Sawsen Ali, from Fancy Favours & Edible Art, created this striking buttercream cake for our May 2017 issue. In this tutorial, Sawsen teaches you how to create the mermaid golden details showcased throughout the cake as well as the on-trend vibrant ombre buttercream base.
- 1x 4” round cake, 3” high, 1x 5” round cake, 3” high, 2x 6” round cake, 3” high each
- 2.5kg of Buttercream of your choice.
- cake cards and bubble straws or dowels
- Choice of covered cake board, and several acrylic or plastic work boards
- Icing Spatula
- Paintbrushes, Palette knife if desired
- Cellophane or disposable piping bags plus #1 writing tip
- Seashell, jewel and brooch moulds of choice, the more flexible the mould is, the better. I used First Impressions Drop set mould, Marvelous Molds Diamond Swag and generic jewel and seashell moulds
- Cake Lace Snakeskin or fishnet mat
- Gold Cake lace
- Dipping solution or lemon extract
- Wilton Sky Blue, Rose, and Sugarflair Eucalyptus
- Metallic Golden Sands Edible lustre by Rainbow Dust
- Mixing pot for lustre
- Cornflour or cornstarch to dust moulds, if desired
- Chocolate coins to decorate
Prepare a large section of cake lace by applying the product to the mat and working in carefully with a spatula or scraper. Bake according to the instructions on the tub or air-dry overnight.
Once the cake lace is fully dry it should begin to curl up at the edges or easily peel away from the mat. If sticky allow to dry longer before removing.
Measure and cut two 6” squares of cake lace, then split one diagonally to form two triangles as shown. Set aside between greaseproof paper until later.
Set aside enough buttercream to fill and crumb coat the cakes, then split and colour the remaining buttercream as shown. Colours used (clockwise from bottom left): Sky blue, Eucalyptus plus Sky blue, uncoloured and Rose plus a hint of Sky blue.
Take 4-5 tablespoons of plain buttercream and heat carefully in the microwave in 5-second bursts on half power, until softened to almost-pourable consistency, and air bubble free (but not liquid or separated).
Fill a piping bag fitted with a #1 tip with the softened buttercream.
Place the tip within the deepest part of the jewel cavity, apply even pressure to force buttercream into the crevices of the mould.
Swirl the tip around and work outwards, applying constant pressure to spread the buttercream across the mould. This circular motion helps reduce air bubbles in the finished piece.
Fill all moulds similarly, ensuring the cone tip is deep within the centre of the jewel cavity each time. Jewel moulds with shallow/ weak connection points will either require reinforcement by piping a mould of buttercream behind them, or separation into smaller pieces and reassembly on the finished cake.
Freeze the moulds until completely solid, then flex the silicone back carefully and flick out the jewels. An artists palette knife or end of a paintbrush may be of use here. Place the frozen jewels on a work board and refreeze.
Rigid or complex moulds are harder to work with, but may still be used. In this case, a dusting of cornflour and a longer freezing time (such as several hours) can help the shape release more easily.
Long and thin jewelled elements may be prone to breakage, so take care when removing from the mould. Gently release the silicone away from the edges of the shape first, then apply even pressure to the back of the mould to help the shape pop out. Make as many jewels as required.
Mix a thick paint using lustre dust and dipping solution or extract. Paint on to chocolate coins and frozen buttercream jewels then set aside or freeze again until needed.
Make more piping cones or bags with #1 tips filled with aqua, pink and white buttercream. Set aside to decorate the cake with later.
Fill and crumb coat the cakes as shown, building the 6” rounds into a double-barrel tier with dowelling between if required. Chill well.
Use a spatula to coat the lowest tier in the blue and aqua coloured buttercreams as shown. Vary the colours on the diagonal, to fit with the rest of the design of the lowest tier.
Smooth the tier using a scraper, retaining some texture or pattern to the buttercream if you so wish. Chill until set.
Finish the top of the cake with buttercream.
Pipe aqua and pink buttercream around the second tier as shown, then blend the colours together as much as required using your scraper as you smooth. Chill then ice the top of the tier too, as previously described.
Ice the top tier in pink-to-cream ombre shades. You can use piping bags filled with various shades of pink, or a spatula as shown.
Take care when icing the top tier, as the small size may cause the cake to slip. A piece of non-stick matting or wet kitchen roll beneath an acrylic work board may help keep the cake steady.
Once chilled, finish the top using your spatula. Chill all tiers until fully set and firm to touch before proceeding to the next step.
Begin to assemble the cake by stacking the lowest tier onto the board of your choice, adhered with a dab of buttercream. Dowel using bubble straws or your method of choice.
Place a thin layer of buttercream over the centre of the cake before carefully stacking on the next layer. Ensure the cakes are level and the colour design centred at each stage.
Stack the final tier similarly, taking care to ensure the cakes are central and level.
Prepare to apply the cake lace as shown (the uncut square is for the right side of the cake, beyond the triangle). Carefully line up the pieces before you use them, checking the fit and trimming if necessary.
Adhere the cake lace to the buttercream by using gentle pressure to smooth the lace onto the cake. With a non-crusting buttercream such as mine the lace will adhere without anything needed to stick it.
Working fast, pipe a small amount of buttercream on the largest diamond swag (or the jewels of your choice) and adhere to the cake. Keep all except the few jewel pieces you’re working with in the freezer to prevent them softening.
Build up the design, breaking the jewel sections if necessary to allow a better fit. It is normal for some of the gold lustre to come off at this point.
Build a second layer to the design using smaller diamond swag elements. Take care to line up the jewels with respect to each other and maintain even spacing.
Once the design is completed, repaint the jewels with more gold paint to replace the lustre that wore away. Be careful to avoid drips and smudges on the rest of your cake.
Build up the design on the central tier similarly, using seashell moulds. Use a fine paintbrush to wipe away any stray buttercream used to adhere the pieces.
Apply jewel and brooch elements as desired, then pipe cream, pink and aqua coloured pearls to complete.
Begin to build up the drop jewel design on the top tier section by section. Take care not to hold the jewels too long or they may begin to melt at your touch and mar the finish, although the lustre initially painted on does help to prevent that somewhat.
Build up drops of varying length as shown, taking care to wipe away traces of buttercream which squeeze out from the sides of the jewels. Paint over again with gold lustre to touch up the jewels as required.
Pipe swags of pearls over the drops to complete the design. Take care to avoid peaks as you pipe, by ensuring your buttercream is smooth and soft enough, or pushing them down gently with a damp paintbrush after piping.
Stack some gold coins, brooches and seashell shapes at the base to decorate, using buttercream to adhere the pieces.
Finish by piping pearls and décor onto the treasure pile.
This is the final look!