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This article was taken from our January 2020 Issue Buy this issue now

Ask the Expert: Chef Nicolas Lodge

Ask the Expert: Chef Nicholas Lodge


Chef Nicholas Lodge is an internationally known sugar flower artist. He teaches around the world and judges at sugar art competitions worldwide.


Q: Why do you recommend Renshaw flower paste?

A: I love the Renshaw Flower & Modeling Paste as it is a ready to use product straight out the box that dries really well even in damp or humid environments. It’s great for all sorts of applications not just flowers!


Q: Does anything need to be added to Rainbow Dust metallic paints? Some products require alcohol, is this the case?

A: Nothing additional is needed. Just give the bottle a stir or shake as it is a thick syrup consistency that has excellent coverage.


Q: Why do people steam sugar flowers?

A: Steaming is used for three purposes. First, when using especially dark colour dusts, the flowers are steamed to enhance the depth of colour. Steaming will eliminate the dry chalky look. Second, when using pearl or lustre dust on flowers like lily of the valley, stephanotis, gardenias, the flowers are steamed to give a natural waxy look. Lastly, when dusting stripes or defining areas of contrast or colours on foliage, steaming the leaves sets the dust so when you brush or spray with glaze, the colours will not blend or bleed together.


Q: Can you explain why it’s not okay to insert wires in cakes, even if coated?

A: You should never insert a wire into a cake. Although the wires are covered with paper, this does not mean you can insert directly into a cake. Floral wires are steel, not stainless steel, so just like a steel knife or cookie cutter, if you wash it and don’t dry it properly, it will go rusty. The same thing would happen if inserting into a moist cake. That is why we use straws, posy picks, etc. to create a food safe barrier between the wires and cake.


Q: Is there a difference in regulations between the UK and US about inserting things in cakes?

A: We both abide by the same rules, especially in competitions. I am the head judge for many major USA cake shows and it is expected for a competitor to show us, the judges, the correct procedure even on a dummy cake.


Q: What is the best way to insert a wire into a leaf without it poking through the paste?

A: It takes a little practice but by holding the leaf firmly, the wire is forced into the middle of the paste. Alternatively, place the leaf on the edge of a foam flower pad and insert the wire into the leaf by holding your finger on the top to guide the wire in.


Q: When attaching decorations to a cake, I use royal icing – what is the best consistency?

A: If using royal icing, it should be at a medium consistency. I prefer using edible glue, piping gel or if working with heavier items, combine a little rolled fondant or sugarpaste mixed with a little piping gel or water to make a stiff paste. This works very well for heaver items used on the sides of a cake.


Q: What is the best way to paint with metallic paints?

A: When painting with metallic paints, use a flat paintbrush for quicker more even coverage and only brush in one direction.

Ask the Expert: Chef Nicholas Lodge