I have an amazingly talented friend named Andrea. She is a master cake maker/decorator and baker. She has a blog called Cakes and Cookies by Andrea that you must go look at. You will be wowed by all the cakes she has designed. What talent! I am not skilled enough to make a whole cake, but I thought it would be fun to try to learn some flowers or accents. Today she is sharing a wonderful tutorial with us on how to make a Gumpaste Peony. How pretty would this be on an Easter or Mother's Day cake? So here she goes...
I love sugar flowers! They are so elegant and beautiful (I even like them more than real flowers on a cake... don't tell my sister-in-law the florist). The only down side is that they are time consuming and you need to either see one made or have a great artistic eye to sit down and make one. So for you I created a picture tutorial on how to make a gumpaste/sugar peony.
Here are the tools that you need:
*From left to right: Square squishy foam pad (don't know if it has a real name or not), sugar glue (see the recipe section for how to make it- it is much better than water and makes a more secure hold with your gumpaste flowers and figures), A ball tool to thin and curl your petals, a thinning pad (it is very thin, the pads I have are Wilton brand and they work great) and cornstarch in a knee-high stocking.
*Peony cutters of course. Mine I got from Global Sugar Arts it is the Collette's Cakes brand. There are so many kinds of peony cutters out there to choose from.
*And you need a Styrofoam ball that is 1 1/2 inches in diameter and some 20 gauge floral wire. I didn't have any Styrofoam balls on hand so I took one of the small rice crispy treats and squished it into a very tight ball and put it on a toothpick. (Working with the Styrofoam is sooooo much easier because the rice crispy is heavy so it makes it harder to hang upside down. But I think you should use what you have rather than always buying things.)
*Cover a small bowl with tin foil and indent it slightly to the shape that you want the base of the flower to be.
*Gumpaste dyed to the color that you want your flower.
*A roller to roll out your gumpaste
Directions to make the Peony:
Roll our your gumpaste (or fondant that has CMC or Tylose Powder added to it) really, really thin. When you are making flowers you want to roll it really thin until when you lift it, it becomes almost see through.
Cut out your pieces. With these cutters you need to cut out ten of each petal size. But gumpaste and fondant dry out really really fast so you need to cover it. I only had cut out 2 of the petal sizes so the flower can dry in between while I prepared the next size of petals.
Take one petal at a time and thin the edges with your small ball tool. The ball tool is half on the petal and half on the pad. You use the thin pad to thin your petals (that makes it easy to remember, thin pad thins petals.
Once your petal is thinned you need to curl it to give the petal some movement. You switch it to the thicker squishy pad and using the same ball tool start at the edges and pull in toward the center of the petal and the petal will curve into you.
Then place some sugar glue on the center of the petal down to the tip and begin attaching them to the ball.
The first petal is laid over the top of the ball just so no matter where your petals are place the center is colored and you don't see any Styrofoam or rice crispy treat.
Then begin placing the petals around the ball so they curve over the top slightly. Then after you place your first row of petals (about 5 of them) add the rest of them overlapping where the petals meet.
Once you have your first size petals done it is best to hang the flower upside down so the petals don't flop back while you are thinning and curling the next size. The rice crispy was difficult to do this because it was so heavy so eventually right before I was ready for the next set I ended up putting it in the bowl with lots of paper towel to support it.
As your flower gets bigger keep overlapping the petals and I begin to attach them with the flower upside down because it is easier to see where to place the next petal and keeps the petals in the correct place (no flopping). Every once and a while I flip the flower over and just check from the top that it looks good.
Once all the petals are on place in on the cup that is covered in foil and use little pieces of paper towel or saran wrap to help lift and shape your petals so they look realistic.
Last couple steps are let it dry. It is so tempting to try to pick it up! But I would let it rest 2-3 days to make sure it is totally dry. And be extremely careful when you do pick it up because since the petals are thin it breaks really really easily. Once it was dry I took a really soft large brush and brushed with my peony with some super pearl or brush with other tones of pink since flowers aren't totally uniform in color. I know this flower doesn't look the same color as the tutorial pictures, but I was working on it at night and the lights I have in that room are florescent so it made the color look more orangeish than pink. It is amazing how natural light can make an object so beautiful.
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