Baking a cake can be somewhat of a daunting task, especially if you're not super skilled in the kitchen. One wrong move, be it messing up the ingredient proportions or leaving it in the oven for a touch too long and everything can get messed up. It's a delicate process, people! That's why self-taught pastry chef Erin Gardner, a regular contributor on The Cake Blog and Craftsy’s Cake Decorating Blog, wrote a cookbook, Erin Bakes Cake: Make + Bake + Decorate = Your Own Cake Adventure! ($18, amazon.com), that only features a handful of staple recipes which you can combine in various ways to create hundreds of different desserts—572 to be exact. Crazy, right?
One of our favorite creations in Gardner's book involves no frosting skills whatsoever, a relief to us who haven't yet mastered the art of piping. Her Sweet Bouquet Cake is covered in a thin, uncomplicated layer of the sweet stuff, but is then topped with a beautiful, seemingly-intricate floral design made entirely from bits of different candies. Yes, look closely at that picture: Those two-toned petals are actually sliced Hi-Chews and the leaves are cut from pieces of taffy. It's totally brilliant.
Read on for her entire how-to!
Sweet Bouquet Cake
6-inch round layer cake, finished in raspberry buttercream or vanilla buttercream tinted pink
Layered chewy taffy candy or filled licorice sticks (like Hi-Chew)
Cream-filled licorice bites (flower-shaped)
Green and pink taffy
Tiny yellow crunchy candies
Small sharp knife
How to Make It
Large Open Flowers Step 1: Cut thin slices of layered taffy candy at an angle. I made two of these flowers on the cake, one using pink candy with white centers and the other using yellow candy with white centers, but you can use whatever colors you like. As you go, separate the cut pieces and spread them out on parchment paper so that they don’t stick together. Cut three to four pieces in half to form little triangles. Step 2: Place a line of five or so cut candy pieces onto the cake. This is the top row of the front of the flower. Layer another row of cut candy pieces so that the tips of this next row overlap the first. Continue layering pieces of candy to create the shape of the flower. Step 3: Press a semicircle of tiny yellow crunchy candies into the buttercream just above the first row of petals. Fill in the spaces between the petals with candy. Add a few of the cut triangles around the top edge of the semicircle.
Fern Leaves Step 1: Cut thin slices of layered green taffy candy at an angle, just as you made the petals in step 1 for the large open flowers. Step 2: Place a line of cut slices onto the cake in a row at a slight angle. Add a second row, mirroring the first, to create a shape similar to a fern leaf.
Flat Leaves Step 1: Roll a piece of green taffy between two pieces of parchment paper. Microwave the candy for 5 seconds to soften, if needed. Step 2: Use a small knife or leaf cookie cutter to cut leaf shapes from the taffy. Pinch the pointed ends to give the leaves shape.
Flat Open Rose Step 1: Cut thin slices of layered taffy candy at an angle, the same as in step 1 for the large open flowers and leaves. I used white candy with an orange center, but you can use whatever colors you like. Step 2: Place one of the tiny end slices onto the cake as the center of the rose. Add more pieces of candy, ascending in size, around the center piece.
Large Peach Rose Step 1: Gummy peaches are flat, triangular-shaped pieces of candy. Cut all three sides off the triangle and discard (or enjoy!) the center. Repeat with two more gummy peaches. Step 2: Place two of the cut strips onto the cake, cut-side down (like two Cs facing each other), to form the center of the flower. Add more strips around the first two, slightly cupped toward the center of the flower.
Small Roses Step 1: Roll a piece of pink taffy between two pieces of parchment paper. Microwave the candy for 5 seconds to soften, if needed. Step 2: Cut the candy into 1⁄2-inch-wide strips. Coil one of the strips up and pinch the bottom to give the coil a tapered shape. Repeat with more strips to make more tiny coiled flowers.
Reprinted from Erin Bakes Cake by Erin Gardner. Copyright (c) 2017 by Erin Gardner. By permission of Rodale Books. Available wherever books are sold.
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