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Free Topiary Cake Tutorial

Nisha is the owner of Sweet Delights Cakery in West Bloomfield, Michigan and has been decorating cakes for over ten years. She makes custom cakes for any occasion and specialises in sculpted and wedding cakes. Nisha won the grand prize at the 2014 Michigan ICES Sugar Art showcase; her work has been published in the ACD and Cake Masters Magazine and was also featured in the Detroit Free Press for new bakers in the Metro Detroit area. She offers a variety of classes for all ages in the West Bloomfield, Michigan area and also offers a series of tutorials on her website.

Equipment Required

White fondant

• Red, Green, Black, Brown gum paste

• Sugar Dress Lace Mix

• Large lace mat

• Everclear or lemon extract

• Edible glue

• Vegetable shortening

• Desiccated coconut

• Piping gel

• Dusting pouch

• Black, Egg Yellow, Ivory, Avocado, White,

Red, Brown and Moss Green gel colours

• Charcoal Black, Apple Green, Spruce

Green, Daffodil, Forget-Me-Not, Mango

and Gold petal dust colours

• Glaze spray

• 24 and 26 gauge floral wire

• Round nose pliers

• Wire cutters

• Rolling pin

• Gum paste rolling board

• Foam pad

• Leaf veiner

• Holly leaf cutter

• 1” Styrofoam balls

• Green and brown floral tape

• Brushes

• Ball tool

• Veining tool

• Five star serrated tool

• Shaping tool

• Sugar shapers, pointed chisel and mini

bone chisel

• Tweezers

• Scalpel or X- Acto knife

• #3 and #10 tips

• Bubble straws

• 8” wooden base

• 5/16”x24” metal rod

• 8 5/16” screws

• 8 5/16” washes

View in Carousel

Step 1

Bake 3 layers of cake for each tier (5”,6” and 7” rounds). Stack and fill the cakes and then refregerte it for few hours before carving. Finished height should be approx 4”.

Step 2

Cut out 4” 5” and 6” cake boards for each tier. Tier 1 – 4” and 5” cake board Tier 2 – 5” and 6” cake board Tier 3 – 6” and 7” cake board Place the 4” cake board on top centre of the iced 5” cake tier.

Step 3

Using the top and bottom boards as a cutting guide, cut around the side of the cake to create a cone shape.

Step 4

Apply buttercream on the cake and refrigerate it for few hours until the buttercream is firm to the touch.

Step 5

Cover the tier with fondant

Step 6

Using Rice Krispies Treats, make a 5” high x 3” diameter cone and cover it with fondant.

Step 7

To make the knots on the birch, take a 1” ball of fondant, flatten it and place it on the fondant covered tier. Use a #10 tip and make an indentation on the centre of the fondant.

Step 8

Using a bone chisel mini sugar shaper, score circular lines around the centre circle.

Step 9

Make more elongated lines.

Step 10

Using tweezers, pinch on the fondant and repeat all the way around the cake.

Step 11

To detail the top of the tier, use a veining tool and score a line around the top ¼“ from the edge.

Step 12

Using the pointed chisel sugar shaper, make indentations all around the scored line.

Step 13

Using a knife tool, draw lines on the top of the cake from the outer edge to the centre.

Step 14

Mix Charcoal Black petal dust with Everclear or lemon extract and paint the knots.

Step 15

Use White gel colour to highlight the black knots.

Step 16

Mix Ivory gel colour with Everclear to make a light colour wash and apply it to the side of the tier, leaving some exposed white fondant.

Step 17

Place the cake on a turning table and mix the Ivory gel colour with Everclear to make a darker colour than you made above. Using a wide brush, apply the paint to the top of the tier while turning the turntable.

Step 18

Using the edge of the brush, apply paint on the outer edge of the top tier.

Step 19

Take the White gel colour and mix it with Everclear to make a white colour mix and apply it over the Ivory layer you painted above.

Step 20

Follow the steps on the product to make the lace mix and apply a coat of the mix to the back side of the mat. Bake it in the oven according to the product description. Take it out of the oven, let it cool for a while and peel off the sheet to be used to decorate the outer bark.

Step 21

To create the inner bark texture, use the Ivory wash made in Step 16 and apply it to the cake lace. Apply a White layer over the Ivory layer. Finally, mix Charcoal Black petal dust with Everclear and use a smaller brush to apply light lines over the cake lace.

Step 22

Using a wet paper towel, apply some water to the back of the cake lace and place it around the cake. When placing the cake lace, stretch it so there will be less wrinkles on the cake.

Step 23

Using a scalpel tool, cut around the areas where there is a knot.

Step 24

Trim off the excess cake lace at the top and bottom edges.

Step 25

Using tweezers, add more texture by pinching the cake lace to create lines around the cake.

Step 26

Using a finer brush, draw lines around the cake using Ivory colour and Charcoal Black. Mix the colours separately with Everclear.

Step 27

Using a scalpel tool, gently peel off some areas of the cake lace to create a peeled bark texture.

Step 28

Using the veining tool, make a heart shaped indentation on the bark.

Step 29

Use Ivory gel colour and a finer brush to draw over the heart shaped indentation and the wording.

Step 30

Using a dry brush, dust Charcoal Black petal dust lightly around both edges of the heart shaped line.

Step 31

To make the moss, you will need desiccated coconut. To hydrate the coconut, use a little bit of hot water and add some Avacado colour and Egg Yellow gel to get the desired green colour. Add a little drop of White gel colour to the mixture and lightly mix it so there are spots of white on the moss.

Step 32

Apply some pipping gel to a few areas around the knots.

Step 33

Using tweezers, place the green desiccated coconut (moss) around the knots. Repeat the above step to create the bark texture on the remaining tiers, including the top tier (Rice Krispies Treats cone).

Step 34

To assemble the cake, you will need the 8” wooden base, 5/16”x24” metal rod, 8 5/16” screws and 8 5/16” washes.

Step 35

Attach the metal rod to the base by using a screw and a washer at the top and bottom of the base.

Step 36

Insert a bubble straw to the centre of the cake before placing the cake through the metal rod.

Step 37

Using fondant, make a 1” high ¼” thick rectangle strip to cover the metal rod and the screw.

Step 38

Cover the fondant strip with the sugar lace that you made in Step 20.

Step 39

Continue assembling the rest of the tiers.

Step 40

Cut out the holly leaves from the green gum paste.

Step 41

Use a 26 gauge wire to thread the holly leaves using edible glue.

Step 42

Use a leaf veiner to vein the holly leaves.

Step 43

Using a foam and a balling tool, thin out the edges of the leaf and let them dry on an apple tray overnight.

Step 44

Use Apple Green petal dust to dust the centre vein of the holly leaf.

Step 45

Apply Spruce Green petal dust from the edge of the petal towards the centre of the leaf.

Step 46

To give the leaf a shine, spray a glaze over the leaves.

Step 47

Colour the edges of the leaf using Americolor Bright White soft gel food colour (optional).

Step 48

To make the pine needles, cut the 26 gauge wire to 2” lengths. Use the Green gum paste to make a ¼” ball and insert it ⅔ of the way into wire. Using your thumb and index finger, roll the gum paste around the wire until you reach the top. Finally, slightly bend the pine needle.

Step 49

Take one of the pine needles and attach it to a 24 gauge wire using brown floral tape. Take five more needles and attach them around the centre pine needle. Move ⅛” down and attach another set of five needles.

Step 50

Step 51

Apply some Forget-Me-Not petal dust to the pine needles.

Step 52

Use the Red gum paste to make a ¼” ball (a berry) and then insert a 26 gauge wire into the ball by applying some edible glue to the wire.

Step 53

Using a five star serrated tool, make an indentation on top of the berry and let them dry overnight.

Step 54

Using a Charcoal Black petal dust, colour the top of the berry.

Step 55

To make the berry sprigs, attach one of the berries to the 24 gauge wire by using a brown floral wire. Attach two more berries on either side of the wire to make the centre cluster of the berry sprig.

Step 56

Make two more clusters and attach them as shown in the picture.

Step 57

Finally, spray the berries using a glaze spray to give it a shine.

Step 58

Take a 1” Styrofoam ball and attach it to a 24 gauge wire using hot glue. Apply vegetable shortening to the ball. Take the ¾” round black gum paste and cover the ball with it.

Step 59

Using the veining tool, score lines on the ball going only half way down.

Step 60

Use a #3 round icing tip and make a circle indentation at the end of the four lines.

Step 61

Mix Gold petal dust with Everclear to make a gold paint.

Step 62

Leaving the veining exposed in black, paint the four sections of the ball using the gold paint. Let the balls/jingle bells dry overnight.

Step 63

Take a ½” ball of gum paste and attach it to a 24 gauge wire.

Step 64

Using 24 gauge wire and ½” round ball of brown gum paste, make a cone shape that is 1” in length.

Step 65

Cut the gum paste into three parts and leave a centre.

Step 66

Using scissors, cut the centre into two parts.

Step 67

Trim the edges off each petal.

Step 68

Take the shaping tool and a foam pad and cup the five petals.

Step 69

Let the centre of the pinecone dry overnight.

Step 70

Roll out the gum paste to ⅛” thick and cut out a rectangle shape that is 2”x1”. On one side, cut it into five “V” shaped zig zags.

Step 71

Take the shaping tool and a foam pad and cup the petals.

Step 72

Using edible glue, attach the centre of the pinecone to the petals you made above.

Step 73

Let it dry overnight.

Step 74

To make the individual pinecone petals, take a ¼“ round ball of gum paste and make a teardrop shape that is approx 1” in length. Take a 26 gauge wire, make a small hook on one end and insert it into the gum paste teardrop.

Step 75

Place the petal on a foam pad and using the veining tool, make a indentation on the tip of the teardrop which will flatten the end.

Step 76

Turn the petal and cup it by running the veining tool from the tip of the petal to the bottom.

Step 77

Make 10-12 of these petals for each pinecone (make extras in case some break) and let them dry overnight.

Step 78

To assemble the pinecones, you will need the 24 gauge wire, brown floral tape and pinecone base and petals

Step 79

To assemble the petals, take a 24 guage wire and attach it to the pinecone base using brown floral tape.

Step 80

To form the third layer of petals, take 5-6 petals and attach them around the pinecone. Stagger the petals around the base.

Step 81

To form the fourth layer, start it ¼” below the third layer and follow the previous step.

Step 82

Dust the petals with Chocolate petal dust and apply Charcoal Black petal dust into the centre stem of the pinecone.

Step 83

Finally, take Americolor White gel colour and apply it to the tip of each petal.

Step 84

Attach a wire to the berry sprig that will be used to attach the garland to the cake.

Step 85

To make the garland, attach the pinecone, holly leaves, pine branches and the jingle bell to the berry sprig to the length needed for the first tier.

Step 86

When attaching the garland, use a bubble straw when inserting each end of the garland wire to the cake.

Step 87

Continue making more sections of the garland and attach them to the rest of the tiers.

Step 88

Your cake is finished!