Mum’s Seventieth Birthday Cake – fondant roses and cake lace

My Mum has just turned seventy and a while ago asked me to make her a special birthday cake. She was very specific. She wanted an ivory fondant covered cake with white lace and pink fondant roses on top. She had planned a family luncheon and thought a lovely cake would be a nice present from me.

I do love learning new things and being challenged in the process, so decorating a cake with handmade sugar roses was the perfect project for me. Besides it was lovely to put in the effort to create something that my Mum would enjoy and truly appreciate.

Last month I made a vanilla butter cake with buttercream icing to try out a recipe I had found. You can find the cake recipe here.

Fondant Roses

I made the roses a couple of weeks before they were needed. I must admit that my first attempts were really really awful. They looked more like someone had stepped on and crushed a rose instead, but practice makes perfect right…well perhaps better than squashed!

I coloured some white fondant with rose pink colouring gel. I was surprised at how little I needed to get a deep colour. My Mum wanted roses that were not too bright, so I toned it down a bit. I also added some tylose powder to help harden the flowers.

Add tylose powder to harden fondant
Add tylose powder to harden fondant

I purchased a five petal rose cutter, a set of modelling tools, floral wires, and a foam pad. The day before starting I modelled some fondant in to a cone shape around a floral wire and let it harden overnight. Though I also made cones without the wires.

Prepare flower cones the day before
Prepare flower cones the day before

After cutting out the fondant with the cutter I used a ball tool to thin and ruffle the edges of the petals on the foam pad. I had a lot of problems trying to handle all five petals and forming the rose around the cone without the fondant tearing. In the end I Youtubed it (that’s a word?) and found a three and two petal method that was a lot easier.

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Cut into 2 petal and 3 petal sections
Cut into 2 petal and 3 petal sections
Use a ball tool to thin and ruffle petal edges
Use a ball tool to thin and ruffle petal edges

I also applied glycerine with a paint brush to stick the petals together. For the smaller roses I used only one petal cut out and three cut out layers for the larger roses.

Apply glycerin with a paintbrush
Apply glycerine with a paintbrush
One layer petal cut out
One layer cut out petals
Two layers petal cut out
Two layers cut out petals
Three layers cut out petals
Three layers cut out petals

Cake Lace

Mum also wanted some old fashioned lace around her cake. Cake lace is something I’ve never come across before, but as it is edible and easy to make, I thought I’d give it a try. The silicone mat and cake lace mix is expensive however, so it’s not something I would normally purchase.

Cake lace mix and silicone mat
Cake lace mix and silicone mat

I spread the lace mix over the mat until all the pattern was covered and scraped off the excess. In a cool 75C oven I baked the silicone mat on a baking tray for 10-12 minutes until the mix was dry. Flipping the mat over I used a knife to slowly peel the cake lace from the mat. It tears easily so you have to be careful. I rolled the lace up in baking paper and stored it in an air tight container until I needed it.

Spread the cake lace mix
Spread the cake lace mix
Scrape off the excess
Scrape off the excess
Slowly peel off the lace once it has baked in the oven
Slowly peel off the lace once it has baked in the oven

The cake lace does looks very pretty, but I think it would look even better against a dark coloured fondant. White lace on ivory fondant isn’t as striking. The silicone mat could also be used to emboss fondant as well.

Assembly – the day before

A week beforehand I made four 9in/22cm cakes which I leveled. I coloured each layer with rose pink food colouring to make an ombré cake. I double wrapped them in aluminium foil and kept them in the freezer and thawed them before assembling.

Thaw out layers
Thaw out layers

I made a huge batch of American buttercream and started to assemble my layers (four batches). I thinly spread some strawberry jam and added some sliced strawberries (I had some help) then the buttercream. Repeat!

Spread on strawberry jam and sliced strawberries
Spread on strawberry jam and sliced strawberries
Then add the buttercream
Then add the buttercream
Four layers
Four layers

After putting on the fourth cake layer, I decided that the cake looked stupidly tall. My cake layers were 3cm thick. So I removed one layer before covering the cake in rolled fondant. If it was a tiered cake, it would of probably looked ok.

Fondant covered three layer cake
Fondant covered three layer cake

The fondant needed some spakfilla as there were a few tears and other imperfections. Fondant spakfilla is essentially a small amount of left over coloured fondant mixed with a small amount of water to make a paste. I then kept it in the fridge overnight. A lot of resources say not to refrigerate fondant, but you definitely can. Just let it come to room temperature before touching it. It also helped that it was a cold day, so the fondant coped really well.

Assembly – on the day

After removing the cake from the fridge and waiting for 2 hours, I started decorating the cake with the cake lace.

With a paintbrush, I liberally applied water to the fondant and then positioned the cake lace. I slowly worked around the cake brushing and carefully pressing the cake lace to the fondant. I used just over two cake lace sections to encircle the cake. The cake lace also had the added benefit of covering all my nasty fondant mistakes.

Apply water with a paintbrush and carefully add the cake lace
Apply water with a paintbrush and carefully add the cake lace
Finished lace covering my fondant mistakes
Finished lace covering my fondant mistakes

I had purchased a glittery cake topper from Etsy (BlessedBlondies) and positioned it in the centre. I then positioned the roses. For the roses without floral wires, I carefully inserted a wire and positioned them. I finally added some petal dust to give them some sparkle.

Completed cake
Completed cake

All done and looking very pretty indeed. Mum adored her cake, as you can see! And it tasted lovely too!!

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Flower detail
Flower detail
The birthday girl
The birthday girl
Slice of birthday cake
Slice of birthday cake

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