My baby sister is 12 years younger than me… and somehow they allowed her to get married!
She isn’t the world’s biggest fan of cake. So, she wanted a s’mores bar at her wedding reception… which she had. But my mom really wanted the traditional cutting-the-cake pictures. So, I agreed to make her a wedding cake.
I generally don’t do wedding cakes, for a number of reasons, not the least of which is that they’re a LOT of work. And for this one, I was working out of my other sister’s kitchen, which is really fine in size and amenities, it’s just not mine!
(Please forgive some of the photo quality. Not working in my own kitchen presented some lighting challenges, so some photos are a little – uck!)
The Quilled Sunflowers are made of gum paste, and were designed to match my sister’s invitations (above), which she made of quilled paper herself.
What You Need:
For the quilled flowers and ribbons:
Gum paste (16 oz. pouch of Wilton brand is what I used and had plenty left over.)
Fondant ribbon cutter (or a pizza or pastry cutter)
Ruler or measuring tape
Clear vanilla or vodka
For the cakes:
Two 10″ x 2″ round cake layers
Two 8″ x 2″ round cake layers
Two 6″ x 2″ round cake layers
Triple batch of my Rich Vanilla Icing
Food-safe dowel rods
Cardboard cake circles (one each 10″, 8″ & 6″)
*Note: I used cake mix as a base for these cakes because I was away from home, and needed to simplify things as much as possible. Click the link to see how I Make Cake Mix Taste Homemade.
You will need to make the quilled flowers at least 24 hours in advance so that they have time to dry hard.
Each of my flowers had six petals. I made eight flowers, and used about a total of a softball-sized amount of yellow gum paste, which I colored with gel-based coloring. And about a golf-ball sized piece of brown gum paste for the centers.
To make the large flowers, which end up about 4.5″ in diameter, cut strips that are 1/4″ wide by 15″ long. The smaller flower petals (for a 3″ diameter flower) were 1/4″ by 10″.
Dust a cutting surface, like parchment paper or a rolling,at, with powdered sugar. Roll the gum paste long and thin, and as thin as you can manage, ideally paper thin, since that’s what we want it to look like. (I worked with a golf-ball-sized piece each time I rolled.)
I cut three strips at a time because I used a ribbon cutter. I recommend no more than three or four at a time, or the strips will get dried out while you work on the others.
Using a toothpick, a fondant veining tool or even the back of the paintbrush, roll the strip into a tight coil.
*Note: Be certain that the gum paste isn’t too sticky at this point’ or it makes it hard to unroll it. Your gum paste should be a little dusted with the sugar still from rolling to keep it from sticking when you coil it.
Use the same tool you used to begin rolling the coil’ and slightly unroll the coil so that you can see the individual strips. You may need to use a toothpick to help manipulate the coils into the right shape.
Paint a little bit of clear vanilla or vodka on to the end of the outside strip, and gently press it to stick to the strip next to it.
Then, use your fingers to pinch the ends into a petal shape. (I thought each petal individually looked like an eye… Kind of.)
Set aside to dry. Again, make six petals for each flower.
To make the centers, again, roll the gum paste long and thin, and as close to paper thin as possible.
The center is rolled just like you did with the petals… But when you uncoil it a little, keep the shape a circle. The large centers were about the diameter of a quarter, the medium ones were closer to a nickel.
Set aside to dry. You can’t move the pieces too much before they dry or they will get misshapen. After about 3-5 hours, they will dry enough to move, but I recommend waiting until you are completely sure they are set before you try to move them too much.
I did not get a good picture of what I did to get the flowers to stick together. But…
I rolled some of the yellow gum paste very thin, and cut a small circle out using a cutter. (It was about the same size as the flower center that I made.) I painted that with clear vanilla and arranged the petals on top of it.
There was always some open space in between the centers of the petals, so I used about a pea-sized piece of the gum paste, and rolled it into a ball in my hands, then gently pressed it into the open space, and painted the top with more clear vanilla before adding the center on top of that to make it stick.
Allow those to dry for at least an hour before placing them on the cake.
Bake, Frost & Assemble the Cake
I was very negligent in taking photos of the cake steps. I apologize.
I made two each: 10″x2″ round, 8″x2″ round, 6″x2″ round layers.
I leveled each cake, and filled between the two same-size layers with vanilla icing.
I then iced each two-layer cake, and added the dowel rods, and stacked the cakes.
Below are the links for each of the other steps:
How to Make a Cake Mix Taste Homemade
– Using Bake Even Strips
– How to Level Cakes for Layering
Rich Vanilla Buttercream Icing Recipe (I made three batches.)
How to Cover a Cake with Icing (not crumbs)
How To Assemble a Cake for Stacking
Prepare the Gum Paste Monogram and Ribbons
The monogram and the ribbons around the cake were made with gum paste colored with a deep red.
For the monogram, I cut the ribbons as I did for the flowers, about 1/4″ wide. I shaped them into letters and rolled up the ends. I made the monogram with at least one overnight to set.
For the ribbons that go around the cakes, you need to cut those and immediately apply them to the cake.
A simple approximation for how long to make them is 3.25 x cake diameter. So, for the 6″ cake, I made the ribbon 19.5″ long; for the 8″ cake, 26″ long; for the 10″ cake, 32.5″ long. They were all 1″ wide.
Assemble the Cake
Assembling the cake was actually pretty simple.
I pressed the flowers in to place. If the icing is thin, you may need to add a dab of icing behind each flower to help it stay up.
The one “disaster” was when I knocked the large flower I’d planned to have up top with the monogram… and it fell off of the cake and shattered into about eight pieces.
If I’d have had a few spares, I would have been fine, but I just had to use the monogram on its own, and I think it turned out fine.
Here is the finished product with my other pride and joy… the Tree Stump Groom’s Cake. Love it!