Making Icing Flowers

Orange buttercream roses.

Making icing flowers is an essential technique to have under your belt if you want to expand your cake decorating skill set and be able to construct desserts for all occasions. Although frosting flowers can be finicky, there's no reason to be intimidated. There are numerous decorating tips and tools that make it simple to create, transfer, and add detail to any kind of flower you want to make.

Create Flowers From Different Types of Icing

When you watch a professional cake decorator craft rows upon rows of beautiful, flawless flowers, it looks easy. However, the truth is that there's plenty of practice involved in making flawless icing flowers. On your first or second try, you likely won't be able to make picture-perfect blossoms. If you use tools and specialty supplies, each batch you make should become easier and quicker to create.

Most flowers are forgiving. As long as your frosting is stiff enough to use for sculpting or piping, you'll definitely be able to create recognizable blossoms, and they don't have to be professional quality to look great.

Fondant and Gum Paste Flowers

Sugar paste icings such as fondant and gum paste are popular for flowers because they allow for an amazing amount of detail and versatility. The pastes are a lot like modeling clay, so they can be rolled, flattened, pinched, pulled, and sculpted in a wide variety of ways to make nearly any flower imaginable.

If you're just starting out, use tinted fondant to make a rose, which requires only basic tools and techniques. To make your petals as precise as possible, cut them out with a very sharp knife or fondant cutter. Making fondant flowers in other varieties uses the same basic methods. For almost any blossom, you'll need to first make a center and then make individual petals, which you can apply with dabs of buttercream, swipes of vodka, or gum paste "glue." To make sure your flowers are as sturdy as possible before you place them on your cake, let them dry on a plate for several days.

For a bigger challenge, use gum paste to make your flowers. Gum paste can be rolled out much thinner than fondant, since it has greater stretch. It's easy to work with, but unless you're naturally artistic, it can be tough to create all of the detail in the frosting that a flower demands. Decorators often use gum paste to make lilies, carnations, peonies, and other delicate flowers.

Buttercream Flowers

Image courtesy of Allison Perry.

Buttercream flowers are some of the simplest and quickest to create, since you can pipe them rather than needing to craft them by hand. The technique for each type of flower is different, so you may want to check out Internet tutorials or cake decorating books for specific instructions on flower varieties.

Roses are among the most popular decorations, especially for wedding cakes and celebration cakes. To make a rose, use a round frosting tip to pipe a "stem" or tall, rounded mound into the center of a square of wax paper on a flower nail, which you can buy at any cake decorating supply store. Then, use a rose tip on the piping bag in a smooth, up-and-down motion to pipe layers of petals around the stem.

Use an angled leaf or other flower frosting tips to make additional commonly used flowers for decorating cakes. If your flower will be large, it's best to pipe it out on wax paper and transfer it later. If it will be flat, such as a daisy, you can pipe it directly onto the frosted cake. Begin by piping a round center with a round frosting tip. Switch to a leaf or flower tip, change the color of frosting if necessary, and pipe angled petals around the center, squeezing a little more at the places where you'd like the petals to be thickest or widest.

Transfer any large buttercream flowers from wax paper onto a cake with a knife or flat spatula. Run the knife between the flower and wax paper to scoop it up, and then gently slide it onto the cake.

Other Kinds of Icing Flowers

  • Fondant, gum paste, and buttercream are the three most common types of frosting for flowers, but that doesn't mean you can't use other varieties as well.
  • Try pouring chocolate ganache into a flower mold to make blossoms.
  • Pipe out colored royal icing flowers and let them harden before transferring the blossoms to your cake.
  • Flower cutters and molds, available at all cake decorating supply stores, can save you lots of time and help you produce beautiful flowers.

Practice Really Does Make Perfect

Regardless of the type of icing flowers you want to make, it takes time to master the art. Practice until you feel confident enough to decorate cakes with your creations and share them with everyone.

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Making Icing Flowers