Succulent Cake

Buttercream artists everywhere are trading in their pink buttercream for green, and designing super trendy cakes topped with succulents and cacti. Check out the @ivenoven Insta feed! I can't do that… yet. But I'm pretty jazzed about this gum paste version.

Easy to assemble

I love how this little 6" cake packs a big punch of color without hours of buttercream artistry. The succulents are made in advance so they have plenty of time to dry. That means assembly is a breeze! To give the cake a realistic garden look, I crushed a few Oreo cookies in a food processor for dirt. Then set the succulents in place and added a few Valrhona cocoa nibs for pebbles.

How to make gum paste succulents:

I used the same basic technique for each of these succulents with slight variations to give them each a unique look. The possibilities are endless. Play around!

  1. Prepare and age a batch of Nicolas Lodge’s gum paste. Bring to room temperature if it was stored in the fridge.

  2. Color gum paste with Avocado, Forest Green and Turquoise ChromaDust. If you don't have fondant color dusts handy, gel food coloring will work in a pinch.

  3. Using a non-stick fondant rolling pin, on a non-stick surface dusted with corn starch, roll gum paste to 1/8” thick.

  4. Using flower cutters, cut small, medium and large flower shapes and store immediately in a large ziploc bag to prevent drying. See the supply list below for the cutters I used.

  5. Place the large shape on a foam flower pad and using a large ball fondant modeling tool press gently down on each petal. Rock the tool back and forth to transform the flat petal into a cup shape. Very gentle, keep it thick and poofy!

  6. Repeat the process for all petals/leaves.

  7. Optional: pinch the tip of each leaf to create the signature succulent point.

  8. Transfer to a flower shaping cup and repeat with the medium shape.

  9. Using a bit of edible glue, attach the medium shape to the large shape so that the petals/leaves alternate.

  10. Repeat process for the last/small shape.

  11. Roll a small piece of gum paste into a ball or cone shape. Using a small scissors snip the center to create a bud. Fasten the bud to the center of the succulent with edible glue.

  12. Using small pieces of cut sponge (I like to use natural sponge) separate the succulent leaves to create a realistic shape.

  13. Let dry completely.

  14. Dust the tips of each leaf with purple petal dust.

  15. Briefly hold each succulent over a pot of steaming water to set and smooth the color. This makes a big difference, try it!

• For the avocado and forest green succies I put my gumpaste top side down on flower foam and pressed gently with a fondant ball tool to puff out each leaf.

• Experiment with different pinching techniques for realistic variation.

How to make edible glue:

  1. Add 1/4 teaspoon Tylose Powder to 1/4 cup hot water.

  2. Stir or shake and let cool to room temperature. Mixture will look chunky at first but will dissolve as the water cools.

  3. Store in an airtight container in a cool place until ready to use.


Rose fondant/gum paste cutters
Succulents fondant/gum paste cutters

6" Vanilla Madeira Cake

Makes (1) 6" round cake

150g unsalted butter, softened
150g granulated sugar
3 large free-range eggs
150g self-raising flour
40g all-purpose flour
3/4 tsp pure vanilla extract
3 tablespoons whole milk

  1. Prepare a 6" round cake tin by spraying lightly with Everbake food release spray (this brand does not discolor your cake tins and comes clean easily) and lining the bottom and sides with parchment paper. I cut a parchment strip that's about an inch higher than the pan sides (cake may rise above pan)

  2. Preheat oven to 300º F.

  3. Using a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix butter and sugar on medium-high speed for about 5 minutes or until light and fluffy.

  4. Add eggs, flour, vanilla and milk.

  5. Mix for 5 minutes on a medium-high speed until batter is smooth.

  6. Transfer batter into prepared cake tin. Batter should be thick but fluffy. Tap tin once or twice to bring air bubbles to the top. Gently even out batter with an offset spatula.

  7. Bake for 1 hour 30 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean. Keep an eye on it after one hour.

  8. Once baked, let cake cool in the tin for about 5 minutes.

  9. Turn out onto a sheet of parchment paper and leave upside down to cool. This ensures a nice flat top.

  10. Once cooled, wrap in saran wrap overnight. Allowing the cake to "settle".

  11. Split cake into two layers and decorate as desired.

  12. To freeze: Skip step #10. Once cooled, wrap in saran wrap then tinfoil and freeze for up to 3 months. Alternatively, freeze cake overnight. Then seal using a vacuum sealing machine.

Fluffy White Buttercream

226g unsalted butter, softened (2 sticks)
500g icing sugar
2 tablespoons whole milk

  1. Using a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat softened butter on medium high speed until pale and smooth. About 5 minutes.

  2. Add half the icing sugar and mix on medium speed for 5 minutes.

  3. Add remaining icing sugar and milk. Beat on medium-high speed for another 5 minutes or until white and fluffy.

  4. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and give it one last blast to blend it all together.

Nicholas Lodge's Tylose Gumpaste

Makes about 2 cups

125g pasteurized egg whites (or fresh)
725g icing sugar
30g Tylose powder (27g if using P&H brand)
icing sugar
vegetable shortening

  1. Place the egg whites in a Kitchen Aid mixer bowl, fitted with the flat paddle or scraper paddle attachment.

  2. Turn the mixer on high speed for 10 seconds to break up the egg whites.

  3. Turn the mixer to the lowest speed; slowly add the 725g of powdered sugar to make a soft consistency royal icing.

  4. Turn up the speed to setting 3 or 4 for about two minutes.

  5. Make sure the mixture is at the soft-peak stage. It should look shiny, like meringue and the peaks fall over. (If coloring the entire batch, add the paste, gel or liquid color at this stage, making it a shade darker than desired)

  6. Turn the mixer to the slow setting and sprinkle the Tylose in over a 5 second time period. Turn the speed up to the high setting for a few seconds. This will thicken the mixture.

  7. Scrape the mixture out of the bowl onto a work surface that has been sprinkled with some of the reserved 100g of powdered sugar. Place shortening on your hands and knead the paste, adding enough of the reserved powdered sugar to form a soft but not sticky dough. You can check by pinching with your fingers and they should come away clean. Place the finished paste in a zip-top bag, then place the bagged paste in a second bag and seal well.

  8. Mature the gumpaste for 24 hours if possible before use, keeping in a cool environment.

  9. When you are ready to use the paste, cut off a small amount and knead until smooth and plyable. Add a bit of shortening if necessary. If coloring at this stage, knead the color into the paste until the desired shade is achieved.

  10. When not in use, the paste will need to be stored in the refrigerator. Before use, remove from refrigerator and allow the paste to come to room temperature.

  11. Vacuum-seal the paste with a food saver type system if available, or in zip-top bags with as much air removed as possible. The paste will keep refrigerated for approximately 6 months. You can keep the paste longer by freezing it. Be sure to use zip-top freezer bags. If you will be freezing a batch of paste, allow it to mature for 24 hours before placing into the freezer. The paste can be kept in the freezer for several years with no problems and can be taken out of the freezer, thawed, used and refrozen without any problems or ill effect on the paste.

Source: Nicholas Lodge

Note: Less Tylose can be used if you do not want the gumpaste to dry as fast or if making dark colors that typically dry the gumpaste out, (i.e. Black, Dark Green, Purple.)