I love decorating cakes. It is so much more fulfilling and creative than frosting cupcakes. But using the same techniques time and time again is simple, repetitive…boring. Recently I have been trying to expand my repitoir, and have mastered creating roses out of buttercream. Now I am moving into the big leagues with these gum paste roses.
These roses are somewhat simple, though they can be putsy and certainly are time consuming! What I love about them is that they are so versitile, you can make them days or even months in advance, and you can make them as playful or as elegant as you want. There is so much freedom to explore even while sticking to the same method.
I had only worked with gum paste once before, for my Pink Lemonade Ombre Cake. At the time I was quite impressed, but with some additional trial and error this time around, I have to say I am quite embarrassed to even look at my previous attempt! >.< But I would like to say that I hope everyone reading this can at some point try their hand at making something with gum paste. It is quite fun–and actually quite relaxing–and the end result is worth it!
Between last fall and now, I did a little more research and learned that vegetable shortening is helpful in making the paste pliable. I think last time I had tried water–which was a terrible idea, so don’t do that! The vegetable shortening makes gum paste pliable without making it sticky, whereas the water just makes it gooey and starts disintegrating…. T_T
A Block of Styrofoam
Floral Wire, cut into 4 inch pieces
White Gum Paste
Food Coloring, preferably Wilton Gel Paste
To start out, you will want some floral wire, which is thin wire coated with green floral tape. Then you want to make a small hook on the end. This is where you will put a small tear drop shaped piece of gum paste.
When the ball of gum paste is on the end, stick the wires into the styrofoam and let them harden. I would recommend letting them sit for at least 30 minutes, though the longer the better. I was pretty impatient, but I learned (the hard way) that the results are better if you take the extra time.
While the gum paste centers are hardening, color your gum paste the color you want your roses. I probably used about 1/4-1/2 of a cup of gum paste for each color of rose I made, and ended up with 4-6 roses each time–usually with a little bit of left over. Because it takes time to knead the paste, add shortening, add color, knead again, adjust the color, etc., by the time you have the right color and consistancy, you can probably go ahead and use one of your centers.
What you will need to do is rub some shortening onto the surface in front of you. I used my kitchen table, but you can use a cutting board or something along those lines. Then roll out the gum paste to about a 1/8 inch high piece. Using a 5 petal flower cookie/rose petal cutter, cut out one flower. Knead the remaining paste and put it aside. Take the cut out flower in your hand with a liberal amount of shortening. Using the thumb and pointer finger of your dominant hand, gently work your way around each petal, stretching them gently, making the edges softer, and adding some ruffling/texture. I have seen this done with tools and sponge mats…but I don’t have any of those materials, so for now this is my method!
Gently cut about 1/2 inch into the rose cut out with a scissors between each of the petals, and smooth out the edges.
Next, take one of the centers and poke the wire through the center of the rose cut out you have been working on. Gently press through until the rose cut out hits the base of the center. I kept the rose cut out in the palm of my hand while this was happening, as they are very delicate.
With more shortening on your hands, bring the first petal up and press it around the outside of the center, making sure to leave a small amount at the top to give the rose a nice, tightly furled center. Alternating petals, go around bringing the petals up and attaching them to the center.
After you have securely attached all five petals, stick the wire into the styrofoam again. Move on to the next prepared center and repeat this process.
Once you have no more centers or have done as many roses as you like, repeat the process beginning with the first rose again, only this time you will be creating the second layer. You will want to repeat this again for a third layer, unless you want a smaller rose. You want to give each layer enough time to harden, or the gum paste will be too maleable and smoosh together, in addition to the rose “wilting” when you stick it in the styrofoam to dry. I think this needs some personal trial and error, because I like working with my second and third layer when the previous layer is only semi-hard. However I think many people would say to give them more time to harden.
Make sure you give yourself enough time! I think each rose took me about 20 minutes, if I were to take coloring the gum paste, making the center, and each of the layers into consideration. What I did most of the time was work on one color during a two hour time block at night while watching TV. I don’t know why, but for me this is like the ultimate relaxation: doing something with my hands while passively watching TV or listening to music. Seriously, I could do this every day.
I also used a leaf cutter to make, what else, leaves. I only made one color and size, because I didn’t want them to be the focus and they were just to fill in some small holes. I was happy with this addition though, and thought it really highlighted all the roses.
I made these roses for my Neapolitan Engagement Cake, which if you haven’t checked out you definitely should, but here is a preview!