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Cake artist Sarah Lu shares her secret to making gumpaste sugar flowers that look so realistic, you’ll think they are actual roses!
Here, we are focusing on sugar roses but these rules apply to all fondant flora (technically we use gumpaste for sugar flowers, which can be made from fondant by adding CMC or tylose powder).
What’s so special about sugar flowers?
Mastering this method can set a cake artist apart from the masses, and gives them the opportunity to price their cakes much higher than the standard custom cake.
Making these delicate decorations definitely requires patience, and a few tools: a petal set cutter, a firm foam pad and a balling tool, which may be a multipurpose rolling pin. Floral wire is necessary and floral tape is optional.
To make perfectly realistic sugar flowers in 7 simple steps:
- Step 1: Place your pre-cut petal set on the foam pad.
- Step 2: Using the balling tool, thin the top half of each petal as much as possible. Stretch the petals individually in a way that creates corners, more triangular than round.
- Step 3: Taking a teardrop-shaped fondant core on floral wire in one hand, and brush with egg whites in the other, paint the center of the petal set, the sides of each petal, and the tops of only two of the petals, opposite each other.
- Step 4: Pull the first petal that has been fully coated in egg whites, and fully adhere it to the core. Then, take the opposite petal and cover the other half of the core.
- Step 5: Next you have the option of curling the edges of the remaining petals diagonally on one side for a more open layer of petals. For the first petal set you don’t need to do this, but in each additional petal layer you definitely want to do this.
- Step 6: Adhere the remaining petals to the first two on the core, leaving room on one side of each petal to insert the next petal, like an open door.
- Step 7: Once you have covered the core with the first petal set, repeat the process for each additional layer of petals, to your style and liking.
Tricks of the trade
The key to this technique is to get the gumpaste to a thickness that is almost transparent by stretching the petals individually. Fear not! If it breaks, you can just press it back together and you may even get a more natural-looking rose that way.
The light that passes through the petals, and the resulting shadows and textures of the rose as a whole, will work together to make the flowers look totally realistic.
Tighter layers with less curled edges will produce a half-bloomed rose, while looser layers with more curled edges will give a more fully bloomed look.
Yes, flaws are good! They will add to the character and uniqueness of each rose, as we see in nature.
Once you have sculpted the flowers, check out CreativiU’s lesson on dusting them for depth and an even more realistic quality.
What’s your sugar flower style? Share tips and tricks in the comments section!