This one was a project and a half.
Someone I worked with asked me to make her wedding cake. I’d never done one before, and frankly, I was scared I’d mess it up somehow. It’s one thing to do funny cakes for peoples’ birthdays; quite another to do something serious like a wedding cake. (Unless it’s a funny wedding cake, in which case I’d probably still have been scared of messing up. Because it’s a WEDDING cake.)
Anyway. The wedding (as you probably have guessed) took place around Christmas time, hence the holly berries and leaves. The two round white things on top, spewing forth bits of tulle and thin ribbon tongues are actually two bells made of sugar (same process as the snowmen in last week’s cake). If you look at it from the top, they are angled toward each other, with that red bow perched where they meet. If I were to do it now, I’d figure out a way to have the bells stand up – just so passersby would know that they were, in fact, bells.
Now, those holly leaves – they were made of gum paste. Gum paste is a mixture of confectioners sugar, glycerin and gum tragacanth. It’s similar to fondant, but stronger, so you can roll it out very thin and make delicate things like flowers. It dries hard, like porcelain. It’s edible, if you’re starving and on a deserted island and all you have are gum paste flowers that never made it onto a cake before your ship sank…but it’s not really meant to be eaten.
Anyway, I had read about this stuff, and I’d been waiting for an opportunity to work with it. And what better opportunity than the first wedding cake I’d ever made? I can’t think of one.
I have a whole batch of little flower petal and leaf cutters that I’d bought back then, for the sole purpose of making something with gum paste some day. One of the cutters was a holly leaf shape, fortunately, so I didn’t have to do every single one with a knife. The little red holly berries are gum paste, too.
The cake itself was white, and (deja vu all over again) white frosting mixed with strawberry jam lies between the layers and beneath the fondant. The top part is a two-layer 6" heart, and the bottom is a two-layer 12" heart. I used royal icing to do all the white decorative work. And the base is a piece of foam core with (I think) a red foil wrapping paper.
I can remember standing in my tiny kitchen, making those holly leaves. I did a lot in that little space.