Last weekend, my sister and I did this wedding cake for a close friend. We've always loved doing Damask cakes. They look so beautiful when they are done correctly… but it takes awhile to get the technique down. Below is a quick how-to explanation, as well as some tips to getting it right.
The Damask pattern is made of black royal icing. And no, it's not piped (could you imagine trying to pipe that?). You have to buy a Damask cake stencil. Using a stencil not only makes this intricate pattern possible, it makes the pattern smooth and even giving it a clean, almost wallpaper look. Stencils are available online at many cake decorating stores. You will want to look around at different Damask patterns to find the one that suits your design. Below is an example of what these stencils look like:
There are different ways to place the stencil on the side of your cake. We refrigerate our cakes, so they sweat slightly when we remove them from the fridge. We have found this to be the perfect way to "seal" the stencil to the cake when applying the royal icing. It prevent icing from getting under the stencil, which creates blotching. You could also have someone hold the stencil to the cake, or pin the stencil to the cake temporarily.
You will then evenly spread the royal icing over the stencil. Once you get a pretty good layer on it, scrape the sides (I use an icing scraper) to pull off the excess. The stencil part should have very little icing on it, while the fondant should be opaque with your icing. Remove the stencil immediately, then let the pattern dry.
Make sure the fondant cake is completely smooth. If it is too lumpy, the stencil will not lie flat and icing will get under the stencil.
Do not let the stencil move while applying the icing! It will completely mess up your design.
Make sure your icing is well colored. If you use black, you need to use a ton of black fondant coloring gel, otherwise it will look more purple than black.
Don't make your icing too thin. It will seep behind the stencil. You want it pretty thick, but not so thick that it is hard to spread on.
Make sure you match the sides by centering the stencil the same way on each side (if using a square cake).