Sunday, October 13, 2013

Suit and Tie Cake / Missionary Cake Tutorial

NOTE: Sara’s blog has moved to a new location: Feel free to browse around my tutorials here, then come check out my new site!

I'm a native North Carolinian, born and raised in the beautiful Tarheel state, where the ocean, lush forests, and blue mountains both provide amazing views, where eggs, grits, bacon and livermush are beloved breakfast staples, and where manners and southern hospitality rule supreme. 

However, I married a Utah boy. So, as of January 2013, I now live in Utah, another beautiful state. As most people know, the religion in Utah is predominately Mormon, or LDS--The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Most of you have likely seen LDS missionaries at some point. For those who may not be familiar with LDS missions, there are lots of delightful LDS young men and women who volunteer to leave their home for 2 years to teach their religious beliefs and do service for to anyone who is interested or in need. They don't get to choose where they go: it may be Arkansas, or it may be Costa Rica. I think of it as a selfless and intimidating task, and, like anyone who is willing to put their beliefs on the line, I have a lot of respect for them! Getting a mission call (when they find out where they'll be serving), and leaving on one's mission (called a "missionary farewell"), is a huge deal, and of course, deserves a special cake!

This cake was commissioned for a young man who had been called to serve in South Korea. This cake design was specifically requested, and can be found all over Pinterest, Google, etc, so there's not one person or design I can give credit to. This basic design is versatile! Use it for a Father's Day cake, change it to a Tux for a Groom's Cake, or tweak it for a Promotion celebration cake.

First, it's always helpful to sketch out your design. I love using grid paper, so I can plan the cake to scale, with each square representing one inch. 

To begin, I baked up three 10" square Chocolate w/ Raspberry swirl cakes, and torted each one. The third cake was cut in half down the middle, and added at the end to create a roughly 10 x 15" cake. The layers were filled with a Raspberry Buttercream, then the entire thing was frosted with Vanilla Swiss Meringue Buttercream (my favorite buttercream to use under fondant).  After chilling the frosted cake in the fridge till firm, we're ready to begin!

This cake is all about layers, and working from the bottom to the top. Based on my sketch, I trimmed a piece of white fondant for the white shirt underneath. On top of that, using 2 seperate pieces of fondant strips, I created the tie, first cutting out the shape, then applying thin strips of fondant for the stripes, then wrapping the smaller upper piece around the bottom. I added a bit of Tylose powder to the fondant so that it would set up a little firmer and hold its shape. A rolled up bit of paper towel helps to hold the rounded form at the top of the tie while it dries.

Form the collar using a 3 inch wide strip of fondant (again with a sprinkle of Tylose added), trimmed at 45 degree angles at the ends, then folded in half. To help maintain form and thickness, and to help it stand upright, I have another 1" strip of fondant tucked in the middle. Cardstock helps to hold a smooth front and maintain the upright angle I want while it dries. 

After allowing the collar to dry for a bit, I place it on the cake, positioning it around the tie. Using two pieces of fondant, I create the basic shape of the suit, trimming the tie as needed underneath to remove some of the bulk. A disposable scalpel (available on Amazon in packs) helps me trim the suit, tie, etc as needed. Using some wax paper and a sharpie, I make a rough template for the collar, trying to get the outside of the lapels precise in size and angle. Make sure to add about .5" on the inside edge, as that will be folded under to make the lapel look like it's attached to the suit. With the template, I can now cut 2, even, matching lapels, rather than guessing it.

I couldn't photograph the next step, as I had to work quickly so that my fondant didn't get too dry and crack:  I cut both lapels, then covered one with plastic wrap to keep it from drying out while working on the other. To attach the lapel, trace a thin line of water or edible glue paste along the cut edge of the suite already on the cake. Flipping the lapel piece right side down, match up the cut edges, then fold the lapel over into place, so that the inside edge remains tucked under. Using a rotary tool from my Wilton Fondant Tool kit, I first trace a seam line in between the top and bottom lapel, then trace stitch lines around all edges, as well as on the collar. This detail adds so much realism to the cake! 

At this point, I let out a big sigh, b/c all of the hard stuff is done! 

To create the signature missionary name tag, mix a small amount of black fondant with a good sprinkle of Tylose. Roll it out, cut it into a 2.5 x 1.5" rectangle and allow it to dry. Once completely dry, I used a fine pain brush (used only for cakes) and white food coloring to write on the young man's name, and the Korean text that says the church name on it. Set it aside to dry. Next time, after drying, I would rub a bit of Crisco, Confectioner's Glaze, or cooking spray over the tag to give it a realistic plastic sheen. 

We wanted something to indicate that he was going to South Korea on the cake, so I waffled between incorporating the South Korean flag design into the tie, or making a lapel pin. Since I hadn't seen a lapel pin done in other designs, the pin won out, and was done in the same manner as the name tag, but using Wilton's edible food markers.

Finally, a finished product that any missionary (or tailor) would appreciate!


  1. All the contents you mentioned in post is too good and can be very useful. I will keep it in mind, thanks for sharing the information keep updating, looking forward for more posts. Thanks
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  2. What a lovely suit cake,thanks for sharing this info it really helpful

  3. Did you put a layer of fondant ont the buttercream or did you start to assemble the pieces directly on the buttercream?

    1. I assembled the pieces right onto the buttercream. I knew there would be enough overlap so as to avoid any oozing buttercream (and I hate eating fondant so I didn’t want two layers!), but you certainly could do a full layer of fondant first. If you look super-closely at the third photo from the top you can see how I began with a white strip of fondant laid on top of the buttercream. I just made sure to cut it large enough that the “suit” fondant would overlap it by an inch or so. The second photo from the top (my sketch of the cake), shows a dashed line, representing the white piece of fondant under the suit. Hope this helps! Good luck!

    2. I tried it and i put a layer on the buttercream and then attached the other pieces on top. That way i only had to cut out the lapels. .. thx for the post!

    3. I tried it and i put a layer on the buttercream and then attached the other pieces on top. That way i only had to cut out the lapels. .. thx for the post!

  4. thanks for the post, its a great tool that will guide one to design a cake as sure, very much appreciated.

  5. Thank you so much for this tutorial. I will be making a cake for a friend's son (who is coming home after serving a mission), and she has requested something very similar. You have explained the steps perfectly, and the tip about the grid paper is brilliant (good-bye days of "eye-balling it" LOL).

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