If you follow me on social media you will already know – I'm starting a ten part series on different decorating techniques – in particular: some of my favourite modern and artistic styles for decorating wedding and celebration cakes. I really want to be able to offer you some inspiration and information to help with your cake choices, so please feel free to ask me questions and look out for my weekly Facebook lives that will run alongside.
The ten techniques I'm going to cover are: Sugar Flowers, Wafer Paper, Shapes, Models, Painting with Watercolour, Painting with Texture, Using Metallics, Coloured Icing, Royal Icing Textures, and Piping.
Today I'm starting the series off with modern and artistic Sugar Flowers.
Long before I started Brambleolai – when I was only a little girl – I remember sitting at the kitchen table intently watching my mum make little icing flowers for the many cake creations she made for friends and family. Early on she used to only make basic blossom, using very small plunger cutters and normal sugar-paste. As the years progressed she began attending classes and learnt more advanced tips and tricks. I learnt so much from my mum, and by the time I was a teenager I was already helping experiment with different blooms.
From blossom to roses and from freesia to peonies – there are so many possibilities when it comes to modern and artistic sugar flowers...not to mention the different leaves and greenery too.
SOME OF MY FAVOURITE EXAMPLES:
FREESIA. I talk about freesia a lot when it comes modern and artistic cake design – that's because they are a great balancer. They aren't the easiest of flowers to make out of sugar, but they can look gorgeous if made well. I've yet to meet a person with only one side to their personality, so adding depth to a design through carefully considered combinations of techniques and elements really helps celebrate what makes them – “them”. Freesia are classic but relatively neutral in style. When paired with style focused colours and textures they can create a very modern, nature-inspired, and well rounded design.
ROSES. Not all sugar roses are made equal. Creations can range from the very basic (usually made from regular sugar-paste) to the incredibly delicate and life-like (more often made from specialist flower paste). Just as there are a vast amount of different varieties in the natural world – so too is there an array of different styles within the icing world. A sugar rose can easily be the focus of a design on it's own or, when combined with understated colours and perhaps a metallic or hand-painted element, for example, they can add that romantic touch to an otherwise very artistic and modern cake.
LEAVES. Having hinted towards it earlier – I am now going to talk about greenery. As many of you will have noticed, I'm a big fan of greenery. Sugar leaves can be a great filler, providing additional detail and substance to a floral icing arrangement – but they can also be a stunning statement themselves. If you have a more classic cake, perhaps with some simple but romantic piping, then adding sugar greenery can be a wonderful way to take a design from something traditional and “twee” to modern, nature-inspired, and artistic. Botanical wedding cakes can be incredibly style focused yet somehow timeless and, if they suit you as a couple or individual, can really celebrate your personality.
I'm also more and more being drawn towards the 'perfect imperfect' within design, and loving when cake artists use abstract impressions of flowers – not worrying about whether they are factually correct in form. It's a very artistic and modern way to create sugar flowers and it's certainly an area I want to develop and practice in my own designs.
WHERE TO START?
If you want to make sugar flowers yourself but have never made them before – start with the basics. Plunger cutters are available from most good cake decorating stores, and range from the simplest of blossoms to interesting leaf varieties (with inbuilt vein embossers). Use them with sugar-paste, which is more than adequate for beginners creating flowers and leaves that don't require much additional shaping.
You could then progress to more advanced plastic or metal cutters, and hand moulded flowers such as roses. Regular sugar-paste has many limitations, however, as it isn't very elastic or strong. The thinner you can roll an icing, without it tearing or breaking, the more delicate and detailed you can create flowers. Flower paste (also known as petal or gum paste) is specifically designed to create incredibly fine petals and leaves – and is used by professionals for advanced sugar flowers. Specialised tools are available to add movement and life-like detail to blooms, and items such as paper stamen, veiners, and metal wires can be used to create the most stunning of sugar flowers.
Basic sugar-paste flowers can be made in minutes but more advanced varieties and techniques, using flower paste, require hours of work and careful handling. My best advice is to practice, practice, practice – sugar flowers are a definite art form within cake decorating, and professional cake designers and artists spend years mastering their techniques.
I would love to know what you think of sugar flowers and if you have any questions please don't hesitate to get in touch. You can email me: firstname.lastname@example.org - or connect with me on Brambleolai's Facebook page, or Instagram (search for @brambleolai).