Sketch to Cake: Ronda Valentine-Thompson’s Bernini Inspired Apollo and Daphne Wedding Cake

Ronda Valentine-Thompson

of SweetCakesbyRonda in Indianapolis, IN designed a charming, white wedding cake for the Bernini issue of Cake Central Magazine Volume 8 Issue 1. Ronda’s shimmering wedding cake was inspired by Gian Lorenzo Bernini's statue depicting Apollo and Daphne.

Photos By Perry Reichanadter from Wayne Photography

I really liked the transition of Daphne's human form to a tree. I found the transition quite beautiful. I spent a LOT of time looking at the sculpture photos and reading the story of Daphne and Apollo. I had to sketch several different designs before I finally came up with a concept that I felt, told the story of Daphne and Apollo. 

My sketching is not the best, but it represented what I envisioned in my mind when I looked at photos of the sculptures.

I hung the sketch on a wall in front of me and I looked at it frequently as I worked on the cake.

I started by building the first tier of the cake, which was the trunk. I wanted the trunk to represent Daphne's torso.  I placed a large piece of fondant against the side of the cake and smaller pieces of fondant on the cake board to represent her feet and toes.  The second tier represented Daphne's hands and I used two large pieces of fondant that I placed at an angle against the cake. I  covered each tier and the cake board with fondant and sculpted the details through the fondant.   I felt that if the tree sculpture was placed on top of the fondant cake it would look just look like a tree against the side of a cake.  I wanted the opposite effect,  I wanted the tree to look as if it were morphing from the cake itself. 

I had to keep the tiers partially covered as I worked on them so that the fondant would not dry.  I also had to sculpt rather quickly because I wanted clean lines on the trunk and not dents or tears from working on fondant that was dried out. The leaves were also tricky. When I started placing them on the tips of Daphne's fingers; which were quite delicate, they would fall off.  I had to switch from using shortening to melted candy for a firm hold.

After I sculpted the trunk and Daphne's hands I brushed the fondant tiers and the cake board with buttercream.  I wanted the cake to have a "rough" texture that resembled bark.  After the final decorations were added I airbrushed the cake with a mix of gold and a silver sheen airbrush mix so that it would resemble aged sculpture. As far as tools I used a silicon leaf mold for the leaves and a heart shaped cookie cutter to make Cupid's wings.  The arrows were cut and rolled by hand.

I had to change the size of the toga that was draped across Daphne's trunk. The larger version was too heavy and kept falling off, no matter what I used to "glue" it to the cake.

Overall, I am very pleased.  I wish the toga had been larger but I really happy with how it all came together.  My favorite design elements are the fingers of Daphne's hands transitioning to leaves, the antiqued gold look of the cake, and the reverse heads of Cupid's arrows.  Cupid played a HUGE part in Daphne and Apollo's tragic story.  I wanted the arrows to represent the love/anti love arrows Cupid used against Daphne and Apollo.

Comments (2)


love the cake , but can you please help me out , I wanted to know what color light purple and light brown icing makes , is it a light color , and light purple?