Snowflake cake: Show off your favorite cookies in a whole new way

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Several years ago I saw a lovely cake in a magazine – simple, and perfect. It was a layer cake with white icing, with a band of decorated Christmas tree cookies all around the base. A bright red ribbon encircled the top of the cake; and there may have been a candle in the center, I don’t remember that part.

What I was fascinated with was the use of cookies on a cake. I didn’t make the cake that year, but I never forgot about it. And then…Each year we make many, many snowflake cookies here in the King Arthur test kitchen, and we really wanted to find new ways to showcase them. Like a flash, like a vision burnt across the clouds, it hit me. The Cookie Cake! A tall white column of cake all aflutter with dainty delicate snowflakes and dusted with sparkly edible glitter. I felt like a little kid dancing around our Web producer, Halley, begging “ohplease, ohplease, ohpleasecanI?”

After a few dubious waggles of her elfin brows, Halley gave me the go-ahead and I dove right in. I promised her it would be winter sparkly and yes, easy enough for others to make, too. So, head to your kitchen and whip up a batch of cutout snowflake cookies, and your favorite layer cake and meet me back here. Ready? GO!

(huff, puff) OK, we’re back.

Here’s the tray of baked snowflake cookies, all cooled and ready to decorate with Royal Icing. I love Royal Icing for its “flowability,” smoothness, and bright white color.

If you don’t have meringue powder for Royal Icing, use our Simple Cookie Glaze recipe.

Use a pastry bag with a small tip, or a small hole snipped in the end to flood a layer of icing over your cookies. You’ll notice that some of the cookies have small hanging holes in them where they’ll be wired into the center spray. Be sure not to pipe over those holes. For this cake, I made about a dozen with holes, but only used about 8 or 10 in the final design. Better to have too many choices than too few.

If you’re using the cookies for the sides and top of the cake, you don’t need to leave holes, and can flood the whole cookie. Check here for more tips on the consistency of cookie icing and flooding techniques. Set the cookies aside to dry while you layer up your cake.

To keep your layers at their moistest, be sure to brush with a few tablespoons of spirits or simple syrup before stacking with icing.

To keep those pesky crumbs out of your final icing layer, add a thin layer of icing all over the cake and freeze it for about 15 minutes. This coat of “primer” will seal in crumbs, and fill in gaps to give you the smoothest coating.

Once your crumb coat is frozen, you can go on to apply a nice, thick final layer of icing. Oh, and try to keep your fingers out better than I did :).

To smooth out your icing, dip a long offset spatula into hot water and wipe most of the water off. The moist heat will glide over the icing, leaving a flat, even surface for you to decorate.

At this point, you’ll want to make a place in the center of the cake for the snowflake spray. While you can purchase special plastic inserts, I found these great wide straws at my local supermarket. They were billed as “milkshake straws” and were about 1/2″ in diameter and more than 12″ long. I think some places also sell them as “bubble tea” straws.

Insert the straw into the center of the cake and press it down firmly until it penetrates all of the layers. Remove the straw, poke out any cake stuck inside and re-insert the straw. Trim it even with the top of your cake with a snip of your scissors.

For a professional-looking finish, try using a band of ribbon at the top or bottom of your cake. I found this sparkly silver ribbon in our photo studio and trimmed it to size. A little daub of icing holds it in place.

Once the ribbon is in place, dust the entire cake with edible glitter, if desired. You could also use coarse white sparkling sugar for an icy/sparkly look.

By now your decorated cookies should be dry enough to start attaching to the sides and top of the cake. Place a generous daub of icing on the back of the cookie and press it securely onto the cake.

Try to place your cookies to cover the seam of the ribbon. Take care as you press the cookies on not to damage your fine lines and details.

Don’t forget to add a few cookies to the base of your plate for pretty fallen snowflakes.

Don’t fret over broken cookies. They can be placed up against the ribbon, or against another cookie to make the best of their flaws.

To make the spray, insert a paper covered wire (size 18 to 22 gauge) into the hole in the cookie. Bend a small hook into the end of the wire to ensure your cookie won’t slide off the end.

Gather 8 to 10 of the wired cookies together and twist the wires together to make a stem. Leave some wires longer and some shorter for variety. To glitz up the spray, apply a little water, then sprinkle on some more edible glitter.

Insert the spray wires into the straw in your cake. Gently bend the individual wires until you’re happy with the shape, then secure the bottom of the spray in place with a little icing and a couple of cookies.

A few more sprinkles of glitter, a few more cookies placed nearby, and you’re ready to present your snowflake fantasy cake. Imagine this as the centerpiece for your holiday dinner, or heading up the dessert section of your buffet.

The cookie decorated cake can span your whole baking year, too. How about a chocolate cake covered in bright gold stars for the New Year? Or a pink frosted Red Velvet Cake covered in tiny heart cookies? The possibilities are endless!

MaryJane Robbins
About

MaryJane Robbins grew up in Massachusetts and moved to Vermont 20 years ago. After teaching young children for 15 years, she changed careers and joined King Arthur Flour in 2005. MaryJane began working on King Arthur Flour's baker’s hotline in 2006, and the blog team ...

comments

  1. "Paul from Ohio"

    So this is – have your cake and eat your cookies too? Such a creative soul you are MJ. Happy Holidays – let’s eat cookies and cake!
    Exactly! For those days when you want both! :) ~ MaryJane

    Reply
  2. Bridgid

    MJ – just as I squealed when YOU answered the bakers’ hotline about OMG! I LOVE YOU! well – here is another reason why. This is what my wedding cake SHOULD have looked like – something like it, anyway! Thank you for all of your wonderful, creative, fun, experimentive (is that a word?) ideas. This one, well, takes the cake.
    You are too funny honey! Call anytime, it’s great to talk baking in person, isn’t it? :) ~ MaryJane

    Reply
  3. omaria

    Mary Jane, it is not fair that you show this beautiful cake when the cookie cutters are not available, I wanted them for my $40.00 free shipping.Will you still get them in or are they gone forever ?
    Gosh, no matter how many snowflakes we get each year, we run out at least once. I don’t see any more on order right now, but give us a call in about a week to see if the status has changed. ~ MaryJane

    Reply
  4. gaitedgirl

    Wow. Just plain wow. MJ, how do you do it?? That cake is gorgeous!!!!! I just don’t think I have the patience to do something like that. My cookies wouldn’t turn out as pretty as yours. The cake, maybe :)

    @Bridgid – You got to talk to MJ?! Damn you’re lucky lol (not that the other KAF aren’t awesome in their own right – because they are – but it’s just awesome that the bloggers we follow faithfully take the time out to talk and help us little people ;) )
    Little people? You do know I’m just barely 5 feet tall, right? ;) and I still make my share of kitchen goofs and gaffs. Already have a collection going for the April Fools day blog.
    And no fighting over who gets to talk to us. You are always most welcome to drop me an email. maryjane.robbins@kingarthurflour.com. I’d LOVE to hear from you. ~ MaryJane

    Reply
  5. kedwards71

    MJ, your snowflake cookies as such an inspiration to me every year at Christmas time! I was just asked to bring the cake to our family’s Christmas Eve dinner. Last year I made royal icing Christmas trees from sugar cones and pretzel rods and used them as the cake topper. I wondered how I was going to top that one, this year, and ta da….here it is!! So fun and creative! Thank you, thank you!!
    Awesome! I can just imagine how thrilled everyone is going to be at your supreme talent. Be sure to take pics to send me! ~ MaryJane

    Reply
  6. omaria

    Pj. Quick, quick, throw them in my box that is going to be shipped. If you are already too late for that, hold them for me till I get an other order going. Just ordered things from the $60.00 free shipping and now ordered again for the 40 dollar free shipping. So everything else will have to wait for a while.

    Don’t worry, ‘Ria – I think we have a good supply of these new cutters… PJH

    Reply
  7. fithiancj

    I love this idea: I started using decorated cookies for cake decorations when mykids werelittle as I am not a great cake decorater.
    I have used the wire idea to make cookie garlands for the Christmas tree. Huray for putting cookies on cakes!

    Reply
  8. Bridgid

    @gaitedgirl- I AM LUCKY! It was the luck of the draw. I called the bakers’ hotline with a question, and there on the other end was this lovely voice saying it was MaryJane, and I squealed like a teenage girl seeing the Beatles on TV. (ok, so I am dating myself, and while I am not old enough to have lived through that era, I have seen it on TV and get it.) Another thing to love about MJ – I too am barely 5′. Well, actually I am ALMOST 5′.

    You know what I think is really cool about KAF? I don’t think they think about us as “little people.” I think they think about us that we are friends who love to do the same thing: bake.
    You guys are too funny and very very good for my ego ;) . Does this get me out of vacuuming and cleaning the kitty box at home? I don’t quite think David will buy the whole “rock star” deal! ~ MJ

    Reply
  9. gaitedgirl

    MJ – *squeals* Eek! One day, you’ll see in your inbox an email for me, just because! That’s so awesome that you left that! Yet another reason why I LOOOOOOOOOOVE everyone KAF! Bridgid’s right, you don’t act like we’re “little people”. You really do treat us just like we’re the friends and neighbors who call or come over, completely freaked out, flour in our hair and streaking down our face and shirts, trying to figure out what in the world went wrong. And there you sit, explaining what happened and how to fix it. I don’t think I can think of another company who would do that (except Butterball during Thanksgiving). That means a lot to us, old and new bakers alike.

    @Bridgid – Hey, I’d be squealing too! (see above comment to MJ) Or I may have just sat there with my mouth hanging open, completely flabberghasted, until MJ thought the line was dead. lol It’s so funny – KAF bloggers/customer helpline folks are our rock stars. We get so excited over them!
    Thanks so much for the kind words! We really do love our customers and love spreading the baking love :) ~Mel

    To the both of you – Compared to y’all, I’m tall. Standing at 5’7″! =D

    Reply

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