Graduation season is here! Are you guys making a lot of grad cakes right now? I had the opportunity last week to make a cake for my son's best friend. She is a very sweet girl, and I was happy to make it for her. I included the elements in the cake that she requested: the colors of red and black, a sunflower (her favorite flower), and paw prints to represent her desire to open her own small animal care business. And of course we had to include the grad cap and tassel to represent her school. (Instructions on how to make the cap and tassel can be found in our Book Smarts DVD.)
I took some photos of the process I used while making the sunflower and thought you might like to see them, so here we go:
Putting the petal on my cel pad, I used my ball tool to thin the cornstarch dusted petals. I put most of the pressure on the middle of the petals, because sunflower petals are a little bit wider in the middle than they are on the two ends. I avoided thinning too much where the petals join the center portion, because sunflowers (and daisies) are notorious for breaking in that vulnerable spot.
The flower was placed into a cupped former lined with foil. I pinched the tips of the petals to give them some movement and make them more life-like. Petals were propped with paper toweling in a random pattern to give the petals a natural look.
I repeated the exact same process with the second layer, but I did not glue the two pieces together. The reason for this is because I wanted them to dry in the proper shape together, but I needed to be able to separate the pieces later for dusting.
In order to speed up the process of drying, I placed them into my dehydrator. (I made two flowers; I always make extra for breakage.)
This is Bessy. She may be old, she may be ratty and held together with masking tape, but she is a faithful and loyal friend who always gets the job done. She is a Nesco food dehydrator that I got at Walmart years ago for about $35. I use her constantly for so many items. I could not live without her. If you invest in one, I recommend that you get one with a temperate regulator. Always use the coolest temperature setting so that your items do not melt.
After the flower was fully dry, it was time to dust. The best part! Dusting the flower just makes it come to life, and is so much fun! My dusting process was as follows: The entire flower got a light dusting with buttercup yellow. The lower portion of the petals were dusted with a combo of sunflower and pumpkin. The centers of the petals were hit with some daffodil yellow. The tips also got a little bit of the sunflower color. Then the entire flower got a very very light dusting with yellow luster dust, just to brighten it up a bit.
Remember that I said this type of flower is known for petal breakage? Yep, happens almost every time! ACK! Here you see a petal glued back on with just a little bit of melted white chocolate. The break was low enough on the petal that it will be covered by the center once applied.
I used a silicone push mold to make the center. Brown gumpaste was pushed into the mold, and popped right out. So easy it feels like cheating.
A little bit of dark brown petal dust was applied to the center. Then I brushed the center with just a little bit of shortening to give it a little sheen and wake it up. We don't want a sleepy sunflower! :)
Now onto the cake for a minute:
I wanted extra height on the cake tiers, so that the sunflower and stem would be in the correct proportion. We did not need any more extra servings of cake, so I increased the height by using fomecore under the tiers. I used pieces of 1/2 inch fomecore taped together, and then covered that with Glad Press and Seal.
I used three pieces of fomecore for the lower tier, and 2 pieces for the upper tier. Then I proceeded to ice and stack per my normal techniques. (You can learn my technique for smooth icing and stacking in our DVDs available here.)
The finished flower was then attached to the side of the cake with a little bit of melted chocolate. Ta da!! Isn't it pretty! I love how the yellow pops against the red and black.
And the finished cake. Nicole was thrilled with it, and I was very happy that she was happy.
We will be shooting our next DVD in a few weeks. The topic will be gumpaste and fondant flowers. Do you think we should include this sunflower in the DVD? Leave a comment here and tell me what you think, and you will be entered into a drawing to win a free flower DVD when it is released in the fall. Woo Hoo! Free stuff!
Happy caking everyone!