Monday, August 18, 2008

Drape and Pearl Cake

I'm getting married in the morning
Ding, dong the bells are gonna chime . . .

This ended up being one of the more elaborate and larger cakes I have made, and it turned out beautiful. The bride was happy, the groom was happy and I was happy.

For your sake, we were a more diligent taking pictures of the process of building this cake so I could share the process with you in pictures, but we skipped some of the obvious steps to save time and space.

The Body

Again, we're starting with a white cake with raspberry filling. The plan was four layers: 12" base, 10", 8", and a 6" topper. Each layer was composed of two cakes, each of which was split horizontal for another layer of filling. So, each cake tier had three layers of filling and was covered with buttercream icing. The bottom two large tiers were filled with raspberry filling and I simply used icing as filling for the top two tiers.

The Undergarments

After the layers are filled and assembled, the cake is covered with buttercream icing on the sides and top as a base for the fondant icing that will be it's final covering.

It is of utmost importance that this icing be as straight and smooth as possible, with right angles and level tops.

To acheive this, an abundance of icing is applied, and the extra scraped off. The remaining icing is smoothed out to finish this step.

Now, it is ready for the fondant.

The Dress
Fondant is a beautiful smooth finish for a cake. The lack of texture is a classically simple matte background for whatever you are going to do to dress it up with. Think of fondant as a "little black dress" for cakes.

The fondant is rolled out and then placed over the iced cake. It is then coached down the sides to a smooth finish before the extra is trimmed.

I trim twice. On the first trim, I trim the heavy majority and leave 1/4 inch in case the fondant was stretched and wants to spring back up the side a little once the weight is removed. After I see that all is well, the final 1/4 inch is removed and overall smoothing begins.

Every dress has a hem, and I like to put something around the bottom for a finished look. In this case, I am using ivory colored grosgrain ribbon to match the cake. I wanted it to blend as much as possible with the cake and not call attention to itself because of all the other decor that will go on it eventually.

Then, we inserted dowels into each cake and stacked them up to take a look.
As the layers are stacked (with the exception of the largest bottom layer as it is more difficult to move) the ribbons are adjusted down to fill any space between the layers. The ribbons are just wrapped around the cakes and attached to themselves with scotch tape.


The bride wanted pearls that looked like they were cascading down the cake like a waterfall. She is an artist, but I am not. I was particularly nervous about how to create something she would be happy with, but was really pleased with the results. Each individual pearl was applied by hand.

Here is a close-up picture of the detal work on the two bottom layers.

Using this design as inspiration, I would like to make a Pearl Cake in the future.

Because of the nature of the finish on this cake, it had to be assembled and finished at the reception site.

Therefore, the four layers were plated and anchored in my trunk on rubber gloves so they wouldn't slide around.

There are no pictures of the trip because I had my eyes shut the entire time, praying that the cakes would make it without incident, and without loosing too many pearls.

Accessorize, Accessorize, Accesssorize

At the reception site, the cakes were unpacked and restacked with pearls and ribbons intact. Yeah! We made it!

Next, I found myself a workspace and rolled out fondant for the drape. David and toothpicks held the drape on the cake while the piping gel dried to make it permanent.

After fondant drapes were made for each side, I realized that this cake was not pushed up against a wall like at most weddings, but was displayed in the center of the room so there was a 360 view of it. Even worse, the bride and groom had a view of the back! I was going to have to put some sort of last minute decoration on the back, no matter how last minute or lame.

With the fondant drapes finally applied, the fresh flower topper was placed and individual flowers were scattered around the fondant drapes for final decoration.

This is a picture of the finished left side of the cake.

And this is a picture of the finished right side of the cake.

The small fondant drape and flowers on the back of the cake were enough to give it a finished look, without pretending there were two fronts to the cake.

And they ate cake happily ever after.


  1. this is a very beautiful cake!!!! i really like it! thanks for sharing.

  2. Looks nice but, why would anyone want to put jewellery on a cake?? Bizare. I wouldn't want to be responsible for someone choking on a pearl inadvertantly left on it..... Think more skill in using sugarpaste for the pearls and the flowers. Hmmm, Real flowers...big NO NO.

    1. Real flowers are not a problem as long as they are not poisonous and are not inserted directly into the cake.

  3. Hi there,

    I appreciate your comments.

    The pearls are not real, they are candy pearls. I would caution anyone against using real pearls but believe that the candy ones add an elegant dimension to the cake, just as jewelry dresses an outfit.

    As far as the real flowers are concerned, that was the choice of the bride and the top was pre-designed by her florist and just sat on top of the cake, while the other stems were contained in a tube.

    Certainly sugar paste flowers are preferred, but they are an art in themselves for those who have the time and talent to create them, and those that have the wallets to afford to buy them.

  4. wow, what an amazing cake!! love it, i was looking because i have been asked to make a wedding cake in july nx year, and the design includes quite a large drape covering the front of the cake, but im not sure when to add it on with travelling to the venue is it best to put it on when i get there? and what is the best way to attach it? i see you used toothpicks and piping gel does that hold well? im so nervous as its my first wedding cake and want it to be perfect, any advice will be greatly appreciated, thankyou

  5. Hi Jodie,
    I made the cake at home and the drape at the venue. I trimmed the drape edges with a straight edge and believe that I may have even "hemmed" the edges 1/4" with piping gel. Putting it on is just a matter of working with it and using a lot of piping gel, with toothpicks stuck in to hold it while the gel dries. Don't forget to remove the toothpicks! Be sure to make arrangements with the bride to reserve you a work space at the venue. I am getting married New Years Day 2010 and plan to make a smaller version of this for myself & will post pictures when it is done. I am planning an ornate cake covered with pearls and topped with an elaborate fresh-flower bouquet from my favorite florist. Best of luck to you!

  6. thankyou for the advice, grately appreciated,how far in advance wold you make the cakes, as ive got to to 2 sponge and 1 fruit, im not worried about the fruit cake as it can be made in advance anyway, its just the sponge as i dont want them to go stale, i was thinking maybe 2 or 3 days before the wedding?? good luck with your own cake and wedding :)

  7. I try to make my cakes 2 days ahead, that way, IF there's a disaster, you have time to rebake. Best wishes!

  8. The pearl detail is really beautiful!

  9. Simply stunning!

    Makes me want to spend all my disposable income buying pretty cakes! :)

  10. it is really nice and can easily be made by people who like baking and cake decoration.

  11. Stunning - thanks for sharing what you do - it's an inspiration. :)

  12. Thanks for all the tips - I am just finishing off a cake and need to hide a booboo - the cake needs to be there this afternoon - your advice is very helpful. Your cake looks beautiful!