Flowers are nature’s crafted perfection – the way the petals form and fall, their inherent sculpture and simple yet stunning beauty. Flowers symbolise feelings and emotions, and give us a unique way of being able to say just what we mean. Roses have been offered as a token of love, lilies to mean purity, marigolds for happiness and violets signifying virtue. There really must be a bloom for everyone and every occasion … And so too for every cake!
As sugarcrafters we are natural floriographers, always assigning meaning to the delicious sugar florals that adorn our cakes. For inspiration we might look to our gardens or flower beds or concoct something fanciful from our imagination.
Whatever we do, the secret of great sugar flowers is in the flower paste.
Flower paste (petal gum/paste) Recipe
Available commercially from sugarcraft suppliers, flowerpaste can be bought in white and a variety of colours. There are many varieties available so try a few to see which you prefer. Alternatively, it is possible to make your own, but note you will need a heavy-duty mixer.
Ingredients Makes 500g (1lb 2oz)
- 500g (1lb 2oz) icing (confectioners’) sugar
- 15ml (1 tbsp) gum tragacanth
- 25ml (11⁄2 tbsp) cold water
- 10ml (2 tsp) powered gelatine
- 10ml (2 tsp) liquid glucose
- 15ml (1 tbsp) white vegetable fat (shortening)
- 1 medium egg white
1. Sieve the icing sugar and gum tragacanth into the greased mixing bowl of a heavy-duty mixer (the grease eases the strain on the machine).
2. Place the water in a small bowl, sprinkle over the gelatine and soak until spongy. Stand the bowl over a pan of hot but not boiling water and stir until the gelatine is dissolved. Add the glucose and white fat to the gelatine and continue heating until all the ingredients are melted and mixed.
3. Add the glucose mixture and egg white to the icing sugar. Beat the mixture very slowly until mixed – at this stage it will be a beige colour – then increase the speed to maximum until the paste becomes white and stringy.
4. Grease your hands and remove the paste from the bowl. Pull and stretch the paste several times, and then knead together. Place in a plastic bag and store in an airtight container. Leave the paste to mature for at least 12 hours.
Flowerpaste dries quickly, so when using cut off only as much as you need and reseal the remainder. Work it well with your fingers, it should ‘click’ between your fingers when it is ready to use. If it is too hard and crumbly, add a little egg white and white vegetable fat – the fat slows down the drying process and the egg white makes it more pliable.
Happy Sugar Flower Creating!