I am surprised again and again by how many professional bakers (and those working in the kitchen at the venues) do not know how to properly choose and handle fresh flowers on cakes! Did you know that they have to be certified organic? Do you know why you shouldn’t use flowers purchased from the florist or grocery stores for your cakes?
Today, we have guest blogger Sharon Zambito from Sugar Ed Production here to share some pointers with us. She’s the educator and demonstrator for her popular online courses that teaches sugar art to decorators of all skill levels. When one of her students asked about fresh flowers, here’s what she has to say…
I was reminded of watching a very famous person’s lifestyle TV show about 10 years ago. There was a guest cake decorator, showing how to make a simple floral 3 tier wedding cake. At the very end, she proceeded to cut and then insert no less than a dozen long rose stems directly into the cake.
I couldn’t believe my eyes, honestly.
And I have been surprised many times since then when I have seen florists, lay people and caterers do this at wedding and party venues (not on my cakes though!)
I try not to judge; I guess one does not know what they don’t know.
But suffice it to say it is never food safe to insert bare flower stems into cakes.
Here’s some tips for choosing and proper placement of fresh flowers on cakes:
- Be sure the flower is non toxic. There are many common flowers that are poisonous. (Such as the popular wedding flower, the hydrangea.)
- Do your research before you choose which flowers to use on a cake. You can find many websites that provide this kind of info, like this one.
- There are flowers that are actually edible, and then there are those that are non toxic, if grown and handled correctly.
- It’s ok to use a non toxic flower on a cake, as long as it is grown, processed, and used correctly.
- Flowers purchased from standard florists and grocery stores have chemical pesticides, herbicides and fungicides or other chemicals on them. Don’t use those.
- Be sure the grower is certified and licensed as organic. Ask what types of pesticides etc they use and be sure they are food safe.◦ Ask about the entire process of harvesting and handling from the plant to the cake: is there any chance the flowers might hit the floor, be laid on dirty tables, put into dirty boxes or come in contact with anything making them not safe to touch food.
- Never push stems, cut or uncut, into cake, even if they are organic. They have been sitting in flower water, which contains bacteria.
- Wrap stems fully in floral tape, then plastic wrap (I like Press ‘n Seal). Then insert that into a straw. Plug the bottom of the straw with melted chocolate, so nothing can seep into the cake. (Or use a posy pic.)
- Be certain that no tape, plastic wrap, or any part of the plant can become dislodged and end up on a cake plate.
- You can make nosegays or arrangements in foam or a large mound of icing, in a shallow bowl, as one movable piece. Be sure flower juices are not running or seeping anywhere. (Always wrap stems.)
- Always have a moisture proof barrier between flower stems and cake/icing.
- Think about how long each flower type will hold up once cut and out of water. Some won’t stay looking nice for long.
- Always place the flowers on the cake as late in the schedule as you can.
- Give proper instructions for removal and serving to the venue/client.
Putting fresh flowers on a cake is not a simple proposition. It takes a lot of research and preparation to make sure it’s done correctly and safely.
Please be safe!
Happy Caking! Sharon Zambito
About Sharon Zambito
Sharon Zambito has legions of fans all over the world who have perfected the basics of cake decorating and learned exciting new techniques from her popular DVD series and classes. Thousands have seen Sharon’s appearances on television cake shows, and many have attended her popular classes and demonstrations at cake workshops, shows and conventions throughout the U.S.
Sharon’s warm and engaging style, along with her clear instructions and sense of humor, make you feel like you have a real friend in your kitchen – a friend with loads of experience who knows exactly what she’s doing.
Sharon’s love for cake decorating started more than 25 years ago with an introductory class at a local cake shop. She was a registered nurse at the time, but soon her hobby developed into a passion, and cake decorating became her life’s work. A born educator, Sharon founded SugarEd Productions in 2007. And for the last several years, she has shared her love of sugar art with decorators of all skill levels.