms of the first 2 petals, then stop applying pressure, and pull away.
Tips for Making and Transporting Your Cake
- Get organized
- Select a sturdy and attractive base
- For stability, keep the cake chilled
- Perfect piping
- Transport with confidence
- Cutting the dowels is easiest if you use very sharp pruning shears, preferably with "ratchet action." Both dowels and pruning shears can be purchased at hardware stores.