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Loopy Bows My Way

post #1 of 53
Thread Starter 
I've been getting a lot of requests lately for my loopy bow instructions - specifically the bow on my Harlequin and Butterfly cake (pic below) - so I'll post them here for everyone's convenience. I don't have any step-by-step pics, but I'll take some next time I make a bow.

Thanks to everyone who sent such nice compliments!

For my bows, I usually use fondant with tylose mixed in. That way, the bow will match the rest of the fondant used on the cake. Or, I'll use a mixture of about 75% gumpaste to 25% fondant.

Deciding on the width of the loops is usually just a shot in the dark. To determine the length of each loop, I divide the diameter of the cake by 2, then add 1-1/2 to 2 inches. So, if the cake is 6 inches, I'll make the majority of the loops 4-1/2 to 5 inches long. (6/2+1.5 or 2). Sometimes I'll make a few sample loops to experiment with.

I make LOTS of loops so I have a variety to choose from. And I make a variety of lengths, too. Generally, about 75% of the loops will be the same length, then the rest will be anywhere from 1/4 to 1/2 inch SHORTER. This helps when trying to fill up the top of the bow.

I built a contraption that holds an entire 3 foot long dowel. Deciding on the width of the dowel is yet another crap shoot. It all depends on the look you're after. I highly recommend the sample loops.

To make the loops, I first run my fondant through a pasta machine. The thinner the better. I cut strips with an adjustable rolling ribbon cutter, then measure and cut to the appropriate length. I keep the cut strips under a piece of vinyl to prevent them from drying out. (If you have a Wilton practice board, it's perfect for this) I only cut out about 10 at a time.

I then wrap each loop around the dowel, dab the ends with a damp paintbrush and pinch the ends together to come to a slight point. Watch how your loops are hanging from the dowel. If you want the 'perfect' look, make sure they're hanging evenly from front to back. If the pinched end is not DIRECTLY under the dowel, the loop will be uneven (which is good if you're doing a more natural, floppy looking bow).

Move the loops a little bit every now and then, for about the first 30 minutes, to make sure they don't stick to the dowel.

The bow on my harlequin and butterfly cake has about 25 loops. So, I would have made at least 35.

After a couple of hours, the loops are transferred to a sheet pan where they'll continue to dry on their sides overnight or longer.

The last few strips will be your tails. The ends have a V cut out, then little pieces of crumpled up tissue are shoved under the tail to give it movement. I usually prop the end of the tail up against the edge of the sheet pan so the end will curl up. Make sure you leave enough flat area at the other end of your tail pieces to allow for pushing under the bow.

When it's time to assemble the bow, I color some chocolate as close to the bow color as possible. Then, using a drop of the chocolate, glue a square of wax paper to the underside of a cake pan or dummy that is the same size as the cake the bow is for.

For most bows, I start with 8 loops in the first row. I arrange them in a circle on my cake pan and decide if the circle needs to be larger or smaller. It's usually just right if I did my initial measurements (and guesses!) correctly. There should be a fairly good-sized hole in the center of the circle.

I remove the loops from the pan and pipe a circle of chocolate onto the wax paper where the ends of the loops will go. Then, I replace the loops in the circle, making sure they stick to the chocolate. Then, I'll pipe a line of chocolate around the top of the ends just to be sure everyone is stuck together. Not too much, tho, because more chocolate will be added with the second row of loops. Pop this whole thing in the frig to let the chocolate set up.

The next row of loops is placed between each loop in the first row. It's getting a bit crowded now, so if necessary, I'll trim the pinched ends to a point so everyone fits nicely. No overlapping if you're going for the 'perfect' look.

Since it's a little tricky to remove all the second row loops and replace them exactly, I'll lift the loops one at a time, squirt a little chocolate on the end and replace it. At this point there will still be a hole in the center of the bow, but it should be much smaller. Pop in the frig to set up.

At this point in the bow, it's a little difficult to explain. Experiment with different lengths of loops in order to get the last row and the center spaced proportionately. Hold off on gluing until you're satisfied with the configuration.

Make sure you look at the bow from different angles to ensure you haven't left large gaps or stacked loops on top of each other rather than staggering them. This is where the different lengths come in handy. Once you've got the loops where you want them, go ahead and glue them on. Pop in the frig to set up.

When you're ready to place the bow on the cake, turn the whole thing over in your hand and peel off the wax paper. Attach the bow to the cake with a ring of icing. (Be sure to pipe the ring BEFORE you have the bow in your hand!)

Finally, pipe a little chocolate or icing on the ends of the tails and shove them under the bow. For a different look, or if you have a gap in the bow that's needs to be concealed, you can glue the tail between loops so it's in the air.
LL
post #2 of 53
Thanks for taking the time to post this. Your cake is beautiful icon_smile.gif
post #3 of 53
Beautiful! Thank you!
post #4 of 53
Amazing cake! Thanks for sharing!
post #5 of 53
Thanks so much for sharing icon_smile.gif Your cake is lovely .
post #6 of 53
Thanks, you make it seem so easy!
post #7 of 53
Thanks for taking the time to post this, it is a lot of help. Your cake is adorable.
post #8 of 53
Thankyou for sharing icon_smile.gif Your cakes are beautiful.
post #9 of 53
Thanks Diane, it's a beautiful bow!!
post #10 of 53
Your cake and bow are gorgeous! Thanks for posting the how-to!
Those who CAN do teach, otherwise how would we teach it?

xoxo,
Kristin
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Those who CAN do teach, otherwise how would we teach it?

xoxo,
Kristin
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post #11 of 53
this is something that I just can't master !!!! Drives me nuts..... Maybe I will try this way and see what happens.. your results are beautiful!!!

Thank you for taking time to spell it all out for us!!
make life what you want it to be
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make life what you want it to be
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post #12 of 53
Thread Starter 
You're very welcome. I hope it helps! If you have any questions or problems, please feel free to post here or PM me.
post #13 of 53
So glad I saw this! icon_biggrin.gif I have had the worst luck every time I've tried to make a bow, so they always ended up in the trash! Hopefully this will help me get it right. Your cake is beautiful Diane and that bow is fabulous! Thank you so much for posting this!
~Stephanie, mommy to 6 girls
A daughter is the happy memories of the past, the joyful moments of the present, and the hope and promise of the future.
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~Stephanie, mommy to 6 girls
A daughter is the happy memories of the past, the joyful moments of the present, and the hope and promise of the future.
Reply
post #14 of 53
Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! thumbs_up.gif You are great with instructions. You should put this in the tutorial section...article section...or whatever it's called.
Stressed spelled backwards is desserts!
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Stressed spelled backwards is desserts!
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post #15 of 53
Thanks for taking the time and posting the instructions to your fantastic bow. It is beautiful! I am looking forward to seeing your step-by-step photos as I think photos are so helpful.
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