Ever wondered how to create those beautiful fresh flower effects on your cakes? We talked to Jan Billington of Maddocks Farm Organics about how she crystallises fresh flowers. They are so easy and make for a gorgeous and very pretty finish...
Jan Billington of Maddocks Farm Organics says:
"Crystallising edible flowers is pretty straightforward but there are a couple of tricks which make it easier. You can either use egg white or food grade gum Arabic to adhere the sugar to the flowers. With egg white the crystallised flowers will last a couple of weeks but with gum Arabic, they will store for several weeks or in some cases months. You can crystallise most flowers but you need to exercise caution and ensure the flowers you pick are safe to eat. The Royal Horticultural society produces a list of those plants that have been clearly identified as poisonous, but this is not a comprehensive list. You could start with something simple like pansies, rose petals, lavender and violets."
Gum Arabic method
Gum Arabic can be bought online or ordered from a chemist. A small pot is only a few pounds and will last for ages so is worth the investment.
Dilute a couple of teaspoons of gum Arabic into a flavourless alcohol such as vodka until you have a consistency slightly thinner than single cream. The gum Arabic will need to be left to sit in alcohol overnight to ensure that it properly dissolves.
White caster sugar should be used for crystallising and I find it best to put it in a hand blender to blitz for a few pulses first. Icing sugar is too fine but the grains in caster can be a little too big for dainty flowers so a quick blitz produces a texture in between.
Using a fine paint brush, gently paint the gum Arabic liquid onto the edible flowers (on both sides) and then sprinkle the sugar carefully over them (both sides, cracks and crevices).
Knock off any surplus sugar and place on a baking sheet to dry. If you get too much sugar stuck to the petals then it can pull the flowers out of shape and flatten it so this process may take a bit of practice.
For the egg white method simply take the egg whites, beat gently with a fork and cover your flowers as above. Then follow the same steps as with the gum Arabic method.
Depending on the room temperature, the flowers may take a few hours to dry and should then be kept in an airtight container until use. The colour can also fade from the crystallised flowers if kept in direct sunlight.
Did you find this article useful? We love talking to cake decorating and sugarcraft experts from all walks of life - Such as Michael Lewis Anderson: A Day with the Cake King!
For even more amazing inspo, tips tricks and technique focuses, pick up your latest issue of Cake Decoration & Sugarcraft magazine!