I can’t properly ice or pipe something to save my life, rolling out fondant is not my skill set, and no, I can’t sculpt a flower out of sugar. As a home cook and baker, I’ve had to reconcile this dream of “patisserie Claire” with “reality Claire,” because few things are sadder than a botched cake decoration.
Enter my love of flowers. Yes, I’m that basic bae who thinks she would be a florist if she quit her current job (this is a secret I sheepishly keep from my friends who are actual florists – a job that involves cuts, scrapes, bridezillas, and haggling with farmers – not quite the fantasy I always envisioned it being). When spring rolls around, I jump on the chance to use flowers as decoration on and in my recipes. Today I’m partnering with my friends at Apolis, to also share their amazing apron! It’s simple, chic, and perfect – and they’ve generously offered to give on of my readers one! Just comment below what you’re favorite way to decorate a cake is and I’ll pick my favorite.
There are a few important things to know about when decorating with botanicals:
1. Some of them are toxic. Meaning, poisonous. Make sure to check first if the plant you want to decorate with is toxic. For instance, I love the look of ranunculus, but they’re toxic in concentrated doses. To make the flowers safer, I either wrap their stem in floral tap and aluminum foil – or use those floral water tubes you can find at a DIY store. This way, the cut stem isn’t secreting into the cake. But this is definitely a “use at your discretion” situation. Like raw egg, make the choice that makes you the most comfortable.
2. Buy organic. If you can find organic flowers, use those. You don’t want to decorate an edible item with something coated in pesticides.
Now to the fun part!
I already mentioned above what to do if you want to decorate with non-edible or toxic flowers. Here’s a list of my favorite edible botanicals to decorate with, but remember there are so many more than just these.
12. Fruit blossoms (like cherry blossoms, orange blossom, etc.)
For decoration, I personally prefer the look of a crescent, wrapping around the edge of the cake. This way, you can create a sense of asymmetrical drama without having to use too many flowers.
When something as abundant and pretty as lilac is in season, I feel like “more is more” is the way to go. I pile on bunches of it in a curve along the cake’s edge, and then press the greens into the side of the cake. You could allow the greens to poke out, but I prefer the look of greens clinging to the cake, as if its growing out of it. This look works especially well with vine plants, or flowers that hang heavily.
The key to this look is finding a plant that comes in a variety of hues, or using multiple types of flowers in different grades of color. Spray roses, daisies, and ranunculus all come in a wonderful variety of colors.
If you’re working with small flowers (here I used individual lilacs), this is a very sweet, delicate way to go. Simply place individual flowers in a polka dot pattern over the entire cake of cupcake. Make sure to leave plenty of space to it looks like a pattern.
I love the look of a classic laurel crown (think Caesar or a Film Festival Winner). The key to this look is the curve with a center intersection point. I used lavender, as the stalks are quite pliable. I placed one lavender blossom, and then intersected the leave over to, to create a crown shape.
I hope you guys enjoyed this little round up of floral techniques!