This year my mom decorated her house in Red and White for Christmas so I created a cake to cordinate with her decor.The bottom tier is an 8 inch egg nog flavored cake. I made a traditional White Almond Sour Cream Cake(WASC) recipe and substituted egg nog for the liquid and added 1 teaspoon cinnamon and 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg. The buttercream used Parisian Almond Cream coffee creamer for the liquid. You can use the powdered creamer, just heat the water and add equal parts dry creamer to water. That’s a tip I learned from Sharon at her Sugar Shack blog.
The top tier is a 6 inch chocolate cake with a cherry cranberry filling and ganache coating under the fondant.
Buttercream to ice the bottom tier
2 1/2 lbs Red Fondant
1/2 lb White Fondant
1/4 lb White Gumpaste (or fondant with gum-tex or tylose added)
2 jars of sparkling sugar (I combined the fine sanding sugar and chunky sparkling sugar because it’s what I had on hand)
1 jar small white pearls (Wilton)
2 6 inch cake boards
2 8 inch cake boards
1 large plastic cake board( larger than your largest cake)
1 cake drum (10 inches or larger)
A 1/2 sheet cake pan to catch sugar sprinkles
Texture mat or rolling pin (optional)
Large and small snowflake cutters
Diamond Cutters (Medium and tiny) Atteco Diamond Cutter has ALL sizes in one set
Long Wooden Skewers
Paint brushes for caking
3 cups Bakers Semisweet chocolate
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
I made the chocolate ganache for the top tier the day before because it needs to set. Since I was using the ganache under fondant, you want the ganache to be setting consistency (not pouring consistency). To do this use 2 parts chocolate (I used Baker’s Semisweet Chocolate squares) to 1 part heavy whipping cream. Chop the chocolate into small pieces and place in a bowl. Heat the cream to just before boiling and pour over chocolate. Let the mixture sit for 5 minutes and then stir to melt the chocolate and combine the cream until mixture is smooth. Cover tightly and let sit on the counter for several hours or overnight to cool.
In addition to making the chocolate ganache the day before, you should make the gumpaste snowflakes for the toppers in advance so they have time to dry. You can do straight gumpaste, 50/50 gumpaste and fondant or fondant mixed with gum-tex or tylose. I used straight gumpaste because I had it on hand. Roll the gumpaste thin but not too thin because they will need to be able to hold themselves up once they dry. I cut out 3 large snowflakes. 2 for the front and 1 for the back (I like the back of my cakes to look pretty too). I then cut out 3 small snowflakes as well. I let them all dry overnight. You should make 1 or 2 extras in case of breakage.
After the cakes are baked and cooled. Tape the 2 6 inch cake boards together and tape the 2 8 inch cake boards together. I cover my boards in press and seal. If you’re not going to cover the boards, only use tape between the boards. Fill and stack the cakes on each board as you normally would.
Place the 6 inch cake on a larger plastic board (I buy mine at Hobby Lobby and they’re washable so you rarely have to replace them). The ganache should be peanut butter consistency. If it’s not, put a portion of it in a smaller bowl and microwave on medium power in 30 second increments until it’s just spreadable consistency. Ice the cake so that it’s smooth and set it aside so the chocolate can set up. I am always worried about dust getting on my cakes until I found these awesome food tents. They’re 14 inches and plenty tall. I use them to keep my cakes covered between steps.
Next, place the 8 inch cake on the larger plastic cake board. The larger board makes it much easier to handle the cakes. Frost the bottom tier in buttercream. Line the bottom of your sheet pan with wax paper. Place your cake in the pan. Grab a handful of sparkling sugar and place it directly on the cake, gently but firmly press it into the sides of the cake. Work your way all around the cake. The extra sugar will fall into the pan. Be sure and reuse the sugar that is dropped. Don’t forget to sugar the top of your cake as well. The cake should be very sparkly.
With the left over sugar in the pan, take the small snowflakes from the day before and paint piping gel on the front side of the each snowflake. Cover in the sparkling sugar. With the larger snowflakes, paint piping gel just along the edge of the snowflake. Be careful not to break them. I laid them (one at a time) directly in the pan with the sugar and just shook the pan until the sugar coated the edges. Set all the snowflakes aside to dry. Keep the sugar and pan handy,you may need it later.
Next you will want to roll out a small portion of the red fondant for the diamonds that go around the base tier. I used the Ateco 8 Piece Stainless Steel Diamond Shaped Cutter Set. I love this set, I may have to stock up on all the other shapes soon:) Roll the fondant about 1/8 inch thick. Too thin and they will be hard to place onto the cake, too thick and they look funny. Take an impression mat or a textured rolling pin and roll over the fondant with good pressure. I used an impression mat that had swirls on it. Cut out the diamonds and let them set up for a few minutes. To apply them to the cake, paint a thin layer of piping gel or frosting to the back of the diamonds. Be sure and get the tips or they will not stick to the sugar. Place the first diamond on the front of the cake. Place a few to the left and then go back to the front and place a few to the right. Continue this process until you get to the back. The diamonds rarely line up perfectly, that’s why they call it the back.
Roll out a small portion of white fondant and cut out the tiny diamonds that will cover the intersections of the red diamonds. Paint one side of the small diamonds with water or piping gel and place them in the sugar pan, shake gently until well coated. Attach the small diamonds to the intersection of the larger red diamonds. Place a dot of piping gel in the middle of each white diamond and place a pearl in the middle. While you’re still waiting on the ganache to set up you can decorate your snowflakes. Attach each of the small sugared snowflakes to the middle of the larger snowflakes using piping gel. Attach pearls in different patterns to each snowflake. I used piping gel but it didn’t hold as well as I had hoped on the dry gumpaste. Next time I will use frosting.
By now the ganache should be reasonably set. You will need to roll out the red fondant. To cover a 6 inch cake, typically you roll out 2 lbs of fondant and that gives you plenty of overlap to work with. If you’re careful you can save the scraps and use them later. Once the fondant is rolled out, apply the impress mat to the fondant. Apply piping gel or simple syrup to the ganache so that the fondant has something to adhere to. I use a paint brush and just paint it on.
Gently roll the fondant onto your rolling pin (trying hard not to squish the impressions) and apply it to the cake. Gently smooth the fondant down around the cake and trim off the excess. Again trying not to squish the impression out of the fondant.
Then roll out a 1/2 lb of white fondant.Trim the edge to look like snow fall. Use the bottom of a 6 inch cake pan to determine the size and shape you want. Apply piping gel to the top of the red tier and place the white fondant on top of it. Use your ball tool to adjust the shape if necessary. Once the white layer of fondant is applied. Using a paint brush, paint piping gel just along the edge of the white layer. Place the left over sparkling sugar in a zip lock bag or piping bag and snip the end off so that the sugar comes out easier but not crazy fast. Go around the edge of the cake with the sugar and it should stick to the piping gel but not the rest of the cake. I cut out a few more small snowflakes and attached them to the top tier.
I use the SPS (single plate system) as my support so at this point, I put the 6inch plate and pillars into the 8 inch cake and then placed my 6 inch cake on top of it. Other people prefer using dowels but I find SPS to be very easy to use. I then took a piping bag with a large round tip and piped “snow” around the top tier and around the bottom tier and of course added more sparkling sugar to the borders.
The last thing I needed to do was to attach the skewers to the snowflake toppers. I measured the height of the top tier and added a couple of inches to attach to the snowflakes and cut the skewers to size. Next I gently laid the snowflakes face down and laid the skewer over the snowflake. Then I took some fresh white gumpaste and using piping gel applied it to the back to completely attach the skewer to the snowflake. I did this for 2 of the snowflakes. I left the last one without a skewer because I wanted to lean it against the other two in the back. I let them dry for several hours.
I applied the snowflake topper after I arrived on-site and added a little more frosting to the base of the topper to finish the cake.