These flowers might look as though they’ve just been picked from a beautiful garden, but they’re actually edible cake decorations. Pastry chef Alexandria Murray (of Finespun Cakes) is an expert at sculpting incredibly realistic sugar flowers that beautifully adorn her multi-tier wedding cakes.
Murray discovered sugar flowers when she was 19 years old, during a year off from art school. She was mesmerized by their forms, and decided to teach herself how to make them using books and online tutorials. She tells My Modern Met, “I could make them every day and never get bored because there's always more detail to add or a new flower to create.” She decided to pursue her passion; and after graduating from the Patisserie program at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris, Murral worked as an intern at Bonnie Gordon College of Confectionary Arts in Toronto. There, she learned everything she needed to know to start her own cake business, and today she’s even teaching other aspiring cake artists how to create her famous sugar flowers.
Murray sculpts each realistic flower from icing sugar and uses edible gums to add structure. Her recipe also includes meringue powder and gelatin for extra stability. Each realistic sugar flower takes at least two days to make, but some more complex botanicals can take up to a week. After she sculpts them, Murray dusts each petal with edible pigment to achieve the soft, lifelike hues. “There's drying time between layers of petals and different coloring to be added at certain stages of the flower,” Murray explains. “Not to mention the finishing touches like calyxes and pollen so they really come to life.”
From sugar roses to gum paste carnations, each edible flower is hand-sculpted to mimic the texture, form, and color of its real counterpart. Each velvet-like petal is incredibly thin, and they even feature lifelike veins and ridges. Murray creates all kinds of blooms, but she enjoys making tropical flowers the most. “They're so vibrant and the petals have interesting shapes too,” she says. “I hand-cut petals for more obscure flowers because no one has created the tools to make them yet, so I improvise and make my own.” She adds, “I love any flower that challenges me!”
Murray’s sugar flowers are 100% food-safe and edible, but they can also be kept as a keepsake. If they’re stored properly, sugar flowers can last forever!
Check out some of Murray’s sugar flowers below and see more of her incredible cakes on Instagram. If you’re inspired to try making edible flowers yourself, you can join her online “Perfect Peony” course.