October 7, 2010

Diamonds and Pearls 50th Birthday Cake

I wanted to share with you one of my favorite cakes made last October for a friend who loves jewelry and diamonds.  There were a lot of firsts with this cake:  1st time making a tiara, 1st time working with pearls and sugar diamonds (diamond shaped sugar glass), 1st time making the scalloped edge on the bottom tier, 1st time carving the top tier, 1st time doing a diamond pattern... just a lot of firsts!

The tiara!  There is a great tutorial on CakeCentral.com by carrielynnfields on how to make one with Royal Icing.  I used the same technique but with gumpaste instead.  Draw a template, tape over a cylinder and in this case, I used a candle wrapped in saran wrap then in foil to keep any scent from escaping or leaking out - LOL, it was the only thing I could find with the right diameter!  Tape a piece of wax paper over that then roll out ropes of gumpaste using sugar glue (melt a piece of gumpaste in a little bit of water to make sugar glue) to attach each piece to each other.  I didn't have a clay extruder to make the ropes with so instead, I used the fondant smoother to roll out the gumpaste over a smooth, flat surface:  Using the fondant smoother helps with getting no finger grooves in the gumpaste.  Once I got the whole thing assembled, I brushed the entire tiara with another layer of glue and let it sit for 2 days in the oven with the pilot light on to dry.  I then took the tiara out of the mold very carefully and brushed the back side with another layer of glue and let that sit overnight to dry again.  I only made 1 tiara and did not want to risk it breaking...it was hard as a rock and was not going anywhere!  The tiara was finished off and painted with a mixture of almond extract and both disco dust and shimmer dust...I wanted it to really sparkle and shine.

The top tier was 2, 6" rounds carved down to 4" along the bottom.  Sugar pearls were glued one by one using piping gel and then sugar diamonds were added below each strand.  I searched all over the city for a mold to make the sugar diamonds and failed miserably.  I was lucky enough to have stopped by a cake supply store, far far away during one of my business trips, to find an assortment of premade diamonds.  I bought a few of each size - they were not cheap either and stored them right away it an airtight container with a silica gel pack to help absorb any moisture which would make them sticky.  The sugar glass diamonds were placed around the top tier, a large one was added to the front of the tiara, and another one was added to the name plaque placed beside the bottom tier.

I used Satin Ice for the 1st time too.  The top tier was Dark Chocolate that I tinted black.  I had such a hard time working with it and couldn't get the sides of the cake smoothed out.  I improvised and added a white, ruffled collar around it to hide the imperfections and finished it off by adding a sugar pearl to the front of the collar as a button.  I loved how it turned out!  Completely unplanned and a perfect addition to the cake.

The middle tier was Red Satin Ice and a nightmare to work with.  And although a lot of people suggest to buy the red and black premade, I have since figured it out and make my own with marshmallows - see Marshmallow Fondant Recipe (honestly, I love the way MMF works and tastes over Satin Ice).  I got so many hairline cracks with the Satin Ice, it drove me insane!  I used a diamond impression mat to get the outline of the pattern in then went over it with a ruler to press the diamond pattern in more then added silver dragees to each corner.

Here is a picture of the tools used:  a fondant smoother to roll the fondant ropes with for the tiara, leaf cutters and a scalloped cutter used for the bottom tier, and a diamond impression mat (or grid) used on the middle tier:

The bottom tier was a challenge to get the scalloped edge to neatly and evenly sit over the cake.  I tired several things and ended up mixing the white MMF with tylose to help it not be as stretchy and to also help it dry faster.  Cut out a circle (about 15" round) and then used a scalloped cutter to cut out the pattern flat on the table.  Let that sit for a 1/2 hour to dry and set a bit, then loosely rolled it over onto a rolling pin and carefully rolled it back onto the cake.  Letting it sit helped the fondant not stretch and loose it's shape once picked up.  It looks very odd at this stage but once the black beaded pattern and leaf pattern were added, it came together very nicely.  I made fondant leaves with the black Satin Ice and attached it to the sides of the cake and the black piping was done in Royal Icing.

Cake:  Bottom 12" tier was Vanilla with Lemon filling, 9" Middle and 6" top tiers were Red Velvet with Vanilla Bettercream.  The entire cake was covered in Vanilla Buttercream then with Fondant.


  1. I am soooo loving the bottom tier!!! Such a favorite! As usual, you have done a stunning cake!

  2. Every Tier and every inch is just beautiful - credit to you for your time and effort.
    Such a chic looking cake - loe it.


  3. Please tell me what do you use to stack the layers to keep them from falling apart or sinking in?

    1. Each cake sits on a cardboard cake circle and sits on top of wooden dowels or boba straws (fat straws). You can google how to dowel a cake for pictures and videos. I take the size of the cake, half it and add 1 extra for the number of dowels to use: 8 inch cake will take 5 dowels, 10 inch will be 6 dowels, etc. This will help keep the cake from sinking in. As for falling apart, a good, stable cake with a stable crumb coat helps. Assembling and driving a cold cake helps keep everything firm and stable too.