Sketch to Cake: Pamela McCaffrey’s Bernini Inspired Apollo and Daphne Wedding Cake

Pamela McCaffrey

from Hampshire, United Kingdom created a fabulous, white wedding cake for the Bernini issue of Cake Central Magazine Volume 8 Issue 1. Pamela’s romantic wedding cake was inspired by Gian Lorenzo Bernini's statue depicting Apollo and Daphne.

When I was given the inspiration photo of Bernini's exquisite 'Apollo and Daphne' sculpture my first thought was 'Wow, right out of my comfort zone, how on earth do I make a cake from that!' However looking at the foliage in particular an idea soon began to form and a challenge is always good, so excitement took the place of fear.

Whenever I think of a design I tend to do a quick thumbnail sketch or sketches of it. As it is often a while before I actually make a design, the sketch works more as an aide-mémoire rather than as a plan for the cake. I tend to broadly see the finished cake in my mind and work to that but the drawing does usually capture the essence of the cake.

I rarely do figures so I decided to abstract the shape of the statue and primarily use the tree and branch element as the detail, along with some of the drapery. I wanted to capture the essential form of the statue whilst still having it look like a cake. I also felt that it needed to work as a piece on its own if seen without the inspiration. I did some quick thumbnail sketches of roughly what I had in mind. To settle on the specific structure I used cake dummies to play with various combinations of shapes and sizes of tiers and I also tried out permutations in a 3D modelling program. 

I knew from the start how I was going to do the leaves so I began making those before the rest of the design was finalised. I also began experimenting with how to create the bark and also the material, at the time neither of which I had done before. Once the cake itself was made it was just a case of getting the pieces placed and balanced pleasingly.

There were no major issues but one of the trickier parts was with the material. I wanted it to literally and metaphorically join the cakes and I needed the folds to be fairly fine to suit the scale of the majority of the details. To do this I decided to use a flexible icing. Unfortunately spread out as a sheet it stiffened much quicker than I had hoped and was a bit of a challenge to work with - I imagine that this was because I wasn't using it in the way that it was intended.

The flexible icing that I used was Squires Flexi-Ice (it was my first time with this type of product) which I have used since for lace and it was perfect! All the leaves and grasses were cut freehand and the bark was built up in layers of sugarpaste and just detailed with a Dresden Tool.

From starting with an inspiration photo that I at first thought was not going to be my thing this turned out to be a very enjoyable cake to make. I feel that I achieved what I set out to do and as it was something rather different for me that is very satisfying. I just hope everyone else likes it!

Comments (3)


wow gorgeous -- sucha depth of feeling and harmony with the inspiration piece -- more than lovely -- makes you catch your breath -- i would love to do this cake for a bride -- brava!