When I first saw the tufted billow weave technique I was intrigued. Recently, I learnt that Susan Trianos developed the technique of arranging fondant billows in a weave pattern. You can check out her DVD here.
I wanted to try it out on a cake badly, but somehow the opportunity never came up. These days I am not baking cakes, but cupcakes and cookies (purchased) are my preferred decorating medium. I searched all over the internet for billow weave cupcakes. With no luck. So, I had to figure things out along the way.
I thought a clean and level fondant surface would be best to attach the billows to. So I started by spreading some frosting on a cupcake. Then I cut out a fondant circle approximately the size of the cupcake surface in the same colors as the billows would be.
Next, I placed the fondant circle on the frosted cupcake and worked it with the warmth of my fingers a bit to create a somewhat neat edge.
Time to roll out fondant for the billows and cut it into squares. For the pink and purple cupcake I used 2x2 cm squares. For the brown and white ones they were 3x3 cm. Pinch two sides together so the fondant folds up and forms into a billow.
I actually cut the pointy ends of each billow so they could align better next to each other on the cupcake. They are attached to the cupcake with a little gum glue brushed on the back-side.
My first try was the purple cupcake. I started with the outer billows arranged in a circle around the cupcake. However, when it came to the next row I realized the same size of billows couldn't be placed in a neat interlocking weave pattern. Instead of cutting even smaller fondant squares, I rolled the fondant thinner, which had the same effect: smaller billows that would interlock better.
I then finished it off with a bigger billow again the in the center.
But the overall look wasn't what I had imagined for billowing cupcakes. With the pink cupcakes I started in the center and build rows of billows rather than circles as before.
However, on the edge the rows wouldn't finish off nicely. Instead of putting in half-billows, I finished off with a circle of billows around the cupcake.
As last step I brushed on some pearl dust and placed gold dragees between the billows on the outside and in the center. Since the billows are so small I thought one between each billow (like you see on cakes) would be overload.
Making lots of little 2x2 cm fondant billows can be very time consuming. So I thought with bigger billows covering a cupcake would be quicker. I went up only one centimeter to 3x3 cm squares, but the billows were right away significantly bigger and only 9 per cupcake were needed.
However, the extreme humidity we are having here right now during monsoon season got to these cupcakes (especially the white ones) before I could take decent pictures. So this will be the only close-up of the larger billows:
Again, I started at the center and worked my way outwards in rows. One difference though to the pink cupcakes: With the bigger billows I wasn't able to fit a "circle row" around. So this time I left the "pointy ends" on the outside billows. Some of the underlying fondant base still shines through, but I think since it is the same color it is acceptable.
Also, I brushed them with gold dust and placed gold dragees in between the billows and on the outside ends. Instead of dragees little fondant dots in the same or a contrasting color can be used as well.
Which way do you prefer? Maybe you have yet another idea how the tufted billow weave technique can be applied on cupcakes? I would love to here from you.