- Food and Cooking
Spring Cake Decoration Using Fresh Flowers
Cake Decorating With Pansies and Violets
Festive Spring Cakes Decorated with Fresh Flowers
Nothing says spring more than a bouquet of fresh spring flowers. Why not bring a splash of spring to your springtime celebration with a cake decorated with edible flowers? What could be prettier than a Mother's Day, Easter or birthday cake decorated with pansies or violets from your flower garden?
There are many edible flowers, but not all flowers are safe to eat. Do check my chart of some of the most common edible flowers before incorporating them into your cake decorating.
Uses of edible flowers
Many common flowers are edible and can be used in salads, as infusions in vinegars and oils or in jams and jellies. Others are best candied or used fresh as decorations. Flowers that are listed as edible are not all suitable for use on cakes and desserts because of strong flavor. Also, some flowers will have undesirable effects if eaten . For example, the day lily is considered edible and makes a pretty decoration, but it can act as a diuretic or laxative. It’s best to reserve them for decorative uses only.
*Note: See the table at the end of this article for a list of some of the most common edible flowers perfect for use in cake decorating.
Instructions for Using Fresh Flowers as a Mother's Day Cake Decoration
First, be certain that flowers are edible and that they are free of herbicides and pesticides. Remove any insects that might be on them. In this case it is best to use flowers that you have grown yourself. Wash the flowers by placing in a shallow bowl of water and gently submersing and swishing around to remove dust, pollen and any insects. I like to leave the flowers in water for a half hour or so to hydrate them for longer lasting freshness. Remove from water, cut stems off the flowers close to the base of the flower, then place on a paper towels to dry.
Prepare Flowers for Cake Decorating
Plan the design and flower placement on the cake
Plan design by laying out on a paper or clean paper towel so that you can see how the flowers will look together.
Steps for placing flowers and design on frosted cake
- Start by alternating mint leaves with jelly beans or other small candies around the bottom of the cake. A border at the bottom will give the cake a finished look, and the candy colors can be coordinated with the flower colors.
- Start on the cake top, working from the center out. On the pansy and violet cake, I started with a cluster of five or six small violets in the center and used a few mint leaves to finish off the center design.
- Five pansies are evenly spaced around the edge of the cake top. If you are a perfectionist, you can measure space between flowers to be sure that they are evenly spaced. I didn't measure, just estimated distances as I placed the flowers. A violet with stem removed is placed between each pansy.
- The sides of the cake need some decoration, but I didn't want to detract from the top, so I placed a violet under each of the edge flowers about halfway up the sides. This gave the cake a finished look.
Tips for success: Frost cake and chill in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes prior to decorating. This will help keep the icing from wilting as you work if your kitchen is warm. If you won't be serving the cake until the next day, place it in a covered cake dish and refrigerate to keep the flowers fresh longer.
Finished Cake Decorated with Pansies and Violets
Other ideas for Spring Cake Decoration Using Flowers
Pictures below show some other ideas for decorating with flowers from your garden. I particularly like the cake with the white icing and the violets as the violets in my lawn are a sure sign of spring. Johnny-jump-ups would also be pretty as they are small and come in many pretty colors. The yellow and purple ones would be perfect for Easter or Mother's Day!
I happen to have English daisies, and love the way they look scattered on the cake top. In place of mint leaves, one could use new leaves of roses as long as they haven't been sprayed with pesticides. Be sure to wash leaves and flowers thoroughly to get off any minute insects that might be hiding on them.
Spring Cake Decorated with Fresh Violets
Easter Cake Decorated with English Daisy and Marigold
Candied or Crystallized Flowers in Cake Decorating
While all of the cakes pictured in this article use fresh flowers, you can also use candied or crystallized flowers as decorations. The advantage here would be that you can crystallize flowers as they come into season and store them so that you have a larger selection to draw from when you are making that special cake. Wouldn't it be lovely to have flowers decorating your cake on Thanksgiving or on Valentine's Day when there are no blooms in your garden? (Don't forget - flowers from the florist are not safe for food!)
Making crystallized flowers is a little time consuming, but fun and worth the effort if you love flowers as decorations and garnish on your special desserts. Instructions follow:
Warnings About Using Flowers with Foods
- Not every flower is edible - be sure to double check for safety before using as a garnish or component in your dishes.
- Never use any flower from a plant that has been treated with pesticides.
- Never use roadside flowers as they could be contaminated with herbicides or pesticides.
- Never use flowers in food from a nursery, florist or garden center as they could be contaminated with herbicides or pesticides.
WARNING! These flowers are poisonous!
NEVER, EVER use any of these poisonous flowers as decorations on cakes or other food:
- Angel's Trumpet
- Autumn Crocus
- Belladonna or Deadly Nightshade
- Foxglove or Digitalis
- Lily of the Valley
How to Make Crystallized Flowers
Crystallized or candied flowers will last up to a year and are a long-lasting alternative to using fresh flowers. Here are instructions for crystallizing flowers:
What you need for crystallized flowers:
- 1 large egg white
- 1 tsp. water
- 1 cup of superfine sugar (whirl regular granulated sugar in a blender for a few seconds to create superfine sugar).
- Shallow saucer
- small, clean artists paint brush
- wax paper and baking rack
With a fork or whisk, mix egg white and water together till slightly foamy. Spread sugar in the shallow dish. With the paintbrush, paint each flower petal with the egg white mixture. Hold flower over the top of the sugar dish and sprinkle sugar onto both sides of the flower. Gently shake off excess and place on wax paper to dry. Air dry for 12 to 36 hours or speed up drying by placing in a warm oven (150°F) for a few hours. Flowers need to be totally free of moisture before storing. Use immediately or layer in a plastic container with wax paper between layers.
Check for Safety
Be sure to check the table below for a list of edible flowers that are safe to use as garnishes and decorations on food. If in doubt, use something else!
List of Common Edible Flowers for Cake Decorating
white or pink
white, pink, blue
Begonias, tuberous or wax
white, pink, red
yellow or orange
Dandelion, young flowers
white, pink, red
white to pale yellow
white, pink, red, orange
Johnny jump up
purple and yellow
white, pink, red
white, red, pink
Where to Get Edible Flowers If You Don't Grow Your Own
*Note: Several people have mentioned that they don't have flower gardens of their own and wonder where they can get edible flowers that are safe to put on cakes. Here are a few suggestions:
- See if you can "borrow" a few blooms from your neighbors and friends. It doesn't take many flowers to decorate a pretty spring cake.
- Check your houseplants. Begonias and geraniums are common house plants that have many blooms and are safe to eat as long as you haven't used pesticides on them. But only use them if they've been long-time residents in your home. If you get them straight from the greenhouse, they're very likely to have pesticides on them.
- Look for local farms that have organically grown produce. They may also have organically grown flowers.
- Go for a walk in the woods. One of the prettiest flowers for decorating cakes is violets, and they are also one of the most commonly found. Chamomile and young dandelions are also commonly found in grassy areas. Again, do not pick anything that may have been sprayed.
- Check with your florist for edible flowers. As some restaurants used flowers as garnishes on food, florists may have a source for organically grown edible flowers.
- You can purchase candied flowers from sources like Amazon.com and eBay or cake decorating suppliers.
Click through to review Spring Cakes decorated with Fresh FlowersClick thumbnail to view full-size
Enjoy Cake Decorating with Flowers
One of the reasons I love to decorate food, especially cakes and desserts, with flowers is because I love to use flowers from my flower garden. It's so rewarding to use the flowers I've grown myself to enhance the foods, cakes and desserts I prepare. It's especially fun in the early spring to go out and hunt up some violets, dandelions or pansies for those special occasion cakes - a great way to kick off the season!
Copyright ©2012 Stephanie Henkel
Use of flowers in foods
Have you used edible flowers in food preparation?
Video on Edible Flowers
Enjoy Your Beautiful and Unique Cake!
You can see that decorating a cake with fresh flowers is not only easy but impressive. Decorating with fresh flowers will dress up cakes for any occasion. Fresh flowers add a beautifully elegant touch to special occasion cakes on birthdays, anniversaries, Mother's Day, Easter, showers or weddings. Do give it a try!
Copyright ©2012 Stephanie Henkel
Cake Decorating Supplies and Books
Learn more about edible flowers
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