I remember the first time that I saw sugar flowers. I was mesmerized. It was at a custom cake shop that my then fiance and I were visiting for our wedding cake. I was still in the legal profession then and had never seen anything like them before. 13 years later and I'm still mesmerized by them.
Once I started to morph from the legal profession into the pastry world, I decided to teach myself how to make sugar flowers. Back then, I began to notice that the sugar work from several cake designers all resembled each others. The reason, I found out, is they all learned from the same person and, therefore, their work was similar. My thought was, 'why do I want to be like everyone else?' So, I taught myself and developed a style that was all my own. During the process, I learned a great deal through trial and error about the design process and how it relates to sugar work.
But the real topic of this post is to help address the question of whether you should have real flowers on your cake or sugar flowers.
Sugar flowers have many benefits. For one, a cake artist has the ability to size the sugar flower proportionately to the cake design and the cake tiers. One of my pet peeves in life is to see a giant, unopened, haphazardly placed real flower on a cake tier. If flowers, sugar or real, are not proportionate to the cake tier and the cake design, the aesthetic of the cake is not pleasing to the eye. Balance is lost and the look is sloppy. Another benefit is that sugar flowers are season-less. You can have virtually any flower made in sugar in any color - in any season throughout the year. When taken care of, they last for years. I actually still have mine from 13 years ago. The downside is that if proper care and planning are not taken, they can break during transit. Things can happen, especially on the roads in the New York City - New Jersey areas, but an experienced cake designer will have replacements on hand - and he or she should also be on hand - for any needed repairs. Also, if sugar flowers are poorly made, the realism is totally lost and the cake design can take on a "cheap" look.
How about real flowers? Real flowers do possess that certain ethereal quality that sometimes is not seen in sugar.
When using real flowers on a cake, however, you do need to consider whether the flowers being used are toxic. Some of the very popular wedding flowers - peonies, calla lilies, hydrangea - are all highly toxic and should be avoided on a food product. Real flowers can also wilt within a few hours' time. If you do opt to use real flowers, be sure to find out from your florist whether it will be a skilled employee putting the flowers on your cake so that the design of your cake is enhanced.
Is there a cost difference between sugar flowers and real flowers? Typically, yes. Being a handmade item, some sugar flowers can take a lot of time to make and this can sometimes affect the price of your cake, if there are a lot of them. Sometimes, cake designers will just include a few without charge. Others, will charge by the piece. Be sure to ask how sugar flowers are priced as you shop for your wedding cake.
When you research your wedding cake designer, be sure to look at samples of their sugar work. And I don't mean just in photos. Sugar flowers should be on hand at your consultation and cake tasting so that you can look at the quality and make sure it's what you want.
Sugar flowers should make you smile. They should make you and your guests do a double take and stare in awe! Check out this photo of our couple, Kate & Jan. Jan had to do a side-by-side comparison because he couldn't believe the calla lilies on their wedding cake were not real!
What kind of sugar flowers are you thinking about for your cake? I'd love to hear! Contact us here!