Sketch to Cake: Fiona Evans White Christmas Wedding Cake

Fiona Evans

of Fifi's Cakes in Houghton, Hampshire, England created an ice-cool, dreamy holiday wedding cake for the White Christmas issue of Cake Central Magazine Volume 7 Issue 5. Fiona’’s romantic winter wedding cake was inspired by a mystical, wintry Christmas bride.

Icy Inspiration

I loved the overall mood of romance, mystique, wintry Christmas and frosty magic together with the interesting contrasting colours between the deep blues, glass whites and textures.  My favourites were the winter bouquet (especially the green anemones), the soft and dreamy lace, boned bodice contrasting with the solid background textures in the wall and mirror.  I was intrigued by the frosty colouring of the bride’s beautiful face and hair, even the pearly sheen on her nails and the scattering of blue jewels in the bride’s dress.  I wanted to include them all because together they created the ultimate complement.

I knew straight away that I wanted to make this as I would a real wedding cake at Christmas time.  I utilised the boozy Christmas cakes I had already baked for the family members months earlier and set to work deciding the shapes and sizes of the tiers.  I wanted the bottom tier to reflect the bride’s boned lace bodice and be softly romantic so I incorporated the pearl decorations edging the lower lace section to give a hint of imaginary satin buttons.

The background wall and mirror features stood out for me in lovely contrast to the softness of the dress.  I visualised the top tier representing a subtle crown effect to include the deep midnight blue glass colours from the mirror and the bouquet.  

Shimmering Hues

I incorporated the interesting sharp contours and metallic appearance of the bouquet holder in the dividing narrow pillars between the mask and the top tier.  

I singled out the pretty green and white anemones and white festive twigs from the bouquet and positioned them separately, isolating the thistles.  I introduced a small amount of white holly, snow berries and ivy to enhance the Christmas mood in the cake.  The white mask is made out of home-made modelling chocolate to bring in the mystical look of the bride, picking out the wintry lips and eyes from the photograph.  The fine spiky isomalt strands on the mask are inspired by the bride’s hairdo.  I kept the metallic paintwork on the piping and small diamonds on all the tiers to a snowflake lustre mixed with a little metallic silver to avoid it being harsh.

I then contacted photographer Nicky Pascoe and explained the concept and colours.  We discussed background ideas and Nicky made her selection of backdrops based on my sketch and the inspiration photo and regulations that Cake Central Magazine provided.  She used the very precious family veil on the table.  For the backdrop, Nicky brought spare sheets of wallpaper from her house and a pretty dress which she bought from a charity shop for one of her ballet muses to use on one of their shoots.

My first sketch did not have the square dividers above and below the middle tier.  I marzipanned and royal iced the cakes and stacked them temporarily to decide on the size, quantity and positioning of the flowers and isomalt decorations.  Also, the mask was to include a decorative stick under the chin in the design of the handle of the bouquet holder.  It was at this stage that I drew up a revised sketch with the mosaic style decorative dividers to pick out the interesting speckled reflections in the mirror.  I made a variety of coloured isomalt gems picking out the blues, greens and hues from the mirror, the bride’s jewelry and the bouquet.  As the overall cake would now be taller, I abandoned the mask stick to balance the height proportions.

I spend a long time scribbling, measuring, creating a mood and colour board and settling on additional decorations before drawing up a final sketch plan.   I often also use the draw facility in Publisher so that I can experiment with colour, shape and sizing permutations.  Once this is done I rarely move away from it unless I don’t like what is unravelling!  Other changes to plan (wedding cakes in particular) are caused by unexpected issues for example, travel, changes to the wedding colours or venue hiccups or (worse still) accidents.  I like to make sure that all cake designs are open to alteration and I factor that possibility in.

I was confined to ‘non-weight-bearing on crutches’ but no way was that going to stop me completing the task in hand.   Before the op I made sure I had done all the standing and heavy carrying jobs and then, with the help of my husband, all the cakes, isomalt, tools, colours, lace, materials for the flowers, lights, you name it, came into the house from the studio and was set up in the dining hall and kitchen.  So when I came home from hospital I was then able to complete the application of the lace, piping, painting and all the ‘sitting down’ jobs.   With the aid of my office chair, wooden floors and the crutches (which served as ski poles!) I whizzed about on my own, no problem.   Arms and upper body muscles are now well toned!

I made the lace with Cake Lace using a variety of lace molds to pick out particular shapes and lengths for the design.  For the boned sections of the bodice I first placed strips of modeling chocolate on the cake and then attached strands of very delicate cake lace to them.  I had to make several batches of that particular fine strip.  

Venetian Rococo

For the mask I used one of the dolls in the house and made a mold using Siligum.  I used modelling chocolate rather than firm gumpaste so that after removing it from the mold I could adjust the shaping of it slightly to lose the ‘baby doll’ look.  I pinched the nose out and down a bit and narrowed in the chin and jaw area and lightly pushed up the cheekbones.  I used a balling tool to define the lips to an adult shape as per a Venetian Rococo bridal headpiece.  I chose not to elaborately ornate the mask for this cake as it was to be a suggestion rather than a main feature.

For the brick effect I used royal icing and textured it with a wet paintbrush and a craft tool before it set. The corner frame design is hand piped.

I used a selection of diamond molds for the isomalt jewels.  My mini food grinder came in handy to create the tiny fragments of coloured isomalt in the mosaic dividers and the pieces that were dotted subtly in the lace.

like all decorators, I find fault with the finished product and wish for more time to change this or that.  However, once I had recovered from the horror or the broken mask, I really loved this cake, even more so after Nicky had taken her photographs.  We both knew that even if the cake did not make it to publication, I (and she) had put every ounce of effort and love into the final presentation and had a really fun afternoon in the process.

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