Sunday 6 July 2014

Decorating cakes with real flowers

Edible flowers are a fast growing trend in the cake industry and one I heartily approve of. It really doesn't take long to whip up a cake, cover it with some lovely buttercream and then throw a handful of flowers over it for decoration, and it will look (and taste) amazing!

Many of the flowers in your garden will be edible, but some will have bitter tastes, and flowers such as chive flowers will have an oniony flavour. Never use a flower that has been sprayed with chemicals and double check anything you use before you eat it. You can find lists of edible flowers online,see here, which will give you advice on what you can use.Many Supermarkets will now sell edible flowers in their salad section, you will also find companies online who can ship you boxes of flowers. You can also use crystallised  flowers, again there are many online companies who will offer this service, I always use Eat My Flowers.
To compliment your flowery cake I have created a summery flower-scented recipe for you, elderflower and gooseberry. You can use shop bought elderflower cordial, or you can make your own using this recipe.
I have to say a big thankyou to Rebecca Fennell for all these fabulous photographs.


Cake mix:
300g unsalted butter (at room temperature)
300g caster sugar
300g self raising flour
6 large eggs (at room temperature)
4 tablespoons of elderflower cordial

450g unsalted butter (at room temperature)
450g icing sugar
4 tablespoons of elderflower cordial
4 tablespoons of gooseberry jam


  1. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees (Celsius) 175 for a fan assisted oven. Butter and line a 7" sponge tin.
  2. Beat the butter and sugar together until they are creamed. Add the eggs one by one (if the mixture curdles, add a teaspoon of flour).
  3. Sift the flour into the bowl and fold into the mixture with a spoon or spatula. Fold in the elderflower cordial.
  4. Spoon the mixture into the tin and bake for 50-60 mins until a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean. Leave the cake to cool in the tin for ten minutes then turn out onto a cooling tray and leave to cool completely.
  5. Mix all of the filling ingredients,except for the gooseberry jam, together and beat until creamy.

Decorating the cake:
  1. Cut the cake into three layers with a serrated knife or cake leveller, if the top of the cake isn't level you may need to level this too.
  2. Take the layer that was the top of the cake, turn it upside down and place it onto a cake board or a turntable. 
  3. Using a spatula or palette knife, create a ledge of buttercream around the edge of the cake. This will hold the jam in place and stop it from mixing with the frosting on the outside. Spread the gooseberry jam onto this level of the cake up to the buttercream.
  4. Take the middle layer and place it on top of the bottom layer.
  5. Spread buttercream over this layer.
  6. Take the final layer, turn it upside down, so that what was the bottom of the cake is now the top and place it onto the rest of the cake.
  7. Spread a thin layer of buttercream on the top and sides of the cake with a palette knife - this is called a 'crumb coat'. 
  8. Place the cake in the fridge for 15-20 minutes until the buttercream has hardened.
  9. Place four strips of greaseproof paper onto a turntable and put the cake on top of these.
  10. Then with the palette knife spread and good layer - at least 2cm thick - of buttercream over the cake. Carefully pull away the paper to reveal a lovely clean edge.
  11. Decorate your cake with the flowers.
  12. Eat the cake!

I hope that this cake brings you a little bit of summer (if you are in the UK then it's probably raining and cold!)

(This project first appeared in the First edition of Beaten and Creamed)
All photographs copyright Rebecca Fennell Photography

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