Last year when I won first place at Sweet Times in the Rockies, one of the things tucked into my gift bag was a free Craftsy class. It went unnoticed for a long time because it was hidden among the other papers and leaflets, but when I found it, I promptly used it for Jessica Harris's Simply Modern Cake Design. And let me tell you, that class is amazing. There were some techniques that I learned (such as how to get crazy sharp corners on your cakes) that I think will change the way I make cakes forever.
The first technique, ruffle roses, was not in the Craftsy class but I figured out how to make them none the less. Here's how I did it!
For the first step, I picked a circle cutter that was close to the height of my cake, but just a little smaller. This tiers was 4 inches tall, so I used a 3 1/2 inch cutter to impress on the side, to guide me where I would want the outside row of my petals to lay.
Next I took a small amount of gumpaste and ran it through a pasta roller. I began at level 1, and worked my way down to level 5. I felt like level 5 was thin enough to look delicate and pretty (not thick, clunky petals), but still strong enough to handle the thinning of the edges and the spiraling I would do onto the cake.
I used my trusty wheel cutter and cut out some strips. These were about 1/4 inch thick, but can vary based on the size of your flowers or the size of your tier.
Then using my (very old) foam pad and a ball tool, thinned and frilled the edges just like I would with a gumpaste flower.
Using the circle impression I made in the first step, I placed the ruffles in a circle. I like to use Q-tips in this step, because it put the perfect amount of water on the cake. Also, the size and softness is really great for manipulating the ruffles into the position you want them. As you place the ruffle on the cake, be sure to gather it in spots to add texture - if you don't, it will look flat.
Then repeat that step again. Here you can see that the strip I cut was a little long and I spiraled it inwards. This works great! Just keep spiraling in the strips of gumpaste...
until you get a nickle or so sized hole in the center. Then, make a ribbon rose for the center. Wet the back of it with some water, and carefully place right in the center.
And then you've got a gorgeous ruffle rose! It really couldn't be easier!
For the offset chevrons, I finally tried a technique that I have been wanting to try for a while now, which is the wax paper transfer method. This was in the Craftsy class I took, and it's pretty darn brilliant. I was skeptical, but all those pieces in the chevrons went on so effortlessly and quickly that I'm a convert. Here is a tutorial here, if you don't have access to the class: Jessica Harris Wax Paper Transfer Method Tutorial
Silver leaf is a beautiful finish you can add to your cake, but first it's important that you make sure it is edible. I purchased mine on Amazon, and it comes in a little book of leaflets The silver sheets are attached to wax paper. It is terribly delicate, and will tear easily in your hands, so you need to be careful when working with it. When you are ready to attach it, you get the area of your cake wet (Q-tips worked well here for me, too), then let it gently adhere to the sides. Then take a brush and very, very lightly smooth it onto the cake.
I'm really looking forward to making some more cakes using these techniques - in fact, I'll be using a few of them for my next competition cake on February 14th.
Happy happy Valentine's Day!