Edible flowers have been en vogue for some time, from sugar roses to real flowers – any floral decoration has been the go-to for fashionable eating. We have seen them featured in the TV programme The Great British Bake-Off and some edible flowers are sold in supermarkets nationwide too. With actual real flowers added to everything from salads to cocktails and even cakes. Allegedly Waitrose even sell edible real flowers in their “essentials” range. So there’s no denying that flowers adorning foods and cakes is a trend that is bound to stick around a while.
I have many a couple request a floral design for their wedding cakes and lots of birthday cakes and celebration cakes feature flowers too. But, the decision about the type of flowers that can be featured is something people are unsure of. This is where I come in. Here’s my top five flower options available for cakes:
Sugar flowers – depending on the skill level of the cake designer sugar flowers can look very realistic and often indistinguishable from the real things. That said, some flower species are labour intensive – think orchids and passion flowers , so naturally this will impact the overall cost of the cake. Sugar flowers are a fantastic option if you want particular flowers that are out of season at the time of your event. Or if you would like to include a certain flower type that’s toxic if you were to use the real thing. Sugar flowers are extremely delicate so this is a consideration if you are transporting your cake yourself and it is travelling a distance. But if handled correctly they can be kept for many years as a beautiful keepsake and memory of your event.
Buttercream flowers – these are a great option if you are opting for an entirely edible cake. They can be flavoured to complement the cake sponge and they are easily coloured. Plus, many flower types can be piped. Just remember, the look of these flowers is determined by how skilled your cake designer is too. Always ask to see their portfolio and examples of their buttercream flowers as a reference.
Fresh flowers – these add a beautiful, natural softness to a cake. Fresh flowers may also add a sweet aroma depending on the types used. That said, not all fresh flowers are appropriate for use on cakes as some have toxic/poisonous components which could be very harmful if consumed. Fresh flowers need to be handled correctly before adding to a cake. When working with fresh flowers I try to source mine from a reputable supplier of organic edible flowers to ensure no harmful pesticides or insecticides have been used. If flowers have been provided by a florist, often to ensure consistency in colours and species used elsewhere at the event, the flowers are made as food safe as possible prior to adding to the cake. My top tip when using fresh flowers is to utilise flowers that are in season at the time of your event to ensure they are affordable and not too expensive.
Silk and foam flowers – you may not have realised that you can of course use artificial flowers as an alternative for fresh flowers. Again where the real thing may be potentially toxic, the real option may be out of season or extreme weather conditions such as high humidity may mean fresh would easily wilt. They can be economical depending on the varieties chosen but the most realistic faux flowers can work out to cost the same as fresh flowers, if not more in some instances.
Wafer flowers – are made from edible rice paper which is teased into petal shapes. The resultant flowers are light which make them a great option for cakes that have to be transported long distances. Remember, they are sensitive to water and therefore humidity which can cause the edible paper to dissolve! They must be handled with care. With wafer flowers there is some limitation on the flower species that can be made.
I hope this outline of flowers has been helpful. If you would like more advice about what to consider when making your decision about floral decorations for your cake or would like to find out more about cakes by me, please get in touch.