The delicate sugar flowers that decorate many of today’s celebration cakes are called gum paste flowers because they are made from confectioner’s/powdered sugar that has been mixed with several ingredients including edible gum. It is made into a paste that has an elastic quality, which can be rolled very thinly then shaped easily by hand and with tools.
Relaxing and rewarding pastime
Making sugarcraft flowers takes a certain amount of practice and patience but it’s a most relaxing and rewarding pastime.
If you learn how to do it properly, right from the start, and cut out all the stages of trial and error, you will quickly become an expert at making them and feel very proud of your results.
Quicker than you might think
Once you have decided on the type of flower you want to make then the paste is rolled out, petals and leaves are cut out, shaped and often wired to form each flower. Some flowers can be made in one go but others have to be made in stages, letting each stage dry before you can go on to the next.
Of course, if you are making an arrangement of flowers you would make more than one flower at a time and perhaps several different types of flowers.
I always find that making several flowers at a time is quicker than making just one flower because you get a “production line” going with each stage of making the flowers so they are much quicker to produce than you may think.
The skill is yours forever
Once learnt, it is a skill that stays with you forever, even if you don’t use it on a daily basis. What could make you more proud than being able to make your own or your children’s wedding cake flowers or make sugar flowers for a celebration cake for a family member or a friend?
Imagine putting on a dinner party for special guests and being able to present them with elaborate, professionally decorated desserts.
How to store gum paste flowers
When the gum paste dries you will find that the sugar decorations you have made will have dried to porcelain like hardness.
Because they are made of sugar, they are, in theory, edible sugar flowers for your cakes but the gum used to make them doesn’t taste very nice. However, it doesn’t seem to deter children who usually have their hearts set on consuming them and insisting that they were delicious.
Because the gum paste flowers are so special, people usually to like to keep them as souvenirs so, if I know that children are to be present at a celebration, I usually make some flowers just out of fondant for the children to eat.
However, you must remember that the flowers that have been made out of sugar can be destroyed by moisture but there are precautions you can take to prevent this happening.
After the cake has been eaten, the gum paste flowers can be placed in an airtight display case, together with a small packet of silica gel, and the case sealed to keep them from getting damp. Silica gel is used in case it is not completely airtight and also to absorb any moisture that may still be on the flowers.
They will last forever
When they are put on display keep them away from direct sunlight so that the colours will not fade and they should last indefinitely. I have some flowers that I made 25 years ago and they are still in very good condition.
Making gum paste flowers is a skill that many people would love to learn but, because they look so delicate and complicated, some people don’t have the courage to even try.
However, it’s like anything else; once you have been shown how to make them, and if you are willing to spend time and have the patience to practice what you have been shown, then you will quickly become expert at making them.