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Sunday, March 1, 2015

Culinary School - Sessions 78 & 79: Sugar Paste Flowers

Culinary School: Sessions 78 & 79 (02.25.15 / 02.27.15)

Sugar Paste Flowers

Roses are red, violets are sugar paste...

I surprised myself this week. 

No, I'm not going to finally profess a love for the decorative side of Pastry. I'm still firmly in the camp that wants to eat everything made in the kitchen, not just look at it...

... and yet, the techniques and somewhat zen mindset required to produce realistic Sugar Paste Flowers was surprisingly enjoyable. Although perhaps there's a small sense of relief that my flowers - an assortment of Lilies, Tulips and Roses - came out pretty well for an initial effort.

... then again, maybe it's just the sweet promise of three more weeks of Chocolate on the horizon!

Finished Tulip

A world of new techniques...

Perhaps what was most enjoyable about working with Sugar Paste Flowers was having an opportunity to learn an array of completely new techniques. While the past six months of culinary school classes have built upon the prior lessons, Sugar Paste Flowers were unlike anything we had seen before.  

- Ingredients Running Tally -

Seeing as there's no category for Sugar Flower Petal Dust, it was all quiet on the ingredient front.

Ingredients used to date (02.27.15):
  • Flour: 24,240g
  • Eggs: 15,400g (308x)
  • Sugar: 22,260g
  • Butter: 15,440g
  • Milk/Cream: 15,780g
  • Chocolate: 2,925g (since 01.12.15)

Sugar Flower Dust Paint

    - The Flowers -


    Calla Lily

    This funeral flower, which is also a suspiciously common wedding cake request (tell the groom to read between the lines), is made from a single piece of Sugar Paste wrapped around an elongated Spadix (the pollen-covered piece at the center of the flower).

    The Spadix is lightly painted with glue and is then rolled in cornmeal to give it a pollen-covered appearance.

    The Spathe, the white petal that wraps around the Spadix, is formed from a tear-shaped piece of Sugar Paste that is at least twice as tall as the Spadix. As with all Sugar Paste Flowers, the edges are rolled thin to give it a more life-like appearance. 

    Calla Lilies are almost completely white; however, they remain slightly green and yellow where the Spathe meets the stem. This color is apparent on both the inside and outside of the Spathe.

    The paint used for Sugar Paste Flowers is actually a fine dust that adheres to the textured surface of the dried Sugar Paste. The dust can be mixed with cornstarch to mute the color.

    Unpainted Calla Lily

    Painted Calla Lily

    Painted Calla Lilies



    Each tulip is formed from seven pieces: a stigma at the center of the flower and six surrounding petals, arranged in two sets of three.

    The petals are individually cut on a special groove board which creates a thicker region at the center of each petal. This thicker region is used to thread a supporting metal wire. As with the Calla Lily, the edges of each petal are rolled thin for realism. 

    Unlike the completely smooth surface of the Calla Lily Spathe, the petals of a tulip are textured. To achieve this effect, each petal is gently pressed into a silicon mold before they are rested in round shaped molds to dry.

    When the petals are fully dry, they are taped, one by one, to the center stigma. The petals are arranged in two sets of three. The first set is arranged close to the stigma while the second set is spaced to cover the gaps created between the petals in the first set.

    Tulips have been cultivated for centuries and now appear in a nearly limitless array of colors. 

    The simplest way to achieve a realistic look is to add a highlight color at the base and tip of each petal, both on the inside and outside of the flower. This highlight dust can also be used to pick up some of the texture previously molded into the petal.

    Cut Tulip Petals

    Tulip Petal in Silicon Texture Mold

    Textured Tulip Petals Drying

    Dried Tulip Petals

    Assembling the Tulip

    Unpainted Tulip

    Painted Tulip

    Final Tulip



    Each full rose is constructed from at least 16 pieces of Sugar Paste. The base is a Hershey Kiss shaped bulb around which all of the individual petals are placed. The petals are individually cut, tear-shaped pieces of Sugar Paste.

    The individual petals are cut in four different sizes. The petals at the center of the rose are the smallest, and they become progressively larger towards the outside of the rose. 

    A standard rose is constructed from five concentric circles of petals:

    • The first ring uses just a single petal, which is wrapped around the center bulb.
    • The second ring uses two petals, which are wrapped around the first petal facing one another.
    • The third ring uses three petals (...you get the pattern). The first petal is placed so that its center directly covers one of the seams from the previous row of petals. The remaining two leaves are then attached so that they are slightly overlapping and evenly spaced around the center. 
    • The fourth ring uses four petals (...the pattern continues). The arrangement is just as before. However, the leaves for this row are molded by hand to bend backwards at the tips. This shaping of the petals adds realism, suggesting weight and age of the outer petals.
    • The fifth ring uses five petals arranged just like the previous ring.  

    A vibrant colored rose is best made using Sugar Paste that has been dyed with color gel. It is impossible to get realistic, deep colors using only Petal Dust on the blank canvass of a white flower. Paint should be used to accent the existing base color.

    Unpainted Rose

    Painted Rose

    Next - Session 80: Pastillage Showpiece (cont.)

    Previous - Session 77: Pastillage Showpiece

    Take a look at the full syllabus

    Questions? Comments? Send me an email or leave a comment.
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