You may recognise the gorgeous cakes in this post – the lovely Bee from Bee’s Bakery is a member of our recommended supplier directory The List. Creating beautiful cakes using edible flowers and petals, Bee’s cakes not only look really pretty and oh so delicate, but also deliciously mouth watering too.
Since Bee started baking wedding cakes around 8 years ago, she has experienced a huge growth in demand for cakes that are not only decorated with flowers and plants, but that are baked with them too, and she’s become somewhat an expert in “plant-based” or vegan baking.
We asked Bee for her top tips for decorating with edible petals – just in case any of you fancy giving it a go, or if you’d like to ask your cake baker to recreate the look. We’re also sharing a recipe for buttercream from Bee’s latest book AND the answers to all the questions you’d want to ask if you were using edible flowers and petals for your own wedding cake. Grab a cup of tea and get comfortable, this post is equal parts pretty and useful!
Baking & Decorating With Edible Flowers
Bee The Baker: Using beautiful, delicate flowers to decorate wedding cakes is a timeless technique but did you know that most florist grade flowers aren’t suitable to eat? Luckily, there are plenty of edible flower and herb varieties available – such as those used on the beautiful cakes you see in this post.
The possibilities for decorating wedding and celebration cakes with edible petals and leaves are endless, as so many different shapes, sizes and colours are available, particularly in the summer months. From large classic rose petals available in deep red through to ivory and pale yellow, to gorgeous little cornflowers in blue and pink, to edible herb leaves in myriad shades of green too. Edible petals are available in all the colours of the rainbow, and they’re very cost effective compared to sugar flower decorations.
Bee’s Top Tips
- Plan the cake decoration in advance. Edible flower petals should be added to your cake at the last possible moment, as in warm conditions they can wilt. Store your petals in an airtight container in the fridge until you need them – they’ll be at their perkiest this way. Think about petal colours and shapes that will compliment the other flowers you’re having. Whilst you don’t want to be too “matchy matchy”, having some common colours/shapes can be really complimentary.
- Don’t use the stems – only the buds and petals, as some green parts are poisonous. Never push the stems of your blooms into the cake – as the flowers may have been stored in a (non food safe) bucket of water during transportation, and their stems will have soaked up lots of bacteria in the process.
- Avoid florist flowers. Whilst it’s lovely to have matching floral decoration at the venue and flowers on your cake, it may not be clear which flowers are poisonous.
- Also, blooms from florists, even if taken from edible species of flowers, are generally not safe to eat, as they might have been sprayed with pesticides and fertilisers.
- Buy your petals from a certified organic grower in your county – this ensures that they are safe to eat – they’ll have been grown in real soil without chemicals and trimmed so that only the non-poisonous parts are used. Locally grown, organic flowers are also more sustainable and air-mile free. We source our flowers from Maddocks Farm Organics, an award winning grower in Devon.
- For a confetti style of cake – Mix some petals into the icing before you decorate, this will give you a base layer of beautifully flecked icing, and helps you to go for a really random (and therefore pretty) finish.
- Be bold with colour for a luxurious finish – consider totally covering a cake in petals or whole blooms.
- If it’s a really hot day – Consider planning for the cake to make a grand entrance so you can add the flowers just before you cut / serve it.
- Jump on the ‘plant-based baking trend‘ and bake with the flowers too – flavour pairing flowers with sharp citrusy flavours is a fantastic way to do this – our most popular recipes at the bakery are rose petals and prosecco cake, and lemon and lavender.
- Mix flowers into your buttercream icing – this creates a wonderful speckled finish.
- Be careful during transportation – do not assemble your cake until you’re onsite, and preferably, on the table. We wrap our boxed cakes in catering grade clingfilm, which creates a little micro-climate inside the box, keeping everything nice and cool.
- Out of season – there might be fewer fresh flowers available but dried and pressed edible flowers look fantastic on winter wedding cakes.
Q: What do edible flowers taste like?
A: Some taste lightly perfumed, some taste of nothing at all, some taste like lavender and rose. If you’ve never tasted one before – give it a try! Some are a little bitter, or savoury, and herb flowers and leaves have a stronger taste.
Q: Why shouldn’t you use flowers from a supermarket? They’re much cheaper than organic ones.
A: Most non-organic flowers are sprayed with chemicals that aren’t safe for humans to eat, this includes ones that are technically edible, e.g. rose petals. I prefer to use organic flowers from an edible flower farm, as there’s no chance they could have been sprayed with anything harmful.
Q: How can you make a flower cake more masculine?
A: There are edible flower petals and blooms in every colour imaginable, so tailor those to the audience! If you fancy a change, you could try using edible herb leaves and flowers, which are all sorts of beautiful shades of green, and look less frilly and flowery than petals do.
Q: Can I use flowers from my garden?
A: Yes, absolutely, if you are growing without the use of pesticides and herbicides. Double check they are definitely an edible variety and wash them before use.
Q: Which flowers are safe to eat?
A: There are countless varieties, of all shapes and sizes that are safe for humans to eat. Seed packets will be labeled, and your local horticultural society should have a list – this will change from region to region.
Q: What do I do to the stems of the flowers that I stick into the cake?
A: To be on the very safe side, I hardly ever stick stems into cake – it’s hard to prevent liquids leaking from the stem into the cake, and even harder to tell what might be in that liquid. I use a combination of icing and cocktail sticks to support the weight of the stem / bloom on the outside of the cake.
Q: How do I use dried flowers?
A: Exactly the same way as you’d use fresh ones, they are less likely to bleed their colours and won’t wilt either, which means they could be sitting on the icing for longer without causing damage.
Q: How do I prevent flowers from wilting once on the cake?
A: This totally depends on the variety, the temperature and the length of time. Generally speaking, add your fresh flowers and petals at the last possible minute, keeping everything chilled until that time too.
Vanilla Buttercream Recipe
A good, reliable buttercream is to baking what the colour black is to fashion – it goes with everything. This recipe is solid enough to use for a cake filling in a layer cake, to do a crumb coat and a final coat. It can also be used to pipe buttercream succulents and flowers.
MAKES ENOUGH TO FILL ONE LAYER OF A 20-CM/ 8-INCH SPONGE // FOR BIGGER QUANTITIES, JUST MULTIPLY AWAY!
- 150g/5¼ oz/⅔ cup salted butter, softened but not melted (you can substitute vegetable margarine or vegan spread, if you like)
- 170g/6oz/1⅓cups icing (powdered) sugar, sifted if there are any lumps
- 2 tsp vanilla-bean paste
If you have a desktop or hand-held mixer, use it for this recipe – either that or face guaranteed baking biceps, as it’ll take a lot of energy!
In a large bowl/the bowl of your mixer, slowly and gently combine the butter, icing sugar, vanilla and any flavours together. If you’re doing this by hand, mix the icing sugar into the butter in thirds, otherwise it’ll fly everywhere and create an icing-sugar storm in your kitchen. If you’re using a mixer, place a clean tea towel over the bowl to stop the sugar storm.
When it’s all combined and there are no lumps, this is the time to really give it a thrashing – whip the mixture around at full speed for at least 5 minutes by hand, or 3 minutes using the mixer. Scrape down the sides regularly, and keep going until the mixture is much paler in colour, and is light and fluffy in texture.
You can chill any leftover buttercream, just remember to remove it from the fridge an hour before you need it, and give it a nice energetic mix before using, to smooth any bubbles out.
Bee’s Bakery is a member of The List – our directory of handpicked wedding suppliers, so you can be sure that she is one of the best in the business (and that her cakes are delicious)…for enquiries, please visit the Bee’s Bakery website. Bee’s Adventures in Cake Decorating is published by Pavilion Books. Cover image – Haarala Hamilton.
- Cakes Bee’s Bakery