Natali Kishkovich of Natali Cakes is an award-winning cake designer for her beautiful sugar flowers and realistic designs. She currently teaches her skills in Europe and here she answers your sugar flower questions.
Q: How do I add details to my flower petals?
A: The appropriate use of different tools together with the right colours make flowers look very realistic. Also veiners have a fundamental role as every veiner has the right correspondence with the veins on the petals. With the help of these, you can give that extra touch to flowers by highlighting the veins. Another important tool is the ball tool that makes petals thinner and also serves to give the right concavity to the petal as the flower requires it. After colouring petals, you can age some parts with darker shades.
Breaking Sugar Flowers
Q: My sugar flowers keep breaking, what am I doing wrong?
A: Unfortunately, sugar is a fragile material and needs a lot of attention in handling it. Some advice to assemble the composition: transfer the flowers to a damp room until the petals soften slightly. This allows you to mount the bouquet without the risk of compromising the work.
Q: What is the best way to store sugar flowers?
A: Sugar flowers need a cool, dry place. Even better, a glass display case to protect them from dust and place them away from direct sunlight to prevent from discolouring.
Q: What is the difference between pastes and which is best used when creating sugar flowers?
A: Gum paste was created specifically for the production of sugar flowers and has different characteristics from sugarpaste. In a recipe for gum paste, there is the presence of a thickener, carboxymethyl cellulose or CMC, which is the chemical substitute for tragacanth and gives elasticity and resistance. Another characteristic of gum paste is that it is very thin so at the end of the work, our petals will be completely dry having retained the shape and the various undulations you have given.
Q: When decorating cakes with flowers, what are the pros and cons of using sugar flowers instead of real flowers?
A: I would always choose sugar flowers instead of real flowers, putting food safety first. Unless the florist guarantees that the flowers are organic and in the complete absence of pesticides and/or various chemicals. Moreover, use of real flowers on cakes is limited in their kind. Some flowers, being very beautiful, are extremely poisonous and therefore must be categorically excluded in the food world (lily of the valley, oleander, hydrangea, ranunculus, poinsettia, etc.).
Steaming Sugar Flowers
Q: Why is steam used for sugar flowers?
A: Using steam on petals helps to even out the colour and make it more homogeneous.
Q: Is there a way to make glue dry quicker when creating sugar flowers before assembling it together?
A: In some cases, for example, when the weather is particularly humid and I have to make flowers with large petals, I add a little CMC to the gum paste to speed up the drying process.
Q: My paste always has cracks, how can I avoid this?
A: To avoid the problem of cracks, you must always use a fresh and good quality paste and do not overuse cornstarch.
Softening Petal Paste
Q: The paste for petals is very hard, how do you soften it?
A: In the presence of a hard and dry gum paste, you can remedy by adding a small amount of water or egg white and mix until you restore the right softness, or you can also add a bit of sugarpaste. If you make the gum paste at home, you must check the ingredients are the right weight. Another detail to watch out for is that CMC does not always have the same thickening power, which varies according to the producers, so you have to use a smaller amount.