How to Arrange Sugar Flowers on a Cake ?
There is no shortage of tips and tutorials on making sugar or gumpaste flowers, but somewhat less information is available on how to arrange sugar flowers on a cake. I have taught many group and private sugar flower classes and whilst students always embrace exploring new techniques in making the sugar flowers, the actual arrangement of their creations on the cake is something that seems to strike fear. I can relate to that completely! In my early days of sugar flower and wedding cake making it was the part of the process that I least enjoyed, and decorating day was hence the most stressful. I was so terrified of breaking them and generally lacked confidence. I have developed techniques though, such that I can now arrange with my sugar flowers with ease. Sugar flower arranging for me is now something that is actually hugely satisfying. I hope to help others reach this stage by sharing my tips today on how to arrange sugar flowers on a cake.
My Top Tips for How to Arrange Sugar or Gumpaste Flowers on A Cake
I am delighted to share with you here my top tips for how to arrange sugar flowers on a cake and hope that this will be helpful to sugar artists who are in the process of developing their sugar flower skills.
1. Source inspiration for your sugar or gumpaste flower arrangement
I have a Pinterest board where I save pins of flower arrangements which inspire me in creating arrangements of sugar flowers on my cakes. I always look for something a little different, for example is there a flower protruding in an unusual way? Or indeed an unusual flower or element in the arrangement that could add interest to the sugar flower arrangement on the cake? Looking at arrangements can also give you an idea of the number and type of flowers you may need, and sizes or colours that work well together. You may not always need to do this step. There may be times when you are happy to go for it and let your own creativity lead you in your arrangement, or indeed you may have a prior arrangement that worked that you can replicate on a subsequent cake.
2. Group your sugar or gumpaste flowers together in ‘micro’ arrangements
When I have all my sugar or gumpaste flowers made, dusted and steamed, I tape together the stems into little groups, or micro-arrangements as I call them. I may leave a larger flowers on it’s own, or at most attach a few little leaves to it. Smaller flowers, buds and foliage I tape into varied groups, some compact and short to perhaps fit into gaps in the sugar flower arrangement, and some longer and/or more sparse to add at the edges to give length and movement. I always leave a few stems loose too – they may need to be added onto an existing group or used individually at the end.
3. Make a mock-up of your sugar or gumpaste flower arrangement in advance
I generally make a mock sugar flower arrangement in advance, by loosely placing my flower groups on a piece of styrofoam or a dummy tier to see how they fit together. You can use your saved inspirational flower arrangement pictures as a guide. I often do this the day before, or even a few days before, the final decoration of the cake, it makes it so much quicker and more stress-free to place your flowers on the cake on decorating day. It is also beneficial to do this at this stage so you can also check that you have enough flowers and fillers. Take care when making your mock arrangement, you don’t need to put the flowers too close together and risk breakage, it is just to get a general idea of what you are going to do before you put them on the cake.
4. Place your sugar or gumpaste flowers securely on the cake
When it comes to placing sugar flowers on the cake, take your micro arrangements and put them into appropriately sized posy picks (available from cake decorating stores, posy picks are to prevent contact of the wires with the cake). I often add a tiny piece of fondant paste into the posy pick to anchor the sugar flower stem and stop it moving around. I generally start at the centre of the planned arrangement, placing smaller pieces that are coming out from underneath first before placing larger flowers next, then work outwards. You may sometimes need to take a flower out again to allow yourself room to add in a filler before replacing the flowers. Always push the posy pick at an angle in to the cake, if you put it in vertically and too close to the edge you may push out some of the cake and break the outer icing. Push the pick in to the cake such that it cannot be seen, visible stems are however perfectly acceptable. If you have a particularly heavy flower that is placed close to the cake surface you can put some royal icing behind it for added security.
5. Don’t be afraid and allow yourself to be creative
I always suggest reminding yourself to relax when you are arranging your flowers on the cake, it can be stressful but trust in yourself! Stand back and see if your arrangement is as you wish, you may need to add or remove something that doesn’t quite look right. Bend stems and leaves to add movement and create a more natural feel. Don’t be afraid to let your creativity lose a little too. And finally, don’t worry about any little breakages that occur in the process – remember real flowers are not pure perfection, a few small breakages can add to authenticity and no one will ever notice anyway.
6. Prepare your sugar or gumpaste flower arrangement for transportation
I generally arrange as much as I can before delivering the cake. I slip pieces of bubble wrap or kitchen roll in between any flowers that may knock off each other. Some buds and leaves can be bent out of the way for transport too and then bent back when on site. If there are any particularly loose, wobbly or precarious flowers I may remove that particular stem for transport.
7. Be proud!
Don’t forget to stand back and admire your work. And the more you do it the more confident you will become!
I hope anyone struggling with their sugar flower arranging skills finds these tips somewhat useful. If you would like to see some more of my sugar flower arrangements please browse my portfolio.