As a dedicated gum paste sugar flower maker for many years, I have never considered making fondant flowers other than for a simple cake for a child or to decorate cupcakes.
However, I have noticed more and more that people are decorating their cakes with fondant flowers because they are much easier to make, take far less time than gum paste flowers and their simplicity looks very attractive on any celebration cake.
I certainly will be using fondant flowers much more in the future, and I think it is an excellent way for a beginner to start making sugar flowers. There are three basic ways to make fondant flowers, and I will tell you about them.
Fondant flowers can be made by using custom made cutters to cut out two-dimensional flower shapes from rolling fondant and placing them straight on the cake. Also, you can cut out the flower shapes and place them into formers, which will support them while they dry, to create three-dimensional flowers or the fondant can be pressed into molds to make attractive floral decorations for your cakes.
Whichever way you choose to make fondant flowers, you will have discovered a quick and easy way to decorate your cakes.
Putting Sugar flowers on a cake is usually a reference to making them from gum paste, not fondant so what is the difference …..
What’s the difference between fondant and gum paste?
Fondant is made from sugar, gelatin, glycerin, and glucose which, when mixed together, makes a soft, easy to work with icing that is used to cover a cake. When set, it doesn’t get hard so the cake can be cut easily.
Gumpaste is made from sugar, gelatin, egg white, glucose, and gum. By adding gum to the mixture, it makes it into a much stiffer dough that sets very hard when dry. It cannot be used to cover a cake.
Flowers and leaves can be made with either fondant or gum paste, but the results are totally different.
Gum paste flowers set to a porcelain-like hardness when dry and are not usually eaten. Gum paste is made with edible ingredients, but because it has more gum added to the mixture, it makes a stiffer dough that can be rolled very thin and cut and shaped to make realistic life-like flowers. Although it is made from edible ingredients, because of the amount of gum that is added to it it doesn’t taste very nice and the flowers are not eaten with the cake but are usually kept as souvenirs of the occasion.
Rolling fondant used in its natural form to make flowers doesn’t set very hard even when dry so they can be cut and eaten with the cake.
However, for more intricate flowers you can add a tiny amount of gum to the fondant, cut out the flower and support it while it is drying then you can achieve a more three-dimensional shape because it will make the fondant slightly harder and less likely to break. Because such a small amount of gum is used it doesn’t alter the taste and it can still be cut and eaten with the cake.
Making flowers and leaves from fondant is much easier and less time consuming than making them from gumpaste.
An easy fondant recipe
Before you can make fondant flowers, you will need some fondant which you can buy ready-made from a shop that sells cake making items, send for it online or make it yourself.
Perhaps, if you are a beginner making fondant flowers, it may be wise to buy your first packet of fondant icing, but it can be expensive so making it yourself may be a better option for you going forward. The ingredients are not expensive to buy and once bought will make several batches of fondant.
Fondant is easy to make, and I always find it very satisfying to produce it myself, and I know what has gone into it and missed out all the preservatives, etc., that is usually in most shop bought products.
The best part is that if you make more than you require for the project you are working on it freezes very well.
Wrap the fondant tightly in a double layer of plastic, seal it, and put it in an airtight plastic box and place it in your freezer. However, don’t freeze any flowers you have made and left to dry. I will tell you how to store those further on.
Types of fondant flowers ideal for beginners
Two-dimensional fondant flowers – for really simple, but still attractive designs, you can cut out flowers shapes and attach them to a cake with edible “glue.” I used them for simple designs on some Christmas cakes last year that I didn’t want to spend too much time on, and I was very pleased with the results.
They are ideal if I make cakes for children and they want to eat the flowers on the cake. Also, adults sometimes don’t want elaborate decorations for a low-key celebration and will opt for 2D fondant flowers as well.
Two-dimensional fondant flowers
I cut out the flower shapes and used some fondant moistened with some water to stick them to the fondant cake covering.
This red poinsettia is made of flat petals mounted in 3 layers to give the impression of a three-dimensional design. A great way to decorate a Christmas cake if you haven’t got much time.
Three-dimensional fondant flowers – once you have made 2D flowers, you may wish to make your flowers more interesting by giving them some shape to make them look a little more realistic.
If you are making simple flowers then if you dry them overnight in a former they will be hard enough to pick up and place on a cake. However, if you want a more intricate flower then the fondant will need to be a little firmer.
To do this, you will need to add a small amount of gum to the fondant so that it dries a bit harder and will keep the shape of the flowers. However, you will not be able to make them as fine or be able to wire them as if you were using gumpaste but they still look lovely and on the plus side, don’t take as long to make as gumpaste flowers.
To make the fondant dry slightly harder – to 250g of fondant add a ½ teaspoon of gum tragacanth or CMC/Tylose and knead it well into the fondant.
If you use gum tragacanth, you should wrap it tightly in plastic wrap, place it into an airtight plastic bag and leave it for a couple of hours before you use it. If you use CMC/Tylose, you can use it as soon as you have kneaded it into the fondant.
The flowers will keep their shape when dry but will still be soft enough to cut with the cake and will not taste any different because you have just used a little gum.
If you want more elaborate shapes, then add one teaspoon of gum to 250g of rolling fondant. It will be firm when dry, but because of the ingredients used in fondant, they still will not dry as hard as gum paste and are liable to break easily.
To create three-dimensional fondant 3D flowers, cut the flowers out with custom made cutters and then support them while they dry or you can make simple shapes from items from your kitchen, support them while they dry and assemble them into flowers.
Three-dimensional fondant flowers
To make the three-dimensional fondant flowers in the photo, I cut them out with a daisy cutter and then used an egg rack from a refrigerator as a former to place them in while they dried. I did not use any gum to strengthen them, but I left them overnight, and they were hard enough to carefully handle while I placed them into position on the board.
Another way of making fondant flowers is to use molds. As a dedicated, long time, gumpaste flower maker, when someone told me they were becoming more popular, I was sure that they would look horrendous.
However, since I became aware of the trend, I have seen wedding cakes, and also cakes for other occasions decorated with molded flowers and I must admit I have been very impressed with some of them.
The fondant doesn’t need the addition of gum unless you are making a molded flower that has an intricate shape and lots of stand up petals then you may find that a small amount of gum added to the fondant will result in fewer breakages when taken out of the mold.
This way of making the flowers has become very popular and more and more mold designs are appearing in the market, and very elaborate cake designs are produced using them.
They save time, so are much more affordable than the price of having the cake decorated with gum paste sugar flowers.
The only drawback will be that none of the decorations will be left over for keepsakes as they will have been cut and eaten with the cake. But I am sure that will not be on anyone’s mind if they are working to a budget.
I haven’t any photos of any molded flowers because although I have molded many items for my cakes ranging from tiny high heeled slippers to a baby’s cradle, I have never molded a flower. However, I intend to buy some molds and have a go, and when I do, I will post some photos and tell you how easy or how hard it was and what types of molds are best and which ones failed.
Have I convinced you that making fondant flowers is easy?
If you would like to make any cakes or cupcakes you have baked look special and you don’t know how to make gum paste flowers or haven’t the time to make them, then I hope you will take the opportunity to make some fondant flowers.
You can just cut some flowers shapes from colored fondant, put them onto a cake as they are or make them a little more interesting by drying them in a former to give them a more flower-like shape.
Fondant flowers are a quick and easy way to put a professional finish to a cake without having to spend a lot of time doing it, and the result will be a beautiful cake that you will be proud to bring to any celebration.