Whimsical Peony Tutorial

 Whimsical Gumpaste Peony

I call this a  “whimsical” peony because it’s not a true peony. I did not wire the petals, use the special “peony” cutters or anything fancy like that. Basically I just winged it using the cutters and materials I had on hand.

Supplies:
Gumpaste – white
Pink or Red Petal Dust- I used Poppy Red petal dust. When applied lightly it makes a hot pink.
Stencil brush or stiff paint brush – dedicated to cake decorating
Small rolling pin
Paint brushes – dedicated to cake decorating
Pasta attachment for KA – optional but helpful
Small Bowl
Corn starch puff
Ball Tool
Foam piece – I use the one that came in the Wilton Gumpaste flower kit
Gum glue – gumtex powdered dissolved in hot water

Instructions:
Begin by deciding what size flower you would like to make. This will determine the size of the center of your flower and which size 5 petal cutter you will need to use. In my case I used the 75 mm FMM 5 petal cutter but any 5 petal cutter will do.

Step 1:  Roll a ball slightly bigger than the center of your 5 petal cutter. I accidently rolled the ball a bit too big and struggled to gpeony centeret the petals to wrap all the way around to the top (you’ll see my make shift solution to this later on). Let the ball dry. In a perfect world you would let it dry overnight. I didn’t have that much time so I used the tip below:

 Tip of the week: To dry fondant or gumpaste cutouts and figures quickly, place them on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper and turn the oven light on. The oven light makes just enough heat to dry out the gumpaste or fondant but not melt your figures. Just be careful noone turns the oven on while you’re drying your items.   

While the ball5 petal rose cutter is drying, roll out a piece of remaining gumpaste very thin. I use my pasta attachment on a setting 4 for flowers. This makes very delicate petals. Using the 5 petal cutter, cut out one layer of petals and place the remaining gumpaste under plastic wrap to keep it from drying out.  Place the petal cutout on a thin piece of foam, and using the ball tool thin out the edges of each petal. This is done by running the ball tool along the edge of the petal (with the ball being half on the foam and half on the petal). 5 petals frilledIf your ball tool sticks, tap it on your corn starch puff and try again. Peonies have very ragged edges so I was really really hard on the petals. I kept thinning them until they were ruffled and ragged. For the first few rounds of petals I also applied the ball tool in a circular motion, to the center of the petal cutout. This makes the petal cutout have a wider center.   To attach the first layer of petals,  paint a very thin amount of gum glue on the center and up the sides of each petal.  Place the gumpaste ball in the middle and gently pull the petals over the top sides of the ball. Leave a little bit of the ball exposed so it looks like the Peony is opening.  The petals should overlap one another in the beginning. Be gentle when pulling the petals up…they are quite thin. It’s ok it they rip because the next layer will cover most of the mistakes:)

Repeat the above with another two layer of 5 petals. As I continued to apply petals, I realized that my ball was too fat for the size cutter I was using. Because of this for the  3rd and 4th layer of petals, I actually used individual petals. I made them the same way as above but after I ruffled them, I cut the 5 petals apart and placed them on plastic spoons to dry a bit. This helped them hold their shape. Because they were individual petals, I could place them exactly where I wanted them to help the petals look like they were opening up. I placed them a little lower down the ball and made sure to ruffle the edges outward.

Peony CenterI set the partial peony in a bowl to set up while I worked on the next layers. Because I wanted the rest of the flower to be more, I created the next layers separate from the ball. Using the same petal cutter (a larger one would have been  better but I didn’t have one handy), I created a new layer and ruffled the edges and expanded the center just a bit. This layer will be the bottom of the flower so I had to be more gentle. I placed that layer into a bowl that would help hold the shape of the flower. Be sure and dust the bowl with a bit of corn starch before placing the bottom petals in.  Put a small dab of gum glue in the middle and apply the next layer of petals. Be subottom layer for Peonyre that each layer is placed so that the new petals are between the previous petals (just like when you make roses). I applied 3 layers of petals directly in the bowl. Then applied more gum glue to the center and placed my partially complete peony into the middle. At this point the petals are still quite soft and will want to droop. Take a small amounts of wax paper, parchment paper or saran wrap and place it between the petals to give the flower the shape you want.  (Don’t use paper towel or tissue as it tends to stick to the gumpaste).  Leave your flower to dry overnight.

drying peony

If you look closely you can see little pieces of wax paper sticking out

Once the flower has completely dried, gently remove it from the bowl.

Using a stencil brush or stiff paint brush, dip your brush into the petal dust and tap off the excess. I dusted the center just by running my stencil brush in a circular motion of the center of the flower. For the individual petals,  gently scrape the edge of the petals with your brush. These petals are quite fragile so be gentle. It is better to apply multiple light coats than to have too much dust on your brush because you don’t want dust to goes everywhere.  And now you have a whimsical peony.

Here is the finished cake with the Peony topper.
Here is the tutorial on the Ruffle Cake

Pink Ombre Cake

Pink Ruffle Cake

Pink Ombre Cake

I have been wanting do this design for quite some time. I had the perfect opportunity when I hosted a small party celebrating life as a girl! It would also be a great design for a wedding or baby shower.

Supplies Needed
Your favorite white cake recipe
5 small bowls
6 inch cake pans
6 inch cardboard cake circle
1 batch of buttercream (a batch to me is a recipe based on 2 lbs of powdered sugar)
1 lb of white fondant (this is probably a bit more than you need but better safe than sorry)
Pink food coloring – I used the Wilton Rose color because it’s more of a hot pink than a baby pink
Pasta roller – optional but extremely helpful
Paint Brush
Ball Tool – used for making gumpaste flowers
Thin piece of foam – used for making gumpaste flowers

Detailed Instructions:
Pre-heat oven to 325 degrees. Prepare cake batter following the instructions. Evenly portion out the batter into the 5 bowls. Set one bowl aside. To the first bowl add a very small amount of the rose food coloring. Be very careful. My first attempt ended up being the brightest layer. A little coloring goes a long way. Gradually add a bit more coloring to each additional bowl until you have graduated colors across the 5 bowls. If you need to lighten a color, add some of the base batter to that color, just be sure you always have enough base color for the last layer of cake.

Prepare pans with pan grease  or grease and flour your pans. Since I only have two 6 inch round cake pans, I could only bake 2 colors at a time.  Pour each color into a separate pan and bake until a toothpick comes out clean. Remember that you’re making 5 layers out of a recipe that is generally going to make 2 layers of cake. This means the layers will be thin and cook quicker than usual. These layers took 15-20 minutes each to bake.  Cool the cakes as usual. Once the layers are cool, you want to level them so they’re approximately the same height. 

Place a small amount of buttercream on a 6 inch cake board and place the brightest layer face done. Add a thin layer of buttercream on top of that layer and then place the next brightest layer on top of that. Repeat this from brightest to lightest until all 5 layers are stacked. Next time I would also trim the bottom of each layer to remove that slight brown coloring between them. Frost the cake as you normally would. You want the sides to be reasonably straight but the cake doesn’t have to be super smooth since it will be covered in fondant. The top is buttercream only,  so after the buttercream crusts, I placed a Viva paper towel on top and smoothed with a fondant smooth. You can smooth over the paper towel with your hand if you don’t have a fondant smoother.

Once the cake is frosted, you can begin making your fondant strips. Measure the circumferencerete of your cake so you know how long to make each strip. For a 6 inch cake, my strips are a little over 19 inches long. Take white fondant and portion it out into small amounts. I wasn’t very exact with this. I took a chunk of white fondant, rolled it out so that I could run it through my pasta roller. I used the pasta attachment for my KitchenAid and I ran the strips through to number 4 . This is p thin. Using the ball tool from the Wilton flower kit and a thin piece of foam, I ruffled the edges of each strip. Because I was using straight fondant and rolling the strip so thin, the fondant strips were very flimsy. I found it worked better if I let them set up for a bit. So I would make and ruffle 3 strips at a time before attaching them to the cake.  For each strip, add  a tiny bit of Rose food coloring and ran it through the pasta roller. You want the color progression on the outside to mimic that on the inside of the cake.

To attach a ruffle, dust it lightly with cornstarch and then gently roll it up. This keeps it from stretching as you apply it to the side of the cake. For the first ruffle, I applied a thin bead of buttercream just below the top edge of the cake. Choose the back of the cake, and gently press the beginning of the ruffle into the buttercream. Slowly unroll the ruffle, pressing gently to adhere to the buttercream. Once you make it all the way around, you may need to trim the end. Kitchen shears are great for this.  For the next ruffle, roll it up and then take a paint brush (used for caking only) and paint a small amount of water along the bottom edge of the strip currently attached to the cake. Again starting at the back, gently unroll the ruffle, pressing it to the base of the previous fondant ruffle. You want your ruffles pretty close together so I made sure the new ruffle was just barely below the first ruffle. It will seem too close, until you frill it back. To frill the ruffle back, gently run the small end of the ball tool between the two ruffles, gently forcing the top of the new ruffle outward. Keep applying ruffles using an increasing amount of pink color in the fondant. When you apply the final ruffle, you may need to use a pizza cutter to clean up the bottom edge. Just run it flush along the bottom edge. After all of the ruffles are applied, your cake is ready for a topper. This cake is so light and airy, I wanted a topper that would compliment the feel, so I decided on a Whimsical Peony. Whimsical meaning my knock-off version:)  It is definitely not a realistic peony but it has a similar look and feel. Keep an eye out for an upcoming tutorial on How to Make a Whimsical Peony.

This cake was the perfect compliment to the Pink and White table theme.

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