Sketch to Cake: Tiara Shahrani’s Vintage Steampunk Cake

Tiara Shahrani wanted to tell a story with this whimsical, steampunk-themed cake, which was featured in the August issue of Cake Central Magazine (Volume 4, Issue 8). Tiara’s sketches gave us a glimpse of the unique design process, and we followed up with her to get the details. Here’s what Tiara had to say about this cake’s journey from sketchbook to cakestand:

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CC: What was your design process like? How did you create your cake concept?
TS: The process began with identifying the scale of the cake and keeping in mind that this could be my first featured work in a magazine. I didn’t want to do things that would overwhelm me, but at the same time I wanted to wow people with my creation. The first thing I decided was that I definitely wanted a backdrop. I instantly had this vision of an arch with a scenic view of the vineyard.

The next step was combining the ideas I had. It was very important for a theme cake such as this that I would be able to tell a story. I came up with a concept of the groom presenting the bride with a wedding cake and created a romantic message just for her.

CC: How did you begin making a cake from your sketch? What were your first steps?
TS: The first step was to get the colours right. I didn’t want the cake to be too metallic or copper looking and because it’s a wedding cake — I wanted it to have a softer feel. Even on the backdrop I didn’t want the arch to have a stone-ish colour.

The next step was making the bride. [According to the inspiration photos], she was to have red hair; instead I went with natural brown. Suits her better!

CC: How closely do you like to work from your sketch?
TS: As closely as I can. My sketch is my guide.

CC: Were there any complications in making your cake?
TS: Definitely! I’m pretty bad when it comes to calculating height or width; I tend to get them wrong. Once I finished assembling the tiers, the bride was supposed to be at the top tier. Due to the miscalculation, I had to park her somewhere else as I didn’t want to compromise the beautiful arch.

CC: Did you use any special techniques on this cake?
TS: Instead of using coloured fondant for the bottom tier and the backdrop, I decided to paint them. Some people might call that a shortcut, but for me, I just love the brush stroke effect. It gives movement.

CC: Did you have to make changes to your original plan when it came to execution? If so, what did you have to compromise?
TS: The original plan was to create a mechanical key which would relate to the “YOU HOLD THE KEY TO MY HEART” message, but in the end, I decided not to do that [because] I felt I hadn’t incorporated enough elements from the moodboard. I decided not to include the vine leaves either, as I was afraid they would not suit the design.

CC: Any final thoughts on the finished cake?
TS: Looking back at it again and again, I kept thinking I should’ve done more. But [I have to remind myself that] as a self-taught cake decorator, that’s one wicked cake! I am very happy with how it turned out.

Tiara Shahrani’s (teeshah) bakery, Have a Cup of Tee, is located in Petaling Jaya, Selangor, Malaysia. You can see more of her designs at


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