Fresh flowers on a beautiful cake, what’s not to love? It’s a classic. Nothing wrong with that, right? Well, the truth is, there could be a lot wrong with that. Depending on how the cake decorator chose and prepared the flowers before decorating the cake.
Think about it, conventional flowers are probably one of the most heavily fertilized and heavily sprayed with pesticides than any other commercially grown product. Why? Well obviously to keep the pesky critters from chewing on them and to make them grow big and beautiful, but they can do this BECAUSE they are not mean for human consumption. Sure you could vow to ONLY use organically grown flowers to decorate cakes, but that is un-realistic for many reasons and still doesn’t address the need to select flowers that are not toxic or poisonous.
Did you know that conventional flowers are sprayed daily with a cocktail of hazardous chemical fertilizers and pesticides which require the person to have a special license and be wearing a hazmat suit?
Do you want something that has those chemicals all over them touching something you will be eating? I’m guessing the answer is NO! And what about the buckets of bacteria laden water those beautiful flowers sit in before purchase? Let’s not get that anywhere near your client’s cake please!
How can we create these beautiful fresh floral cakes as safely as possible then?
Ok, so a bride has ordered a wedding cake from you and she wants you to decorate it with the same fresh flowers her florist is using in her bouquet and floral decorations. You get to the venue and the florist hands you a bucket full of various flowers to use on the cake. Now what do you do??
The first step is going to be determining what flowers are actually safe to put on the cake in the first place. You are probably aware that some flowers are are toxic and some are even so poisonous that they can cause death. If you are like me, you don’t even know the names of many of those flowers let alone if they could kill a person or or make them violently ill. It’s very important to be careful what flowers you use!
Do not count on the florist to know which flowers are toxic. They are also not trained in food safety so they are not necessarily going to be able to help you here.
When I first started decorating cakes with fresh flowers it was difficult, on the spot, to figure out which of the gorgeous flowers I was just given were actually safe to use. There are websites that list toxic and edible flowers but you have to actually know the names of each flower to be able to look them up. That is what prompted me to create this full color visual guide to help identify most popular wedding flowers and determine if they are safe to use. It is a reference specifically for cake decorators.
Safely Decorating your Cake With Fresh Flowers. (Click link to purchase tutorial and identification guide).
This guide categorizes the flowers in 3 groups – safe, mildly-toxic and poisonous. It’s a 26 page, color coded, visual reference to help you identify common wedding flowers. My tutorial can be downloaded to your phone so you have it on hand anywhere you go to help you safely choose your floral decorations. It also has a step by step tutorial of this cleaning and preparing process as well as a list of tools for a handy take-along tool kit. It is extremely helpful if you are going to be decorating with fresh flowers.
Here is an overview of the basics tools and materials you will need to clean and prepare the flowers:
Floral cutters, a bottle of bleach water solution (1 tsp bleach per quart of water), hand towel or paper towels, floral tape, Glad Press’n Seal, scissors, edible glaze spray, various sized straws. In my tutorial there is a more extensive list for a super handy toolkit you can compile and have ready to grab and go when it’s time to head out on your wedding cake delivery. I have some links at the bottom of this post to some of the tools I have purchased for my kit.
So now that you have determined which of the flowers you can actually use, let’s get them cleaned and prepared so they can safely be used on your beautiful cake.
1- cut the stems to about 2″ to 3″ long and remove any large stamens and pollen. I always give them a little shake to dislodge any pollen, petals or leaves that might be loose
2- dip the stem into your bottle of bleach solution and lay on the towel. Let sit for one minute then wipe the stem dry. This kills any bacteria that can be living on the stems.
3- Make small posies or bundles of the flowers in pleasing arrangements and wrap the stems with floral tape to hold them together.
4- wrap the stem bundle in a small piece of the Glade Press-n-Seal folding a flap over the base of the bundle. This locks in any moisture that may leak out of the stems.
5- Now choose a straw that the bundle fits snugly into. If you don’t have one just the right size you can wrap another piece of the Press-n-Seal around the bundle to bulk it up and fit snugly enough that it won’t easily pull out of the straw. Trim the straw to just slightly longer than the stem bundle.
Now this is where one of my awesome epiphanies comes in. I used to use a piece of waxed paper on the top of the cake as a barrier between the flowers and the cake so the chemicals that are on the flowers didn’t get transferred to the cake. But this creates a few problems. Inevitably you are going to see parts of the waxed paper peeking through which isn’t so pleasing. Also it makes it difficult to insert the flowers into the cake through the waxed paper. So I was brainstorming one day about this problem when I had the thought that it sure would be better to just have something coating the backs of the flowers instead. And BINGO! Edible Spray Glaze, of course!
6- Next, lay your bundle on the towel with the backs of the flowers facing up. Spray the whole back side of the bundle generously with the edible spray glaze and let dry for about 5 minutes. This will coat the backs of the flowers with a food safe surface and seal in any chemicals and pesticides that are on the flowers. Now, where the backs of the flowers are touching the cake it is a food safe surface. Sweet!!
7- Your floral bundles are ready to be inserted into your cake! I like to use a pair of long needle nose pliers or hemostasts to easily hold the top of the straw at the base of the bundle. This makes inserting them into the cake much easier.
Though you have made them safe to decorate the cake with, these flowers should NEVER be eaten, regardless if they are actually an edible variety. The ONLY time flowers should be consumed is if they have been grown at a certified organic facility specifically for being edible flowers. Commercial flowers are not grown in a food safe manner no matter how you clean and prepare them.
Pro-Tips ~ Always find out who will be cutting and serving the cake and make sure to tell them to remove all the flowers before cutting the cake. Provide a detailed cutting guide for cutting the cake into the proper serving size with instructions to remove the flowers before cutting. ~ During the consult with your client make sure they know that some of their chosen wedding flowers may be toxic, and if so you will not be able to put them on the cake. If there are some poisonous flowers they have chosen you can use them in a pretty floral wreath at the base of the cake pedestal or as table decor as long as they don’t touch the cake.
Here is a Facebook Live video I did walking you through my process
Now you can feel confident that the flowers you are decorating your cakes with are as safe as they can be. Let me know in the comments if this was helpful to you, I’d love to hear from you! And be sure to share with your cake decorating friends, better safe than sorry I always say! Happy Cake Decorating!!
Have A Sweet Day!