Thursday, February 20, 2014

Fondant Rose Petal Engagement Cake

One of my beautiful friends has become engaged. Slowly, as I grow older, my friends are getting married, and that not only fills me with a certain joy, but also gives me the opportunity to further my experience making their engagement cakes.
I have long admired the "exploded rose" or "rambling rose petal" look on wedding cakes and engagement cakes alike, so I purchased a case of rose petal cutters, varying in size from very large to quite small. I used the four smallest cutters from this range to cut out the fondant rose petals for this cake, with the idea of working from the centre out and graduating the size as I worked from the bud. When dried in the shape I desired, all the fondant petal edges were carefully brushed in pink petal dust for a delicate and realistic effect before their placement on the cake. The centre part of the rose had been coloured with this same petal dust with more intensity to create dimension and also a focal point to the flower.
To assemble, I started with the bud, (I made the beginnings of the rose as a separate piece) positioning it close to the bottom of the cake. Then I added larger rose petals surrounding it, fixing them with butter-cream icing. The petals fanned out from the main rose bud, and traveled up the cake in a romantic, sprawling fashion. Then I positioned a few of the larger petals at the top as if they had been scattered there.
Sadly for the weekend of the engagement party, it rained every day. This put a spanner in the works, as any humidity or rain in the air reeks havoc on the fondant, and makes it somewhat unstable. I was unable to have an air conditioned environment, so I experienced the fondant on the cake tearing, and the rose petals turing wet overnight before I put them on the cake. Fortunately, the sun came out for a period and they quickly dried, and I was able to get them on the cake without too much drama. I had one or two petals that cracked, so I had to glue them togather again with some egg white and prop them up until they dried once again.
Due to the tearing fondant for the main of the cake, I decided on going with a mummy-style wrapping effect of fondant strips around the cake, which turned out better than I expected in my depressed state of mind. You know that feeling when you envision something, and it doesn't turn out anything like you thought? Well, that was me, while it rained buckets and I struggled to cover the main of the cake. The wrapping effect did the trick though, and any unsightly bits were easily covered by ribbon and strewn petals. Happily, the cake made it to the engagement party in one piece! Ah, sometimes I wish I didn't live in a subtropical climate. Water and fondant are not friends. Anyway, I hope the pictures help if you're creating a cake like this. Sorry about the quality--now with my bigger camera and my sticky hands, amid concentrating on the cake, its no mean feat getting quality pictures. My apologies.

Rose Petal Engagement Cake

Rose Petal Engagement Cake

To begin with, cut out the rose petals from thinly rolled light pink fondant. (I used the supermarket brand Queen "White Icing". You can use any brand of fondant or gum paste if you prefer) I cut these out in four graduating sizes with cutters for individual petals. Then I placed them to dry in plastic trays in the shape I wanted them to be on the cake.

I made the centre piece of the rose first--this is the only part of the rose that is combined to create a unit of it's own. The other petals are left loose. When the petals had dried, I roughly arranged the loose ones around the rose centre to get an idea of how I wanted them set on the cake.

I used petal dust in pink and a small new eyeshadow brush to tint the edges of the rose petals and the centre of the main rose. This added definition, dimension and depth to the rose and made it look more realistic.

The cake itself was covered in flaws, so don't look too closely! Fortunately this style of flower arrangement on a cake is good if you have made mistakes, because you can cover them artistically with petals.

Sadly I couldn't wield the chunky camera and cake decorate at the same time so I missed out on capturing the building of the rose for you. Basically I positioned the main rose (the "centre" of the rose) close towards the bottom of the cake, and added the rose petals in around it, tucking in the pointy end of the petals beneath the centre rose. Some of these I fixed in place with a little buttercream icing. You may want to use some props to hold the petals in position while this "glue" dries (Don't give me away, but I used some toys--cleaned prior of course-to prop some of these petals in place overnight).

As you build further out from the centre of the rose, the loose petals do not have to be so closely inter-lapped with the others--you can even have some fly-away rose petals! It is an exploded rose after all. And yes--that's a wine in the background! I was under stress with the humidity foiling a smooth process.

Here you can see the petals are "tucked" in behind the main centre of the rose (I keep saying centre but it's anything but the centre. Hopefully you know what I mean!) I have seen this cake arranged backwards--starting with the back petals first and finishing with the centre of the's up to you.

The finished product. I had to take out a few petals and replace them as a few broke under the pressure (or maybe I made them too thin?) So be prepared, make a few extra spare petals in each size and don't worry too much. Here's a glass of wine on me!