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Happy Trails Cake

If the American West is your vision of the perfect wedding locale, our stagecoach can take you there. Built from gum paste pieces, it crosses two fondant tiers, which feature a rugged horizon above and a roped and fringed garland below.

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Instructions:

Step 1

Advance work: Building the stagecoach will be easy if you follow the patterns and allow at least a week or two in advance for proper drying. The pattern pieces are clearly marked and keyed to fit together as you would a model airplane--you'll be attaching the gum paste pieces with hot glue.

Step 2

First, glue pattern pieces to poster board and cut out (the additional thickness of poster board will reinforce the pattern). Set aside. Mix an entire can of gum paste, tinting half light ivory and leaving the remaining half white. Roll out ivory gum paste 1/8 in. thick and cut out stagecoach parts, horse and wheels.

Step 3

Dry on flat surface that is lightly dusted with cornstarch. Dry pieces on one side for a day, then turn and dry for one more day. The pieces should be completely dry and hard.

Step 4

On the two coach side pieces, mark a guideline with a light pencil, following the dotted line on the pattern. This is the point where pieces should be attached. See pattern for stagecoach assembly instructions.

Step 5

For Horse: Attach legs to reverse side of horse, offset slightly to create a 3D effect. Pipe tip 2 pull-out mane and tail. Dust with grated non-toxic artist chalk using a decorator brush. Cut a 2 1/2 x 1 1/2 in. gum paste oval base for figurine. Set aside to dry.

Step 6

Cake Preparation: Bake one 13 x 9 7/8 in. oval, one 14 in. square and one 14 in. round cake. To create bottom cake, cut 14 in. round in half and place on either side of 14 in. square cake to form large oval. Prepare for plate and pillar construction. Tint 1 package of fondant medium brown, 1/3 package green, leave 2/3 package white and combine with remainder of white gum paste. Tint the remaining 8 packages ivory.

Step 7

Prepare cakes with buttercream and cover with ivory fondant; smooth with Easy-Glide Smoothers. Divide bottom tier into 8 sections by wrapping a 3 in. high band of waxed paper around bottom of cake and folding it four times. While waxed paper is still folded, cut in a scallop design.

Step 8

The top peak of scallop should measure 2 1/2 in. high, the lowest 1 1/2 in. high. When fully opened, the waxed paper will have 16 peaks. Place waxed paper on cake sides and trace scallops with toothpick; this will serve as a guide for positioning rope and fringe. Pipe tip 4 bead bottom border.

Step 9

Make fringe pieces (cut, attach and trim one at a time): Roll out the white fondant mixed with gum paste 1/8 in. thick. Cut into 1 in. wide x 3 in. deep rectangular section.

Step 10

Using scissors, fringe the section by cutting 1/8 in. wide strips vertically almost to the top edge. Do not cut all the way through. Attach fringe to cake side along your marked area using dots of royal icing.

Step 11

Trim any excess fringe even with your cake board. Next, make 16 ropes for garland: Roll brown fondant into 12-in. long strand; fold in half and twist. Attach to top of fringe with royal icing. Twist small pieces of rope to resemble a knot and attach at garland points with royal icing.

Step 12

For cactus scene on top tier, roll brown fondant 1/8 in. thick. Cut mountain strips, in various heights from 1 to 1 3/4 in..

Step 13

Attach to border of cake with brush strokes of water, smooth edges together. Roll green fondant 1/4 in. thick. Cut cactus shapes 3 1/2 in. high and 2 1/2 in. wide.

Step 14

Attach around border with water, smooth with finger. Using edge of tapered spatula, mark lines in cactus. Using buttercream icing, pipe tip 1 pull-out dot needles.

Step 15

Mark where horse's legs will be positioned on cake top and make holes in cake with lollipop stick. Cut lollipop sticks in half and attach to right front and back legs of horse with royal icing. Insert sticks in cake. Position coach and couple on base next to horse.

Step 16

At the reception: Assemble cake; add fresh flowers to bowl and position between cake tiers.

For a time-saving decorating option, replace the stagecoach and horse with additional fondant cactus shapes. Attach cactus pieces to lollipop stick with icing, let dry and insert sticks in cake.

*Note: The top tier is often saved for the first anniversary. The number of servings given does not include the top tier.