Making Flower paste Hydrangeas
You may have seen my Spring Fling entry on Movita Beaucoup’s Bake My Cake competition, and after receiving wonderful compliments for the cake I entered and placing a very respectable second in my heat, I thought I had to post something sugar craft related this week. I’ve been having some fruitful experimenting with making sugar flowers recently and this post on how to make Hydrangeas reflects this. To make these, I have used the four piece plunger cutter set of Hydrangea cutters from JEM.
I made the hydrangea flowers using flower paste, which is more pliable version of gum paste. For flower paste, you need a batch of royal icing, which I explained how to make in my brush embroidery post. For flower paste, like gum paste which I went through making in my post on making gum paste butterflies, you need very stiff royal icing so keep adding sifted icing sugar until the royal icing is incredibly dry and stiff, so stiff that it will hold your fork or whatever your stirring with vertically. Once you have the royal icing at this stage, add a teaspoon of tylo powder or similar gumming agent. Tylo powder is widely available online and from cake decorating shops. Knead in the tylo powder and gradually add a teaspoon of white fat, adding a little more icing sugar if the flower paste is overly sticky. You need to knead the flower paste until it’s smooth and stretchy, and then store it in an air tight container, wrapped in cling film to make sure it doesn’t dry out at all.
Once you have your flower paste, tear off a small piece to work with and then wrap the rest up again. If you want to colour the flower paste, colour it at this stage and really work the colour in to make sure it’s evenly distributed in the flower paste. Add a little more white fat to this small piece to moisten the flower paste and roll it between your palms to form a sphere without any creases or folds. Roll out thinly on a surface lightly covered with icing sugar, making sure to move around the flower paste to prevent it from sticking.
After you have thinly rolled out the flower paste, place the hydrangea cutters on top and press down firmly to cut the paste. Next, press the plunger down to vein the flowers and carefully lift up the cutter, making sure the icing stays attached to the cutter. Turning the cutter inside down and pressing the edge of the flower paste against the cutting edge will give you a cleaner finish as apposed to tearing the flower paste from the around the cutter. Use a Dresden tool to get right into the corners of the cutter to make sure all the edges are as clean as they can be before carefully lifting it off the cutter.
Next, place the cut out hydrangea flower onto a sponge pad to thin the petal edges. I use the back of an old mouse mat but I’ve also heard of someone using a foam swimming float so anything spongy will do the trick. Using the small end of a ball tool, clean up the petal edges by running the ball along the edge and wipe away any excess flower paste. After that, use the large end of the ball tool to thin the petal edge. To thin any petal using a ball tool, you just need to run the tool, half way on the flower paste and half way on the sponge, along the edge, from base to tip on either side of the petal. In the case of the hydrangea flowers, you’ll need to thin four petals and so run the tool up eight sides. When you are happy with the petal, place it to dry in an egg box, which will form it into a more life like shape.
Whilst the petals dry, you can make the hydrangea centres. If you look at a hydrangea flower, you’ll notice they have a centre that looks like a tiny flower bud with four petals just on the verge of opening. To make this, take a tiny ball of flower paste, and using a Dresden tool, make a cross shape in the top. Stick onto the petal by brushing a small amount of edible glue into the centre of the flower and then carefully placing the centre onto this. Leave the completed flowers to dry overnight before dusting them.
Hydrangea flowers are brilliant to dust as the more randomly they are dusted, the more lifelike the flowers look, as the real flowers are a subtle mixture of loads of different colours. I realise petal dusts are quite a specialist piece of kit but they are easily available online and from specialist cake decorating shops, and they are awesome for making lifelike flowers and really delicately colouring anything. I was aiming to make green and blue hydrangea flowers so I used Eucalyptus (which is a pale blue), Spring Green (which a light and bright green) and Dusky Pink (which is pretty self explanatory). I tend to tip out a little dust onto kitchen towel as brushing the dust on here first gets rid of any little lumps and gives a more even colour. Then the fun bit. There isn’t any correct way to do but I usually go for gradually building up the different colours until I’m happy with the result.
I have always loved the delicacy and vibrancy of Hydrangea flowers so I really enjoyed trying to replicate them in flower paste. If you want to place the flowers onto wire to make a more realistic flower, you would just need to place the flower centre onto a wire dipped in edible glue, then slide on the petal once you had thinned the edges. To dry the wired hydrangea flowers, you can either dry them hanging upside down or again in the egg boxes, with the wires pushed through the cardboard.