By Libbie Summers
Photography by Cedric Smith
My husband’s favorite cake (Red Velvet) covered in a crude blanket of plaid.
Note: I don’t like fondant. Applying a fondant layer is not my way of decorating cakes on the usual. But in this instance it’s a must. The glory is, for this homespun chic cake, nothing has to be perfect. Perfectly imperfect is actually better. I’ve found if you wear enough plaid when you bring this to the table, no one will notice any mistakes. Oh, and a little rosemary wreath and red pom-poms are another form of distraction.
How to Decorate a Plaid Cake
What you’ll need:
4 (8 or 9-inch)layers of your favorite cake (I used Red Velvet)
Meringue butter cream frosting
Cream or white fondant (God, I hate fondant, but I kept this as thin as possible so I wouldn’t have to eat much of it)
Black gel food coloring
Kraft brush (I used a 1-inch brush)
What to do:
1. Bake your favorite cakes and allow to cool completely.
2. Frost between each cake layer and on the sides leaving a VERY smooth surface (for the fondant to lay smoothly on the cake you need a smooth surface). I like to use a bench scraper to get it uber smooth. I did two (2 layer cakes) instead of one tall cake. After I cover them in fondant, I’ll stack them before “plaiding”.
3. Working with one piece of fondant at a time and keeping the other covered in plastic, knead it until it becomes soft and pliable. Adding a little vegetable shortening while you knead will make it more pliable later and not dry out as easy. •I did this cake in two fondant covered layers (each with two layers of cake underneath) because I’m not good at dealing with fondant and it was all I could handle at the time.
4. Measure your cake up the side, across the middle and down the other side. Now add 2-inches to that number. This will be the diameter of your rolled out fondant leaving enough extra to move around if need be and easy to cut off around the bottom.
5. Lightly dust a working surface with corn starch.
6. Roll out your fondant to a workable thin thickness (I. DON’T. LIKE. THICK. FONDANT.) Use your rolling pin to roll it up. It’s easier than trying to pick up the fondant with your hands to drape on the cake.
7. Brush your cake lightly with water.
8. Roll the fondant slowly over the top of the cake.
9. Smooth the fondant with your hands working from the top down. Lifting up the fondant if needed to get out any big air bubbles.
10. Cut off excess fondant around the bottom.
11. Repeat the fondant covering process with the second (2 layer cake) and once covered, stack it on top of the first layer. Now we get to have some fun.
12. Water down your gel food coloring to a charcoal gray color before painting on the plaid
13. At this point, you can measure how many inches you want between the stripes. I just free handed it and it worked out great. Again, embrace the Perfectly Imperfect part of this cake.
14. Brush on vertical stripes across the top of the cake. Now brush them down the sides. I found it was easier to do the tops and sides separately instead of doing one big stripe up the side, across the top and down the other side. Allow to dry.
15. Brush the horizontal stripes across the top through the other stripes. Now brush them down the sides. At this point, my edges at the top were a bit of a hot mess, so I decided to do a stripe around the circumference of the top of the cake to hide it all.
16. Allow to dry. Decorate with a rosemary wreath and pom-poms if you like for extra fun.