5 Things to Consider When Using Fresh Flowers on Cakes
Updated: Nov 2, 2020
There is something beautifully natural, fresh, #bohemian, and #rustic about the use of fresh flowers on cakes. They add a depth in colour few sugar flowers can provide. They look less regimented. Perfect for a more relaxed feel to an event. Ideal for summer. They cost less to adorn the cake with. What could possibly be the problem with putting them on the cake? Why does it cost so much more for a cake maker to just stick them in than the cost of the flowers? Surely it only takes a few minutes, anyone with half a brain could do it!?
Here are a few things to consider if you are planning on having your cake decorated with fresh flowers.
Bugs and insects like flowers. Flowers like them. Very often the whole reason a flower is pretty to begin with is to attract the little multiple legged blighters. However, letting nature do it's thing does not leave attractive flowers once the bugs have had their creepy crawly way. Natural, commercially grown flowers don’t just grow to be that beautiful without some serious intervention. The flowers you see in florists have been sprayed with pesticides, fertiliser, insecticides... in short, masses of chemicals, most certainly not intended to be consumed. Simply choosing your flowers, trimming and popping them into your cake will leave traces of these chemicals on the precious yum yum, rendering it unsafe for consumption. Nooooooo! *crumples into a sobbing heap*. It’s ok! They just need to be washed first to remove all those nasties. This will also remove the stale water traces from the florist kept the flowers in before they got to the cake table.
Many flowers are actually toxic. Often it is just the sap which is poisonous, and this can be overcome by sealing the stem, or removing it completely and replacing it with a sealed florist wire. However, sometimes, the pollen can be the toxic bit, and can cause respiratory issues for your guests. If any of the pollen gets on the cake it was also cause a nasty tummy upset. Not ideal.
Always check with your florist if you are planning on putting flowers on your cake to make sure what you have chosen is food safe. They may not realise your intentions for the blooms, and they are also the best qualified to know what is safe and what isn’t. Whilst us cake makers know some of the blooms to avoid, we are generally not flora experts, so the florist really is the person to ask.
3. Seasonal Selections.
It’s all very good looking through wedding magazine and Pinterest boards, and deciding that you’d like white peonies and eucalyptus on your cake, and in your bouquet and table arrangements, but if your wedding is in March, peony season has not begun yet, and any eucalyptus around will be floppy and not much good for arrangements, and there is no amount of pleading with your florist that will provide you with the flowers you’d like. Start by researching what flowers are in bloom during your event, and then look into the ways you can incorporate them into your arrangement. Your florist will be able to tell you what is available, and what each one goes well with.
4. Colour Availability
When choosing your wedding colours, try not to get stuck into just one colour and expect that you can find flowers to match. Blue is the usual culprit here. There are very few blue flowers suitable for flower arrangements. Try to keep your options open, and find complimentary colours, perhaps using accessories such as ribbon to relate back to your original colour choice.
5. Why the extra costs?
When your florist provides fresh flowers to a cake maker, they are normally full stemmed, untrimmed blooms in a bucket of water. In order to create a food safe, pleasing arrangement, it takes time to trim the flowers, clean them to remove any chemical nasties described in point 1, and get them to a state where they can be safely inserted into a cake. This may include removing the stem and replacing in with sealed florist wire, or of the stems are thin enough, they can be secured into a plastic food safe pick which can go directly into the cake. A wax seal can also be used, but if already at a venue, this isn’t usually an option as it would require the use of a microwave to melt the wax to a useable consistency.
Once the flowers and foliage have all been cleaned, treated and made ready to be put into the cake, they then need to be arranged. Once put into the cake, you can’t take them out and move them without leaving a big ol’ hole in your cake, so planning the placement and arrangement of the flowers takes time, and practise. It has to be right, first time. No retries. Then you have to clean up. There are cut stems, water, tissues, cloths, bits of plastic and wire, and this takes a while to tidy. Your cake has to be left looking beautiful, with no evidence you were even there. Like a cake fairy magicked your cake into place. And we take pride in making that happen. But it takes time. Less time granted than making sugar flowers, but still time.