Fresh flowers are often used as a quick and easy way to decorate cakes. They can add a freshness and vibrancy to the look of the cake, making it a focal point of your celebrations! They may be the main decoration on a cake, or simply an enhancement usually on smaller cupcakes, cookies etc.
There is one very important factor to consider if you wish to use fresh flowers – are they suitable? Many are poisonous therefore must NOT be used directly on a cake. Always check with a florist or other reliable source before going ahead. A few of the more popular poisonous flowers are arum (calla) lilies, asparagus fern, bluebell, ivy, heelebore, iris and tulip.
Here are a few tips for using fresh flowers –
Check lists of edible non toxic flowers on the internet and/or consult with a florist. Among the most popular edible flowers for cakes are roses, lavender, primroses, pansies, violets, chrysanthemums, daisies, sunflowers and hibiscus. There are, however, many others, so always check thoroughly.
Check how they are grown. The use of pesticides on many flowers makes them unsuitable for cakes. They must have been grown organically, or come from a known source eg. home or farm grown with no pesticides or other chemicals being used.
Choose flowers to match the theme of the wedding or celebration if possible. If for a wedding this will be discussed with the bride well in advance!
Ways to use flowers on cakes –
Whole in arrangements, or wired and taped into a spray. May be used as a divider between tiers – very popular for wedding cakes (*see below).
Add totally edible flowers with fresh fruit onto a cake which will be eaten as a dessert eg. chocolate cake with cigarellos.
Use just the petals sprinkled around and over the cake (rose petals are popular).
Crystallised – a form of flower preservation for cakes and cupcakes (primroses and violets are popular in Spring). Simply coat in egg white, dip in caster sugar and dry for several hours!
Place a barrier between the cake and flowers if possible, such as clear cellophane.
Wash gently, if possible before use under a slow running cold water tap. This will ensure that any stray bugs, dirt etc will be removed.
Inserting stems into cakes – do not insert directly into a cake. Place stems into plastic posy picks as a barrier between cake and stems. Posy picks are available in many different sizes and may even be large enough to hold water. The stems may be wrapped in foil, or with tape but this is not recommended. Any seepage from the stems into the cake could cause irritation to the person eating it.
Add flowers as late as possible before the wedding or celebration commences to prevent wilting. This can happen in hot weather, and if the flowers are directly on moist buttercream. Leave flowers with stems immersed in cold water for as long as possible before cutting to suit the decoration.
*Adding fresh flowers to separate the tiers of a wedding or celebration cake.
Fresh flowers are ideal for this style of cake, as they can be ‘squeezed’ into place with no gaps showing. Sugar flowers are obviously delicate and cannot be manoeuvred like fresh flowers.
A standard size gap between the tiers is usually 1 ½” to 2”. However this may vary depending on the flowers you are using.
How do you create the gap?
Polystyrene separators, round and square, 2" deep are available, and are a perfect lightweight option for this job. They come in many sizes and will spread the weight of the cake evenly, which ensures the assembled cake is stable. A thin single or double thick cake card / board the same size as the separator should be placed underneath. This will support the dowels..
-A pile of drum boards glued together.
-Wooden blocks, cut to fit.
-Hidden or hollow pillars which fit down into the cake and may be cut to fit the height of the cake and gap required. This option combines dowelling and separating the cakes all in one!
NOTE - Ideal separator sizes for a wedding cake with 6” 8” 10” (12”) tiers would be 4” and 6”( 8”). This will create sufficient room for the flowers and stems to be arranged around the separators.