How To Pick Edible Flowers For Your Floral Cake: A Guide by Noel Fielding
So, there’s every chance that you were (like me) glued to your television on Tuesday night at 8pm to see the new Great British Bake Off. Unless you (also like me) felt like you were betraying the nation’s queen, Mary Berry, and didn’t watch it out of protest. If the latter was you, then I salute you, because you are more principled and less nosey than I could ever hope to be.
If you didn’t see it, you’ll have missed Noel Fielding ramming a whole marigold head in his mouth, and so the segue may be lost on you. He did so to prove Prue wrong, when Prue Leith told a contestant off for adorning her cake with “things that people can’t eat”, as it’s her pet hate – marigolds being one of them. He did – of course – prove Prue correct, as he spat it out and proclaimed it to taste like a clown’s nose.
ANYWAY. He did, in all of his raven-haired and awkward-handed glory, highlight a very good point about floral cakes. Whether you’ve got petals in the buttercream or full flowers adorning each layer, they’re very much the cake du jour – and quite rightly so, as they’re effortless, whimsical and bloomin’ gorgeous. However, there are some things that you need to make sure you’re aware of before you go ahead with a floral cake, as shortcuts or cheap options they are not.
Although the forage and gather vibes are strong at the moment, with beautiful blooms acting as hairpieces and bouquets growing wider, wilder and more sylvan as the days go by, a lot of flowers aren’t able to be put anywhere; as they’re actually pretty poisonous. Crocuses, for example, are poisonous. And it’s not even just the flower itself that you’ve got to consider for poisons or toxins – it’s an absolute minefield. For this reason, we’ve put together some pointers so that you can indulge in floral-cake-related-frivolities. Without further ado, Floral Wedding Cakes: The Closest To A Gardening Guide That ASTW Will Ever Do.
Think about the florals in your cake
Whether your heart’s set on a three tier cake smothered in petal-filled buttercream, or you want a naked cake encircled by crowns of flesh blooms, get to grips with the kind of stages of the journey that you’re going to have to think about. If just the petals are involved to add colour or texture, this means that you need to think about whether they’re actually safe to eat, as in whether the actual plant you’re about to put in your mouth would have naturally killed Mowgli off in the jungle (or at least rendered him ill.) And after that, you need to think about how they’ve been treated after: have they been covered in pesticides or growth helpers? Different countries have different laws about this, which is something to definitely look out for.
Think about the florals on your cake
If the flowers are more decoration than substance, then they come with their own list of questions. How will they be attached to the cake? Things like jamming stems into cakes can be harmful (for example, iris sap is poisonous) but also because of the water and containers they can be kept on. Think of it this way: there are such strict rules around food prep, so why would you lower those standards for the finishing touches? You probably wouldn’t want to eat a cake prepared in a dirty bowl or with ingredients that were well past their sell-by date, so don’t use flowers that are the equivalent. If your flowers are just going to be placed carefully on the design, is the portion of the cake they’ll touch going to be ok to eat afterwards?
Make Sure You Use A Cake Maker Who Knows What They’re Doing
This applies both on the cake front and on the flowers front - and you can’t expect the one person to always do both naturally. First up, cake people: make sure you get a cakemaker who’s comfortable with which flowers are edible and aren’t, or comfortable with finding out Even better, find a cakemaker who has a relationship with special edible flower growers. This way, you can have a gorgeous cake smothered in petal-filled buttercream that’s all completely edible. They’ll chat through your design ideas with you which will include how to incorporate the flowers, the set-up times needed to assemble the flowers, the location and season (which will affect that pesky buttercream), and the kind of icing etc, and you can troubleshoot any flower-related problems they can foresee. We can personally recommend the wonderful Jo from White Rose Cake Design, who makes beauties like the above!
Make Sure You Use A Florist Who Knows What They’re Doing
Secondly, florists or floral artists: if you want to source your flowers separately from your florist alongside your other flowers, then that’s totally cool (and an excellent way of keeping the theme close together). However, make sure they know they’re for a cake, so they can follow them through their journey, and treat them right (if you’re going to do it, do it right). This may include sourcing them personally from the growers to ensure their quality, working out the timeline of ordering so they’re in season, and making sure they’re kept really well in the lead-up. It’s imperative that you do this, as florist’s flowers may not be the same as edible flowers even if they’re the exact same species, due to their treatment.
Who’d have thought it, hey – wedding wisdom brought on by Noel Fielding whilst he was presenting the Great British Bake Off. Which part of that sentence was the weirdest? I’m completely unsure. However, what I am sure of is that you can’t just pick up some flowers from the supermarket as a cheap way of zhujzhing up your flowers. This doesn’t mean don’t use flowers in your cake – far from it, I think flowers on wedding cakes are swoonworthy – but use them carefully and responsibly, kids.