Wednesday, July 25, 2012

My Wilton Portfolio – Chapter #2: Floral Finish and Rosebud Boutonnieres

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You’re probably thinking I abandoned my Wilton Portfolio Project with only the first chapter.  Not so!  I just haven’t written about it, which is silly since this is a blog and it depends on my actually writing stuff after I’ve made it and decorated it.

This particular project is from the second class – Flowers and Cake Design.  The medium I’m working in is Gum Paste, Fondant and Royal Icing

I decided to start this book with some cupcakes and individual flowers to give me a little practice.  I went with Floral Finish on page 35 of my lesson manual and the Rosebud Boutonnieres on page 39.  Here’s what we applied from the class:
  • Making Gum Paste Pansies
  • Making Gum Paste/Fondant Double Button Flowers
  • Making and Tinting Royal Icing
  • Making Royal Icing Primroses
  • Piping Royal Icing Flower Stems and Leaves
  • Making Royal Icing Rosebuds
All of these flowers need to be made a minimum of 48 hours before making and decorating the cupcakes so that they can completely dry before using them.  So, a couple days prior to making the cupcakes, I got started.

To make things a little easier for me, I used Wilton’s Ready-To-Use Gum Paste, Wilton’s Ready-To-Use White Rolled Fondant and Wilton’s Rolled Fondant Neon Colors Multi-Pack.  I have made my own fondant, but I wanted to really practice my flower making skills before adding in another variable to give me trouble.

A couple of other ingredients that I needed for making my flowers:
And don’t forget to add a little gum paste to some water to make gum glue adhesive.
I pulled out all of the ingredients and equipment for a batch of Wilton’s Royal Icing and then I got out the rest of the tools I needed to make all the flowers.

Most of the decorating tools came in my Ultimate Professional Cake Decorating Set that covers classes 1, 2 and 3 or can be found in the first two kits of classes 1 and 2:
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Royal Icing ingredients and Tools for Primroses and Rosebuds
You’re only going to get (4) couplers in your student kit.  You can pick up a 3-pack for a couple of dollars.  Trust me, you’re going to use them pretty much every time you decorate a cake, cupcake or cookie, so it’s worth the investment.  If you don’t want to buy disposable bags or more couplers, you can use a single lightweight decorating bag and coupler for each color.  You’ll just have to wash them out and dry them between colors.  That’s going to add significant time to your flower making.

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Gum Paste and Tools for Button Flowers
You’ll also notice that I have multiple tips of the same type.  That is because you need them for different colors.  Sure, you can use a single tip, but each time you go to switch it to a different color, you’re going to have to clean the tip.  It isn’t difficult to do (royal icing cleans much easier than the buttercream icing of Chapter #1) but it is a royal pain in the butt.  Most of the tips are under a dollar a piece.  I’d say buy at least a couple so you don’t have so much scrubbing to do between colors.

Some items that you didn’t get in your kit(s), but still need are the following:
  • Gum Paste Board – Your practice board you got with your class kits functions in the same manner, but I love this thing.  Also, it never hurts to have a little more covered storage space for your gum paste and fondant cut-outs.
  • Cutter/Knife Tool – If you’ve already bought the 10-piece Fondant/Gum Paste Tool Set you’ll have the knife tool already.  The Deluxe Gum Paste Tool set has a knife tool that allows for fine cutting and trimming.
  • Tapered Spatula – this tool is recommended when working with gum paste flowers.  It also cleans out the decorating tips nicely.
  • Roll and Cut Mat– not only does it have sizing circles and squares on it for easy measuring and cutting, it helps you keep your counter tops clean.  I love mine!
  • Some other tools you’ll need or find helpful:
    • Glue Stick – to help stick the templates to the flower nail and the icing squares to the template
    • Disposable Cups – an easy solution to coloring and storing gum paste and fondant
    • Toothpicks – for adding color to the gum paste, fondant and royal icing
    • Foam Block – it really helps to have something to stick the flower nails into that will hold them up.  I also like using Disposable Cups for this, but the foam block is cheaper.
    • Dehydrator – this is totally optional, but I picked up my dehydrator really cheap.  I dehydrate the flowers overnight and they are usually ready to go the next morning.  Great if you’re running short on time.
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Gum Paste and Tools for Pansies
Now that I had everything out that I needed, I made my royal icing.  I kept some white and tinted some the following colors: bright red, light orange, pink and yellow.  I assembled some parchment bags with couplers and set out all of my tips next to each color I would be using.  Did the same thing with the disposable bags I needed.  Then I tinted some gum paste (bright red, dark red, orange, purple, light purple and yellow) and made some gum paste and fondant blends (pink, purple and yellow), covering them well so they wouldn’t dry out before I had time to use them.

After about 30 minutes of making frosting and tinting all the colors I needed, it was time to get started.

Most of the flowers made in course two are made with royal icing.  The pansy is one of the two flowers made with gum paste or gum paste/fondant blend, although if you look up the directions for this flower on their website, they will direct you to a royal icing version. 

According to Wikipedia:
The Pansy flower has two top petals going over each other slightly, two side petals, connectors where the three lower petals join the center of the flower and a single bottom petal with a slight beard.
Wilton’s version isn’t quite the same shape (for example, there are extra petals on the top of the flower) but it gets the general idea and shape of this delicate and colorful flower.

The key to this flower is the ruffle of the leaves.  The gum paste is rolled thin, less than 1/16-inch thick so it is easy to tear the edges as you thin and ruffle.  Another complication is how quickly the gum paste can dry out due to its thickness.  When you first start out, you can blend in some fondant.  It will slow down your drying time (it needs to be completely dry in order to use it for decoration) but it will give you a little wiggle room while working with the edges.

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Bright Red - Orange Pansy
Grade given to self: “B-”
I managed to keep my edges intact and got a nice ruffle on several of them.  However, I forgot to cup the petals of the first couple batches I made and it seems like my base petals ended up a little flat.

And don’t get me started on the center loop.  My fat fingers can’t roll out anything that tiny for shaping.

What would I do differently?  
I’ve given this A LOT of thought since I’ll be making these again for my portfolio.  First, I want to rework the flower a little to get it closer to the actual pansy.  Let’s take a look at the pansy cutter:

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WILTON Pansy Cutter

It is like a little person with a head at the top, two arms and two legs.  Instead of laying two pansy leaves on top of the pansy flower, I will remove the “head” of one pansy cutout and fan out two of the pansy leaves behind the full flower (minus the “head”).

Next, I’ll work on making my stamen a little smaller and have it stand up in the center of the flower.  Finally, using color dust and shimmer, I’m going to enhance the middle of the flower to give it dimension.

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Bright Red - Dark Red Pansy

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Purple - Orange Pansy
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Purple - Light Purple Pansy

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Purple - Yellow Pansy

Button Flower

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Pink - Purple - Yellow Button Flower
The other non-Royal Icing flower is the button flower.  This isn’t based off of a real flower.  It’s a fun flower with several different textures and a button in the center.

This is a relatively easy flower to make.  There is a cutter that creates all three pieces which you then assemble.  The most difficult part is getting the pieces out of the mold.

Grade given to self: “C”
As I look at my pictures, I first was going to give myself an A- or B+.  Then I remembered a little something… I initially had 3 flowers and broke one.  If I had been making these for someone, I’d be 1/3 flowers down, and THAT would be unacceptable.

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Purple - Yellow - Pink Button Flower

What would I do differently?   
Well there’s always something you can do differently, but in this case, I’d make more flowers than I needed.  Of course, I’ll need someplace to store extra pieces, but I’d rather have more than I need than not enough.

The other thing I may do is use a pin to get the pieces out of the mold.  You can see the divots of where I pulled them out of the mold.  Also, I’d make sure the edges aren’t as frayed by using my knife tool.

Now we start with the royal icing flowers in this project. 


The primrose is known for its heart shaped leaves with a colorful star center.  To create these flowers, you pipe each individual petal onto a wax square, overlapping slightly and connecting in the center.  The center is then added by using a star tip.

Grade given to self: “B”
I formed the leaves well, although my frosting seems to have cracked.  That could be for two reasons: (1) because my frosting was not the best consistency, (2) I didn’t keep consistent pressure as I was creating each petal or (3) both of the above.

I still need to work on my centers.  I always have issues getting the frosting the right consistency for the smaller tips.

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Pink Primrose

What would I do differently?   
I wouldn’t put them on the wave flower former.  Instead I’d put them in the round flower former to curve them towards the center.

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White Primrose


The rosebud is a rose in its first stage of opening to a full bloom.  This flower is probably one of the most difficult flowers to form.  You have to have the tip at the perfect angle and use a very precise amount of pressure.

I think for every usable flower I made, I probably made five bad ones.

It was quite frustrating.

Grade given to self: “C”
While I impressed myself with the calyx, the buds themselves don’t look all that great.  The bottom petal formed nicely, but I didn’t get the different levels for the top petal.  They ended up looking like loops.

And I’ll admit I gave up after making dozens of them.  I just went with the ones that looked the best.

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Bright Red Rosebud
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Light Orange Rosebud

What would I do differently?   
I think I would do one color a day and only work for 30 minutes at a time.  By the time I got some flowers I wanted with the first color, I was exhausted.  And I still had several other colors to go!  I would also practice different ways to hold the tip to get the precise petal shape for the top of the bud.

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Pink Rosebud

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White Rosebud

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Yellow Rosebud

Once I finished my flowers, I blasted them in the dehydrator for several hours and left them to dry.

Finishing the Cupcakes

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The great thing about using premade flowers is that the hard part is done and over with when it comes time to place the final decorations on the cupcakes/cake/cookies.  The most difficult part is handling the fragile flowers to place them without breaking or dropping them.

I had to make some cupcakes to decorate and decided to go with one of my husband’s favorites – carrot cake.  This recipe had a little twist with the inclusion of maple.  The recipe for Maple Carrot Cupcakes and Maple-Cream Cheese Frosting came from a Taste of Home cookbook, Cupcake, Muffins and More.  For more detail about these fantastic cupcakes, check out my post on them here.

Also, our flowers need some finishing touches with leaves and sparkles.  Therefore, you’re going to need the following ingredients and equipment:
I frosted the cupcakes and placed the flowers on each.  Then I piped some leaves or dropped some sprinkles to finish them off.

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I learned something new after this project was complete.  The cupcakes had cream cheese frosting, so they needed to be refrigerated.  The next day, when I went to grab a cupcake, the flowers had literally melted onto the frosting.

I was dumbfounded.

Then I gave it some thought.  The frosting was a “wet” frosting, meaning it never crusts over.  The flowers come from a wet medium and then dry out.  Essentially, I reintroduced moisture back into my delicately made flowers.  The interesting part of it is the flowers melted into the frosting in a perfect shape.  It didn’t taste all that great though.

I’ve finished several more chapters to this project and I hope to get them up soon!  Trust me, it does get better!

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Until then… happy baking and decorating!

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