Wednesday, April 22, 2009

April Showers Bring May Flowers...Gum Paste Flowers, That Is

I think my favorite flowers are roses. My daughter's middle name is even Rose. The colors and varieties of roses offer choices of the newly named and developed to the old fashioned and heady scented ones. There are climbing and shrub roses and ever blooming roses...and there are gum paste roses. Yes, gum paste. When April showers haven't yet brought May flowers, I had my first attempt at making gum paste roses. I had wanted to try it for years. I bought the cutters and instruction book a few years ago, but put it off. You can make your own gum paste, but I bought some ready to use, just to take away a step. They were so very easy to make and came out well. This is something you can make ahead of time to decorate a cake or cupcakes at the last minute. You can also customize the colors and type of flower you want. Give it a try, you'll be pleased. And oh, Happy Earth Day!

Gum Paste Roses

To Start:
You'll need a 2 inch ball of prepared gum paste wrapped in plastic wrap, gum paste flower cutters (small, medium and large rose cutters and 1 leaf cutter) and a rolling pin. Have a damp towel, clean dry towel and small bowl of water handy. You'll use the damp towel to keep the gum paste covered, since it drys out quickly. The clean towel and bowl of water are for your hands and for adding moisture to "glue" the petals onto the base. You'll also need food coloring in the color of your choice. A toothpick can be used to put a small hole in the top of the bud and to help with the shaping. Use a knife to lift flowers from rolling surface.

Begin on a smooth dry work surface. Start with1 1/2 inch ball uncolored gum paste and slowly work in the color of your choice or mix your own custom color.
Reserve the remaining piece to be colored green for the leaves. For the flower, I used a rose color with a tiny amount of peach coloring. Leaving some color that isn't totally worked into the gum paste gives a natural looking color that isn't flat. You can even experiment with gradual shading after some practice. Shape a 1/2 inch ball of gum paste into a teardrop shape. Make a small hole in the top part with a toothpick. Roll remaining gum paste on a smooth surface to 1/16 inch thickness. Cut out 5 petals with the smallest cutter, 7 with the medium cutter and 9 with the large cutter. Remove uncut portion and lift petals up one at a time with a knife. Start with the smallest petals and gently flatten the petal with your fingers, with the outer part being the thinnest. With the end of the toothpick, slightly dampen the small end of the petal and place on the upper part of the teardrop shaped base. Press, to help it adhere. Curl the petals in a natural shape as you place them on. Continue adding petals, smallest to the largest, going around the base. Be mindful not to get your fingers too wet or damp as the gum paste will become sticky and gooey. Dip your fingers in water and wipe with a clean towel, if they become too wet or sticky. Make sure to keep a damp towel covering unused pieces as you work, and remaining unused gum paste wrapped in plastic. After adding all petals, (add more or less to make it look complete and natural), put finished flower aside. Color remaining gum paste green, roll out and cut into leaf shapes. Add leaves to the base of the flower and finish with a small teardrop shaped ball of green gum paste to the bottom of flower. Let dry on a surface that won't allow the leaves and petals to bend. Gum paste flowers last for 2 weeks at room temperature. If storing longer, refrigerate and then bring to room temperature before using. Have fun and top any confection of your choice with your beautiful creations!

Written and photographed by Diane.

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