My wedding anniversary was a couple of weeks ago, and as my husband and I found ourselves looking through our wedding album we found a photo of our wedding cake. It made me smile, because I remember talking to the baker about how I wanted it decorated: fresh flowers on top and an abundance of edible sugared flowers scattered about. It was just the beginning of Spring here, and I thought all those flowers would joyfully celebrate that as well as the start of our marriage.
Well, 20 years later I still adore sugared flowers – and yes, my husband does too! I find that while I love piping buttercream flowers, sometimes I just want something a little simpler, a little more forgiving, something that I don’t have to worry about melting in the heat. Oh, I still want that buttercream, don’t be silly! But something a bit easier and just as beautiful to finish off decorating would be perfect – and that’s where sugared flowers come in. They’re so easy, take just a little bit of planning ahead so they can dry, and they look beautiful!
You can actually find edible flowers at most larger grocery stores. They are usually in clear plastic packaging located near the fresh herbs that are similarly packaged. You’ll get a nice mixture for about three dollars, so they don’t even break the bank! You definitely want them to be organic so they are free of pesticides. Because they are not generally high-demand items though, they sometimes remain on the shelf a little longer than they should, so do check through the plastic to make sure there are no mushy petals or fuzzy mold beginning to grow.
Alternatively, you can pick flowers of your choice at most farmer’s markets or at a florist. Again, be sure to verify that they are organic and edible. So many flowers are edible: roses, carnations, marigolds, pansies, daisies, jasmine, violets, nasturtiums, sweet William – the list goes on! In the case of larger flowers, you may just want to use individual petals. Think of how gorgeous sugared rose petals would look scattered over the top of a cake!
Mother’s Day and sugared flowers just seem to be a natural combination. Flowers, springtime and celebrating the mom in your life – it doesn’t get much better than that! All you’ll need are a couple of eggs, your flowers, some superfine sugar (sometimes also known as caster sugar), a little paintbrush or two, and some nice relaxing music in the background.
First separate your eggs – all you’ll need are the whites. They’ll likely be a bit uneven in texture, with “goopy” sections.
So give them a good whip with your fork. They should stream off the fork nice and evenly. They will likely be a bit foamy now.
Normally this would be fine if you were going to mix them with something else. However, I find that the foam kind of gets in the way when I go to paint my flowers. So just run it through a sieve over a little bowl to strain off most of the foam.
I use a rubber spatula to sort of press the egg whites through the mesh. Not everyone takes this step, but it works for me. I find that the extra 2 or 3 minutes this takes makes it SO much easier to apply the egg white to the flower petals – the foam doesn’t get in the way of me seeing what I’m doing, plus the egg white itself is that much smoother for having been pushed through all those little holes!
Now let’s get sugaring!
Here’s a video to get you going on sugaring your flowers. Relax and enjoy this process – I find it kind of Zen-like. Put on some music and know that you are going to end up with beautiful decorations when you’re finished.
All you’re going to do is dip your brush in the egg white, brush it on the flower petals, sprinkle the flower well with the superfine sugar and set it aside to dry. The flowers are often dry in a few hours, but sometimes they can take up to 24 hours or so. It can depend on the temperature, the humidity, the density of the flower (a marigold will take longer than a rose petal), how thickly the egg white was applied – all sorts of factors. My point is to give yourself enough time: don’t sugar your flowers in the morning and expect them all to be ready to use by the afternoon. I have kept mine for up to a week in an air-tight container with parchment between layers – make sure they’re good and dry first! – but I’ve heard that they will last even longer.
I decided to use these on a batch of vanilla cupcakes topped with orange blossom scented buttercream – I told you, I don’t hold back on the buttercream! Since the sugared flowers were going to sit on top of the cupcakes, I spread a flat surface instead of a piped dome. Then I just scattered the rest of the sugared flowers in between the cupcakes…
Gorgeous Mother’s Day perfection!
If you’d like to up your baking game and try something new, The Chopping Block has an abundance of baking classes you may want to check out in May and June. From Fabulous French Pastries to Donut Boot Camp, from Piece of Cake to Macaron Workshop, there’s a bit of something for the baker in everyone!